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Two features in this issue – one about Terry Mitchell’s special Ariel Arrows and the other our archive piece about the history of DMW motorcycles (especially the photos of some of the Villiers Starmaker-powered machines) – remind me of just how close Britain, once a pioneer in two-stroke motorcycle design, might have advanced before the arrival of Japanese two-strokes stopped play.
“These are the bikes that Ariel could, and should, have made,” said Terry, as he showed us his potent Arrow racer and high-performance road bike that were built almost entirely using off-the-shelf components from the period.
And with its 250cc Starmaker engine, Villiers, a respected two-stroke manufacturer for many decades, really did make it affordable for many of us to up our game in road racing, scrambling and trials – I could even buy condensers for my Cotton Telstar from a Villiers agency in Manchester that stocked mostly lawnmowers!
How we drooled when the first photos of the Starmaker-powered Cotton Conquest sports roadster first appeared in the motorcycle press, and similarly, what a dream of a roadster the DMW Super Sports, listed in the firm’s 1966 range shortly before its demise, and pictured on page 15, might have been!
Pitted against quarter-litre two-stroke imports such as Yamaha’s YDS3 and Suzuki’s Super Six, however, the Starmaker’s limitations became ever more apparent.
A higher level of sophistication such as an ‘Autolube’-type separate oiling system would have helped, of course, as would much better brakes (the ones on my Telstar were pathetic for a racing machine), but sadly the die was cast and from the British perspective, it became yet another story of what might