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Bike of the Month
Dick Mann Special
By Rodd Lighthouse
Acquiring this BSA A-10 Dick Mann Special (DMS) started in 2009. My son had been doing some desert racing and wanted to do some motocross racing, but I wasn’t in to sitting around all day to race for 5 minutes. I thought vintage motocross may be the ticket to satisfy both of us, so we headed out to Canby, California for his first vintage MX. The Canby MX track is a grass track located on a farmer’s field adjacent to the Pitt River, a beautiful place to race.
My son rode his mother’s national championship winning Honda Elsinore and I rode a 650 Rickman Triumph. I don’t recall how this opportunity came about, but a gentleman, Rob Poole, that I had competed against over the years asked me if I would like to ride his DMS BSA A-10 in the premier open twins class. At first I declined, but ultimately took him up on his offer, and was glad I did. That BSA handled much better than the Rickman I was riding and it was a blast to ride. I had to have one.
First I had to breach to topic with my wife. It took me a while to come up with a plan, but eventually I told her how much fun I had and that I would like to own a DMS before Dick Mann quit making such machines. I also told her that I would get rid of some bikes to help pay for it. Trusting me and not wanting to disappoint me, she caved.
Not wasting any time, I called Dick Mann to discuss what it would take to get a Rob Poole replica made. Dick informed that it wasn’t a Rob Poole replica, but rather a Ken Corpe replica, a machine he originally made for his stepson. He also informed that there was a waiting list and that I was third in line, all I had to do was send a deposit.
When my time finally arrived, Dick called to discuss particulars and to find out if I had any parts. I had a BSA frame and swing arm, Betor forks, BSA oil tank, rear wheel, primary covers, and gearbox. Dick had a BSA A-10 engine (40 CI or 650cc for you youngsters), clutch, magneto and a Rickman front wheel. He fabricated the exhaust pipe, engine plates, front and rear fender bracket, rear brake pedal, foot pegs, and chain guide, and sourced the remaining pieces such as seat, tank, Works Performance shock,s Akront aluminum rims, Buchanan stainless steel spokes, aluminum fenders, Amal carburetor, air box, Renthal handlebars and controls.
In case you don’t know who Dick Mann is, he is one of the most versatile riders to ever throw a leg over a motorcycle. Dick won the Grand National Championship in 1963 and 1971 and is one of only four riders to complete the grand slam, winning each of the five disciplines of grand national racing, road race, TT, short track, half-mile and mile. In addition to holding a professional license in dirt track and road racing, he also held a professional motocross license and was a member of the ISDT team. As many of the riders of that era did, Dick built and tuned his own championship winning motorcycles, and he is the master of his craft.
Dick was one of the founders of the vintage motorcycle racing movement and has been making motorcycles for wannabe racers for over 20 years. Some of the nicest and best working trials and motocross machines at any vintage competition are Dick Mann Specials. Although there are no two DMS’s that are exactly alike, most of the machines are undeniably Dick Mann machines, and you can see his handiwork and clever engineering skills all over each of his machines. Until recently, he was making the Specials in his home shop in Gardnerville, Nevada and the machines made there bare the decal, “Remade in Nevada”.
Back at Canby in 2011, my very own DMS BSA A-10 was delivered to me. I have never been so excited to get a new or old motorcycle and it was a real beauty. In fact, it was so pretty that I didn’t want to race it, but that is why I purchased the bike, so I had to. The BSA did not disappoint, it ran perfectly, handled great, and won the first race it participated in in its second life. Since then, I have raced the DMS several times with excellent results. The DMS BSA is my favorite motorcycle to ride, especially on a grass scrambles track.