Parilla GP Rider – Foreword

In 1964 Richard Morley was a successful racer of 125,250 and 256cc high cam Moto Parillas in International road races throughout Europe. He started his motorcycle racing career riding a 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 at Brands Hatch in 1956. From 50cc Itom to 500cc Moto Guzzi, he went on to ride many makes and capacities of road racing machines on most of the UK circuits before his chance introduction to Moto Parilla in 1963.

He still rides today – on his old 250 works framed bike – at venues in the UK & Europe where Classic fans can still hear the sound of a Parilla being used as it was always meant to be on a track – hard!    Now over to RM to start the story……

RM examines a 250 engine
Text of the the above clipping

The first approach by Moto Parilla / Capriolo UK importers came in the summer of 1963, following publication of an article in the Motorcycle News featuring a constant mesh gearbox I had designed and installed in my G50 Matchless. Their interest was to know if I could develop my gearbox cluster with 6 and 7 speed options to fit into the 250 Parilla unit construction crankshaft and gearbox casings.
After a number of meetings with the Moto Parilla / Capriolo directors in Croydon, South London, including a visit with them to the Moto Parilla factory in Milan, in October 1963. I agreed to further develop my gearbox cluster design for Moto Parilla to manufacture and install in their motorcycles in return for the loan of 3 M.S.D.S Moto Parillas and special components I would prepare in Milan with Moto Parillas assistance and then enter in the “Continental Circus” the following year. I also agreed to help Moto Parilla / Capriolo to develop new production racers, if all went to plan, for sale back in the UK

Arriving at Moto Parilla’s Milan factory some five months later in March 1964, with Vic Wotton my mechanic, friend & supplier of our Ford Thames transporter. Things were not quite as we had anticipated at Moto Parilla.There was no sign of the Ceriani forks, Oldani front brakes or the Dellorto racing carburetors which I understood, from my earlier visit and discussions at Parilla/Capriolo UK, would be provided by Parilla SIL.

Management and staff were most welcoming but the competition workshop was closed, staff were working short time and one of the Moto Parilla directors I had met in London and Milan, was no longer with the company. There were even rumours circulating of the company being taken over by another motorcycle manufacturer.

The competition workshop was quickly re-opened and 2 mechanics were assigned to assist us however the current Moto Parilla management team seemed to have lost all interest in developing new gearbox clusters?
After consultation with the Moto Parilla / Capriolo directors back in Croydon UK, it was agreed that we would abandon, or at least postpone, our program to jointly develop new gearbox clusters with Moto Parilla but continue to develop the new 125cc engine and prepare our 250 and 256 bikes before joining the “Continental Circus” in April, as originally planned

Needing the maximum starts per meeting to earn our living (having been offered £50 per qualified start at most meetings), we concentrated all our efforts over our 3 week stay at Moto Parilla, to preparing the 250 and 256cc machines (the latter to be entered in 350 and 500cc races, where permitted) and to the development of a one-off 125cc racer based on a scaled down 175 H. C Moto Parilla. The Moto Parilla model line up in 1964 also included a 50cc single and 350cc twin but these models were completely non starters for road racing development.

Had Moto Parilla developed and manufactured gearboxes based on my constant mesh design we would have fitted 6 speed clusters in the 250 and 256 bikes and tried a 7-speed cluster in the planned 125. As things were, we had no other practical alternative but to put Moto Parilla 5 speed clusters in the 250 & 256cc machines and later in the season, a six-speed cluster based on a 50 cc Racer design I had earlier developed and manufactured for Peter Lucas, into the 125.

The 125 was planned to be of a square (equal bore & stroke dimensions) engine configuration, however, the gearbox and other issues took up so much time we had to abandon the idea and took a chance on just sleeving down the 175 to 125. Of course, this gave us a very long stroke engine which in time became known on the Circus as “Morley’s Steam Engine”.

To the envy of many riders of MZ, Bultaco and other 2 stroke machines, our Moto Parilla 4 stroke 125 engine, whilst being rather heavy and down on power, turned out to be extremely reliable and kept going when many of them had stopped, particularly when we were all running on fuel supplied by the East German, Czechoslovakian, Yugoslavian and Hungarian race organisers, reputed sometimes to be well below 70 Ron!

Eventually, we got the 125 together and after test runs on the Milan/Turin motorway, at times with a Police escort, we set off for our first race meeting at the Nurburgring, West Germany, at the end of April 1964.

On to Chapter 1 – Continental Circus