European Motorcycles

Gwenda Jansen


Well-known Lady Competitor Defends her Sex. Other Opinions.

I REMEMBER reading, not very long ago, an article in The Motor Cycle, by "Road Rider," in which he said that his mental state on going North for the Scottish Six Days Trials resembled that of a very young rabbit about to cross the Portsmouth Road for the first time in its life. This description pleased me greatly, chiefly because it struck me as being in reality far more applicable to myself than to the well-tried "Road Rider," who must, at any rate, have known what was in front of him, whereas the rabbit and I had this in common, that we were both venturing forth into the unknown with beating hearts and our eyes starting out of our heads with fright.

But my state of mind on that occasion was joyful anticipation compared with my feelings when invited by the Editor to write an article in reply to the one which appeared in The Motor Cycle of June 29th, entitled "Ladies in Colonial Type Trials."

In spite of the abject terror which overwhelms me at the thought of "seeing myself in print" for the first time, I cannot refuse his invitation, because all my fighting instincts were roused by the article in question, not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of all the other women who ride in competitions, many of whom are both infinitely more experienced and more efficient than I.

Advantage of the Lightweight.

Personally I have always been of the opinion that if a woman enters for open trials she should be able to control and handle her machine at least as efficiently as the average male rider, otherwise she is apt to become a nuisance, and is certainly better employed elsewhere. For this reason I have so far chosen my mounts from among the lightweights, because, much as I should like to feel six or eight horses beneath me, I am by no means sure that I should be able to set them on their feet again if they did happen to fall with me. Moreover, my experience of the spirit of camaraderie which exists among competition riders is such that I feel convinced that if one of my fellow-competitors saw me lying prone beneath a large and heavy motor cycle he would at once get off and come to my assistance, even in a non-stop section; and if this ever happened I should be so overcome with grief and shame that I should hie me to my home and to the humble and arduous push bike.

Fortunately for me, however, that moment has not yet arrived, as I can lift my latest mount, the 247 c.c. Levis, clear of the ground by my own unaided efforts.

Talking of the Levis, how does the Butterfield firm do it? My little machine is a perfect wonder; it will do 54 m.p.h., anything between 35 and 45 m.p.h. up most main road hills; it is a dream for fast cornering, and is delightful to handle over treacherous surfaces. It has done about 2,000 miles of real heart-breaking work for me now, and has so far given me no trouble. Moreover, there is nothing "special" about it; it is just a standard model.


At this juncture I feel that it behoves me to bestow a word of well-earned praise on its present stable companion, the Ner-a-car, otherwise the latter may do what it has never done before and throw me off the next time I ride it over an "observed section." There is no need, for me to boast that I can carry it under one arm, because it is too stable to make it necessary.

To return to what was originally intended to be the subject of this article. I am afraid I do not agree that "in open trials of the rougher variety her (the lady rider's) presence is seldom of value from a propaganda point of view." My experience is that to the average member of the public, i.e., to the potential buyer, the fact that a machine can be handled by a woman under severe trials conditions is a sure proof that the said machine must be supremely efficient in every way and capable of being handled by himself to perfection.

(Mrs.) G. M. Janson.

The Motor Cycle, July 13th, 1922.

  • Gwenda Janson, Trump
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