The evolution of the Super Squirrel racer

I’m doing things backwards here. I realise that I need to give some more of the the original history of the Super squirrel and how Roger’s Flying Squirrel racer came about. As I said in the previous post, the Super Squirrel racer is really only just returning to having the potential of competitiveness that it did in the early 1970s.

Super Squirrel racer, prior to frame modifications (around 1971/2). Note Roger's Laverda SF750 production racer with race kit. An unusual racing stable.
Super Squirrel racer, prior to frame modifications (around 1971/2). Note Roger’s Laverda SF750 production racer with race kit. An unusual racing stable.
Roger on the Scott Super Squirrel racer (around 1971/2) racing at the New Brighton circuit on the Wirral.
Roger on the Scott Super Squirrel racer (around 1971/2) racing at the New Brighton circuit on the Wirral.
My dad, Roger, having found that the Scott was fast and competitive in racing was very much committed to finding the solutions to the bike’s shortcomings, namely in handling, gearbox and engine reliability.

The single down-tube frame of the Super Squirrel had broken once before at the seat post and had been re-inforced substantially. Tie bars had been created to give some tension to the lower engine and undertray (carries the gearbox on a Scott) mounts as the original lower frame ‘rails’ have to be removed to be able to race. Left in, they will dig into the track and have you off.

Later shot of Super Squirrel racer around 1973/4. Note lower rails removed , replaced by tensioned 'tie bars'
Later shot of Super Squirrel racer around 1973/4. Note lower rails removed , replaced by tensioned ‘tie bars’ and no silencing!
This did leave things a bit more flexible in this frame and he resolved that therein lay some of the problem. He was sure a stiffer frame would be a great improvement.
He addressed the handling issue by having a duplex frame made by Bob Stevenson of Spondon to a similar design and geometry to the Flying Squirrel, only using lighter tubing. To be honest, he’s always said that the duplex frame he had made didn’t actually improve the handling, but it did allow a bigger carb (because you didn’t have the single down-tube in the way) and it was quite a bit lighter as it was a welded construction and not lugged.
Years later it was Paul Dobbs, the talented Kiwi rider who suggested that he thought the handling could be improved by moving the riders weight forward.
Paul Dobbs in inimitable action over the mountain on the Scott at Cadwell park, 2005
Paul Dobbs in inimitable action over the mountain on the Scott at Cadwell park, 2005
My dad did this, moving the seat forward, and a big improvement was felt. In about 2010 he had the tank shortened to allow this to be more neatly contrived.
I also moved the saddle forward on the Super Squirrel when I re-built it, and swapped the ‘Brooklands’ style bars that my father favours with a set of wide straights that force your hands wider and make your body weight shift forward. The handling is far better for this, and actually I much prefer the extra leverage too.

The gearbox story is well explained in his story of the affair, here, and the pursuit of power and reliability were definitely linked, as the inevitable longstroke crank breakages inevitably took it’s toll on successive crankcases, prompting a decision to re-cast cases with better material and extra strength. Cases were redesigned to have larger transfer apertures and inlet port areas and cranks were re-designed to use the crankcase doors as an outer main bearing support to overcome the design flaw and material shortcomings of the original overhung crank.

The development of the Super Squirrel racer into the Flying Squirrel was not instantaneous though and it was largely about a substantial focus on re-engineering. In truth, that has consistently been the focus of his very successful Scott racing development work. In the process, he has developed his Scott to the point where some people even dispute that it is one. To me however, the Scott was Alfred Scott’s creation and he was a man of vision and ingenuity. He left the company that bore his name in 1915 and died in 1923. It’s impossible to look at the balance and finesse of those early shortstroke machines and imagine that he would allowed the bikes to have developed as they did, in both weight and fragility, had he stayed with the company.
To me the very spirit of the Scott is strongest in those machines where people have employed their skill and imagination to take the unique qualities of the Scott and develop them.
It is in the DNA of the marque and though I understand of course that there are those who have great enjoyment of their original machines, to me there is no Scott more a Scott than one that has been intelligently modified, and there is no Scott that can lay claim to having been been developed with more ingenuity, determination, focus and success according to its remit, than Roger Moss’s Flying Squirrel racer.

Waiting for the call...
Waiting for the call…

4 thoughts on “The evolution of the Super Squirrel racer”

  1. This fascination with racing is all the fault of George Silk. I bought a Vintage bike as a subterfuge to get back on two wheels after I had been banned by my dad after crashing yet again. I had noticed Scotts and visited their “Gatherings” at Crown Meadows, Evesham. I even had the intention to buy a new Birmingham Scott, but father was against this. A Vintage bike was considered more sedate and safe for a son with the instincts of a lemming. To be fair, I had escaped the grim reaper by a whisker on a previous occasion, so I suppose their concern was understandable. In 1967 I bought a TT Replica UE 7373 that Albert Reynolds had stored away in his attic since 1941 when it was left for repair by an owner who never returned to claim it. I was told that it was believed that he was lost on an Arctic convoy to Murmansk taking munitions for the Red Army.
    It soon broke a crank which led me into the start of a decades long crusade to give the engine more stamina. Through this I met George Silk and he suggested I try Vintage racing. This I did with borrowed leathers and my road riding gauntlets and fleecy boots. I loved it and wanted more. George advised that the Replica was really unsuitable for competitive Vintage racing without modifications that would compromise its otherwise total originality. As he had started his business working on rebuilding Scotts, he suggested that he could build me a racer based on a single down tube frame and I agreed to this. George had a splendid nickle plated petrol tank that was a Scott option instead of separate biscuit tin tanks. I borrowed this and Ray Pettit made a copy for me. I had entered an early meeting in 1970 at Mallory and the bike was taken there by George. I now had the basis of a racer, but what translates “A basis” into a proper racer is hours and hours of thought, attention to detail,and step by step modifications. Revisions to make the engine more efficient came more easily to me than amendments that would improve the rather suspect handling, but then, I was in the early 70’s, also racing a 1939 Tiger 100 and compared with this, the handling of the Scott was not too bad!
    In truth, I never considered myself an especially talented rider. I do not have binocular vision and have a fairy strong sense of self preservation, often referred to as “fear”. My approach was therefore to use my engineering knowledge to try and make a bike that went faster and stopped more quickly to make up for my personal shortcomings as a rider. The truth of this was abundently proved when Paul Dobbs raced my later Scott to success I could hardly dream of, but then, we are not going to be World Champions and to do our best and get a sense of achievement from our weekend racing must be the objective. We must never forget that we need to be back to work on Monday in fairly undamaged condition so we can earn a crust to support our families. So the long Scott development saga started here!

    1. So when did you decide to move to the new frame and if the handling wasn’t that bad (compared to the Triumph), why go to all that effort? Was it the breaking of the frame at the seatpost that made you want to change it?

      1. The Triumph was unruly on Speedmaster front and 350 GP rear as most folks used. I reasoned that as a bike was leaned over, the contact point moved from the centreline of the bike outwards in the direction of lean, but that the distance it traveled would only remain the same both ends if the tyres had the same profile. I duly put 360 TT 100 tyres both ends and the handling was immediately much improved. Of course although Malcolm Uphill had lapped the IOM at 100 mph on what were claimed to be this tyre, it would be naive to imagine they were the same compound. I tried the same trick on the Scott and it was immediately improved. I got carried away with this and put a set of triangulars on the Scott for a Mallory meeting. Down went the flag and we went round Gerards like we were on rails and set off down the back straight at some speed leading the field. Before Lake Esses, I took a quick look back and was amazed to see I had a big lead.
        I was heading into Lake Esses quite a bit faster than usual, but it all felt so secure, but then all hell broke loose and it felt like we had rear wheel steering. I hit the tyre wall at some speed and subsequently found the seat tube bottom lug had broken. On investigation, it was found to have broken before and had been brazed up. I put a strut under the tank and some reinforcement plates to the repaired seat tube mounting, but went back to the TT100 tyres to reduce the torsional load on the frame that was already weakened by the removal of the bottom frame rails.
        While we are on the subject of tyres, I repeat what Chris Williams told me who raced Clive Waye’s Scott so successfully for years. He said that they used a 3″ x 21″ Speedmaster at the front and a 3.25 rounded profile tyre on the back. The 3.25 rear is I believe what Scotts fitted. He told me that on one occasion, the rear tyre was worn out and not having another, they fitted a 3.50 GP. The handling went to hell by comparison till they found a new 3.25″ tyre to fit. I rode that bike later and it’s handling was a revelation, but that is another story. To stray a little, as is my wont, I will relate here how I bought a 750 Laverda in kit form and when I took it for its first outing, it was almost unrideable. It needed much physical effort to get it to turn into a corner. I immediately went and bought a pair of 410 TT 100 tyres and the handling was transformed. It was a heavy bike and you needed a bit of planning and effort to steer it, but it was usable. However I then put a factory race kit on it that really gave it some power. It was much more powerful and mechanically reliable than the much vaunted 750SS Ducati racer I had afterwards. With the extra power, when you gave it some stick out of corners, the back end would come round, so I put a 425 TT 100 on the back. That certainly reduced the sliding, but on the old ultra long Norwich Straight at Snetterton, it would go into a long weave that you could not control. Rather unnerving this, so I put a 425 on the front. The paddock was falling about in mirth at the sight of this huge tyre on the front. I explained that it was because if I missed a corner and ended up in the surrounding corn field, then a tractor type tyre was helpful. In truth it stopped the weaving and the bike was so fast that I remember passing Dave Potter on the Gus Khun Norton, a Works type racing Commando, with about 7mph in hand, until we got near the corner at the end when he vanished while I was using everything the 4LS magnesium Ceriani brake could contribute to slowing this 531lb flying lump of iron.
        Oh dear, I do ramble on, you asked why I changed the frame.
        I designed a frame that looked like a Scott frame, but whereas the Scott had no good support between the headstock and the top of the seat tube, I had twin rails that ran Manx fashion that then went down to the rear wheel lugs. These rails are hidden by the saddle tank that goes over them. The oil tank and ignition electrics also live under here.
        The frame was in effect an upper diamond with the engine slung below. My own crankcases are much stronger than Scott items and permit a bigger inlet also. The engine thus forms part of the structure as does a strengthened gearbox undertray, so the absence of the bottom frame rails made no difference. Of course, the duplex frame in lightweight T45 tubing made by Spondon helped the final all up weight dry of 100kg and the duplex frame layout allowed me to fit a home made 38mm TT type carb. As you say, Richard, the actual handling was not much better, if at all. In fact with an aluminium cylinder block the front end weight was reduced which adversely effected the handling. It was Paul Dobbs who advised to move the rider weight forward to compensate for this, whilst the fitting of the Avon 90 x 90 x 19 Roadrider on the back which equates to the original 3.25 tyre fitted further improved the handling, which is quite good now, although lack of bodily flexibility at 73 means I have to ride sitting up and a little further back than is ideal. Is this OK for you sir? Can I go now?

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