By Tom White
What happened in 1969 might have seemed inconsequential for other manufacturers, but when Greeves dropped their own trademark frame in favor of a conventional welded tube-frame design, a lot of their customers were skeptical. Many claimed that Bert Greeves had “caved in” by dropping his trademark aluminum I-Beam downtube and bolt-together frame in favor of a hand-brazed Reynolds 531 chromoly frame with a conventional front downtube. Even worse for the traditionalists, the leading-link forks were no longer standard issue—replaced by 7-inch-travel Ceriani telescopic forks (although, as our featured bike shows, the leading-link forks could be ordered as an option). Also new for 1969 were the conical aluminum hubs, spring-steel handlebars and streamlined fiberglass bodywork. Even the longer seat was redesigned. Hitting the scales at 227 pounds, the Griffon was eight pounds lighter than the previous Challenger model (it was also 20 pounds lighter than the CZ 360).
Though the engine and transmission were still separate, connected by a primary chain, the slim-downed 380cc engine was as light as the year before’s 250 engine. Finning for the cylinder was generous because the Griffon was aimed at the American desert rider. The Amal Monoblock carburetor was replaced with an Amal Concentric carb. The exhaust exited through the frame instead of under it. Bore and stroke were 82mm by 72mm.
Dr. Gordon Blair of Queens University of Belfast, a noted two-stroke specialist, had been consulted on the new 380 engine, but his work would not see fruition until the release of the 1973 Greeves 380 QUB (Queens University Belfast). Unfortunately, the QUB would be the last significant Greeves, as the company fell on hard times in 1975.
1969 GREEVES GRIFFON FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
Suggested retail was competitive with Husqvarna and CZ at $1395. For some reason, the Greeves Griffons aren’t high on motorcycle collectors’ or AHRMA racers’ lists. Our Early Years of Motocross Museum example has a value of $7000. Sadly, this is less than what it cost to restore it to pristine condition.
At one point, Greeves offered 11 models, including the Ranger, Anglican, Pathfinder and Oulton, but in 1969, only the Greeves Griffon 250 and Griffon 380 were offered.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Greeves Griffons with the Ceriani telescopic forks are more collectable than leading-link models—even though the leading links are iconic. The fiberglass tank and side panels are “eye candy” and very difficult to find. Original Girling shocks, Dunlop Sport tires and original spring-steel handlebars are a huge bonus for a collector.
The best source for Greeves parts is Frank Conley’s Greeves in Carmel Valley, California. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com