Squires cafe is to the north what the Ace cafe is to the south. It's a major gathering venue for bikes and bike events, but fortunately for regulars and visitors, it’s set in a more congenial environment.
London's Ace cafe - which enjoys a legendary status nationally and internationally - is now trapped in a scruffy urban and semi-industrial area, hemmed in by the north circular road, a six lane highway that never stops. Squires bikers however has a green field location with lots of outside space, unhindered by traffic congestion.  
Squires was originally located in the nearby village of Sherburn in Elmet, east of Leeds. It opened in the mid 50’s as Squires Milk Bar, named after the owner Squires Bradbury. It became a Wednesday night gathering place for motorcyclists and as its popularity grew, so did the antagonism of people who lived in Sherburn.

The cafe changed ownership in the mid 70’s and the land nearby became available in 2002. To the relief of the village residents. Today's Squires now hosts a number of facilities to support a constant events calendar, in those times when our lives were not governed or restricted by the Covid virus. It offers camping grounds, a caravan site, several satellite food stalls apart from the main cafe/bar and a clothing and accessory store called Speedstyle! The camping ground is popular and convenient stopover for riders touring or taking a break on the long haul to Scotland if coming from the south.

The weekend of 4th-5th of September was promoted as an event for 'strokers', the euphemistic name for bikes powered by two stroke engines, which have now all but disappeared in the UK and Europe due to emission controls. They used to be the cheap work horse type engine that powered thousands of motorcycles. Their presence usually given away by pungent exhaust smoke lingering in their wake.

When the Japanese manufacturers began to develop the engine’s potential, a whole new breed of light and very fast motorcycles became available. In 1966, Suzuki brought to market a 250cc six speed model with a new system of engine lubrication they called 'posi force'. This meant that oil was fed from a separate tank rather than pre-mixed into the petrol tank as with other two strokes.
The bike was a revelation. Six speeds, on a lightweight motorcycle with bags of power! It was labelled Super Six in the UK and in 1967 it came fourth in the UK's premier endurance race. Models can still be seen today at classic race meetings and parades.

2 Stroke Domination
This was just the beginning of an era where two stroke bikes from Japan dominated both the race tracks and sales. Yamaha developed a range of fast and reliable road and track machines, while Kawasaki launched a formidable three cylinder range from 250cc to 750cc. They were very, very fast but the engines were housed in frames and suspensions that couldn’t cope with the power, as a good number of riders were to find out.
I'm a fan of two strokes, for nostalgic reasons and because of the relative internal combustion simplicity. My first bike was a 250cc Francis Barnet, rescued from a neighbour’s back garden. I rode a BSA Bantam racer at club meetings and eventually progressed to DMW racer, powered by a 250cc Villiers Starmaker engine - housed in Bultaco frame the Starmaker gained a third place in the 1966 Lightweight TT.

I decided to ride to Squires on the Sunday, enjoying the burst of warm sunny weather after the grey pall that had enveloped a lot of the country over previous days. Dozens and dozens of riders headed the same way and after discarding their riding gear, enjoyed lounging on the grass banks, watching the coming and going of fellow riders. It was very enjoyable wandering around inspecting and admiring bikes; from a vintage Brough Superior to garish Hayabusas and Harleys, all biking life was there.

There weren’t many two strokes though. A couple of beautifully restored Yamahas and a water cooled 750cc Suzuki 'Kettle' were all I spotted. So I grabbed a pastie and tea and joined in the sitting around and observing in the September sunshine.

Have you visited Squires? Or, do you have or ever ridden a two stroke? Let us know at news@wemoto.com or drop us a message on Facebook.

Posted by John Newman
for Wemoto News on 16 September 2021 in Features

Edited By: Lucy England



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