VINTAGE MOTO MONDAY: 1966 Matchless 500 G85CS

An English Motocross Memory from Tom White’s Early Years of Motocross museum.

Is this thing really a motocrosser? It is. Technically, it's a G85 Competition Scrambler, and this all-new Matchless model for 1966 was designed to compete with the CZs, Husqvarnas, Bultacos, and Greeves that were winning most of the MX and scrambles events back then. With a duplex chassis that borrowed much of its design from Norton, plus a lightweight fork and neat details such as a magnesium rear hub, the CS tipped the scales at a claimed 318 pounds, which is 42 pounds lighter than the G80 it replaced. The engine, an old design fed by an Amal GP carburetor, had bumped compression and a lightened flywheel, but the pricey CS never became a race or a sales success. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful machine, the motorcycle equivalent of an Indy Roadster competing against the rear-engine revolution.

Static side view.

Nov 1966 magazine cover.

Magazine photo #1

Magazine photo #2

Data panel.