Ray Roberts (no relation) has a history of buying, restoring, riding and selling specialized motorcycles. His latest acquisition came to him after some discussion with a gentleman at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport) while he was campaigning his 350 Aermacchi in the Vintage Road Racing Association series.
A fellow named John Beelen approached Ray in the pits and mentioned that he owned the “real deal,” a 250 CRTT Aermacchi. After some discussion, Ray learned that the bike had spent many years in a trailer, and even though their talks were enough to pique Ray’s interest, nothing happened for quite some time. After discussing it with Dave Roper, a fellow Aermacchi racer and rider for Team Obsolete, Ray decided to take the next step and went to see the ultra-rare Grand Prix race bike. The 1967 Aermacchi CRTT shown here is number 26 out of only 35 produced that year by the factory to race on the European Continental Circus. A few CRTTs also came to North America, and this was one of them.
Ray was a little surprised by the condition of the bike, tucked away in the corner; many parts were rusted beyond repair, and it had mice living in every nook and cranny – the result of sitting in a damp trailer since 1974. Its only saving grace was that the engine had been rebuilt after its last race, and it had oily rags stuffed in every orifice. Upon seeing this, Ray thought the CRTT might have some merit after all, and as luck would have it, the engine turned over easily.
While the restoration continued, Ray sourced the only incorrect piece on the derelict bike. It should have had a Ceriani magnesium four-leading shoe front brake with a 230 mm drum, but instead, it sported a twin-leading shoe Honda assembly. He found an original remanufactured front brake assembly in Wales.
Wanting to know more about the bike’s history, Ray began asking questions amongst the VRRA members. He only came up with two names of people who had raced a CRTT, but only one had a 1967. He contacted Paul Bowyer, wondering if in fact it could be his old race bike, but there was no way to determine this from photos alone. The only distinguishing factor that might prove its history, Ray learned, was to inspect the rear brake. The bike came from the factory with a Ceriani 200 mm twin-leading shoe with magnesium hub, which was a seriously potent rear brake. Paul had shaved half of the lining off to make it less powerful. Upon disassembly, Ray found that it was indeed modified as Paul had described. Paul last raced it in 1973, but then after it was sold, he lost touch with its whereabouts.
Aermacchi produced very competitive motorcycles in the early- to mid-sixties; in fact, they dominated the European tracks up to about 1966 or 1967, when the Suzuki 250 two-strokes entered the scene. Suzuki killed Aermacchi’s dominance overnight.
According to Ray, the CRTT can still hold its own at the Manx Classic race on the Isle of Man due to the reliability of the engine compared to the two-strokes, which tend to self-destruct on the 37.73-mile mountain course.
To put the power of the factory CRTT into perspective, Ray has done an enormous amount of engine work to his 350 former road bike, including a shortened barrel and short-stroke Yamaha connecting rod and flywheel, big valves and a hot cam, straight-cut gears and much more to produce about 34 hp (a stock 350 is in 26 hp range). The CRTT 250 puts out 33 hp in stock form. However, one of the engine’s downfalls is the 10,500 redline, an astounding number for a pushrod engine. This is why the high-revving 250 cc engine had a tendency to drop valves, and the reason Ray’s engine had been previously rebuilt.
Upon finishing the restoration, Ray decided to source a European CRTT “double-bubble” fairing to add a bit of flair to the otherwise bland, flat-sided North American fairing.
While Ray has taken his rare GP bike to the track for a brief shakedown run, he says he hopes to race it in the upcoming VRRA season, vowing to keep a close eye on the redline and the valves. Ray says the 250 easily pops wheelies and only weighs about 93 kg. “It’s pretty embarrassing when you weigh as much as your bike.”.
|Time to Build:||9-months|
|Type:||Close ratio 5 speed|
|Primary Drive:||Straight cut|
|Tire Make and size:||Heidenau 2.75/18|
|Tire Make and size:||Heidenau 3.00/18|
|Gas Tank:||Fibreglass original|
|Front Brake:||230 mm Ceriani 4LS Magnesium|
|Rear Brake:||200 mm Ceriani 2LS Magnesium|