38. AJS Stormer Y41 and Y51 / 1971
For during most of the fifties AJS ruled the off-road scene with an iron fist that would only sporadically relax to let an occasional stranger through.
Suggested modifications from American competitors was immediately evaluated and acted upon to keep the initials of the founder, A.J.Stevens, out front.
The big black four-stroke singles reigned supreme. Then politics, changes, adversities and the arrival of a new big bore two-stroke challenger from Sweden…. end of an era.
Now reorganized under a more powerful parent company, Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd., the Ajay flags are flying high again, and although their lusty thumpers have given way to a pair of two-strokes half their size, the AJS Stormer 250 and 370, the expertise remains.
For, as in days of old, AJS is shot with executives brought up from the ranks of competition, men equipped to evaluate in-the-field suggestions on the spot. Engineer Bob Trigg, who designed not only the AJS but the Norton Commando as well, is a superb road rider and former Gold Star competitor.
His projects are tested by Norvill Performance Shop Manager Peter Inchley, ex-British road racing champ who lapped the Isle of Man at over 90 mph on a 250cc Villiers special, the forerunner of the AJS Stormer.
The affairs on this side of the pond, are tended to by an astoundingly talented, double-threat man, by the name of Mike Jackson, former off-road racer and member of the Greeves factory trials team.
While Mike manages the seven Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii, for the parent company in London, the Eastern distribution is handled by, the Berliner Motor Corp, owned by Joe Berliner.
The team makes no bones about it: chassis performance is their forte, for with engine power already beyond the limits of human ability, only handling and durability will determine the off-road winners of tomorrow.
And tomorrow is what it really is for AJS, for their present duo of two-strokes made their first debut in 1969 in Europe, sweeping first and second places immediately thereafter in the hard fought British Motocross Championship in 1970, with Malcolm Davis and Andy Roberton at the bars.
It is basically the same machine offered for public purchase today. What is the future of AJS in the critically priced market ahead?
With their wealth of information based on past racing experience and present performance, it should be bright.
Parts availability is reportedly 99 percent and out-priced only by Yamaha; an Ajay piston sells for $19.48. Growing dealerships are nevertheless selective; since the Stormers are strictly dirt machines, each dealer must be off-road oriented, and not necessarily a brother Norton agent.
Although warranties are difficult to offer on a competition bike, AJS has stood by legitimate claims to date, admittedly few. Priced at $1075 and $1245 respectively, for the 250 and 370 versions, the Ajays are from $15 to $70 less expensive than their most costly competitor.
Still more expensive than some, the Stormer offers uniqueness in its huge-diameter, thin walled, single-backbone frame, eccentric spindle swing arm adjustment, full needle roller gearbox and ease of maintenance. It is a beautifully made, and excitingly different looking machine, with the accent on rideability; the 250 being ideal for steady racers and the 370 for supermen only.
It’s no secret; they’re after Husqvarna.
AJS Stormer 250cc Championship Replica Advertising / 1971
Ironically both fielded championship caliber, big displacement four-strokes only a few years ago, with AJS having the upper hand. Now they’re at each other’s throats again – same environment, different weapon, the two-stroke – and AJS is the under-dog.
Can they roll the big Swede over on his back?