Isle of Man TT success is once in a lifetime achievent for Bonnybridge bike builder Alasdair Cowan

Alasdair with winning rider, Dave Johnston
Alasdair with winning rider, Dave Johnston

Sports Editor David Oliver heard from Bonnybridge bike enthusiast Alasdair Cowan after a momentous trip to the annual Isle of Man racing series.

“You won’t a harder, more difficult place, to race a motorbike in the world than the Isle of Man. It’s fast and flat out everywhere.”

So says Alasdair Cowan, from Bonnybridge. And he should know. The bike enthusiast has just masterminded a victory in the Classic TT Superbike at the recent meeting on the Isle of Man.

Cowan, a train driver in Grangemouth, builds the bikes himself and entered three in the world-famous motorsport meeting last month. As well as his winning achievement there was also some satisfaction that all three returned too.

The win though is making others sit up and take notice of Cowan’s little team where he builds the 1992 style bikes and often manufactures the parts himself, and organises the trips and entries.

“It’s done wonders for my reputation, and I can charge others more for my hourly rate when I’m helping others!” he joked.

But he added: “I’m everything in the team. I build the bike and Andy Bass, from the Isle of Wight - Slick Bass as he’s known - builds the engines. I do everything else. I build the bikes, and make the bits and pieces for them and organise it all.

“Winning is something I never thought I’d do. We came fourth last year which was our best result, but it’s a once in a lifetime achievement, not many people can put their name to it. It’s rare for a team like ours to do so well and obviously our boy rode the bike really well. That’s important but obviously you also need a decent built bike as well to hold together round the 150 miles at full tilt, and we have that. The bikes are all 1992 so you have to make a lot of stuff for them. I’ve had to have pistons and rods made, lots of silly wee bits and pieces. It all helps to make a competitive bike.”

Their boy was Dave Johnston, an Australian who only saw the bike once before climbing on having been on the look-out for a ride. Cowan’s team lost their rider to a broken back at the Macau Grand Prix and officials at the Manx government who arrange the meeting on the island brought the two together.

The rest is history.

“We spoke to Dave and quickly signed him up. He is a fast guy and has a podium place this season in the TT superstock race so he had credentials in that and is a fast rider, and a good rider too.”

Cowan will be sticking with his man too, despite his success attracting interest from elsewhere.

“Its very rare to get a bike and start from nothing and the better results you get the better riders take notice and want to ride your bike. But we’re sticking with Dave Johnston.

“It was a stiff field this year and the weather was rubbish – three or four days we couldn’t practise. Its always good to get the bike out and work it and sort out any bothers but we managed it before the race and it was fine for that which was the main thing.

“Dave saw the bike on the Sunday and then used it on the Monday. To win from that is pretty good - he had two rubbish laps on practise and two half decent.

“We qualified second behind Michael Dunlop who comes from a famous family so it was all in all a very successful trip.”

The team is looking to repeat the success next year and was aided this year by sponsors Robert Burns Ltd and from Gareth McCracken at AGZ Group and Jim Allan Motorcycles in Grahams Road.