STEVE HOLE tells the story of the remarkable Geoff Monty, a renowned motorbike exponent but also a dealer for the Unipower GT.

Geoff Monty was a remarkable chap – motorcycle racer, motorcycle constructor, rider sponsor, retail bike dealer and repair shop and Unipower GT dealer for Kent and surrounding areas.

Geoff originated from Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey and opened his first motorcycle business in Hampton Road, Twickenham in the mid-fifties. In addition to modifying and repairing customer bikes, Geoff also designed, built and raced his bike, the GMS (Geoff Monty Special).

This was more than a simple tune-up of a proprietary motorcycle as he designed his frame for the bike described as a ‘semi-spine’ arrangement complete with a rectangular-section swing arm powered by a BSA Gold Star 350cc engine sleeved down to 250cc.

Geoff became very well-respected within the British bike scene and worked with most leading brands including BSA, Norton, AJS and Matchless. When the holding company for the aforementioned companies announced that they were ceasing their racing activities

Geoff and renowned Triumph motorcycle tuner, and ex-racer, Allen Dudley-Ward (often described as the UKL’s finest tuner of the period) joined forces forming a business partnership while also developing the Monward brand successfully. Geoff demonstrated his skills by reprising his ‘sleeving’ trick that he’d earlier done on the BSA on the Monward’s Triumph-based 650cc unit sleeving that down to 500cc.

The most famous racer to use Monward engines was the great Bill Ivy who won over twenty races for Geoff and Allen, often giving the well-funded works team a bloody nose.

I don’t think that Geoff and Allen fell out exactly, but they appeared to go their separate ways in 1968 when Dudley-Ward designed his own bike the ‘DW Special’. At this point, Geoff modified the Monward name to Monard.

This was the year that Geoff moved to Edenbridge in Kent opening up Monty & Ward in the High Street. A delightful sleepy-ish Kent town, it has had quite a history in terms of notable companies based there over the years. As well as Geoff Monty, the Surtees F1 team (the late John Surtees lived in the town until he died in 2017), Suzuki MotoGP team, leading glassfibre laminators, Fi-Glass, inventors of the polystyrene ceiling tile (among other products) Ross Warmafoam and sports equipment manufacturers, Jacques were all based in the town at various times.

Geoff was right in at the early days of rider sponsorship and the first to receive his backing in was four-time Isle of Man TT winner, Ray Pickrell. Monty also did some tuning work for Pickrell who had previously used the services of Francis Beart and Paul Dunstall. He supplied various engines to Pickrell right up to and including his 500cc Monard.

Geoff became a keen sponsor working with Esso, Mobil and Shell promoting many other great riders to success with his motorcycles – including Phil Edge, Alan Shepherd and Ron Langston.

 Geoff Monty was also an enthusiastic Don and Derek Rickman supporter and would supply engines for customers using their Métisse bike frame. It was in early 1968 that Geoff became an official agent for Ernie Unger’s Unipower GT sportscar.

Geoff is said to have been a firm believer of the Unipower hence his involvement with the marque and he didn’t just like motorcycles. For example, he once owned a stunning Ferrari 246 Dino, which remained in the Monty family’s ownership for nearly forty years.

Geoff retired to Cornwall where he lived until he died in 2009 aged 92.

Meanwhile, Geoff Monty’s premises in Edenbridge remained as a motorcycle-orientated business until 2022. A secondhand bike dealer called Red Dawg Motorcycles occupied the shop for many years before a motorcycle tuner moved in when they packed up. His activities were seriously affected by the pandemic, which pretty much caused him to cease trading.