Crazy Suspension: 1969 Greeves Ranger

The British company Greeves has an interesting history and you can tell by looking at the front suspension, they also made interesting motorcycles. They started out by building vehicles for disabled folks and branched out into motorcycles. This interesting 1969 Greeves Ranger can be found listed here on eBay in beautiful Tucson, Arizona where I should have moved after high school. There is an unmet opening bid price of $2,200 and no reserve.

Bert Greeves was mowing his lawn one day and he came up with the idea of putting a gas-powered engine on a relative’s wheelchair to help them get around and he came up with the Invacar. After getting a British government contract to build the Invacar he was off and the business became a success. Being interested in motorcycles and a good trials rider himself, he started building motorcycles with Villiers engines and another successful business was born.

This Ranger is original as far as the seller knows, other than the chain guard which is missing and the rear tire has been replaced. Greeves reportedly started out with three models in the early-1950s and by 1962 there were eleven different motorcycle models. The Ranger was made for export to the United States, or with that market in mind. There are conflicting reports on just how many were made and how many were exported to the US.

This is a low-mile example with just under 2,400 miles on it and that cast speedometer housing is fantastic. Arguably the most unique features of the Greeves Ranger would be the front suspension with the unusual leading link and the cast aluminum down-beam.

The engine is a 246 CC Villiers single-cylinder and the seller says that it starts great, shifts as it should, and stops well. The original carburetor was changed to the Mikuni as seen here but the original Villers carb goes with the sale. Hagerty lists a #4 fair condition bike as being worth $4,100 so I’m not sure what’s going on with this auction not having any bids at a $2,200 starting price and no reserve. I guess the market will always decide what something is really worth. Have any of you owned a Greeves motorcycle?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Who could have possibly written this up? Scotty? No foolin’,,yes, I’ve heard of Greeves, but never actually saw one. There were just a ton of motorcycles in the early 70’s. Seems every country jumped on the “hare scrambles” game, a forerunner to motocross. Even Harley made a MX bike with telescoping forks on the back, kind of the opposite of this. I read it produced scary rides. While the bikes were all pretty similar, leave it to the British to do the same thing with a different setup. For a dirt bike, I’d say it looks awful front heavy, which is why telescopic forks just work the best, and stood the test of time, although, they did turn them upside down, for some reason.. This? Not so much, but what a cool bike. I believe that little lever above the clutch handle, is a compression release
    Sidebar on Invacar. When Homer Simpson visits “Crazy Vaclavs Place of Automobiles”, he test drives a 3 wheel Invacar ( although they never say that)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HPVQ4FpVlY

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  2. Retiredstig Member

    The German firm DKW also made motocross and trail bikes with leading link forks, powered by Sachs engines. Heavy, but excellent handling.
    The Greeves motocrosser was called the Griffon, and was also offered with telescopic forks. Unfortunately, the Villiers engine was already out dated when the motocross fad hit the US, and Greeves lacked the kind of money the Japanese brands had for R&D, so the company died. The Villires engines lived on briefly in the Norton/AJS Stormer race bikes.

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  3. Greg Yancey

    In the mid 60’s I worked for a motorcycle dealer that sold Yamaha’s, BSA’s, Vespa’s and Greeve’s. We sold a couple of them I think. They were a very interesting breed of motorcycle and called out to a very interesting breed of motorcyclist. While the Yama’s were being ridden by the more ‘civilized’, the Greeve’s were purchased by the more ‘individualistic’. I would have to liken them to the kind of riders that now travel on bikes like the Honda Africa….follow your own road :).

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  4. Troy s

    Just a child in the early seventies I took an interest in off road motorcycles immediately, lots of dudes rode some very odd looking bikes it seemed,,,homegrown stuff, some were big thumper engines fitted into off road desert racers, motocross or just whatever.
    I remember Greeves only from publications as I was learning to read, but that front suspension I’ve seen before. Cz’s, Maicos, Pentons, Ossa, the list of early motocross bikes goes on and on then Honda came out with the 250 Elsinore and pretty much set the path for the Japanese invasion.
    This is interesting from a visual history angle, riding it off road would be quite a different story!

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  5. Brakeservo

    I’ve never owned a Greeves bit I’ve had 2 Bond MiniCars, a 1954 & 1956. Both of these little three wheeler automobiles were powered by a Villiers 197cc two stroke single. I used to get engine parts and advice from a Greeves specialist in Carmel, California. Google “Bond Minicar” and you’ll see my gold one and my yellow one.

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  6. luke arnott Member

    Greeves finished due to the non – availability of Villiers engines and the retirement of the Company’s founder.Best known for trials bikes,never saw many on the road.

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  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    Greeves was a good competitor in Moto-Cross back in the 60s. Bultaco, Maico, Husqvarna and CZ, and many other Europeans ruled the tracks back then. One look at those Earls forks and you knew you were up against something different. Just couldn’t ward off the Japanese invasion, I guess. I admit that I never saw an enduro version; the only ones I saw were full-blown racers. They were Royal Blue with a British flag on the tanks. Sure hope this goes to a good family…

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  8. TBAU Member

    I love the British bikes but this is a manufacturer I’d never heard of.
    Until today.
    Thankyou Barnfinds.

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