The International Six Day Enduro (ISDE) is the oldest motorcycling competitions and is often been cited as the Olympics of motorcycling. Originally titled the International Six Day Trial (ISDT), it started in 1913 in Carlisle England as a reliability trial requiring riders to navigate on long routes through the country in an effort to test both machine and rider. It changed its name in 1980 to reflect developments in the sport.

Although originally a road based competition, the earliest events would have taken place on Pre-WW1 country lanes with unsprung motorcycles (and with little in the form of gearing, power, or brakes!). So considering that it’s focus today on purely off-road competition the testing conditions are similar.

The exact rules have changed over the years. In its original conception, riders competed in country teams, requiring them to use motorcycles from their specific country – i.e. Germany on German machines (BMW etc), Spain on Spanish machines (Ossa, Bultaco etc). As the number of manufacturers dwindled, these rules were relaxed, where now any country can use machines of their choice.

The competition is still held over 6 days, with over 1250 miles typically covered over the event duration. Riders must compete over a fixed route while travelling between two points within a fixed time period. When competing, there are strict rules on outside assistance, requiring the rider to service their own machine with carried tools and spares.

Awards are given in the form of medals – gold, silver, bronze – to individuals, with country and manufacturer teams competing for trophies where there are various ones given depending on gender and team size etc.

Although the competition is seen as ‘European’ is has taken place in America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and Chile. Countries including Ital, France, Sweden and Finland typically dominate the results and team awards.

Some great shots from the 1977 ISDT at Povazska Bystrica, Czechoslovakia

Jeff Smith in the Parc Ferme Geoff Burgess


Can-Am’s history with the ISDE

Throughout its short life, Can-Am was synonymous with the ISDE. It commenced in 1973 when at the ISDT in Dalton Massachusetts – Jeff Smith 125cc (bronze), Erin Nielson 125cc (silver) and Bob Fischer 175 (gold) walked away with a hat trick of medals. Imagine the eyebrows that were raised. The first time the ISDT had travelled outside of Europe and then a perfect hat-trick to be scored by a team from Canada on an unknown marquee.

Jeff Smith at the ’77 ISDT at Czechoslovakia provided Can-Am with an ideal poster


Special mention should also be made of Ron Matthews and Bill Sharpless who also competed for Can-Am but both failed to finish the event. Bill Sharpless was the father of Blair Sharpless who was to return to the ISDE in 1984 and compete once again for Can-Am

Comments are closed.