1938 BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100 BACKGROUND The SS100 (SS stood for “Super Sports”) was built from the very best components available at the time from a wide range of suppliers. The engines that Brough selected for his 1924 through 1936 SS100s was the twin-cam KTOP V-twin built by JAP (named for the initials of its founder, …

1961 Matchless G12 650 Twin 1961 MATCHLESS G12 BACKGROUND Just prior to World War II, Triumph rocked the world with their seminal 500 Speed Twin, but the world had to wait for the war to end before the rest of the industry would have a chance to catch up. At war’s end, BSA was first …

ARIEL SQUARE FOUR BACKGROUND The Square Four engine was originally designed in 1928 by Edward Turner, the man who later came up with the vertical twin for Triumph. In original form, it started out as a 500cc and was quickly expanded to 601cc. The Square Four was essentially two 2-cylinder engines, each with traverse (across-the-frame) …

1947 Triumph Speed Twin 1947 TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN LEADS THE WAY At the end of World War II, civilian production of motorcycles ramped up quickly to tap into the tremendous pent up demand for transportation. 1946 was Triumph’s first postwar model year. The 5T Speed Twin was its best seller prior to the war, and …

1960 Matchless G12 650 Twin 1960 MATCHLESS G12 BACKGROUND Just prior to World War II, Triumph rocked the world with their seminal 500 Speed Twin, but the world had to wait for the war to end before the rest of the industry would have a chance to catch up. At war’s end, BSA was first …

1939 BROUGH SUPERIOR SS80 The “SS” in the name stands for “Super Sports”, and the SS80 was George Brough’s earliest design, dating back to 1920, several years before production actually began. Like its big brother the SS100 which Brough guaranteed would do 100 mph straight off the showroom floor, the SS80 was guaranteed to make …

1965 Matchless G12CSR 650 Twin 1965 MATCHLESS G12CSR – A BRIEF HISTORY Matchless built their first vertical twin in 1949, the 500cc G9. In 1956, they punched it out to 600cc and named it the G12 (seen here). In 1959 they punched it out again to 650cc and called it the G15. In 1963 there …

1964 Matchless G12 650 Monarch Twin 1964 MATCHLESS G12 BACKGROUND Just prior to World War II, Triumph rocked the world with their seminal 500 Speed Twin, but the world had to wait for the war to end before the rest of the industry would have a chance to catch up. At war’s end, BSA was …

1963 Matchless G12CS 1963 MATCHLESS G12CS – A BRIEF HISTORY In 1963 there were four models offered of the G12. There was the Standard, De Lux, the CS (Competition Sport) and the CSR (Competition Sport, Road). They all were 646cc vertical twins with the 4-speed AMC gear box, Lucas magneto ignition. The CS and CSR …

VELOCETTE MAC BACKGROUND Velocette had great success with their OHC (Overhead Cams) singles, like the KSS, but in 1933, they decided to introduce a new line of OHV (Overhead Valves, ie: pushrods) machines, as a way of reducing their production costs while delivering a lower-priced motorcycle to market. The K-series had been expensive to produce. …

The BSA M20 was just part of BSA’s massive wartime contribution to Britain’s war effort. But it was a very big part. 1937 was its first year of production that would last until the late 1950s. Designed to be simple, rugged and reliable, the M20 was a side-valve (flathead) 500cc air-cooled single with a cast-iron …

1948 Norton Manx 1948 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

ABOVE: This 1952 BSA A7 featured plunger rear suspension, the transition between earlier rigid frames & the swing arm frames to arrive in 1954. BIRTH OF THE BSA A7 By the onset of World War II, BSA was one of, if not THE largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. They were making great success of …

1962 Norton Manx 1962 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

MILITARY ROOTS Long before the first Triumph Trophy came out in 1948, Triumph Motorcycles were cutting their teeth in the dirt, gleaning off-road experience designing & building military motorcycles for the British Army in World War 2. The 1940 Triumph 3TW 350 twin was built to a War Ministry specification, it was a lightweight at …

1959 Norton Manx 1959 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

THE NORTON COMMANDO SS WAS A STREET SCRAMBLER Today, the differences between types of bikes within a given brand can differ completely. Today, standard roadsters, touring bikes, sport bikes and adventure bikes are laid out totally different from one another, with different frames, suspension, wheels, brakes, everything. They’re optimized for their primary mission and highly …

1953 Norton Manx 1953 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

1949 Norton Manx 1949 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

1952 Norton Manx 1952 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

THE HORSEPOWER RACE IS ON The BSA A10 was the inevitable result of the relentless drive for more & more horsepower. Driven mostly by the performance-hungry US market (which also happened to be the largest by far), every British motorcycle maker scrambled to build a 500cc vertical twin after the war, in the mold of …

1939 Triumph Tiger 100, first year for this hot new model. Note Rigid frame & girder front suspension. A TIGER IS BORN The Triumph Tiger was the natural evolution of the constant & relentless quest for more & more power. The <a href=”https://www.classic-british-motorcycles.com/triumph-speed-twin.html”>Triumph Speed Twin</a> had literally changed the motorcycle world in 1938, and was …

1953 Matchless G9 500 Twin 1953 MATCHLESS G9 BACKGROUND Like everyone else in the British motorcycle industry at the time, when Triumph rocked the world with their 1938 Speed Twin, the world’s first modern 500cc vertical twin, AMC (Associated Motor Cycles), parent company of Matchless, and AJS, developed a new 500 vertical twin for both …

1955 Matchless G9B 1955 MATCHLESS G9B BACK STORY The 1955 Matchless G9B has an interesting history, that is also very telling about the British motorcycle industry at the time. Frank Cooper was the US distributor for AMC (Associated Motor Cycles) who produced Matchless, AJS and Francis-Barnett motorcycles. In the late 1940s, America was quickly becoming …

1956 Matchless G9 500 Twin 1956 MATCHLESS G9 BACKGROUND Matchless Motorcycles cut their teeth on the depressed British home market, depressed both before World War II and after. They did good business selling reliable single-cylinder bikes to commuters who used them as their only means of transport to and from work. But things were changing …

1958 Ariel Huntmaster 1958 ARIEL HUNTMASTER BACKGROUND Ariel was owned by the Sangster family, failed a few times, then ended up in the hands of young Jack Sangster. Ariel was his entry into the British motorcycle industry, something that would have profound effects on it. He did so well selling single-cylinder Red Hunters, that he …

1961 Triumph Speed Twin 1961 TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN HAS A “BATHTUB” The British home market had been hungry for cheap transportation after WWII, and commuter motorcycles helped fill that role. But England being…well, England, was wet and rainy and to prevent rust an owner needed to wipe his bike down each night after getting home …

1949 Triumph T100 Tiger 1949 TRIUMPH T100 TIGER LEADS THE PACK At the end of World War II, civilian production of motorcycles ramped up quickly to tap into the tremendous pent up demand for transportation. 1946 was Triumph’s first postwar model year. The 5T Speed Twin, its best seller prior to, and after the war, …

1949 Vincent Rapide 1949 VINCENT RAPIDE BACKGROUND Vincent built its reputation on it’s robust 499cc Comet single. Prior to the war, they figured out that if they doubled it, they could create a 998cc V-twin and the series A Vincent Rapide was born. Few were built prior to World War 2, which curtailed all civilian …

1956 Triumph Blackbird ABOVE: The 1956 Triumph Blackbird was essentially a 6T Thunderbird painted black. This earned it the name “Blackbird”. STUCK WITH THE IRON HEAD The 1956 Thunderbird retained its old cast iron head and all its overheating problems, while the new alloy “Delta head” debuted on the Triumph Tiger T110 and the new …

1968 Triumph Daytona 500 1968 TRIUMPH DAYTONA – WHAT’S IN A NAME? Triumph derived the name of this bike from Buddy Elmore’s win at the 1966 Daytona 200 at Daytona Beach FL riding a Triumph T100T Tiger 500 twin. It was Triumph’s first-ever Daytona victory, with an average speed of 96.6 mph. By 1967, it …

1947 Norton 350T 1947 NORTON 350T BACKGROUND Right after the War, all the British motorcycle manufacturers were gearing back up for civilian production and many were competing in various forms of racing. Road racing, various forms of off-road racing, and trials. Norton revived its last trials bike, used in the 1940 racing season, just before …

1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor 1963 ROYAL ENFIELD INTERCEPTOR BACKGROUND Royal Enfield hopped up its 692cc Constellation and created a new model, the 700 Interceptor in 1960, for sale in the US and Canada markets only (on England). They’d just lost their contract to rebadge Constellations with Indian Motorcycle regalia then selling them in the US …

1962 BSA A65 1962 BSA A65 – NEW UNIT TWIN After 15 years of great success with their pre-unit twins, the 500cc A7 and the 650cc A10, BSA had a real challenge ahead of them. How do you follow up a ‘home run’ like the A7 & A10? They had proven themselves to be not …

1938 Velocette KSS 1938 VELOCETTE KSS AT THE CUTTING EDGE The Velocette KSS debuted in 1925 as an OHC (overhead cam) 350cc air-cooled single. Being OHC placed it at the cutting edge of engine technology at a time when most machines still used side-valve designs or pushrods. The name KSS breaks down to the K …

1964 Triumph Thunderbird 1964 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD AS A COMMUTER? When the 6T Thunderbird launched in 1950, it was the first Triumph 650 (up from the 500cc 5T Speed Twin, and was the largest British-made parallel twin at the time. As such, it was a true hot rod in its day. However, the rest of the …

1938 Velocette MAC 1938 VELOCETTE MAC BACKGROUND Velocette, while a relatively small motorcycle company, was always known for it innovative designs and premium quality. In the 1920s, when most engines were side-valves (flatheads) and only a few had OHVs, Velocette introduced it’s K-series (KSS and KTT, first as factory racers, then as production bikes in …

1958 BSA A10 Pre-Unit 650 Twin 1958 BSA A10 BACKGROUND BSA’s A10 was the 650 version in it’s twin cylinder heavyweight line. The 500cc version was called the A7. Following Triumph‘s success with its seminal 500 Speed Twin, after the war, BSA and most of the rest of the British motorcycle industry followed with their …

1956 Triumph Thunderbird ABOVE: This 1956 Triumph Thunderbird wearing black livery was nicknamed “Blackbird” by the public and it stuck. STUCK WITH THE IRON HEAD The 1956 Triumph Thunderbird retained its old cast iron head and all its overheating problems, while the new alloy “Delta head” debuted on the Triumph Tiger T110 and the new …

1966 Norton Atlas 1966 NORTON ATLAS HISTORY The story starts not with a Norton at all, but with the 1938 Triumph 500 Speed Twin, the world’s first “modern” vertical twin. The rest of the British motorcycle industry went nuts and rushed to field their own 500 twins. But WWII got in the way, putting things …