British Motorcycles of the 1930’s
The A-Z of Pre-War Marques
By: Roy Bacon
Hardcover: 239 pages
Dimensions (in cm): 20.6×27.7x22mm
Publisher: Osprey Publishing Ltd., London, 1986
The wBW Rare Motorcycle Book Review Series: Triumph Bonneville: Portrait of a Legend | 60 Years of MotoGP | Hold ON! by Stan Dibben | Classic Motorcycling: A Guide for the 21st Century | The Rugged Road by Theresa Wallach | Exotic Motorcycles by Vic Willoughby | Fay Taylour – Queen of Speedway | Fifteen Times by Giacomo Agostini | Historic Racing Motorcycles, Famous Racing Motorcycles and Built for Speed by John Griffith | Great Motorcycle Legends by Richard Renstrom | Bahnstormer by L.J.K. Setright | British Motorcycles of the 1930’s | Tuning for Speed by Phil Irving | Café Racers by Mike Clay | Tuning for Speed by Phil Irving | Bill Lomas: World Champion Road Racer | More wBW Book Reviews | wBW Book Review Ratings
This is the third in our occasional series of reviews of classic motorcycle books. Some of these books some are very rare; some are out of print, obscure, forgotten or generally out of the mainstream.
I have always been of the opinion that deepening our understanding and knowledge of what has come before can help us better appreciate what we now have and what will come in the future. Our hope is that you will discover something new, just as we have, and that you will become as inspired as we have been to deepen your knowledge of motorcycling history.
Roy Bacon is very well known to regular webBikeWorld book review readers as the author of the Illustrated Triumph Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide and its companion, the Illustrated Norton Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide. Bacon is one of the world’s best known motorcycle historians, and he has written about many other familiar makes in books such as the “BSA Illustrated Buyers Guide”.
But Bacon is a man of mind and hand, because he’s covered both the history and restoration tips on some relatively obscure marques in books such as “AJS & Matchless Restoration”, “Norton Singles OHV & SV 1931-66” and others.
Obviously, a man of many talents with a wealth of information about motorcycles, especially the wonderful British variety. Roy Bacon has a not-easy-to-find website with a biography and information about a motorcycle dating service that he offers to interested historians.
The 1930’s is so foreign to many motorcyclists today that it isn’t even considered as part of motorcycle history. But the 1930’s were actually an incredible, vibrant and action-packed decade in more ways than one, especially for the British.
But our focus is on motorcycles, and there were over 80 different makes of motorcycle available in Britain in the 1930’s. This may be hard to believe or conceive, because that’s probably at least twice as many motorcycle makes in the entire world in the 21st Century.
Bacon covers 84 of them in “British Motorcycles of the 1930’s”, from the familiar marques like Norton, Triumph and AJS to the completely obscure, with names like New Gerrard, NUT, SOS, Chell and Whitwood. I have no idea how he got them, but there are many photos of each with detailed descriptions, model histories and even charts in the back of the book that list the technical details.
If you can’t get enough of motorcycles; if you’re interested in the astonishing and utterly fascinating history of the British motorcycle industry; or if you’ve viewed the wonderful “A to Z of British Bikes” video and want more, this is the book for you. It’s an extremely valuable historical document that can only become more precious as time marches on.