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Engine Size


1927 AJS MODEL H4 AJS built a fine line of motorcycles in the late 1920s, including side-valve (SV) and overhead valve (OHV) singles ranging in engine size and output. Horsepower was in the single digits across the board. The H4 was a 350cc SV single with advanced features for the day. Special alloys were used …

THE TRIUMPH TWENTY ONE MISSION There are two schools of thought on the name ‘Triumph Twenty One’. It’s either honoring the 21st anniversary of Triumph Engineering, or was derived from the bike’s displacement in cubic inches. Either way, that was just it’s name. It’s model designation was 3TA, and it was Triumph’s entry-level 350 twin. …

THE 1973 TRIUMPH X75 HURRICANE As an interesting aside to the Triumph Trident / BSA Rocket 3 story is the X75 Hurricane. Having insisted on a slightly different 3-cylinder engine from the Triumph’s, BSA wanted to make an impression and show their dealers something exciting for a change, and something that Triumph couldn’t match. There …

ABOVE: The 1960 BSA Gold Star Clubman was a high-performance roadster. The Gold Star also earned major off-road competition cred during its 25-year career. GOLDIE LORE The BSA Gold Star was one of the most successful motorcycles of all time, both in the showroom & on the track. It’s ancient design was outdated almost at …

1959 AJS MODEL 31 BACKGROUND AJS and sister-brand Matchless were late to the vertical twin party. Triumph started it all with the 1938 Speed Twin, the world’s first ‘modern’ vertical twin (aka: parallel twin). It took the world by storm, and suddenly every other British brand had to have one of their own. Alas, World …

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 (or trying) as the Indian …

MY 1979 TRIUMPH T140D BONNEVILLE SPECIAL I own a ’79 T140D myself. It’s pictured above, on display at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel CA in 2011. The day after this show I rode it in the Quail Ride, which took us through the hills around Carmel. It happened to be my birthday, and what …

Sweet 1970 Triumph TR6 Trophy, with high pipes (on the other side). THE ORIGINS OF THE TR6 The story of the Triumph TR6 starts, as does virtually every British vertical twin, with the seminal 1938 Triumph Speed Twin. This 500cc cast iron twin started it all & after WWII when civilian production was resumed, it …

1961 AJS MODEL 31 BACKGROUND AJS and sister-brand Matchless were late to the vertical twin party. Triumph started it all with the 1938 Speed Twin, the world’s first ‘modern’ vertical twin (aka: parallel twin). It took the world by storm, and suddenly every other British brand had to have one of their own. Alas, World …

Hinkley Triumph Motorcycles Hinkley Triumph Motorcycles have a rich and interesting history, despite being a fairly young company. The classic Triumph brand led the performance motorcycle market from the end of World War 2 until the late 1960s, when the Japanese absolutely conquered the market. Almost the entire British motorcycle industry collapsed before a relentless …

1936 Matchless G3C Trials. MATCHLESS G3 EARLY HISTORY In the early 1930’s Matchless was enjoying great success with its side-valve & later OHV singles. It was only natural to continue to develop this line, and in 1936 Matchless introduced two new distinct ‘families’ of motorcycles: The “Clubman”, and the “Tourist”. Available in 250, 350 & …

1946 AJS MODEL 18 BACKGROUND Immediately following the end of World War II in 1945, every British motorcycle manufacturer rushed to convert from war production back to making civilian products. Millions of British troops were coming home, and they would all need transportation. But economic times were tough in England after the war, and many …

BSA B50 BACKGROUND BSA built its business and its reputation on big singles. The 350cc and 500cc Gold Star dominated the off-road market from the late 1930s to the early 1960s. By this time of course, the state of the art had moved forward considerably, and the heavy Gold Star couldn’t compete with lighter 2-strokes …

THE VELOCETTE LE – A BEST-SELLER? Immediately following World War 2, there was a pressing need in the UK for simple, inexpensive, utilitarian personal transport to get to-and-from work. Velocette attempted to tap into this market with their radical new “LE” in 1948. LE stands for “Little Engine”, and it certainly was. The 149cc water-cooled, …

1947 BSA C10 BACKGROUND With the exception of their exciting new vertical twin, the A7, BSA’s postwar lineup was pretty pedestrian. They were feeding the biggest market in England at the time: low-cost commuter bikes. While England emerged from World War II as one of the victors, they were shattered economically. So millions of returning …

TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN CHANGES THE WORLD! From their earliest inception through the 1930s, most classic British motorcycles were single-cylinder designs with a few V-twins thrown in for sidecar duty. But the problem with both these configurations is vibration and a lot of it. As bikes grew in displacement and power output and the engine speed …

NORTON NAVIGATOR BACKGROUND Norton has always been known for big powerful bikes like the Manx and the Commando. But they also had a very ambitious line of smaller bikes that they originally built to respond to a change in British motoring law that was announced in 1958. Starting in 1960, first-time British motorcycle riders would …

TANGLED ROOTS The BSA Rocket 3 is something of an anomaly in the history of BSA Motorcycles. Designed by Triumph, (BSA owned Triumph) in their Meriden Plant as the Triumph T150 Trident 750 triple, , and morphed into the BSA A65 Rocket 3, both were produced in BSA’s Small Heath factory. ABOVE: The 1969 BSA …

VELOCETTE KSS – WHAT’S IN A NAME? In case you were wondering, the letters “KSS” stand for Kamshaft Super Sport or Camshaft Super Sport. The original owners of Velocette were German, and the German spelling is with a K. The KSS was the final development of the K-series, and it stayed in series production until …

1977 Triumph Bonneville Silver Jubilee US-Market Version ABOVE & BELOW: The US-spec version of the 1977 Triumph Bonneville Silver Jubilee had a typical US-style teardrop tank. (Pictures courtesy of MidAmerica Auctions.) CELEBRATING A QUEEN Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England in 1952. 1977 was the 25th, or Silver Anniversary of her coronation and the …

1950 AJS 7R BOY RACER BACKGROUND The 7R was a factory road racer produced by AJS from 1948 through 1963. It’s 348cc displacement put it in the middleweight, or ‘junior’ class of racing, and hence the nickname “Boy Racer”. With up to 40 horsepower and weighing only 285 pounds, they were fast (120 mph top …

1959 AJS MODEL 16 BACKGROUND The Model 16 was AJS’s middleweight 350 single. They were rugged, well-designed and fast for their era and class. Since AMC owned both companies, both AJS and Matchless had nearly identical bikes. Matchless called theirs the G3 and besides styling, the only mechanical difference between the two was that AJS …

1953 AJS Model 18S 1953 AJS Model 18C 1953 AJS MODEL 18 BACKGROUND Since AMC owned both brands, the AJS Model 18 is almost mechanically identical to the Matchless G80. Besides styling, the only real difference between the two is that AJS mounted it’s magneto in front of the cylinder, and Matchless mounted theirs behind. …

1964 MATCHLESS G3C BACKGROUND Parent-company AMC got a contract to build 80,000 Matchless G3s and G3/Ls for the British government during World War II. When the war ended, these became the foundation of AMC’s middleweight line, including both the 350cc Matchless G3 and the AJS Model 16. As always, both were solid, well-built machines that …

1974 Triumph Trident T150 1974 TRIUMPH TRIDENT MOSTLY CARRIES OVER The 1974 Trident was essentially much the same as the 1973, other than paint schemes and minor details. Trouble was brewing at Triumph that saw the workers union shut down their Meriden plant, where their best-selling Bonneville and all other twins were produced. This crippled …

1971 Norton Commando 1971 Norton Commando ROADSTER 4 NEW MODELS The 1971 Norton Commando line grew from 2 models in 1968 (Fastback & S), to 3 models at the beginning of the 1969 model year (Fastback, S & R), then dropped back down to 2 models by the end of 1969 (Fastback & R). Now …

2014 Norton Commando 961 2014 NORTON COMMANDO 961 BACKGROUND When the classic Commando went out of production in 1975, a battle over the rights to the name ensued. Ultimately UK business man Stuart Garner, who already owned Norton Racing Ltd acquired the rights to the Norton Commando brand. His new company, Norton Motorcycles Ltd, he …

1955 BSA GOLD STAR BACKGROUND By 1955, the Gold Star was well-sorted and had turned into a fine machine. All Goldies were special to begin with, each engine being hand-assembled and dyno-tested at the factory. A copy of the dyno test was included with each new Gold Star. They were powerful and reliable, and they …

1968 Egli-Vincent 1968 EGLI-VINCENT BACKGROUND Swiss racer/engineer Fritz Egli designed and built custom frame kits for the legendary Vincent 998cc V-twin engine. He built around 100 frames from 1967 to 1972, with the intent of modernizing the iconic Vincent Black Shadow, which fell out of production in 1955. 1968 EGLI-VINCENT DESIGN Every Egli-Vincent is unique, …

1974 Norton Commando A 1974 NORTON COMMANDO FOR EVERY TASTE The Commando was available in a variety of configurations, all cosmetic packages, as they were all built on identical Commando engines, frames and running gear. While the first Commando was the Fastback, by 1974, the standard Norton Commando was the Roadster, which is the most …

1970 Egli-Vincent 1970 EGLI-VINCENT BACKGROUND Swiss racer/engineer Fritz Egli designed and built custom frame kits for the legendary Vincent 998cc V-twin engine. He built around 100 frames from 1967 to 1972, with the intent of modernizing the iconic Vincent Black Shadow, which fell out of production in 1955. Each frame was hand-built to a high …

1962 Norton Dominator 650SS 1962 NORTON DOMINATOR 650SS BACKGROUND The story starts not with a Norton, 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 …

1953 Velocette MAC 1953 VELOCETTE MAC IS A TOP-SELLER The Velocette MAC debuted in 1933. It had an air-cooled OHV 350cc single cylinder engine that was capable of hustling the 280-pound MAC to 75mph. It was developed out of the 250cc Velocette MOV by lengthening its stroke for the 1934 model year, and the new …

1958 Triumph Tiger Cub 1958 TRIUMPH TIGER CUB BACKGROUND The 200cc T20 Tiger Cub was produced from 1956 through 1968 and sold quite well for Triumph. The original Cub was introduced in 1953 at the Earls Court Motorcycle Show in London England as a 150cc commuter, at a time when there was a very big …

2009 Triumph Bonneville 50th Anniversary 2009 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE 50th ANNIVERSARY The Triumph Bonneville has been with us since 1959. That classic Bonnie evolved completely in 1963 with its conversion to unit construction. These were the Golden Years for the Triumph Bonneville, with record sales, blistering performance for the day, and serious street cred. Just as …

1962 Velocette Venom 1962 Velocette Venom CLUBMAN 1962 VELOCETTE VENOM CLUBMAN The Venom was already a fairly low-volume bike, but the Clubman option was even more rare. Just 36 Venom Clubmans were built in 1962. The Clubman package included rearset footpegs and controls, early-style upswept exhaust, TLS (Twin Leading Shoe) front drum brake with cooling …

1957 Ariel Square Four 1957 ARIEL SQUARE FOUR – GETTING LONG IN THE TOOTH Alas, the world was changing, and with it the motorcycle market. The Ariel Square 4 designed decades before, was keyed to another age, one where acceleration and all-out top speed weren’t as important as smoothness and reliability. Hence the Square Four …

1957 Norton Manx 1957 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 …

1965 Triumph Thunderbird 1965 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 …

1950 Ariel Square Four 1950 ARIEL SQUARE FOUR BACKGROUND The original Ariel Square Four was created by legendary engine designer, Edward Turner in 1930. In its original form, it displaced 500cc and had four cylinders arranged in a ‘square’. It was unusual in that it had two crankshafts, one behind the other, each with two …