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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 …

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, …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

1959 BSA A10 Pre-Unit 650 Twin 1959 BSA A10 Rocket 1959 BSA A10 ROCKET By 1959, both of BSA‘s big non-unit twins, the 500cc A7 and the 650 cc A10 had been in production for a decade or more and had been the recipients of constant and continuous improvement. This would break and they’d make …

1939 BSA Gold Star THE 1939 BSA GOLD STAR IS FAST! The BSA Gold Star was introduced in 1938 in both 350cc and 500cc form. They were hand-built as high-performance machines. The BSA factory offered several performance modifications as options. Every bike was run on a dyno, and came from the factory with a printout …

1961 Triumph Cub 1961 TRIUMPH 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 market for …

A WORK IN PROGRESS In our efforts to complete our online index, and make this the world’s greatest website about classic British motorcycles, we’re building pages as fast as we can. The first thing we add are the pictures. Then come the specifications and then the history. So, if you see a page that just …

2007 Royal Enfield Bullet Sidecar Rig 2007 ROYAL ENFIELD BULLET SIDECAR RIG BACKGROUND Royal Enfield was another classic British motorcycle brand that started out in the late 1800s building bicycles. By 1899 they were dropping other makers’ engines into things and before long they were building motorcycles. Over the following decades they built a reputation …

1947 Velocette KSS 1947 VELOCETTE KSS BACKGROUND 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 for overhead cam …

1954 Vincent Rapide Series C 1954 VINCENT RAPIDE-NEARING THE END 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 …

  BEST EVER The 1970 Triumph Bonneville T120 was not only the high water mark in Triumph 650 development, and the year that most people favor as ‘the best Triumph Bonneville ever built’, it was also the last year before the dreaded Oil-in-Frame bikes arrived, and all the problems with cash-strapped owner BSA began to …

NEW MODEL DESIGNATIONS Starting with the 1961 Triumph Bonneville, the T120 model designation was followed by either an “R” for Road models with low pipes, or a “C” for the Street Scrambler with high pipes. Changes in the new bike were minimal, yet the steady process of development and improvement never abated. Of course, again …

1958 BSA Gold Star 1958 BSA GOLD STAR BACKGROUND By 1958, 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 …

1955 Vincent Rapide Series D   1955 VINCENT RAPIDE-LAST OF THE LINE 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 …

SLOW STEADY REFINEMENT The 1965 Triumph Bonneville T120 650 was again more or less a carry-over from 1964, which itself was a carry-over from 1963. Changes were minor and evolutionary in nature, aimed at refinement, improving reliability, performance and ease of production. Model designations were also carryovers: T120R was the road machine with down pipes; …

ABOVE: 1980 Triumph Bonneville T140E in Steel Gray & Black. SLOW SALES HURT CO-OP By 1980, what was left of the “Triumph magic” had evaporated. Large numbers of 1979 Triumph motorcycles were still sitting unsold in dealer showrooms & factory warehouses. For the first time since the end of WWII, the home market (Britain) was …

ABOVE & BELOW: This 1978 Triumph Bonneville is a T140V, which still has the Delta-style head with splayed intake ports & Amal Concentrics. Later 1978 Bonnevilles were T140E’s, with parallel intake ports & MkII carbs. This color scheme was popular in 1978. A sign of the times: earthtones were in, even for motorcycles seats. SMOG …

ABOVE: This 1971 Triumph Bonneville was restored to ‘better-than-new’ condition. It won “Best of Show” Award at the Clubman’s All-British Weekend 2011 motorcycle show. TOTALLY NEW, BUT BETTER? The 1971 Triumph Bonneville was a totally new bike. Only the engine carried over from 1970. Not since the 650 twin went unit construction in 1963 had …

ABOVE: The 1959 Triumph Bonneville had the big fenders and nacelle of the Triumph Thunderbird. Not a popular move with Americans, many of whom swapped it out for the more svelte TR6 bodywork. ALL NEW BIKE When it was introduced, the 1959 Triumph Bonneville 650 was one of, if not THE fastest motorcycles you could …

1962 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE -MODEL DESIGNATIONS The 1962 Triumph Bonneville again came in two basic model designations: T120R was the Road version, and T120C was the Street Scrambler/Off-Road version (what later might have been called an Enduro). Most of the bike was strictly carry-over from 1961. Of course, this was the last year for the non-unit …

MORE POWER, SCOTTY! By the release of the new 1966 Triumph Bonneville T120 650, Meriden had had a few years to sort out the teething problems of the new frame and unit-construction engine, introduced in 1963. Most of the changes up to this point had been incremental, but now the real work was starting: how …

ABOVE: This 1975 Triumph Bonneville is rarer than you might think. While it looks very similar to the 1973 & 74, very few were made due to the workers strike. MERIDIAN CO-OP FORMS The ’75 Bonneville is practically non-existent. So few were produced that it hardly counts as a model year. The Meriden factory workers’ …

COMPETITION FROM ABROAD The 1969 Triumph Bonneville had its work cut out for it. It seemed like the Triumph Bonneville was getting faster every year, and good thing too, with new arrivals from Japan like the 1969 Honda 750/Four & the Kawasaki 500 triple. The merry men at Meriden found a few more horses hiding …

ABOVE: The 1981 T140ES Executive was a factory touring bike, with sport fairing & saddle bags (panniers). MORE SPECIAL MODELS The 1981 Triumph Bonneville attempted to address dwindling sales with what had become “Limited Edition”-madness. Not that it was a bad thing, they turned out some pretty nice bikes. But, the problems Triumph was facing …

ABOVE: 1979 Triumph Bonneville in T140D Bonneville Special guise, with Dark Blue & Silver paint scheme. SPECIAL EDITIONS HELP SALES Triumph motorcycles’ new owners, the employees, known as the Meriden Co-operative, or the Co-op for short, had hit on a new idea almost by accident: a limited edition special. 1978 had been the 25th anniversary …

2009 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE THRUXTON BACKGROUND The 2009 Triumph Bonneville Thruxton has a rich heritage. The classic Triumph Bonneville 1959-1983 was easily Triumph’s biggest name, then and now. After the death of the old Triumph (by this time the worker-owned Meriden Co-Op) in 1983, British developer-billionaire John Bloor bought the brand out of receivership with plans …

MODEL LINE-UP The 1967 Triumph Bonneville T120 650 continued to be developed and refined in incremental steps, sometimes one forward and two back. Model designations carried over from late-1966, that is, the TT Special now had it’s own stand-alone model designation, the T120TT. This went along with the traditional T120R Road version, and the T120C …

A WHOLE NEW MOTORCYCLE! The 1963 Triumph Bonneville was essentially a brand-new bike. Not quite designed from a clean slate, but nearly every part was new and/or improved. Gone were the days of adjusting the primary chain by loosening the gearbox then swiveling in its mounts, only to have to readjust the rear chain afterwards. …