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1972 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE CARRIES OVER Coming one year after the major redesign that came in 1971, and one year before the major redesign coming in 1973 (displacement bump to 750cc, shorter barrels, front disk brake, 5-speed and fresh styling), Triumph sort of ‘took a break’ for the 1972 model year. Few changes were made from …

ABOVE: 1982 Triumph Bonneville T140E Electro, with electric start. This one has the optional 7-spoke cast aluminum “mag wheels”. MODEL DESIGNATIONS As the skies continued to darken at Triumph, the resourceful fellows at Meriden Co-op needed to come up with ever new ways to dress up the same old antiquated design. They had hit on …

2008 Triumph Bonneville Background The 2008 Triumph Bonneville 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 to reopen …

ABOVE: 1983 Triumph Bonneville TSX, factory custom in Gypsy Red. 8-VALVE HEAD As close as they were to the brink of extinction, the optimists at the Meriden Co-operative still believed it could be turned around, and the only way was through product. Nothing like an entirely new DOHC 4-cylinder or the like, but maybe a …

2016 TRIUMPH THRUXTON BACKGROUND By 2016, the Triumph Bonneville had grown from 800cc to 1200cc. And starting in 2016, the top of the Bonneville food chain was the Thruxton and the Thruxton R. While they had identical engines, now producing 96-horsepower, the Thruxton R sported better suspension, brakes and tires, giving it a handling advantage …

SECOND YEAR CARRYOVER The 1964 Triumph Bonneville T120 650 was pretty much a carry-over from 1963 and at the same time a testament to the continuing process of refinement and development. Model designations were as before, with one important addition: the TT Special. Again, the T120R was the Road version, the T120C was the off-road/street …

1960 TRIUMPH TR6 NOMENCLATURE 1960 is the first year when Triumph TR6’s received -“A” or -“B” suffixes. The TR6A became the Roadster with low pipes, and the TR6B retained its former identity as a dirt bike/desert racer/enduro/street scrambler with high pipes. 1960 Triumph TR6 engine & frame numbers came in two batches: the first being …

  1949 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 machine was …

NEW LOOK The 1957 Triumph TR6 debuted with a new tank badge that was prominent across the entire 1957 Triumph lineup. Called “The Mouth Organ” it was as striking chromed grille set between two horizontal chrome ‘eyebrows’. It really paid homage to the new flamboyant era of the late 1950’s & catered particularly, to the …

1968 TRIUMPH TR6 NOMENCLATURE For years, every Triumph TR6 was referred to as a Triumph Trophy, but that was soon to change. For the first time, for the 1968 model year, the name “Trophy” was dropped. By the following year, the new name of Triumph Tiger would be adopted. Since the original Triumph T110 Tiger …

1972 TRIUMPH TR6 BY THE NUMBERS 1972 was the second year for the Oil-in-Frame. There were four models for 1972: TR6R (the standard Roadster with low pipes); TR6C (with high pipes running along the left side); TR6P (Police version); and TR6RV (a Roadster with optional 5-speed gearbox). Engine & frame numbers ran from JG033084 to …

1964 TRIUMPH TR6 BY THE NUMBERS While model years 1962 & 1963 saw only one model designation for all Triumph TR6s, the Triumph TR6S/S, 1964 saw a plethora of TR6 engine prefixes: TR6SS, TR6R, TR6C, TR6SC & TR6SR, and goes to show how the TR6 & Bonneville families had virtually taken over the Triumph lineup, …

THE NEW 1950 MATCHLESS G80 1949 was the first year for the Matchless G80, the company’s top-line 500 single. Typical of British bikes of the era, it used pushrods and a small bore/long stroke (undersquare). The new bike also had a new frame with a swing arm rear suspension, and “Teledraulic” (telescopic and hydraulically damped) …

THE NEW 1952 MATCHLESS G80 1949 was the first year for the Matchless G80, the company’s top-line 500 single. Typical of British bikes of the era, it used pushrods and a small bore/long stroke (undersquare). The new bike also had a new frame with a swing arm rear suspension, and “Teledraulic” (telescopic and hydraulically damped) …

THE NEW 1953 MATCHLESS G80 1949 was the first year for the Matchless G80, the company’s top-line 500 single. Typical of British bikes of the era, it used pushrods and a small bore/long stroke (undersquare). The new bike also had a new frame with a swing arm rear suspension, and “Teledraulic” (telescopic and hydraulically damped) …

2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT 2014 ROYAL ENFIELD CONTINENTAL GT BACKGROUND At the time of its introduction, the Continental GT was Royal Enfield’s lightest, fastest, most powerful motorcycle in production. To this end, they started by increasing displacement from 500cc to 535cc, adding a larger throttle body and a hotter cam, which pushed net horsepower …

THE NEW 1949 MATCHLESS G80 1949 was the first year for the Matchless G80S, the company’s top-line 500 single, the addition rear suspension. Typical of British bikes of the era, it used pushrods and a small bore/long stroke (undersquare). The new bike also had a new frame with a swing arm rear suspension, and “Teledraulic” …

THE NEW 1949 MATCHLESS G80 1947 was the first year for Matchless G80 civilian production following World War 2. The company’s top-line 500 single, retained the rigid frame of the prewar bikes, but borrowed the Teledraulic telescopic front forks from the wartime G3/L. They were shared across many other makes and models with parent-company AMC’s …

1966 MATCHLESS G80- LAST OF THE LINE The G80 was Matchless‘s top-of-the-line 500 single. Launched in 1949, just as civilian production was ramping back up after World War 2, it was soon competing against an entire field of new vertical twins from Triumph, BSA, Norton, and the rest. On the dirt, the mighty G80 faired …

1968 MATCHLESS G80 BACKGROUND Matchless de-stroked their big 500 single down to an 86mm stroke, creating what they called the “short stroke” engine. The G80 was what they called back then a “scrambler”, which later might have been defined as an ‘enduro’, and today would probably be called a ‘Dual Sport’ bike, capable of off-road …

1967 MATCHLESS G80 BACKGROUND Matchless de-stroked their big 500 single down to an 86mm stroke, creating what they called the “short stroke” engine. The G80 was what they called back then a “scrambler”, which later might have been defined as an ‘enduro’, and today would probably be called a ‘Dual Sport’ bike, capable of off-road …

2014 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE STAYS TRUE TO ITS ROOTS The first Triumph Bonneville came out in 1959 and instantly became one of the fastest vehicles normal people could buy, on 2 or 4 wheels. The “Bonnie” became the stuff of legends, and a sign of being cool. Movie stars and rock stars alike loved their Triumph …

1959 MATCHLESS G80 BACKGROUND As was the case with virtually all Matchless motorcycles, sister-company AJS had a nearly-identical version which they called the Model 18. Matchless had cut its teeth, and built its reputation fielding fast, robust and reliable big singles (ie: 350cc and 500cc). The Matchless G80/AJS Model 18 were pushrod-operated OHV singles with …

1937 BSA WM20 Background The 1937 BSA WM20 was part of BSA’s massive wartime contribution to Britain’s war effort. 1937 was its first year of production that would last until the late 1950s. The “W” in the model designation signifies that it was specifically-deisnged to be a military bike (just like Harley’s wartime WLA). Designed …

1999 HARLEY-DAVIDSON MT500 BACKGROUND It’s rumored that Harley built just around 500 MT500s for the US Military. The design genealogy is quite convoluted. To begin with, it has an air-cooled 500cc single-cylinder Rotax engine (made in Austria). The design of the overall bike originated in Italy in the early 1980s, was then picked up by …

1973 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE MODEL DESIGNATIONS 1973 was a big year for the new Oil-in-Frame Triumph Bonneville. Starting the model year with Engine #JH15366, the T120 Bonneville 650 soldiered on for another year (it would finally be dropped in 1976), side-by-side with the new T140 Bonneville 750, which started with Engine #JH15435. BELOW: This lovely bike …

1942 BSA M20 HELPS WIN WORLD WAR 2 BSA, already a manufacturing powerhouse, built 126,000 M20s that served during the War, making it the most-produced motorcycle of World War II. The BSA M20 was also one of the longest-serving military motorcycles in British motorcycle history. BSA’s Small Heath factory was bombed by the Germans in …

1946 BSA M20 History The 1946 BSA M20 was the first year of production following World War 2 and BSA’s massive wartime contribution to Britain’s war effort. 1937 was its first year of production that would last until the late 1950s. Designed to be simple, rugged and reliable, the WM20 was a side-valve (flathead) 500cc …

1954 Triumph T15 Terrier 1954 TRIUMPH T15 TERRIER BACKGROUND While Triumph was known exclusively for single-cylinder bikes in its first 30 years, the introduction of the 500cc Speed Twin in 1938 and Tiger 100 in 1939 changed how the world saw the brand. After World War II, Triumph focused on its twins, revamping the Speed …

1954 BSA Gold Star  1954 BSA GOLD STAR BACKGROUND Throughout the 1930s, BSA created and developed a strong line of single-cylinder motorcycles. In 1937, they introduced the 500cc Empire Star. When Wal Handley lapped the Brooklands racetrack at over 100 mph average speed, he was awarded a Gold Star. The name stuck and was applied …

1941 HARLEY-DAVIDSON WLA – WHAT’S IN A NAME? The nomenclature “WLA” stands for something, as you probably suspected. The “W” signifies the ‘family’ of motorcycles within the Harley family tree. The W-series was their 45 cubic-inch flathead (side valve) single (only one seat) that was their entry-level V-twin in the civilian market. It had superseded …

1951 Vincent Black Shadow 1951 VINCENT BLACK SHADOW BACKGROUND Brilliantly designed by doubling up the 499cc Vincent Comet single-cylinder engine into a 50-degree V-twin, the Vincent Black Shadow was introduced in 1949. It followed on the heals of the Vincent Rapide, which was more of a touring bike. The buying public wanted more power, more …

1951 Norton International 1951 NORTON INTERNATIONAL BACKGROUND The International was sort of the road-going version of Norton’s factory racer, the Manx. It came in two sizes: the 490 cc (500) Model 30 and the 349cc (350) Model 40. Both came with the Manx’s exotic shaft-and-bevel-gear-driven single overhead cam in a heavily-finned all-alloy top end. Because …

1956 Triumph Speed Twin 1956 TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN RELEGATED TO THE BACK SEAT The 1938 Triumph Speed Twin was the first vertical twin to hit the market, just prior to WWII, and it changed everything. Almost the entire British motorcycle industry rushed to copy their success as soon as the war ended. At that moment …

1943 BSA M20 Basics The 1943 BSA M20 was part of BSA’s massive wartime contribution to Britain’s war effort. Designed to be simple, rugged and reliable, the M20 was a side-valve (flathead) 500cc air-cooled single. It had a rigid frame and BSA’s pre-war girder front end. Everything on the bike was extra-heavy duty for military …

1941 BSA M20 HELPS SAVE DEMOCRACY BSA was already one of the world’s largest producers of motorcycles, when World War 2 started. They built 126,000 M20s that served during the War, making it the most-produced motorcycle of World War II. The BSA M20 was also one of the longest-serving military motorcycles in British motorcycle history. …

1970 Rickman-BSA 441 1970 Rickman-BSA 441 Background This 1970 Rickman-BSA 441 is the product of years of development. After years of racing motocross in the 1950s in England and Europe, brothers Don and Derek Rickman decided to design their own frame. At the time, most dirt bikes were simply stripped-down street bikes, which were too …

1963 BSA A10 Pre-Unit 650 Twin 1963 BSA A10 SUPER ROCKET 1963 BSA A10 SUPER ROCKET The Super Rocket was launched in 1957 with the introduction of a new alloy cylinder head and the addition of an Amal TT carburetor. In 1961 a new “357” high-lift racing cam was added. 1963 was the final year …

1942 HARLEY-DAVIDSON WLA – WHAT’S IN A NAME? The nomenclature “WLA” stands for something, as you probably suspected. The “W” signifies the ‘family’ of motorcycles within the Harley family tree. The W-series was their 45 cubic-inch flathead (side valve) single (only one seat) that was their entry-level V-twin in the civilian market. It had superseded …

1959 Ariel Huntmaster 1959 AREIL 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 …