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Engine Type


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 …

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. …

1968 Velocette Thruxton 1968 VELOCETTE THRUXTON BACKGROUND Velocette had a proven design in their 500cc Velocette Venom. Big singles had sort passed from grace in the 1960s with the advent of all the twins pouring out of Britain, and now the high-revving, and totally-reliable twins coming out of Japan. Velocette didn’t have the funds to …

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 …

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 …

1971 BSA B50 SS 1971 BSA B50SS BACKGROUND The “SS” stands for “Street Scrambler”, and was intended as the full street version of the 500cc single-cylinder B50 line. BSA dipped into its parts bin, borrowing from the 1971-and-later BSA A65 for the front forks, triple clamps, brakes and lighting. All of this was added to …

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 …

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 …

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 …

1959 Triumph Tiger Cub 1959 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 …

1975 Rickman 250MX 1975 RICKMAN 250MX – LAST OF THE BREED After a brilliant career that started in 1959 with the creation of the first Rickman Metisse prototype, the Rickman’s brothers’ line of MX race bikes came to an end in 1975. Market changes certainly had something to do with it, as the Japanese were …

1939 BSA Silver Star 1939 BSA SILVER STAR BACKGROUND The brilliant engineer Val Page designed BSA’s new 500 single in 1937, while at the same time bringing some rationale to BSA’s complex product lineup. It was now made up of 250 and 350 singles in what was called the “B-class”, and the top-of-the-line 500 heavyweight …

1961 BSA Gold Star 1961 BSA GOLD STAR GETTING LONG IN THE TOOTH The Gold Star originally evolved out of the 1937 BSA Empire Star, but it took until after World War II to actually create the Gold Star, which launched in 1948. So it’s basic design was ancient by the time it went out …

1971 Rickman-Weslake 1971 Rickman-Weslake Background This 1971 Rickman-Weslake is typical of the Rickman dirt bikes running around in the 1960s and early 70s, the result 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, …

1948 Velocette KSS 1948 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 …

1955 Ariel Red Hunter 1955 ARIEL RED HUNTER BACKGROUND The 1930s were indeed the Golden Age for the British motorcycle industry. At the time, nearly all of them relied heavily on one basic engine architecture: the air-cooled, pushrod OHV single, and most marques had built their lineup of 350 and 500 singles. World War II …

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 …

1948 Vincent Rapide Series B 1948 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 …

1941 Matchless G3 1941 MATCHLESS G3 BACKGROUND Just prior to World War 2, Matchless was on a roll. Their middleweight singles were selling as fast as they could be built. In 1939, Matchless introduced the next evolution in their single-cylinder design, the 349cc Matchless G3. Just as production was ramping up, the British Army got …

1939 Vincent Rapide Series A 1939 VINCENT RAPIDE BACKGROUND Vincent head engineer Phil Irving was working on some tracings of the firm’s 499cc single cylinder engine in 1936. As things got moved around, two of the tracings lined up roughly in the shape of a V-twin. With a little cajoling, he quickly lined it up …

1961 BSA Gold Star Clubman 1961 BSA GOLD STAR CLUBMAN While the BSA Gold Star was famous for its off-road and desert-racing prowess, when properly fitted out, they also made excellent road-racing machines, on par the a Norton Manx. The Clubman edition got a 36mm bellmouth Amal Grand Prix carburetor, hotter cam and timing, higher …

ABOVE: This 1958 Triumph TR6 Trophy features the optional twin high pipes, very popular in the US Market, which could replace the 2-into-1 side exhaust. 1958 TRIUMPH TR6 BY THE NUMBERS 1958 Engine/Frame Numbers: 011861 to 019244 Production Dates: October 10, 1957 to June 25, 1958 ENGINE CHANGES Early Delta Heads were prone to cracking …

ABOVE: 1956 Triumph TR6 Trophy w/2-into-1 “siamesed” high exhaust running along the left side. TR6 BY THE NUMBERS 1956 Engine/Frame numbers: 70199 to 82797 Production Dates: August 8, 1955 to July 27, 1956 1956 TRIUMPH TR6 – THE NEW KID IN TOWN Triumph Motorcycles were on a roll in the 1950’s, with one hit after …

The 1965 Triumph TR6 is a beautiful, graceful machine. This, however is a 1964 TR6SS, very similar to the ’65, as no photo was available of a ’65. HELP!! Got a ’65 TR6? Send us pictures of your bike! 1965 TRIUMPH TR6 BY THE NUMBERS There were four basic models of Triumph TR6 for 1965, …

1961 TRIUMPH TR6 BY THE NUMBERS Gone was the previous “A” & “B” designations introduced in 1960. The new nomenclature was TR6R for ‘Roadster’ with low pipes & TR6C for ‘Competition’, the enduro version with high pipes. All went by the model name “Triumph Trophy”. 1961 Triumph TR6 engine & frame numbers run from D8432 …

FRITZ EGLI & THE EGLI-VINCENT Fritz Egli was born in Switzerland in 1937, spent his early years motorcycle racing and building motorcycles, including frames of his own design. He opened his own shop in 1965 and began building modern cafe racers with 998cc Vincent Black Shadow V-twin engines and Egli-designed-and-built frames, dubbed the Egli-Vincent. Three …

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 …

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 brands. As always, there would be …

NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The 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 and reliability, allowing it to …