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Modern retro flat-tank motorcycle

Modern retro-styled Black Douglas Sterling Countryman Deluxe
Modern retro-styled Black Douglas Sterling Countryman Deluxe

How would you like a vintage 1920s British-style motorcycle built to modern standards and able to be ridden to work every day, but still wins the Best in Show on the weekends?

Dig out your old tweed jacket and silk scarf because the Black Douglas Motorcycle Co has just released their top model, the handmade 2016 Sterling Countryman Deluxe.


The bike is available in 125cc and 230cc versions, the latter capable of 115km/h, and is certified road legal in Europe. It might require a bit of modification to meet Australian standards.

Company spokesperson Marta Trezzi says they have not yet sent one to Australia, but estimates cost would be A$16,500 plus import taxes for the 230cc.

“We are working on the first bike that will go to Australia. We can take care of the shipping,” he says.

“We started sales in march 2015. We have manufactured around 30 bikes, but we are reorganising the company to reach a production 100 bikes per year.”

While the bike looks British, it is a joint product by founders Fabio and Guiseppe of Italia and Benny of the UK.

Fabio is the business manager and 30-year riding veteran, while Giuseppe is a well-know motorcycle engineer, having worked for Ducati Corse and Yamaha racing. Their partner Benny is a UK motorcycle builder.

Over 90% of the parts are handcrafted in Italy and, true to the spirit of the original flat tank motorcycles, the Sterling has no plastic parts, except for the insulation on the electrical connectors that are hidden within the frame.

The rigid tubular steel frame bike is powered by a single-cylinder engine built under license from Honda, then disassembled, updated and re-assembled by hand at the factory near Milan.

The engine is an air-cooled four-stroke system, pushrod (OHV on the 125cc version) that produces 12,75hp on the 125cc and 14,3hp for the 230cc.

Modern retro-styled Black Douglas Sterling Countryman Deluxe

The bike has a 1500mm wheelbase, 860mm adjustable seat height and dry weight of 95kg for the 125cc and 98kg for the 230cc.

The tank is made with aluminium and magnesium alloy plates with two solid internal compartments. One holds 8.5 litres of fuel for more than 250km range. The other contains most of the electrical system for indicators, lights and the electric starter.

The front forks are classic girder style made by milling solid Ergal aluminium alloy, sculpting piece by piece from raw metal. Wheels are 21-inch and brakes are drums front and rear.

There are more than 100 accessories including saddles, storage boxes, handlebars, headlights, horns and more, with 36 colour options.

Fabio says that in 2010 he had grown “bored of too much power, too much weight, too much electronics in modern bikes”.

Modern retro-styled Black Douglas Sterling Countryman Deluxe

“I had quite a few motorcycles in my garage, but simply didn’t like riding them anymore. I also never really enjoyed the hassles that come with true vintage motorcycles: oil leaks, difficulties in starting the engine, fear of damaging unreplaceable parts,” he says.

In 2011, he meet Benny and they started hand-building the Sterling MK1. 

“As soon as I received it in Italy, and started riding it, i found back the joy of motorcycling. Without a destination, without pressure to reach point B fast,” Fabio says.

“With the Sterling I rediscovered the pleasure of not having to focus on the road coming towards me at high speeds. Not having to worry about the weight, or the tyres not being warm enough. Everything was just perfect … besides a vast amount of people stopping me at traffic lights asking where they could buy a bike like the Sterling.”

In August 2012 The Black Douglas Company was incorporated in the UK with manufacturing in Italy through a partner company.