Harley Davidson Duo-Glide

1960 HD Duoglide FLH

Few makes of motorcycle arouse such conflicting emotions as Harley-Davidson. To lovers of fast, nimble sports machines in the European tradition, they’re slow, heavy and primitive. Others define the same characteristics as laid-back, solid and traditional, and are equally committed to motorcycling as conceived in Milwaukee. But considering the continuing popularity of the Hog clearly … Read more

BMW R69

BMW R69S

Of all the 1950 s motorcycles on this website, the BMW R69 is the one most readily identifiable today. The Bavarian company has been inextricably associated with horizontally-opposed, shaft-drive twins since Max Friz originally designed the engine in the 1920’s. They have equally been associated with high prices and top-quality engineering. In the late fifties, … Read more

Gilera 500-4 Racer

Gilera 500 4

As the first of the post-war fours to achieve racing success, the Gilera enjoys a special place in racing history. It would be the Japanese who first put a comparable machine into large scale production, and today the transverse four is by far the most common high-performance format.

Triumph 650 GT Thunderbird

Triumph’s 650 Thunderbird, first launched in 1949, is probably the single machine best known to the post-war generation. For this was the bike ridden so defiantly by Marlon Brando in the 1952 film “The Wild One” (‘ What are you rebelling against, Johnny?’ ‘Whadd’ya got?’). The T-bird also linked two eras. Its engine was the … Read more

Douglas Dragonfly

The Dragonfly was the final model produced during the chequered and diverse history of the Douglas factory. As well as producing motorcycles, the Kingswood, Bristol company built aero and stationery engines, Vespa scooters, trucks and even dabbled with cars. Doug las, despite their rather staid reputation, began their days wit h competition success. Within three … Read more

Ariel Square Four

ariel square four

In the days before Italy, and then Japan proved otherwise, mounting an in-line four cylinder engine in anything but a touring motorcycle posed an insurmountable problem: mount it longitudinally, and the bike was too long; transversely, and it was unacceptably wide. So any four with sporting pretensions required a different layout. This was the thinking … Read more

Vincent 1000 Series C

Vincent Series C Black Lightning

They still speak of the ghosts of Vincent Vee­ twins thundering down the Stevenage by­pass. Long before the expression was coined, ‘the world ‘s fastest standard production machine’ was in every way a superbike: fast, technically advanced and brutally good-looking. Although now associated most of all with that engine, Vincent had originally used proprietary power … Read more

Scott Squirrel

Scott Squirrel

Alfred Angas Scott, founder of the Scott motorcycle company, was one of the great innovators of motorcycling’s early years. It was Scott who patented a form of caliper brake as early as 1897, a fully triangulated frame, rotary induction valves, unit construction, the first motorcycle kick­ start and much, much more. Most of all, Scott … Read more

Indian Chief

For many years the Indian name evoked American motor cycling quite as vividly as Harley-Davidson does today. Founded by George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom in 1901 – even earlier than Harley – the Springfield, Massachusetts company’s first model was a 1¼ horsepower single. Yet just a decade later an Indianridden by O C Godfrey became … Read more

Norton International

If the Manx Norton was one of the most famous racing motorcycles of all time, then the International must be one of the most legendary roadsters. In fact, they were substantially the same machine, differentiated at the factory by the name scribbled on the job-card. ‘Manx’ simply meant racing specification, whilst ‘ Inter’ referred to … Read more