A little known fact about myself is that I have deep affection British automobiles and motorcycles. The typical cars come to mind, the Triumphs, MGs, Morgans, and Jaguars. And I can’t leave out the Lotus cars, simple, lightweight, and extremely agile. There are days where I dream of driving through the country side in a Series 1 EType Coupe or going for a drive in the French countryside near Le Mans in an XKSS. Unfortunately to my dismay, the latter will only happen through some sort of divine intervention and losing about ten inches of overall height, as I’m an above average drink of water.
Another growing fascination of mine as of late has been the British motorcycles, the more I read about them, the more I’m intrigued. I’m the type of person who loves to delve into the reasons why things are the way they are. What started all of this? An episode of Top Gear. Where there was a race between a train, a motorcycle, and a car. A 60163 Tornado, a Jaguar XK120, and a Vincent Black Shadow. While I’m not too interested in trains, maybe in the future, they are a marvel of engineering themselves. It was a particular segment with Richard Hammond on the Black Shadow that intrigued me. He said his Black Shadow had a reserve fuel tank on it. He had to turn a handle to open up the reserve tank. Might I add this bike was built in 1949, ahead of it’s time? Indeed, quite ahead of it’s time.
The second nudge towards British motorcycles came from, who else, the King Of Cool, Steve McQueen. If you have a chance pick up McQueen’s Machines, a nicely written sort of memoir in ode to McQueen’s affections for everything automobile, motorsports, and airplane related. This was the nudge towards the other favorite of mine, Norton being the first, of the British motorcycles, Triumph. The simple yet effective bikes Triumph produced could be ridde hard, put away yet, and yearned for more as the door shut on your garage. While going off roading on a motorcycle isn’t my thing. I would gladly pick up a battle beaten and worn Triumph or Norton, pick up a welder, and go to town building a simple little bobber to tool around town on.
The British motorcycle companies were a great group of manufacturers. It’s a shame that companies like Ducati, KTM, Suzuki, and Honda came in to play with their race and road variants. Don’t get me wrong, my affection for Ducati, KTM, and Aprilia is there. This isn’t what this entry is about it, it’s about British motorcycles and how they set the standard in the post war era for motorcycles. Where everyone was scrambling on what to do.
Now what brought this post about? I was scrolling through my YouTube subscriptions this morning when I got home from work, when I noticed a video put out by Motorcycle News. They did a short teaser of Norton’s new 2013 TT bike. A bike being brought to the Isle of Man in a few short weeks to tackle the Tourist Trophy. It reignited the urges of a simple life where I could walk into the garage, see a Norton and a Triumph sitting in the garage waiting for a ride. This was only worsened by the short nap I took where I dreamed of that very feeling. Riding through the rolling countryside in Pennsylvania, wind blasting around my chest, a smile on my face, as that Norton CS1 rumbled off of the road below me.