Britain has played an important role in the history of motorbike production. During the early 20th century, thousands of machines were created. By 1913, 100,000 motorbikes had been registered in Britain. The industry continued to expand until it couldn’t compete with the emerging Japanese motorcycle scene. Many classic British motorbikes have been created, and here are four of the best.
The Norton Commando is one of the most revolutionary motorbikes of all time, thanks to its Isolastic anti-vibration system. The isolated frame cancelled out any vibration problems and made for a smoother ride. It came with a 750 cc engine and though the early model needed to be revamped, the Commando proved to be a successful racing motorbike.
It could be argued that the Triumph Bonneville is the most famous British motorbike. The Triumph Cycle Company based the Bonneville on the the Tiger T110 and brought it out in 1959. With a 649 cc parallel-twin engine, the Bonneville had the distinction of being the fastest motorbike in the world.
The motorcycle achieved mainstream success when it set a number of speed records on the Utah Bonneville Salt Flats. 28,000 were sold in the US and it remained the fastest motorbike in the world until the arrival of the Japanese superbikes.
Royal Enfield Bullet
The Royal Enfield Bullet is one of the most long-lived classic British motorbikes. Created in 1931, the Bullet was introduced as a four-stroke single cylinder machine. With a 350 cc engine, centre-spring girder front forks and saddle-type fuel tank, the Bullet became a popular motorbike for people all over the world.
A divergence occurred in the 1950s, when the British and Indian Enfield factories decided to produce their own versions. The split is part of the reason why the Bullet has been produced for so long.
The Triumph Thruxton is one of the best known cafe racers, helping to establish the era. The vehicle was named after the Thruxton Circuit, where Triumph won the top three places in the 1969 Thruxton 500 mile endurance race. It featured an upgraded Bonneville engine and modified components that helped improve the bike’s performance. It achieved a top speed of 140 mph.