Hooniverse Asks – What’s Your Favorite British Bike?

BSAs, Ariels, Nortons, Royal Enfields. . . the Vincent Black Shadow. Let us all bow our heads in respect for the multitude of great British bike makers that have come and gone, displaced by makers from another island nation, and today mostly exist only in the hands of collectors like Jay Leno, or are sadly immobile in museums. Only Triumph managed to survive the fall of the British motorcycle industry, and today continues to make bikes, albeit ones with more Japanese content than British.
But for the first half of the 20th Century Great Britain was like the Octomom of motorcycle makes. And places like the Isle of Man, and the Isle of Lucy, to exercise them, the nation gained a reputation for making some of the most sporting bikes on the planet. Back then, everything was smaller, and while you might consider a 1,200-cc sport bike to be modestly endowed, a big bike from the golden age of British two-wheelers could do a whole lot with a whole lot less.
So, when you’re picturing yourself, hunched over the cafe bars, peeling through the fog on a slender sliver of a road coursing up the side of an English Channel isle, what exactly is that dream bike that you are riding?
Image source: [In.com]

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  1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Even though I never did figure out the intermittent charging problem, THIS.
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/wp-content/uploads/man/myb50ss_web.jpg"&gt;

  2. OA5599 Avatar

    George Michael made it difficult for someone to be a BSA fan without looking like a douche.
    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2317/2251259509_7c37d0a904.jpg"&gt;

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      By that yardstick, it's difficult for someone to be a Bultaco fan without looking like a slut.
      <img src="http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs013.snc1/4479_83063163217_72672068217_1776898_108809_a.jpg"&gt;

      1. OA5599 Avatar

        You say it like that's a bad thing.

  3. Black Steelies Avatar

    I'm particularly taken by the Triumph Scrambler. Modern usability and classic looks that are relatively easy to customize.
    <img src="http://hellforleathermagazine.com/images/2009_Triumph_Scrambler_Accessories.jpg"&gt;
    via Hell for Leather

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      But that engine has hips waaaaay too wide for a Bonneville.

    2. ptschett Avatar

      YES. I love that bike.

  4. Slow Joe Crow Avatar
    Slow Joe Crow

    Norton Commando Fastback
    <img src="http://motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/classic_bikes/1969_NORTON_COMMANDO_Fastback.jpg&quot; >
    or a Triumph Speed Triple

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      A bike so cool it can use two days on the weekly Hoonitarian calendar, Tuesday and Friday.

    2. CptSevere Avatar

      Yeah, pretty much right off the bat you scored a home run on that one. I had a Norton 850 Commando years ago, but it was a Roadster. I still regret selling that bike, like I had sold a son into slavery or some such drivel. Yeah, I f*cked up bigtime when I let that bike go, and want another one, like right now. If I had a 25 grand Harley I'd trade it for a well sorted Commando in an instant.

  5. Feds_II Avatar

    I'd say something clever like Norton Rotary, but ultimately, if I were going to spend my money on a British bike, it would have to be the Rocket III Touring.
    Yes, it's garish, and a pig, and huge, and heavy, but I like it. And that's all that really matters to me.
    <img src="http://www.triumph.co.uk/images/RocketIIIT_2009_510x347.jpg&quot; width=500>

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    Triumph Speed Triple in Roulette Green.
    <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200611/2007-triumph-speed-triple-11_460x0w.jpg"&gt;
    Just look how cool you would be!

  7. Deartháir Avatar

    I was just at a motorcycle show this weekend, and the only new bikes that really caught my interest were the Royal Enfields. There is a dealership here in town, and I'm not gonna lie, them's some tempting tasty fruit.
    <img src="http://www.royalenfield.com/images//Products/670×526.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Actually, that's the new unit engine…designed and built in India.

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        Which is kinda the point. Nothing good is made in Britain. Well, except maybe Rust-MyEnemy, but even that's a toss-up. All the best British cars are made by Germans, and all the rest are from The Colonies, or use German parts. The same applies to the Royal Enfield. It's a British bike, made in classic British fashion, and the reason it works and is so delightfully true to the style is that it's not made by the British.

    2. discontinuuity Avatar

      I'm a fan of this home-build V-twin Royal Enfield:

  8. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Now that production of the new Norton has found its way back across the pond to Britain, the Commando 961 is a valid answer to this question.
    <img src="http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e311/mgrau/Norton_Commando_961.jpg"&gt;

  9. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Norton Commander Police bike.
    <img src="http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/Gallery%20%20A/Norton%20Commander%20Police.jpg&quot; width=350>
    These used to be all over UK roads before all the Honda Pan-Europeans arrived on the scene. It's highly improbable that Her Majesty's Finest will ever ride rotary engined British Bikes en masse again.
    Also awesome is its predecessor, the Norton Interpol.

  10. skitter Avatar

    <img src="http://i615.photobucket.com/albums/tt237/jskitter/hooniverse/NortonKneeler.jpg&quot; width="500">
    Continuing with Nortons, I would take the Kneeler.

  11. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Possibly the only vehicle that you look dorkier riding than a Segway. Look at the guy in the background riding one. He looks like "Paul Blart, Infantryman."

    1. P161911 Avatar

      But Paul Blart didn't get a Lee-Enfield or STEN.

  12. dustin_driver Avatar

    That one right there. In that photo at the top. That's my favorite British bike. Yowza, that's hot.

  13. dustin_driver Avatar

    My second favorite British bike is the Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy. Oh, wait . . .
    <img src="http://www.motorencyclopedie.nl/motorencyclopedie/honda-gb500clubman/honda%20gb%20500%20clubman.JPG&quot; width="500">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Having owned the BSA B50SS pictured in the first comment, and a GB500, I would heartily agree.

      1. CptSevere Avatar

        Back when I had my Norton, it was my privilege to look disdainfully down my nose at one of these in a Honda showroom, while the Commando was parked outside (I think I was there to buy points for my CB350, or maybe a carb kit). Not now, these little gems look just about perfect.

  14. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

    I've always been partial to Bonnies
    <img src="http://scudamor.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/big_triumph_bonneville_50th_061.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    Only in black of course

  15. Lou Avatar

    Rickmans in the dirt.

  16. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    I went to Vintage Days at Mid Ohio a few years ago when Vincent was the featured marque. There was a paddock with 10 or 12 Black Shadows. I almost fell over looking at them sitting there, but later I saw them cruising around. So, so perfect.

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      I saw two of them parked on the street in Moab, Utah, once. I hung around for like an hour with my camera, taking pictures of them, hoping the owners would come over and ride them away so I could hear what they sound like. They must have been drinking beer at Eddie McStiff's brewery down the street, I ended up leaving without seeing those gorgeous bikes being ridden. Too bad about that.

  17. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Ariel Square Four, very unique engine.
    <img src="http://www.khulsey.com/motorcycles/vintagebike-images/ariel_square_four_1950.jpeg&quot; width="550">

    1. ptschett Avatar

      I would thumbs-up you more if I could. Fascinating motorcycle.

  18. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    1974 Norton John Player Special. Can't find a reasonable picture. A kid in high school had one and it was impressive.

  19. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Anything actually built in Britain.

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