Bike History, Design and Performance Reviews
Honda 'CB750 Four' 1975 750cc
Don, respected and renowned motorcycle enthusiast, reviews and road tests the iconic Honda CB750. First introduced in the early 1970's, this bike represented the start of the Japanese bike invasion which saw the demise of the British motorcycling industry. Don talks briefly about its history, then takes it out on a road test to assess its power delivery and handling.
Yamaha XT500 1981 ‘Thumper’ 500cc
Short film about Yamaha's iconic XT500, affectionately known as the 'Thumper' - a Hoxton Moto restoration. Ross Doherty presents his take on a 1981 version of the XT, with a bit of nostalgic bias.
XT's were built between 1975 and 1989, they all had a 499cc single cylinder, twin valve, overhead cam engine. Designed as a dual-sport machine for on and off road use.
The XT's had huge success in the African rallies, most notably the Paris - Dakar event. The 1981 version was famously used in one of the Bond films 'For Your Eyes Only', starring Roger Moore.
Ducati 'Desmo' 1974 Single 250cc
Don reviews and test rides a beautifully restored Ducati Desmo 250cc. Design by Dr Fabio Taglioni, this model incorporates his unique Desmodromic valve system, hence the name, and other superb technical components such as Borrani Wheels, Conti Exhaust and Ceriani Forks from its racing history.
BSA 'Golden Flash' 1956 Twin 650cc
Don reviews a Rocker's favourite, the 1956's BSA 650cc Twin. Alongside the Triumphs of the same period, the BSA became famously associated with the sixties Mods and Rockers scene and to this day still has a nostalgic place in British history and culture. BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms, the company was started way back in the 1860's and was primarily an armaments manufacturer, but established itself as one of the largest motorcycle producers in the world - sadly the company ceased trading in 1971. Reliable and trustworthy, Don likens it to a 'good friend'
Yamaha FS1-E 'Fizzy' 1970's Single 50cc
Don humorously reviews and test rides the iconic Yamaha FS1-E 1970's moped, affectionately known as the 'Fizzy'. Although at first not impressed by this 50cc toy for teenagers, his opinion changes as this little machine hauls him around the countryside. He appreciates that for many boy racer's of the the 70's and 80's, this bike was legally the closest they could get to a motorbike. It had a 2 stroke motor, 5 speed gearbox and looked like a motorbike. Downhill with a gale behind you, these machines could allegedly reach speeds in excess of 60mph
Indian 1915 V Twin 1000cc
Don climbs aboard a beautifully restored 1915 Indian V-Twin 1000cc American motorcycle. One of the most successful motorcycles ever made and has a sporting pedigree. It was produced in large numbers, selling 35,000 in 1913. Some of its features include: electric lights, tool box, town & country exhaust, effective suspension and an idiosyncrasy, a left-hand throttle. Some say the left-hand throttle was to enable the rider to draw his gun with his right hand and continue controlling the bike with his left. A truly magnificent machine.
Brough Superior 1930's V Twin 990cc
Don reviews and rides one of the world's most famous motorcycles from the 1920's, the Brough Superior. George Brough produced these machines from 1919 to 1940 assembled them from the finest components to a very high standard, they were perceived as the Rolls Royce of motorcycles. One famous owner of a Brough was Laurence of Arabia, he was known to go off for days and clock up miles and miles enjoying this majestic machine. In recent auctions they have become incredibly desirable reaching a value well in excess of £100,000K
Vincent 1950's V Twin 1000cc
Don reviews the iconic 1950's Vincent motorcycle. In its day it was advertised as the fastest standard road bike and was perhaps the super-bike of that period. It was successful in sprints, hillclimbs and achieved world speed records. With tuning and running on dope it could reach speeds in excess of 200mph. Manufactured in Stevenage, the engineers used some exceptional components which included a rear cantilever mono shock suspension, twin brakes in both wheels and incorporated the engine as part of the frame - in many ways it was ahead of it time. Out on the road, Don enthuses about its performance and likens it to a modern machine. He explains, the power will effortlessly pull you up from low revs to 100mph. He feels its a majestic ride and you get a sense that this is one of the best bikes ever made. A truly iconic bike in the history of motorcycling.
James 'Model 12' 1925 V Twin 500cc
Don reviews a beautifully restored 1925 James motorcycle, affectionately known as 'A Jimmy'. Although in later years James motorcycles were known for producing 2 stroke bikes, in the 1920's they produced 4 stroke machines from 250cc to 750cc. This 500cc bike was thought of as 'the ace in the pack' and each bike was tested to 65mph.
Don feels that James was a very honest manufacturer, producing most of the components that went into the bikes themselves. It has a 3 speed hand change gearbox and 2 levers to control the petrol and air intake. Balancing the 2 levers is part of the skill and pleasure in riding these old machines. In Don's words 'the Jimmy is a real cracker'.
Wilkinson 1912 1000cc 4 Cylinder
Don reviews the extraordinary 1000cc Wilkinson motorcycle. Built by the company famed for producing razors, in the early 1900's they built luxury motorcycles. They produced about 200 machines before the out break of the 1st World War which stopped production - this example is number 160.
It has a top speed of 60mph and some of its features include a 4 cylinder motor (rare for this period), water cooling with the addition of a cooling fan and an unusual hand-start mechanism, slightly precarious for shorter riders.
Don's only word of caution is that because of its comfortable upholstered bucket seat, there's a danger of dropping off to sleep
Scott 'Flying Squirrel' 1928 Twin 598cc
Don's passionate about motorcycles and the Scott holds a special place - he openly admits that it was 'love at first sight'.
Designed by Alfred Scott in the early 1900's, his innovative motorcycle incorporated a Twin Cylinder 2 Stroke Water-Cooled 598cc engine, Telescopic Forks, Handmade Honeycomb Radiator, Duplex Frame and rare for the time a Kick Start. The Scott achieved racing success at the TT, Hill Climbs and Trials.
It also has a distinctive noise which became known as the 'Scott Yowl'.
Ducati 'Monster' 2001 600cc
Don reviews the famous Ducati 'Monster'. Launched in the 1990's is was an immediate sales success and became the biggest selling model in the Ducati range.
The Monster is fitted with a 90 degree V Twin engine. Ducati has used this engine design since the 1970's and the benefits of this configuration is that it produces very little vibration for the rider.
Out on the road Don puts it through its paces. He describes how you sit 'in it' not 'on it' giving a secure feeling. Its comfortable and a very good all rounder for commuting, touring and sports riding. Don says 'even for a modern bike it has a lot of character'.