For fans of historic two-wheeled motorcycle action, here are the top five bikes you won’t want to miss…
1953 Norton Manx
The Norton Manx is the quintessential vintage racer. Originally built to win the Isle of Man TT in 1937, the Second World War temporarily halted its development. Good things come to those who wait though, and as production picked up in 1946, the Manx endured decades of Grand Prix and TT dominance. This year, we’ve got several of the things flying around the circuit in the Barry Sheene Trophy. Holding the throttles open will be some of the world’s best riders including John McGuinness, James Hillier and Freddie Spencer.
Fast, black, and a modern stealthy frame for its 1950 vintage, the Black Shadow is a must see. A favorite of Hunter S. Thompson, who famously wrote of the Vincent Black Shadow’s awe-inspiring speed and his transformative experience of riding one to the ragged-edge, this bike is an icon of the two-wheeled world. The 1948 version was fondly known as “the bathing suit bike” after a life photographer captured Rollie Free setting a new record for naturally aspirated motorcycles at Bonneville, laying prone on the fender in his underwear to set a speed of 150.313mph. That’s commitment to speed.
BMW R57 Compressor
Ten years after the collapse of its aero engine business at the close of WW1, BMW released the R57, based and developed from the very first BMW-badged motorcycle, the R32, which famously featured a 493cc twin-cylinder, sidevalve engine with horizontally opposed cylinders. This “flat twin” layout would forever be associated with the marque, and can be seen within the design of the R57. Production of the model lasted only three years, making this 1928 R57 one of the rarest, and most sought-after BMWs of the period.
Brough Superior SS100 Racing
A British bike made famous by TE Lawrence (of Arabia fame), who adored the Brough Superior SS100, before sadly being killed on one near his home in 1935. A crash which would change the world of motorcycle riding forever with the research and development of crash helmets. As a bike, the Superior SS100 is an absolute gem of oil-splattered 1920s engineering and considered the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles. Bonkers, beautiful and still fast enough to make even the bravest of bikers clench, this is the one of the oldest bikes here.
Entered and ridden by Sebastian Gutsch, the BMW R5SS was BMW’s first ‘over the counter’ racer. The bike was capable of 100mph and featured world-leading adjustable front telescopic forks as standard. A returning favourite to Revival, this elegant motorcycle from 1937 was pushed to the absolute limit for a Podium finish in the past by Gutsch and Double World Superbike Champion Troy Corser, competing with newer, more powerful bikes.