Top 5 British-made motorbikes
6 June, 2016
During the 1950s and 1960s, the British motorcycle industry was the third most profitable industry in the UK, and around 1.5 million Brits today ride motorbikes. The recent years have seen a revival in classic British motorbikes, with the likes of David Beckham choosing a Triumph Bonneville to trek through the Amazon jungle in 2014. So, what are the top five British made motorbikes?
Brough Superior motorcycles were made in Nottingham by George Brough for 21 years, from 1919 to 1940. Renowned as the “Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles” for their superb quality and expensive price tags, around 3,048 Brough Superiors were made, and one third of them can be found today. Fans of the Broughs included author George Bernard Shaw and Lawrence of Arabia.
Production of Brough Superiors came to a halt in 1940 due to World War II, until a new SS100 was revealed in 2013 over 70 years later. The revamped Brough Superior retails for around £50,000.
The Triumph Bonneville is a standard motorbike that has been manufactured over three generations from 1959-1983, 1985-1988, and 2001- present, with a new design that encompasses the original model from the 1950s. Triumph Bonneville refers to three different Triumph bikes, the T120, the T140 and the new Bonneville 800. The T140 is an award-winning model, and is very popular even today.
The Triumph Bonneville is not camera shy, and has made appearances in Harry Potter, CSI, An Officer and a Gentleman and Grey’s Anatomy. David Beckham also famously rode a Triumph Bonneville through the Amazon in a BBC documentary in 2014.
Hesketh Motorcycles are based in Northamptonshire, and were founded by Lord Hesketh in 1980 in a bid to try and compete with the F1 racing team. The arrival of the V1000 in the early 80s, was the first British bike with twin overhead camshafts and four cylinder valves. Although the company experienced a few teething problems in the first few years, Hesketh was overseen by Mick Broom from 1984 - 2010, before it was sold to Paul Sleeman in 2010 - who has resuscitated the brand, with a Hesketh 24 on the horizon.
With only 24 proposed to be manufactured, the Hesketh 24 will have an American S&S X-wedge engine with a 1,917 cc air-cooled V-twin.
Royal Enfield Bullet
The Royal Enfield Bullet is renowned for having the longest production run in motorcycle history, and has continually been manufactured since 1948. Although the Redditch factory was closed in 1967 and a new factory opened in India, another UK production facility is opening in Leicestershire in August 2016.
The most recent Bullet model was released in 2007, alongside a new set of engines. The Royal Enfield Bullet has had its share of film roles, making an appearance in Big Fish and Friday the 13th.
Métisse Motorcycles is based in Oxfordshire, and since 1982 has been making frame kits for British bikes. The Rickman Métisse was a global champion motocrosser crafted by the Rickman brothers with British ancillary engines. Although the firm stopped manufacturing Métisses in 1980, the firm still builds frames and ancillaries. Métisse are making 300 limited edition Steve McQueen Métisse Desert Racers, replicas of Steve McQueen’s bike in the late sixties.