14 May 2021

Top 5 British Made Motorbikes

During the 1950s and 1960s, the British motorcycle industry was the third most profitable industry in the UK. 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. So, what are the top five British made motorbikes?

1. Brough Superior

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.

2. Triumph Bonneville

The Triumph Bonneville is a standard motorbike 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 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 and Grey’s Anatomy.

David Beckham also famously rode a Triumph Bonneville through the Amazon in a BBC documentary in 2014.

3. Hesketh

Hesketh Motorcycles are based in Northamptonshire and were founded by Lord Hesketh in 1980 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 the launch of the Hesketh 24.

Only 24 were proposed to be manufactured, the Hesketh 24 has an American S&S X-wedge engine with a 1,917 cc air-cooled V-twin.

4. 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 opened in Leicestershire in August 2016.

The Royal Enfield Bullet has had its share of film roles, making an appearance in Big Fish and Friday the 13th.

5. Métisse

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.

Have we missed any other iconic British motorcycles on our list? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Can't believe you missed out norton commando and bsa rocket gold star and rocket three. These were iconic brands in motorcycle history. Norton esp as it has such a great racing history from many years ago. But the list could go on and on. So many great machines that deserve a mention.

Jimmer, 06/01/2024

British bikes are a myth now, the parts or whole bikes are all made in India or China, yeah they may finish assembly a few bits to complete the bike here, so that makes it a British bike? if the parts and bike are fully assembled here I will accept it but they are not and likely never will be.

lu, 22/09/2022

Hesketh and Metisse should not even be mentioned here. If you want a list of the most important British bikes, it would have to be BSA, Triumph, Royal Enfield, Vincent and Norton, and that can even be debated, depending on your preferences. Of those manufacturers, you would then have to choose a model each. But Hesketh is at best a footnote, Metisse a curiosity.

gk, 09/04/2022