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26th Annual All-British Motorcycle Weekend, San Jose, California

This model was the last of the Vincent line, a fully faired '55 Series D Black Prince.

This model was the last of the Vincent line, a fully faired '55 Series D Black Prince.

Photo Credit: Clement Salvadori

Clement Salvadori
April 15, 2013
Filed under Retro + Vintage Motorcycle Reviews, Rider Magazine Blog

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You have to give those Brit-bike lovers a big hand; they are an incredibly enthusiastic bunch of enthusiasts, putting up with aged machines that were none too reliable when new…by current standards.  I rode British motorcycles all through the Sixties, when they were the hot item—and regular maintenance meant getting out the tool kit (large) and going over all the many nuts, bolts, and screws once a week, every day if I was traveling. And those Limey bikes had a lot of fasteners holding everything together, as well as a lot of grease fittings that needed attention.

Now there are clubs supporting just about every marque that those English factories turned out, from the popular Ariel to the lesser known Rudge. And many of these clubs give good support to the BSA Owners Club of Northern California, which has been putting on this extravaganza since 1988. Organizing a show like this requires a lot of work, and money—renting the venue, paying for insurance, advertising, et cetera. The event takes place at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds

This very nice Norvin special has a Vincent 1000cc V-twin tucked into a Norton Featherbed frame.

This very nice Norvin special has a Vincent 1000cc V-twin tucked into a Norton Featherbed frame.

And, weather being kind, they get a great turn-out. Well over 2,000 people paid the nominal five bucks to get in the door, where more than 130 immaculately turned-out machines were on the floor—including some 40 HRD/Vincent models, from a ’37 Comet to the last of the line, the ’55 D Series. Every year the event has a featured marque, and this year it was the Vincent—Phil Vincent bought the HRD company in 1927 and used those initials until 1949 when American dealers complained that they were getting confused with Harley-Davidson.

For a lousy buck you could buy a raffle ticket and hope to win the ’79 Triumph 140E—the odds on that were considerably better than hoping to win the lottery. All around were the vendors, selling Burman gearboxes, Lucas magnetos and rusty Whitworth tools—as well as complete bikes. Outside, a scrambles track had been set up, with two-strokes and four-strokes bouncing over the man-made hills.

If you didn’t have enough action on Saturday, 45 Brit bikes showed up on Sunday for the 100-mile ride. Leader Don D. said that not a single bike broke down, and the dust and dirt on the back roads he took them on was calmed by the oil dripping from the crankcases.

Next year, if you have your own private Gulfstream, or live within riding distance of San Jose, plan to attend the 27th.

he vendors did a roaring business, as bling is not important to those who restore old motorcycles.

The vendors did a roaring business, as bling is not important to those who restore old motorcycles.

The Rudge motorcycle company did not survive World War II, but this '38 Ulster 500 is an excellent example of the marque.

The Rudge motorcycle company did not survive World War II, but this ’38 Ulster 500 is an excellent example of the marque.

Lots of shiny stuff was for sale by vendors, like these mufflers.

Lots of shiny stuff was for sale by vendors, like these
mufflers.

The Brits liked to use Vincent Rapides to haul sidecars around.

The Brits liked to use Vincent Rapides to haul sidecars around.

Comments

One Response to “26th Annual All-British Motorcycle Weekend, San Jose, California”

  1. RAY VADER on June 26th, 2013 11:10 pm

    When I got of the U.S.Navy in 1969 I bought a new BSA Lighting 650cc. I had always liked the look of British motorcycles. I loved the way way this bike ran and handled. I must admit that I did have to do a lot of screw and bolt tightening but I loved it. Because I needed cash I sold this bike, and I missed it terribly.
    Over the the years I rode all of the Jap bikes and some of the Euro’s as well.
    In 1997 I had a fight with colon cancer, and I did kick it’s ass. In 1998, I bought a new Triumph Thunderbird Sport. I still own this bike now in 2013, and I still love it. To me it has all of the ride and handling qualities of the old Brit bikes but, without all of bolt tightening and electrical problems. It’s not a tourer or cruiser but it suits me.

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