fork front and twin shock rear end was advanced for any bike, let alone a middleweight. The ride was reasonably firm and well controlled. The Douglas steered with a nicely neutral feel and was very stable, even over bumps. The Dragonfly’s brakes were heavily criticised in a 1955 road test, but this bike’s stoppers were no worse than I’d expected of the typical period fitment of single-leading-shoe drums at each end. The front drum needed a firm squeeze of the lever, but didn’t give rise to any drama, and there was no faulting the grip from the Dragonfly’s Avon Roadrunners, at least once they had been brought up to the correct pressures after spending some time in a classic dealer’s showroom. Unfortunately for Douglas, the Dragonfly tended to spend far too long on the showroom floor after the model belatedly reached dealerships in 1955, nine months after its London show introduction. That lukewarm first magazine road test, plus the bike’s modest performance, relatively high price, and Douglas’s reputation for mixed reliability and quality control ensured that the model wasn’t the success that the firm so badly needed. In 1956, Douglas was taken over by the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company. Motorcycle production was abandoned in the following spring, after only about 1,500 units had been built. The final batch was sold off at cut price by a London dealer. Another of the British motorcycle industry’s best-known marques was gone. particularly pleasant whining sound from the engine, which largely drowned out the restrained note from the Dragonfly’s twin silencers. At least the flat twin was impressively smooth. Given that the Dragonfly produced only 17 hp, I shouldn’t have been surprised that its performance was less than dramatic. Acceleration away from a standstill was laboured, even when the motor was revved reasonably hard (there was no tacho to check). And although its single Amal carb gave reasonably crisp low-rev response that made slow-speed manoeuvring easy, the bike didn’t have much low-rev punch either. At least, it cruised comfortably at 80 km/h or slightly more, aided by the roomy, big-bike feel provided by the riding position. Perhaps, it was unfair to have expected much more, because this was after all only a 350-cc twin. Strange that the new flagship should be notably slower than its T35 predecessor, though. In its defence, the bike did cruise pleasantly smoothly at between 80 and 100 km/h on a flat road, feeling as though it would happily have done so until its big 24-litre tank ran dry. Its four-speed gearbox worked well, too, and was apparently a big improvement on the previous box. Top speed was about 115 km/h, but given this bike’s age and fairly recent rebuild, I didn’t try to reach that. There was not much wrong with the Dragonfly’s chassis, at least by the standards of 1955. At a time when most bikes had crude telescopic forks and plunger rear suspension, its layout of Earles 57 www.bikeindia.in June 2020 Bike India
© PressReader. All rights reserved.