Bike India : 2020-06-10

DOUGLAS DRAGONFLY : 57 : 57

DOUGLAS DRAGONFLY

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

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