V CON­FUS­ING

Classic Bike (UK) - - YOUR CLASSICS -

I loved your Septem­ber is­sue fea­tur­ing V-twins – the Vin­cent ar­ti­cle high­lighted one of the bizarre fail­ures in mo­tor­cy­cle de­vel­op­ment. I think it’s gen­er­ally ac­cepted that the V-twin is an ideal con­fig­u­ra­tion for a mo­tor­cy­cle engine and in the first half of the 20th cen­tury there were quite a few, al­though in the sec­ond half only the Ital­ians (and Harley) seemed to see the ben­e­fits.

Vin­cent showed that if you al­ready make a sin­gle it’s sim­ple and cost ef­fec­tive to put two of them to­gether as a V-twin. The in­her­ent prob­lem of vi­bra­tion in a sin­gle is ad­dressed with­out merely mak­ing it dif­fer­ent, as in the ver­ti­cal twin. Even in the ’50s/’60s it should have been a no-brainer, but

un­for­tu­nately those in charge of the Bri­tish com­pa­nies were at best short-sighted and some too ar­ro­gant to con­sider some­one else’s ideas.

How­ever, the strangest fail­ure is that the Ja­panese didn’t adopt and im­prove any of Vin­cent’s ideas. It took them 20 years to come up with any­thing like Vin­cent’s rear sus­pen­sion and even longer to use the engine as a stressed mem­ber. For­tu­nately, they did even­tu­ally get round to build­ing some great V-twins – par­tic­u­larly Honda – but they don’t get any­where near as good as the Vin­cent. The thing I find nearly as bizarre as the fail­ure to copy Vin­cent, is the fact that it took so long to copy Scott’s idea of wa­ter cool­ing.

The his­tory of mo­tor­cy­cles is very strange. MIKE JOHN­SON

RIGHT: Wayne Har­vey’s GS. Is it still grac­ing the roads any­where?

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