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?