Real Classic - - Letters -

It’s been in­ter­est­ing read­ing ar­ti­cles and let­ters about the Sun­beam S7/S8. Here’s a photo of a ‘cus­tomised’ S7 that I owned in the early 1960s, taken in North Wales in 1964. I think it shows they didn’t have to be dressed as a gen­tle­man’s mo­tor­cy­cle. I took my in­spi­ra­tion from an Amer­i­can magazine called

Home Mechanix. As you can see, the bike had a petrol tank from a BSA C12 and its mud­guards were brass, the sad­dle was an old rac­ing seat I bought sec­ond­hand. Cus­tom bikes weren’t seen much then so it re­ally turned heads.

I don’t think you can com­pare an S7/S8 with a BSA Shoot­ing Star 500. In my opin­ion the lat­ter was far su­pe­rior. Back in the day, con­sid­er­ing its han­dling, per­for­mance, ease and cost of main­te­nance, the Shoot­ing Star was thought by many to be the best mo­tor­cy­cle ever built. Be­fore chal­leng­ing that be­lief, re­mem­ber that pop­u­lar mo­tor­cy­cling had de­vel­oped from the Vic­to­rian love of cy­cling, and mo­tor­cy­cles there­fore had to be af­ford­able if they were to be suc­cess­ful. These bikes can’t be seen in the same way as mod­ern bikes that may ar­guably be more re­li­able, etc, but which are of­ten ex­pen­sive, com­pli­cated and be­yond the DIY me­chanic. I’m sure Arthur Davidson would have ob­served that they can’t be re­paired on your momma’s porch…

Mick N, mem­ber 9986

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