The Vincent; The Best?

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BrianK said:
Heck, if we're dreaming here, screw the Vincent, gimme a Brough Superior....


I have to agree.
I had a 52 Series C Rapide for about ten years. I let it go as it was not getting ridden and really needed to go to a new home. They make great torque and are truely a joy to ride fast. Always reminded me of a steam locomotive....
I miss it now and then.
 
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I went to the IOM Manx GP a couple of years ago, the Vincent Owners club had that week as their rally week and also got a run of the course when it was closed for 1 lap. There were 400+ Vincents on the island that week, at £25K average thats £10M worth of one make in one place :shock: . On their closed course lap there were about 20 close up behind the riding marshell egging him on to go faster when they passed me. 1 rider fell and took 3 others off the course and one was hospitalised.
 
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kommando said:
I went to the IOM Manx GP a couple of years ago, the Vincent Owners club had that week as their rally week and also got a run of the course when it was closed for 1 lap. There were 400+ Vincents on the island that week, at £25K average thats £10M worth of one make in one place :shock: . On their closed course lap there were about 20 close up behind the riding marshell egging him on to go faster when they passed me. 1 rider fell and took 3 others off the course and one was hospitalised.

So... a £100k tumble... :shock:
 

grandpaul

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Crashing on a parade lap: NOT cool.

Crashing your Vincent, taking out two other Vincents, on a parade lap: MONUMENTALLY STUPID.
 
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Just started "Big Sid's Vincati." So far, an interesting read.

Finished "Rebuilding the Indian" last night. That one was definitely good too.

I have no desire for an Indian, though. A Vincent, shit yeah!
 
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Brian - You'll enjoy it. I got a copy as an Xmas gift from my brother. The author does give the impression that Vincents are more magical then some people would suggest though.
 

ILLF8ED

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There was a Rapide on one of the NCNOC rides in '82. I remember my impression was that it was not any faster than my Commando and didn't accelerate as quickly. See below picture I pulled out of my archive. This is in the Mendicino area north of San Francsico.

IMG_0024.jpg
 
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illf8ed said:
There was a Rapide on one of the NCNOC rides in '82. I remember my impression was that it was not any faster than my Commando and didn't accelerate as quickly. See below picture I pulled out of my archive. This is in the Mendicino area north of San Francsico.

IMG_0024.jpg


We had a Vincent show up at our Norton club meeting on Saturday. As we say, we'll let any ol' bike show up.

4341879958_a3de0d535b_o.jpg
 
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sidreilley said:
Brian - You'll enjoy it. I got a copy as an Xmas gift from my brother. The author does give the impression that Vincents are more magical then some people would suggest though.

Bought "Rebuilding the Indian," "Big Sid's Vincati," and "The Old Man and the Harley" off Amazon in one shot. Indian was really great, loved it (although I have never had, nor do I now, any desire for an Indian). Vincati was pretty good (I have a much-loved Duck in the garage, and have long coveted a Vincent), and Harley I started but put down fairly quickly (I have a Deuce, but I'm really not an HD guy). It all depends on the author and his story.

Highly recommend "Rebuilding the Indian" and do recommend "Big Sid's Vincati." "The Old Man and the Harley"? - I'll let you know if I'm able to get through it.
 
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Having now finished it, I can't recommend "The Old Man and the Harley." It's okay, but borrow a copy from your local library if you're interested. I can't see re-reading this one.
 
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Love the motor and the chassis was ahead of it's time for a time, but the best Vincent resulted when Fritz Egli took a motor and dumped it into an actual frame with semi-modern suspension. The Shadows/Rapides were the transformers of their day what with the brace of tommy bars and infinite (mal) adjustments. Interesting and anacronistic-yes. great motorcycles? if you're a Vincent engineer.
 
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grandpaul said:
Crashing on a parade lap: NOT cool.

Crashing your Vincent, taking out two other Vincents, on a parade lap: MONUMENTALLY STUPID.

Look at it another way, it raises the value of the other surviving Vincents :mrgreen:

Jean
 
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I haven't visited this thread for a while. Scooter62, I agree that the concept of a tubular space frame swing-arm is a good one. What I had a hard time with was Phil Vincent's absolutely ridiculous justification for it.
Like most of the design activity in that time, it was based on hearsay, good ideas, brainstorming sessions over a lot of beers, whatever!

In an article in one of the weeklies, Phil presented an analysis that showed that the twisting moment on the rear suspension, tending to twist the swing arm off its moutnings, was the equivalent of a doulbe-decker bus hanging off a 10' beam through the rear wheel spidle.

When I looked into his analysis, at the suggestion of my boss at N-V, I found he had assumed an infinite mass of the bike (i.e., no reaction to the forces being imposed) and infinitelly stiff tire (a rubber thing full of air?) and an infinitely stiff wheel (a steel rim with spokes).

If one took an opposite position, namely that the tire and wire wheel absorbed the entire shock, there was no justification for Vincent's design, particularly in view of the fact that when you hit a major bump, it was the FRONT wheel that took the initial hit. The rear suspension was along for the ride. Obviously, the real answer lies somewhere between these extremes. It seems incredible now, but all the high-powered computational dynamic analysis availble today wasn't there.

One of the projects I was trying to get started at N-V was a study of those basics. I had proposed a test at the Road Research Laboratory, which had an instrumented piece of pavement with a transparent plastic track section you could film things though. I proposed to run a bike at varying speeds across a 3" hgh curb, film the action with a high-speed cine camera and measure the forces between both the front and rear wheels and tires and the test strip of road. Motion of the bike in the vertical plane could be seen from the films.

RRL were very interested, because they hadn't done much research with motorcycles, but the proposal languished because of funding problems at N-V, until after my departure for a job at Boeing. Nobody else at N-V wanted to pursue it.

Looking back, I think we might have had some problems with the tires of the day, hitting a 3" curb at 90 mph or more!

I was originally hired by N-V becasue of my background in testing and the use of instrumentation, but it quickly became painfully evident that funding for such activitiy was very low on the priority list. That was my main reason for bailing out after a relatively short time.
 
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Frank - Love your insights on what it was really like to be in the British M/C industry. It struck me the other day that while it often seems incredulous to us (with our hind sight) that the whole British M/C industry would sit back, generally forgoing research and development, content to live on past success and ignore the Japanese development/refinement of the motorcycle that brought their demise; that they were following a historically correct line of thought similar to what had worked for the British in other areas. The example that came to me was British gunmaking, shotguns in particular. Not to go into any great detail but there is a great deal of similarity between an 1890 Purdey and a 2010 Purdey. There was no need for great change, only small refinements and to a large extent that strategy was and continues to be commercially viable (I believe their order book is full for the next year or so!).
Perhaps this is an overly simplistic analogy and I don't mean to be critical of the British penchant for tradition as I find quite charming. After all, I do have a few British motorbikes (and shotguns) but one has to be very careful of the balance between tradition and commercial viability. :wink:
End of today's philosophical rant.
 
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Sid:

The comment made by our CEO in a strategy meeting said it all. "We wont have problems with the Japanese bikes, they only make little ones and we only make big ones." This was just a short time before the 4-cylinder 750 Honda appeared! "Electric start is for sissies" was another.

I tried to get Lucas off the bike and switch over to Bosch electrics, since Lucas were such a PITA to deal with, but the consensus was that we didn't have a high enough volume to interest Bosch and the US market wouldn't recognize the Bosch brand name. N-V never even talked to Bosch to see if they'd be interested, as far as I know. This was before Lucas became known as "The Prince of Darkness".

I also worked up a proposal for a 4-cylinder 1300 cc shaft drive tourer, using the 650SS engine parts to make a flat-four layout and incorporating a factory-fitted full dress fairing. "We don't make "touring" bikes and who the hell would want an engine that big?" Funnily enough, the orignal Gold Wing looked a lot like my concept!

Since I was in the Competitions/Development department rather than design, I didn't get much of a hearing.
 
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I read an article about the famous (or is it infamous?) Sonny Angel and a 4-cylinder prototype he built using an NSU car motor in a strengthened Featherbed. With a little refinement it could easily have been put into production, but the factory apparently thought it was a flight of fancy.
 
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I hadn't heard about Sonny's attempt. In Europe, there was a small NSU car called the "Prinz". It looked like a Corvair that had been left outside in the rain and had shrunk. The engine, which I'm sure was the one Sonny used, was a 1.0 liter, air-cooled four, which was essentially four of the 250cc NSU bike engines in a row. It had their unique overhead camshaft drive using reciprocating rods to turn the camshafts, like skinny con-rods.

Very nice little car - my Dad had one when he was a sales rep for a wholesale ironmongery supply company. They were rear engine and drive and had similar swing axle suspension to the Corvair and the VW Bug.
 
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The engineering and design of the Vincent and Commando were, as Frankdamp advised products of the "pre-computer" era but despite this both have proven to be relevant and successful enough designs to create loyal followers still passionate for them (and still willing to part with serious coin to own and maintain them). That said of course, they are no match for modern bikes designed with the latest most powerful computers. The computer is a very powerful tool to optimize a design but as one of my University professors pointed out many years ago "computers need proper input to get proper results" i.e. garbage in garbage out. This same professor advised us that without the vision or creativity of the human and the ability we have to imagine and dream the computer is worthless. We can never go back, the computer is, for better or worse, part of our lives forever and its many benefits greatly outweigh the bad (Facebook ?) but when you think of the incredible pre- computer designs and engineering that were done by trial and error and instinct we have to be in awe. Yep, I've seen the future and maybe it's just old age getting hold of me, but I don't like it. So let's keep those Commandos hitting on on both cylinders and ride them as they were meant to be ridden.

Hey here's an idea; lets get those lads from Top Gear to do a face off (throw down?) between a well sorted Commando and Vincent. I'll put my money on the Commando.

Scooter
 
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Scooter62 said:
Hey here's an idea; lets get those lads from Top Gear to do a face off (throw down?) between a well sorted Commando and Vincent. I'll put my money on the Commando.

Scooter

You'd trust the car blokes on a real bike. Did you not see the Vietnam episode? Holy shite!

Besides, the Commando was some 20-30 years newer than the Vincent (although the basic Commando engine originated about the same time as the Vincent).
 
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A college friend had a Vincent 1000 and his best buddy a 650 BSA. They were riding up the A1 road in England. Known as the "Great North Road". It was the main highway between London and Edinburgh before the advent of motorways and a pretty well designed piece of pavement.

As they rode, they spotted a hitch-hiker. They pulled over to see if he would ride pillion on a bike and he said he would. He got on the back of the Vincent.

After a prolonged stretch on the flatter part of the A-1, they started climbing into the hills on the England-Scotland border where the grades get farily steep and are twisty. As they slowed down to about 45 mph, my friend on the BSA, running second place, was amazed to see the passenger on the Vincent suddenly stand up on the footpegs and step off. As he rolled into a dust-covered ball in the shoulder, the guys both stopped. The passenger's explanation was that, after so long at 90 - 100 mph, as they slowed down on the hill, he thought the Vincent was going to stall so he stepped off to help push! I guess the sound of a V-twin is a bit different.

The passenger wasn't too badly dinged up, and the ride continued to Edinburgh.
 
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