Page 14. The Art of Vintage Motorcycling


Having found your ideal vintage motorcycle, it’s now time to consider riding it.
It’s all very well having some basic skills to maintain it, but even though vintage bikes travel at slower speeds it is still important to consider your riding skills. Here are some tips from the experts, as published by the British Cycle & Motor Cycle Manufacturers’ Union Ltd over 50 years ago:

YOU are now the proud owner of one of the finest examples of modern precision engineering – a motor cycle. This machine is the product of an industry with more than fifty years’ experience; it has been evolved after years of patient research, experiment and test, and few vehicles on the road today can rival its qualities of exceptional manoeuvarability, smooth, effortless speed and acceleration, superlative brakes and rock-steady steering. No other vehicle is more controllable, more reliable, more economical – none more safe.

BUT, like all engineering products, the motor cycle must be handled correctly if its superb performance is to be enjoyed to the full. Always remember that it is the other fellow who may cause an accident: the expert rider can, by his skill, often avoid the dangerous consequences of someone else’s foolish action; to protect himself a motor cyclist aim to be rather more of an expert, rather more skilled than any other road user.


It is always easy to pick out the really expert motorcyclist. To see him pass by is sufficient. One observes the manner in which he sits his machine; he is so obviously at ease – riding, yes, but almost as relaxed as if at home in an easy chair. And the impression that here is a true expert is immediately confirmed by the fact that he wafts along the highway without flurry or fuss or noise.

There can be a real kick on every run in applying one’s roadmanship and roadcraft. In the early days of motor cycling the challenge lay in handling a difficult machine which had a penchant for lying down at the sight of a patch of grease; today we have motor cycles which are amazingly controllable, and the call for skill lies chiefly in this matter of roadmanship.


Remember that a considerable number of accidents occur at bus stops and immediately opposite the car parks of road-transport cafes. Vehicles parked beside or near transport cafes should be regarded as a warning that caution is needed.

Pillion riders should sit close up to the helmsman and, on bends and corners, heel over with them. Unless very experienced, they are wse to place the palms of their hands gently on the riders’ hips. Giving hand signals should be the prerogative of the rider. The old hand following th erear is suspicious of any signals given by a pillion passenger.

Anyone who has ridden a bicycle or motor cycle is likely to dive towards the hedge when driving a sidecar outfir fot eh first time unless he knows and adopts this simple dodge: – start by driving with only one hand on the handlebar, using it as a tiller: by this means one overcomes one’s inherent desire to attempt to balancve the machine.


We hope you have found these brief notes helpful and instructive. Many informed people regard motor cyclists generally as some of the most skilful, courteous and competent of road users. We must do everything in our power to live up to this reputaion, to improve our own skill and to help newcomers to our ranks to do likewise.

Good luck, and good riding!

Published on May 19, 2007 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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