In May of 2005, I took a short trip to Corvallis for the annual Oregon Vintage Motorcyclist Annual Show & Swap Meet. It was the beginning of the era of affordable digital cameras, and I wanted to shoot some interesting motorcycles with my new Fuji S3000. For its time it was a fairly advanced amateur camera with 3.2 mega pixels, but any phone today takes much better pictures.
Let’s look at the European bikes first. I believe that Vincents were the featured make at that year’s show. In the years since I’ve taken these photos, I have never seen as many of these classics in one place.
A Norvin is a Vincent motor fitted into a Norton frame. The results are impressive.
This 1971 Norton Commando is just beautiful.
This Sunbeam S7 is a 500cc longitudinally mounted inline vertical OHC 500 cc twin with shaft drive. While very high tech for the late 1940’s, this design never really caught on. Triumph recently made a modern version called the Rocket III.
Which BSA was the hot rod? Count your carbs. The blue Royal Star has one. The sportier Lightning 650 has two.
The Velocette LE (little engine) is a fascinating motorcycle. Its 150cc water cooled shaft drive boxer twin is like a mini BMW. These were expensive, well made motorcycles.
This old Harley Davidson Hummer means we have moved onto the American bikes.
This is a very rare 1942 Harley Davidson XA (Experimental Army). Only 1000 of these shaft driven BMW R71 based models were made for the US Army. I wonder what this bike looks like today.
Finally, the Japanese motorcycles. When I look at these photos, I can easily see how Japan changed the industry in the sixties and seventies. While some of these machines may lack the class and history of their European and American competitors, their engineering was on another level.
Those Honda motors are works of art.
These are some great Suzuki trail bikes. The 100 has a dual range transmission.
My first motorcycle was a Hodaka, so this Super Rat with a Webco head brings back fond memories.
By the end of the Seventies, Honda could seemingly do anything it wanted to do. The CBX was outrageous and excessive. But it was also smooth, reliable, and made 103 HP @ 9000 RPM. The European and American manufactures would of course survive, but Japan was now the dominant player.