The Classic Motorcycles 1896 - 1950

Year Published: 1976
Editor: Harry Louis and Bob Currie

Here is the fascinating story behind the world’s greatest motorcycles, the bikes that set the pattern for an entire industry. Expertly told by Harry Louis, who as former editor of the prestigious international magazine MOTORCYCLE knows more about motorcycles than any writer alive, this authoritative, beautifully illustrated book will appeal to motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages.

The thirty-two machines described and illustrated have all made a significant contribution to motorcycling history. Some dominated the world of sport, like the 1911 Indian, the Moto Guzzi, the A. J. S. ” Boy Racer ” and, of course, the Norton Manx. Others were conceived as powerful and comfortable touring machines, notably the Harley-Davidsons, the famous Brough Superior of Lawrence of Arabia fame, the Ariel Square Four and the Douglas. Yet others were made for specialized purposes, the Clement for pacing bicycle races, and the BMW to break the world two-wheel speed record. Finally, there are the bikes remarkable for their sheer eccentricity, the front wheel drive rotary-engined Megola, the Ner a Car, and the lengthy Böhmerland.

But whether they are sporting, speedy, civilized or strange, all these machines had one thing in common. They were splendidly engineered and beautifully built. They were the forerunners, the pioneers of the models common today. The four-cylinder in-line FN of 1905 was the ancestor of the modern multicylinder. The famous two stroke water-cooled Scott has many descendants today.

But above all, the singles and the twins set a style that is truly classic, really the for the motorcycle at its simplest and pattern best. The text is illustrated with specially drawn color and black and white illustrations by Carlo Demand. The photographs, many of which were taken for this book, amplify the text and draw attention to the marvelous mechanical details of the machines. Full technical specifications are included for all the motorcycles described.

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