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HB: Handlebars Controls on Series C Rapide


Website User
VOC Member
I wondered if anyone could help. I have just collected my late father's series C from my family home. I knew the controls were peculiar on it, but any idea what the third lever on the left handlebar is?IMG_20210517_113227.jpegIMG_20210517_113751.jpegIMG_20210517_113801.jpeg


Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
It operates the valve lifter. This is a device that slightly lifts the valves off their seat so that thare is no compression. It is intended that this should be used when starting the bike. The sequence is, turn on the petrol and gently opperate the 'tickling' stops on top of the float chambers to richen the fuel/air ratio, lift the lever, turn the engine over a few times on the kick starter and then give a firm thrust down and drop the valve lifter lever half way down the stroke. That way the interia of the flywheels help to turn the engine over the next compression to start it. Good luck with it.


Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Hi Frank,

That is standard on Vincent’s, and it looks like it’s the original lever. It is the decompressor, commonly called the valve lifter. It is used to open the exhaust valves enabling the engine to be rotated without compression.
Before you come to start the bike you will need to turn it over, a lot, to get the oil circulating. Once you are riding, unless you fit a cutout of some sort, you will need it to bleed off the compression to stop the engine.


Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Excellent advise above. I'd also suggest you squirt some oil down the pushrod tubes, being careful when removing the valve caps. If the cap comes up tight when unscrewing it, screw it in and turn the bike over a bit. Then you should be able to unscrew the cap off.
Another way to start the bike is to use the decompression lever to get the engine into it's sweet spot, where you can kick it over when it's just past it's compression strokes w/out using the decompressor.
I've had two Vincents and both required different starting preperations. One needed tickling and full choke on both carbs, the other no choke and a tickle on only one carb. Good luck.

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