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My first ride on a Vincent, yesterday evening!

AngloArm

Forum Website User
VOC Member
I just wanted to post few words about my very first ride on my Vincent Comet yesterday, 2nd May 2011 in the fortunately pleasant early evening sunshine.
It also happened to be the first time I have ridden a motorcycle on the open road in 5 years so this was going to be an extra special reintroduction to motorcycling. I was not sure what to expect from a marque that has a world renowned reputation for producing an exceptional motorcycle so in truth I was expecting much. And much was delivered.
I bought the machine, a 1950 Series C Comet last October after being taken by the overall design in an advertisement for a twin. I am now at an age where I can appreciate that the way this machine has been designed makes it look eager to perform, balanced and in great proportion as well as a motorcycle which is really quite beautiful to behold. I was really fortunate to find a good restoration for sale.
After priming and a few kicks the engine started and I was on my way. After several hundred yards and a few light corners it was clear to me that the bike handled like it was on a rail, stable and solidly stuck to the mildly arcing B then A roads. One knows quite soon if they can trust in a particular motorcycle's ability to handle the road and the Vincent felt more than trustworthy. I negotiated roads en route to Chipping Ongar from Ilford via Lambourne End, despite the average B road conditions and having to avoid the occasional pot hole and damage caused by last winter's battering of the road surface.

Naturally I took things slowly and carefully at first. I had researched some video clips on 'You Tube' to see how others have ridden a Vincent Comet. There are several clips available but one I have enjoyed several times is of a rider on magnificent roads in Catalonia, Spain though I thought the rider's choice of predominantly lower gears and engine revs was straining the engine. I have an original riders handbook dated 1952 which states that riding 500c.c. models, one should 'Always change to a lower gear when the engine is felt to be labouring.' I kept my engine revs slightly higher by following the handbook advice as well as what felt right to keep relatively tight control of the machine as well as what sounded to be correct engine speed, riding on the legal speed limit which varied between 30 and 60 mph. The engine was responsive and when, after about 20 minutes of light riding and just over 12 miles to get the oil up to operating temperature as advised by E.M.G. Stevens in 'Know Thy Beast' I decided to open the throttle slightly more. I was very pleased by the acceleration delivered by 499 c.c.'s though I did wonder how it would feel to have the power of the extra cylinder beneath me. I entered an area of resurfaced road on the A113 and increased the throttle opening even more as the Comet effortlessly graced gentle leaning corners at 60 m.p.h. which was exhilarating and surely many a motorcylist's delight. I have to confess to some vocal exaltations throughout the run. I can't remember how many times I cheered out loud but the first time was about two minutes after I set out on my immensely enjoyable ride for pleasure. What a way to get back into motorcycling!
As confidence in the machine's ability had grown I found myself overtaking slower moving traffic as well as faster moving vehicles. And then fortunately I found myself with no traffic in front and none behind. I was then overcome with that great feeling motorcyclists experience less often nowadays on our crowded highways - The road was my own! I felt so happy and contented. Unfortunately too soon the sun started to sink low in the horizon and the cooler air was nipping at my knees so I decided to head for home after the extremely enjoyable hour aboard the Vincent.
I never thought I could enjoy riding a British single as much as I did this evening. Thank you Phillip Vincent and Philip Irving, those brilliant engineers as well as the skilled men and women that built these wonderful motorcycles. I consider myself extremely fortunate and privileged to be the custodian of one of your machines. I also want to express my deepest thanks to the previous owner David Williams for the excellent work he has put into restoring this Vincent Comet to it's former glory.
Richard Freeman
 
 

Tracey Tilley

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Appreciation.

Hi Richard,

Welcome to the world of Vincent motorcycles.
Thanks for your contribution, you have a way with words.

Maybe you should consider writing a diary over the next year. A "blog" if you are computer literate?

I would be especially interested in your opinion of the Club, it's members attitudes to newcomers and the events we organise.
This is in relation to the " more young blood" thread.

Regards,

Tracey.
 
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Albervin

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Richard, I could almost hear you yelling "yee Haa" as I read your piece. Welcome.
 

Howard

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
How strange. I had my first ride on a Comet on 1st May (beat you by one), and was going to post a thread, but due to site maintenance I haven’t been able to access the forums.
I’d just finished a quick timing chest “rebuild”, everything in the timing chest needs replacing, but with sunny days and Summer looming, the owner asked me to perform a holding operation, to keep the Comet mobile until a proper Winter rebuild can be carried out. Not a lot of job satisfaction, but at least its one more Vin to wave the flag this Summer.
When I took it out of the garage for a test run, I realised I’d never ridden a “proper” Comet, and steering it while pushing, showed me it was heavy and cumbersome, as expected. Sitting on it confirmed it was very old, and the riding position was very strange and ungainly. Starting was easier than my twin, but that slow revving industrial sounding motor didn’t instil any real enthusiasm. Wobbling out of the first T junction onto the main road confirmed everything I expected.
THEN ….. Open roads, smooth bends…………Aren’t Comets wonderful?
I didn’t do many miles (unfortunately) but you soon get used to thinking about bends in advance, braking a bit earlier, and setting up your approach in good time.
As far as expressing feelings, I sing (scary) without realising I’m doing it. “Vincent” (Don McClean) and “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” seem to be my favourites.
Anyone out there going to sell me a Comet motor?…………. I feel a Winter project coming on.
H
 

Alan J

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Nice to read your "piece", Richard, I'm sure we will meet-sonewhere, sometime!!
 

b'knighted

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Hi Howard

Just in case you really want to buy a Comet lump.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/1952-Vincent-...87?pt=UK_Motorcycle_Parts&hash=item25637b48bf

Item number: 160582813887
Description:
I'm selling this on behalf of my Dad. Based in the UK. Details as follows. Any queries please email and I will forward on questions with replies ASAP. Thanks for looking.
1952 Vincent Comet engine/ Burman gearbox and clutch ready for service.
Reconditioned engine including Maughan (Precision Engineers, Lincolnshire) flywheels, main roller bearings.
New Heplex piston in standard barrel.
New Mk 3. cams / followers,steel idler, ATD.
Cylinder head gas flowed to 32 mm - suitable for traditional or modern carb.
Magneto and dynamo reconditioned by APL Magnetos - Shaftsbury, Somerset.
6Vor 12V electronic regulator fitted.

Shipping to US & Europe approx: £500

Mag. cover included. Untried and untested. Sold as seen.


Ending Friday13 May, 2011- 20:01:35 BST Starting bid:£6,500.00
 

Howard

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Thanks Ian

I had seen this.

I'm reasonably serious, at the right price, but thoughts at the moment are for me to build a hot motor in a light Egli(ish) frame, so all the work on the ebay engine is surplus to requirements. I'm watching the other Comet engine (in bits) on ebay.

H
 

AngloArm

Forum Website User
VOC Member
Hi Richard,

Welcome to the world of Vincent motorcycles.
Thanks for your contribution, you have a way with words.

Maybe you should consider writing a diary over the next year. A "blog" if you are computer literate?

I would be especially interested in your opinion of the Club, it's members attitudes to newcomers and the events we organise.
This is in relation to the " more young blood" thread.

Regards,

Tracey.

Hello Tracey and thanks for your comments about my post. I would be happy to write another post as long as it has something useful to contribute to others. I'm not a fan of twitter and blogs, though I have a feeling I could get quite easily hooked to that kind of digital expression. With regard to the Club et al, M.P.H. is a well produced and presented journal which always has something helpful and interesting to read and I'm pleased to find the V.O.C. envelope on my porch floor once a month. I have had much kind and helpful support from several club officials both before and after buying the Vincent, for which I am extremely grateful - Many thanks to Gordon Powell in particular who advised on my purchase and helped in the process to reclaim the original VRM for my machine.
I have not yet attended any organised events. I am sure I will. I do like to go to events by myself and prefer to ride alone as opposed to in a group though I did apply for a place on the 'Spirit of the 60's' run several years ago which is organised by the Westland motorcycle club. Unfortunately personal circumstances at the time prevented attendance though I'd like to experience that event! I have attended the Kop Hill Climb in Princes Risborough Buckinghamshire which I can thoroughly recommend to all. I believe they are taking applications now for a non timed 'exhibition' run up the hill, that takes place in September. Only saw 1 Vincent in 2009 but do not recall seeing any last year. Perhaps we should remedy that if there are any places left.

As for young blood in the V.O.C. it's a position not easily remedied. Firstly what age range is regarded as the source of young blood? Should we say late 20's early 30's or late 30's early 40's ? It depends on the average age of those who attended the meeting at which the issue was raised but I would take a shot at that age to be between 55 to 65. I'm 47 so I may be slightly younger blood but realistically, what age group should the V.O.C. honestly think can be attracted? And how can it attract motorcyclists who cannot realistically afford to become a custodian to the machine.

How many Vincents were produced - 12,000 to 13,000 ? How many are left now. 9,000 - 11,000? How many are affordable ? Well that depends on what one considers affordable but I would suggest - none. I had to sink a large portion of my savings into funding my purchase. Would I have wanted a Vincent in my late 20's early 30's - I don't want to upset anyone but actually no, because I considered the styling an older person's motorcycle, say that of someone in their 40's. I'm now taken with the design - again I'm now 47. When I was 15 I wanted a British bike but it was not a Vincent. In truth I knew about the name but absolutely nothing about the machine. So perhaps we should educate and promote the marque to younger motorcyclists. But the machine must be affordable for them to consider. Could I have afforded one in my late 20's? Possibly a Comet or a Rapide in need, but it was not a priority as I was saving a deposit for my first house. How much can a younger person reasonably put aside to enjoy a luxury when even those who are allegedly more able to secure a well paid job through a university education are £10,000 - £30,000 in debt - like my daughter who loves the look of my Vincent.

I would argue there is a declining number of potential motorcycle enthusiasts in Great Britain. I come from that generation in the 1970's when there was an abundance of choice of 50 c.c. motorcycles or mopeds as they were called for legal reasons - You may recall those noisy smokey machines - Fantic Motor, Puch, Garelli, Yamaha, Suzuki and the 4 stroke Honda's, and many teenagers who wanted to ride. I started on a 2 stroke KTM 'Comet Cross' of all things funnily enough. But most young lads and a few ladies in the mid to late 70's wanted a Yamaha FS1E' or Suzuki AP 50. Personally I wanted a british bike but that was the low point in the British Bike industry and they were non existant - the B.S.A. badged 'Brigand' was I think japanese engined but restricted. Another major nail in the coffin for young riders was the introduction of restricted output 50c.c. motorcycles. They were as dangerous for their lack of power as were the tuned Suzuki's or the infamous 70 m.p.h. Garelli moped.
The nation of motorcyclists generation had now bought affordable cars but there were enough of them driving on the road to have an understanding and memory of the perils of riding a bike to give us 'learners' enough room on the road to learn safely. Not many of those gentlemen and ladies driving any longer I'm afraid. And therefore when my 11 year old son spent several hours trying to persuade me to buy him a motorcycle I was not over enthusiastic about it. Off road yes, but he will want to ride on the road when 16, like we all did but with millions more much faster cars and proportionally more bad drivers - that we never had to avoid. Therefore I don't think he will be inheriting the Comet for very many years , if at all.

So the odds stack up against us as time goes on. No great choice of young desirable sports motocycles from the big manufacturers. If only John Bloor's Triumph company (and frankly who else could in Britain) manufactured a properly proportioned 50 c.c. motorcycle and then sponsored a 50 c.c class motorcycle challenge for the machine, then we'd see hope ahead albeit in 15 -20 years time when those riders grew up and had jobs that afforded them the opportunity to consider buying a Vincent. Though how much will a Vincent sell for then?

The last great boon in youth riding I recalled was in the 1990's but in much reduced numbers and the popular machine appeared to be those small wheeled automatic rev and go machines which I would argue are not going to produce many 'devoted' lifetime motorcylists that will work their way through the marques to arrive at Vincent ownership. And a good Yamaha pre restriction FS1E will set one back over a Thousand pounds now!! Much of the the Gameboy/Playstation et al generation don't seem to have the desire to get up, get out and get on a bicycle let alone a motorcycle, that previous generations had. So I can't see it in great numbers. Vincents are expensive and young blood tend to want Japanese and you can safely wager even Chinese if things carry on as they are. With all that money that's where a larger number of Vincents could all end up too.

Never mind a 500 c.c Vincent, if the V.O.C. want to introduce young blood then someone needs to build a modern affordable traditionally styled 50 c.c. Vincent. Hopefully made in Britain though more likely India or China. But then watch club membership rise.

Here's another idea to increase club membership with fresh blood, not necessarily young and make Vincents affordable.

The V.O.C. could place an advertisement in motorcycle news with the following heading:

'Would you like to become the custodian of a Vincent motorcycle?'

Then an offer for demonstrably genuine prospective enthusiasts who join the club and prove veritable, of the opportunity to buy a share of ownership of a Vincent in much the same way many private pilot licence holders do with aircraft. A share of machine ownership always legally remains with the club so it will not be lost to any speculators. The vehicle is 'booked out' from a secure location when available, with the agreement of all those in the pool signed up to that machine. And they all contribute to servicing and maintenance with support from the club. It seems to work for private pilots.
 
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