The Clubman's event showcases the greatest of British motorcycles past Photograph by Andrew Tallone
There is something very special about British motorcycles, especially the ones made prior to the 1970s. England produced the most exciting motorcycles in the world during the first half of the last century.
Some people may disagree that point, but those folks have probably never seen a HRD Brough Superior (1924) or a Vincent Black Shadow (1948) in action. These machines looked just as good as any early-century Harley-Davidson, and their off-the-lot performance was unmatched until the Kawasaki Z1 came around in 1972.
But it’s not all HRD’s and Vincents; England also produced BSA’s, Nortons, Velocettes and Triumphs (to name a few). By the early 1960s, England owned motorcycle racing on all levels. Not only were they able to outperform the rest of the world, they were sometimes capable of time travel. If you’ve ever seen The Great Escape, you know this for a fact.
Miraculously, a 1962 Triumph TR6 allowed an American GI to almost escape the Germans. That American also looked a lot like Steve McQueen. Joking aside, British bikes have an almost mystical aura around them, a perfect mix of performance and refinement.
If you’ve ever wondered what one of these machines looks like in real life, you’ll get that opportunity this weekend. The 25th annual Clubman’s All-British Weekend takes place Saturday, March 31, 8am-4pm at the Fairgrounds in San Jose.
More than 150 bikes will be on display, along with a swap meet and vendor area. There will be a Sunday-morning ride though the Santa Cruz Mountains. Most of the show bikes are regularly ridden and many will be out there. Jim Tomich, president of the BSA club, says, “The idea is to show ‘em and ride ‘em.”
The BSA Owners Club of Northern California hosts this year’s event and has provided a completely restored 1957 BSA Goldstar as a raffle prize. Tickets are $1, and the winner will be chosen on Saturday. Many members participated in the restoration efforts, and the attention to detail is obvious in all aspects of the bike. Tomich explains, “It’s not that easy to find a ‘57 Goldstar. A lot of the guys are vintage themselves.”