The problem is, there’s only so far back we can go and the very earliest days of motorcycling really didn’t produce anything that you might conceivably want to ride today. But motorcycle development was advancing so quickly that, by the early decades of the 20th century, there were bikes that started to resemble the motorcycle as we know it today.
So far, we’ve seen retro models (or modern classics, if you like) going back to the end of the Second World War, when returning American G.I.s would strip down production Harleys and Indians to make them lighter and therefore go faster, stop quicker and handle better. These were called Bobbers. But where do you go if you want something from earlier in the century? Luckily for South Africans, the answer lies right on our own doorstep; in Primrose, near Johannesburg, to be precise.
The Soekoe Moto Bicycle Company is the brainchild of Desmond Soekoe. He has a passion for board track racing motorcycles from the early 1900s and, unlike many of us, decided to do something with that passion and started his own company making some amazing replicas.
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WHAT NEXT FOR NORTON AND BSA?
Following on from the success of the Triumph revival, a lot of noise was made about the arrival of Norton back on the motorcycling scene in 2008. The new owner of the brand, Stuart Garner, got everyone excited when he announced that he would be making not only a new Norton Commando motorcycle but would be returning to the Isle of Man TT with a new superbike, powered by an Aprilia V4 motor.
SO, WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO THE BRITISH MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY?
It’s a story that no-one is unfamiliar with; how the British motorcycle industry withered and died through the 1960s and into the ‘70s. What was once a thriving industry that sold state-of-the-art motorcycles from world-famous manufacturers, by the hundreds of thousands, was reduced to first a handful and then just one manufacturer, producing an outdated design in the face of modern and reliable machines from Japan.
In the world of motorcycling, it is rare, if not unique, for a manufacturer to have two bites of the cake - both with a cherry on top - with two iterations of one particular model, especially when separated by a couple of decades.
TALES FROM THE HOOD
SA & MOTORCYCLE COMMUTING
NORIYUKI HAGA SULTAN OF Slide
Rare in-depth interview with Nori-chan himself explains how the Sultan of Slide rode the bike - and the crucial differences between Superbike and 500 GP
THE GXCC’S PUSH THE SEASON TO THE LIMIT IN 2020
THE GREATEST Comeback?
The greatest British bike racer? Surtees? Sheene? Both have good claims to the title but, in reality, there can be only one king. This is the story of the race that only served to enhance an already glittering reputation.
Great Bikes? The Ariel Square Four
Elsewhere you will have read about the Ariel motorcycle company and here I intend to talk more about their most famous design, the incredible Square Four.
GONE BUT Part 5 ARIEL NOT FORGOTTEN
Turner’s Square Four remained in production from 1931 to 1959
Engineering DEAD-ENDS Part 2: Hub-Centre Steering
Motorcycle development never stands still, although maybe recently, it would be more accurate to say that motorcycle electronics development doesn’t stand still; it is very little in the physical architecture of a motorcycle that is likely to change. But it wasn’t always so and one innovation that was tried not only on road bikes but also 500cc Grand Prix bikes was hub-center steering.
Previously at MR PORTER, MODA OPERANDI and most recently at Soho House where she was Chief Membership & Communications Officer, curator of exceptional content, Jodie Harrison tells us what makes the perfect party and the ideal guest
A friend in need
Margot has met a kindred spirit to share her renovation horror stories
ILLINGWORTH & PRIMROSE DESIGN TEAM
John Illingworth and Angus Primrose enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership and between them around 1,000 of their designs were built