Motorcycling is just a bit over a hundred years old, and while there have been over seventy American manufacturers over the years, the English, of all the European manufacturers, produced more motorcycles under more marques than any other nation, a tradition that carried right up through WWII.
After the war, in need of export dollars, the Brits discovered
While Harley Davidson more than held its own the wide open west, The northeast was perhaps the epicenter of English motorcycling in the states, with its narrow winding roads, and closed in, highly congested cities.
“We are the oldest all British vintage meet in the country” says Ron Pare, 63, and he should know. He founded and still runs the British Motorcycle Meet in
The British Iron Association chapters in
In 1981, when Triumph, the last of the British motorcycle manufacturers closed its doors,
The British Iron Association of Connecticut and
Besides, they were cool.
“They looked cool just sitting still”, says Shaun Kelly, the webmaster of BritIron Connecticut, who, like many others was barely old enough to ride when these machines were the hottest thing on and off the road, owns two, a 1970 Triumph Daytona Trophy 500, and a 1975 Norton Commando 850; both inherited from his late father, who was part of that ‘70’s motorcycle scene.
Every vintage bike as a story attached to it, and like many, Shaun’s is particularly personal.
To honor his father, he has completely restored the Trump as a connection back to the times that they spent together riding and working on their bikes. .He went right down to the frame and built it right back up; Brakes, axle assemblies, the works. “It’s a disease” he says. “Once you start, you can’t stop”.
He repeats the mantra of Brit Iron lovers, “British motorcycles make great mechanics out of riders”.
“I know he watches while I worked on this,” he says of the two years he spent restoring the Triumph. “I would be standing there, scratching my head and it’s as though he’s standing therein my ear going ‘Okay, this goes like this, that goes like that, look in the manual’. In the end, I know that he’s going to see what this looks like”.
There are stories like this at every one of these meets. They won’t get a lot of ink, few but the dedicated know about them, but it is worthwhile to take a day, and go take a look at our motorcycle history.