The story

Very few motorcycles have marked their own time like the 1000 Vincent did from 1946 to 1955. On the road, in club racing, in drag races, or land speed records, it dominated the world of motorcycles, leading to the famous catchphrase coined by the factory: “The World’s Fastest Standard Motorcycle, it is a FACT – NOT a slogan”. Images such Rollie Free laid flat in swim trunk on his works-modified Black Shadow have now passed to the posterity. In fact, the 1000 Vincent was so ahead of its time that it continued to compete successfully – and almost arrogantly – in racing until the mid-1970s against any modern bike. No motorcycle in the world can claim this kind of achievement.

Because the production of these motorcycles stopped prematurely, the builders of specials played a critical role in maintaining this success in racing. George Brown first built his famous Nero, before John Surtees tried out the installation of a Vincent engine in a Manx chassis that will become later known as the NorVin. But the genuine innovation came in 1967 when Fritz Egli introduced his Egli-Vincent, the first chassis completely redesigned for a Vincent in 21 years. Not only Fritz Egli received the praise from the motorcycle magazines but he also won the Swiss hill climb motorcycle championship in 1968, followed by three more titles in a row accomplished by his official riders. “In 1973, Fritz Egli still held the fastest time up Generoso climb, and during his domination of the event, both Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini on their works grand prix MVs had attacked and failed to dislodge the mighty Vin”, commented journalist David Minton in January 1979.

Since, the Egli-Vincent became in many ways a dream machine, not only did it push further the performance of what was already the world fastest motorcycle, but its design was breathtaking. More importantly Fritz Egli’s machine inspired numerous other builders for several generations. Call them replicas, copies, clones, modern interpretations or recreation, it does not make their stories less interesting, but it certainly does recognize the master stroke of his creator. This book retraces holistically the story of all those motorcycles in a broader context of the modern history of the Vincent to understand how the flame of passion stayed alive until today.

Photo © Paul Coene

Photo © Paul Coene

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