Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

11 photos

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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And the innovations are worthwhile. The Black Shadow is easy to control on the road. Here Alan Cathcart pounds across the island.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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End cool: rear light with Stop lettering.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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The last stage of the Vincent was called Series C and drove very solidly.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Two struts and a hydraulic damper in between. The Vincent came up with all kinds of technical innovations.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Two clutches, two levers.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Cantilever swing arm and two rear drum brakes: Vincent left nothing to be desired.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Ultra-powerful high-tech motorcycle: Vincent Black Shadow, first bike with a seat.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Black power plant: 50-degree V2 with 1000 cubic meters, 55 hp and 76 Nm torque. Four short bumpers for valve control.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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More than 60 years ago, the Vincent Black Shadow went into series production and made history as the first motorcycle with a speed of over 200 km / h.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Here Rollie Free crashes over the salt lake in 1948.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
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Today it would be called Duolever: Black Shadow with Girder trapeze fork.

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

Intermot countdown 9: the 200 km / h machine

The Vincent Black Shadow was the first motorcycle to go over 200 km / h. And as standard. It was the first big bike and decades ahead of its time.

Do you know Rollie Free? No? Yes, you know him. It’s the daring guy who only slams over the Bonneville Salt Flats while wearing swimming trunks, flip-flops and a bathing cap. One of the most famous photos in motorcycle history. Rollie Free wanted to know. How fast can a Vincent Black Lightning, the racing version of the Black Shadow, race if you take it to the extreme? 150.313 mph was officially stopped. That’s a slim 240 things. 1948 drove a largely standard Vincent. Any questions?

Sure, a lot. But first of all an explanation for this story and the ones that will appear in the following issues of MOTORRAD. We, the MOTORRAD editorial team, have selected ten highlights in motorcycle history, which we will describe below. You will then be able to admire all ten machines, dear readers, at our special show at INTERMOT in Cologne. In the last issue our INTERMOT countdown started with bike number one, the Hildebrand and Wolfm├╝ller. Today we are writing about the Vincent Black Shadow, the fastest motorcycle well into the 1950s. So a big step from the original machine puffing at 40 km / h to the first really fast motorcycle. And in the following editions we are getting closer and closer to the present.

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Finale: Vincent Black Shadow

Finale: Vincent Black Shadow
Intermot countdown 9: The 200 km / h machine

Vincent put a 1000 V2 on the market and built 78 machines. The new machine, however, was designed a lot more elegantly and equipped with a new engine. And with what one! Seldom have motorcycle manufacturers cast mechanics in such a beautiful shape. The 50-degree V2, whose 84 millimeter pistons slide up and down nine centimeters, would still look good on some bikes today. Cooling fins, bumper tubes, a reduced two-in-one exhaust, the mighty heart-shaped cover that houses the camshaft drive, a work of art.

Few gentlemen could afford such a machine. The machine cost the equivalent of 5,500 marks at the time, as much as a good German VW Beetle in "export"-Version. And so only 1507 machines were built between 1948 and 1955. Enough to become a legend.


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Ultra-powerful high-tech motorcycle: Vincent Black Shadow, first bike with a seat.

But where did the Vincent get its then dramatic output of 55 hp? The 1000 V2 was a tricky construction. The camshafts for valve control were halfway up, so that only very short bumpers were required on the rocker arms for valve actuation. This made the Vincent relatively stable in terms of engine speed and at the same time allowed sharp control times. In addition, the rocker arms grabbed the valves below the springs, which further reduced the length of the bumper.

The V2 was allowed to breathe and exhaust quite freely. It went in through the 28.6-millimeter Amal carburettor, out through the already mentioned two-in-one system, whose sound was incomparable. Two clutches were necessary to transfer the brute power to the four-speed gearbox, which is innovatively housed in the engine housing. A single-disc dry clutch was connected upstream of a drum clutch, a very tricky matter to dose.

But the chassis was designed much more modern. Yamaha called it cantilever decades later, in which Vincent made the debut of the triangular swing arm with top-hinged struts. Only with this very stiff construction could the elemental force of the British thunder bolt be kept in check. Incidentally, shock absorbers can be taken literally here, because the damping was carried out by an adjustable friction damper on the swing arm.

At the front, a spring-loaded and damped Girder trapeze fork, which was not a matter of course at the time, took care of the guidance of the 21-inch front wheel. In other words, high-tech and a guarantee that the Vincent did not go off the track even with 200 items.

The braking must have been terrible back then. The Black Shadow did have four simplex drum brakes, but MOTORRAD employee Alan Cathcart, the pilot here in our pictures, reports minimal effect with maximal muscle use, an ABS from the very beginning, so to speak.


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The technical innovations were worth it. The Black Shadow is easy to control on the road. Here Alan Cathcart pounds across the island.

The non plus ultra and the subject of many motorcyclists’ dreams in those days: the huge mileage speedometer with the magic number 150 at the end of the scale. 150 miles an hour, 240 km / h, that was airplane speed. Even if in reality it ended at almost 130 miles. Just look at the road and traffic conditions at that time! These drivers must have been real guys.

It is not known how many of the Vincent owners crashed in the rush of speed. But how much a well-preserved Vincent is worth today. There’s not much going for less than 50,000 euros. Despite high prices, Phil Vincent’s company quickly went bankrupt. Motorcycle production was stopped as early as 1955. My own claim to build a technically perfect motorcycle was too high. The Black Shadow would have had to cost significantly more to recoup the manufacturing costs.

Technical specifications


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Black power plant: 50-degree V2 with 1000 cubic meters, 55 hp and 76 Nm torque. Four short bumpers for valve control.

Engine:
Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 50-degree V-engine, two valves per combustion chamber, controlled by rocker arms, push rods and rocker arms, bore x stroke 84 x 90 millimeters, 1000 cm3, 40 kW (55 hp) at 5700 rpm, Magnetic ignition, one 1.1 / 8-inch Amal carburetor, kick starter, drum servo clutch, primary triplex chain, four-speed gearbox.

Landing gear:
Backbone frame made of steel, front trapeze fork, rear triangular swing arm with directly hinged double spring strut, double simplex brakes front and rear, 21/20 inch wire-spoke wheel front / rear, double bench seat.

Measurements and weight:
Weight with a full tank of 208 kg, tank capacity 16 liters, top speed over 200 km / h.

price: around 5500 marks (1950)

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