1948 Vincent Rapide For Sale
Vincents are really the ne plus ultra of vintage sportbikes: dark and sinister in an age of bright colors, the bikes were mysterious, extremely rare, and dangerous. Vincents are surrounded by a mystique few other machines can match, with a reputation for engineering excellence, raw speed, and sometimes lethal handling.
Phil C Vincent began the company in the 1920’s, buying the name of the defunct HRD [founded by Howard Raymond Davies] marque to start Vincent HRD Co, Ltd.
Vincent used established engines in his proprietary swing arm frames, but eventually the company designed its own engine, a 500cc single known as the Meteor or Comet, depending on the state of tune.
The story goes that Phil Irving, one of Vincent’s talented engineers, saw two sets of blueprints for the company’s Meteor single on top of each other, overlapping, and this inspired his design for the company’s v-twin motor. Released in 1936 The motor in the Series A used a 47.5 degree angle between the cylinders to fit it into the company’s existing frame, but this was later changed to 50 degrees when the nearly frameless Series B was introduced.
They were extremely advanced for the time and incorporated many features found on modern machines. Really, you have to look at something like one of Britten’s V1000 racers to find a bike that incorporated so many innovative design components in a single machine.
The bikes lacked a traditional frame, with the steering head bolted directly to the front cylinder and the rear suspension mounted to the gearbox. The gearbox was, unusually for the time, foot-operated, with a pedal adjustable for different riders. That foot pedal operated 4 speeds when contemporaries generally had 3 or fewer.
All Vincents used a cantilever rear suspension when most bikes of the era had no rear suspension at all and were some of the first to use unit construction, with the engine and gearbox sharing a single casting.
Phil Vincent disliked the flexing that especially plagued the telescopic forks of the day and developed his version of the girder front fork. Unfortunately, his “Girdaulic” suspension, while innovative, may have lead to the bike’s dangerous predilection for “tank-slappers”, due to the limited damping devices available at the time.
In spite of the suspension’s limitations, he may have been on to something: modern designers still struggle with the limitations of the telescopic fork. John Britten, Bimota (Tesi), and Yamaha (GTS 1000) have all tried, with varying degrees of success, to find new alternatives to the proven but flawed design.
The Rapide and Black Shadow produced 45 and 55 hp, respectively and the bikes weighed in at about 450 pounds giving a power-to-weight ratio that allows them to keep up with modern traffic.
The bike being offered here is a Rapide, not the higher-performance Black Shadow.
From the seller:
Michael Parti rebuilt and balanced this #670 engine and runs faster and smoother than a Black Shadow, front tire had to be replaced by an Avon, original tire was rotten, rear is original Dunlop.
original Birmabrite fenders, Burgess muffler,rebuilt alternator by certified Lucas mechanic, Miller fluted 8 inch,original tailight w logo, original amp meter, whiskey dent tank unrestored, original wiring
original rims, original front rear 276 carbs jetted to 180 and ferrule hoses etc…….
The original ad doesn’t contain much information, and seems to assume lookie loos are familiar with the bike. I’d assume you don’t get too many tire-kickers when you’re selling a $54,000 motorcycle.
That’s where the starting bid sits currently.