British motorcycling – the source of a happy nostalgia

British motorcycling – the source of a happy nostalgia

The British motorcycling industry and its European counterparts are enjoying a commercial revival. And, with a sense of nostalgia in the air, it’s the retro bikes that are really flying off the production line.

The specialist bike enthusiast is growing up quickly, therefore gravitating towards the more comfortable classic and cruiser motorbikes as opposed to the low-slung, often Japanese, sports bikes that have been popular in the past. Because of this, we’re now seeing a true renaissance in British motorcycle manufacturing.

As testament to this, last month Triumph motorcycles was announced as Britain’s largest bike manufacturer for the third year running, now owning nearly 20% of the market.

Steve McQueen

Through the Fifties and Sixties, names such as Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando cemented the Triumph legend, while numerous land speed records and race track successes gave bikes like the Thunderbird, Bonneville, Tiger and Trident an iconic status.

Today, Triumph is one of the biggest success stories of modern motorcycling, skilfully combining nostalgia from iconic past models with innovative modern bikes, including the world’s largest production bike, the Rocket III.

So whether you’re the owner of a 1960s Bonneville or a modern Speed Triple, there’s something for everyone in the Triumph range.

What’s more, the bike line-up is sure to stir some great memories for enthusiasts across the UK, and beyond.

For 110 years the Triumph brand has been producing iconic bikes, placed firmly at the heart of British history.

Whether it’s Type H ‘Trusty’ motorcycle that was produced in 1915 for allied military service, of which, 30,000 saw active service; the 650cc Thunderbird that first broke the world land speed record on the Bonneville salt flats in 1955; or the iconic TR6 650 Trophy which was ridden, jumped and crashed by Bud Ekins, and more famously Steve McQueen, in ‘The Great Escape’.

Triumph prototype

The iconic British manufacturer now produces 24 different bikes and has subsidiaries across the globe. In the height of the recession, motorcycle sales were down and the bike industry looked in trouble, but today new bike sales are slowly rising, and, in addition to this, Britain is seeing a rise in those wanting to enter the custom bike scene – a less intimidating, more cost-effective approach to biking in the eyes of some.

Mature or experienced riders are also now considering motorcycle brands and models where the associated culture and style are more important than performance, and this new custom bike scene provides a cultural base to underpin this.

Around the UK, and indeed, around the world, there are owners clubs that put on rides and events and these offer a great social past time, particularly for those that are retired or looking to revisit a hobby of the past.  Usually, all riders are welcome, regardless of the make or year of bike.

It seems that whatever your motorcycling background and however your interest in bikes began, there is a bike out there for you.

As technology advances it doesn’t mean that the mature rider is left behind, in fact, given the resurgence in retro cool and the growing fondness for the bikes that at least look like those of yesteryear, could now be the time to dust off your helmet, dig out your leather jacket and take to two wheels again?

Do you have happy memories of riding your motorbike or still have one?  Do send us your pictures – we’d love to see them. Ed.