Barber's Best

A virtual tour of the classic motorcycle collection on display at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala.

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1959 Triumph Bonneville 

Country: Great Britain
Engine: Air-cooled, vertical twin four stroke
Lucas competition magneto
Power rating:
46bhp @ 6,500rpm
Bore x stroke:
71mm x 82mm
Overhead, pushrod activated
Fuel system:
Two Amal 1-1/16 Monobloc carburetors with remote float bowl
Four speed
Front telescopic forks, rear twin shock
Front and rear drum
300 lbs
Top speed:

1959 was the first year of the Bonneville, recognizable by the headlamp nacelle, generator and remote fuel float bowl, these components only featured on this year’s model. The Bonneville got its name due to the success of a team from Big D Cycles in Dallas, Texas, that set a World Speed Record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah with a Triumph powered steamliner. This superb example was sold new from Big D and restored by then 35 years later. MC

Side-View of the 1959 Triumph Bonneville 


Front View of the 1955 Vincent Amanda Water Scooter

1955 Vincent Amanda Water Scooter
Country: Great Britain
Engine: Air-cooled single-cylinder 2-stroke
Ignition: Flywheel magneto
Power rating: 2.1 hp
Bore x stroke: 50mm x 50mm
Displacement: 100cc
Fuel system: Single slide type carburetor
Transmission: Centrifugal clutch drive to propeller
Top speed: 15mph

Better known for their high-performance motorcycles, Vincent tried to keep solvent by producing industrial engines for lawn mowers, but their most radical design was the Amanda, making them true pioneers of personal watercraft.

Side View of the 1955 Vincent Amanda Water Scooter

To improve performance, the power units were increased in capacity from the original 75cc model. First, a 100cc version of the 75cc motor, and finally a 200cc twin that was rated at 5.6 horsepower, using the same bore and stroke as the 100cc single. The 1950s were early days for glass fiber, and when exposed to the sun the hull suffered serious distortion. Vincent closed their doors soon after but they had the right idea with the Amanda, just too soon. MC


1957 Honda Benly at Barbers 

1957 Honda Benly
Country: Japan
Engine: Air-cooled, single cylinder four stroke
Ignition: Battery and coil
Power rating: 8 bhp @ 7,200 rpm
Bore x stroke: 57 x 49mm
Displacement: 125cc
Valves: Overhead, pushrod activated
Fuel System: Single Amal carburetor
Transmission: Three speed
Suspension: Front leading link forks, rear plungers
Brakes: Front and rear drum
Weight: 282 lbs
Top speed: 55 mph

By 1957 Honda motorcycles continued to be developed, but still retained many of the features of the German machines, such as the pressed steel frame and leading link front suspension. In two short years they entered the lucrative U.S. market and also won the team prize in the Isle of Man T.T. races with 125cc machines.

Left-Hand View of 1957 Honda Benly 

1962 Surtees/Matchless 

Country: Great Britain
Engine: Air-cooled single cylinder 4-stroke
Ignition: Pal magneto
Power Rating: 55hp @ 7,200rpm
Bore x Stroke: 90mm x 78mm
Displacement: 496cc
Valves: Single magnesium alloy Amal Grand Prix carburetor
Fuel System: Front Ceriani telescopic forks, rear twin shock
Brakes: Front Ceriani four leading shoe drum, rear Norton Manx drum
Weight: 245lb

1962 Surtees/Matchless

World champion, John Surtees, built this Matchless G50 powered special with the intention of making it as light as possible with extensive use of magnesium alloy and titanium. The frame is a Surtees design, and combines the best features of the Norton featherbed and Matchless G50 chassis.

1962 Surtees/Matchless

1957 Bianchi Tonale 175

Country: Italy
Engine: Air-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke
Ignition: Battery and coil
Power Rating: 8bhp @ 6,100rpm
Bore x Stroke: 60mm x 62mm
Displacement: 174cc
Valves: Overhead, pushrod activated
Fuel System: Single Dell’Orto 20mm carburetor
Transmission: 4-speed
Suspension: Front telescopic forks, rear twin shock
Brakes: Front and rear drum
Weight: 255lb
Top Speed: 65mph

1957 Bianchi Tonale 175

Bianchi started manufacturing “Bone-Shaker” bicycles in 1885, making them one of the earliest, if not the first Italian company involved in this new industry. They went on to produce a variety of vehicles, including trucks, buses, bicycles, military vehicles, scooters, etc. The Tonale was Bianchi's premier model in 1957, with modified versions were very successful in motocross. In the late Sixties the company sold some of their interests and now only the bicycle division exists.

1957 Bianchi Tonale 175

1971 Triumph F750

Country: Great Britain
Engine: Air-cooled, 3-cylinder 4-stroke
Ignition: Generator and coil
Power Rating: 84hp @ 8,200rpm
Bore x Stroke: 67mm x 70mm
Displacement: 740cc
Fuel System: Three Amal 30mm Concentric carburetors
Transmission: 5-speed
Suspension: Front telescopic forks, twin shock rear
Brakes: Front and rear disc
Weight: 330lb
Top Speed: 165mph

1971 Triumph F750

Triumph rider Tony Jefferies built this machine, using many special factory parts around a Rob North frame. It was later raced in the 1978 Formula 1 event in the Isle of Man by Scotsman Alex George who, competing against 1,000cc 4-cylinder machines, finished in 5th place. His fastest lap was 107mph, which still stands as a record around the TT circuit by a pushrod motor.

1954 MV Agusta 500/4

Country: Italy
Engine: Air-cooled, 4-cylinder 4-stroke
Ignition: Lucas Magneto
Power Rating: 60hp @ 10,500rpm
Bore x Stroke: 53mm x 56mm
Displacement: 497cc
Valves: Gear driven DOHC
Fuel System: Four Dell’Orto SS 28mm carbs
Transmission: 5-speed
Suspension: Front telescopic fork, rear twin shock
Brakes: Front and rear drums
Weight: 308lb
Top Speed: 145mph

1954 MV Agusta 500/4

All MV Agusta race bikes were hand built specials, the equivalent of a Formula One Ferrari. Introduced in 1950, the 4-cylinder basic design remained in use for 15 years. Continuous development, mainly in chassis in world championship titles and grand prix wins too numerous to list. A smaller, lighter and more powerful 3-cylinder model replaced the 500/4 in 1965. 

1954 MV Agusta 500/4

The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!
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Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

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