The Australian Way: Vincent Rapide Series B Racer

Ken and Barry Horner go out to look for a Vincent they could turn into a racer and find a Vincent Rapide Series B.

| September/October 2018

  • vincent rapide series b racer
    Ken and Barry Horner's Vincent Rapide Series B racer.
    Photo by Stephen Piper

  • vincent rapide series b racer

Horner Bros. Vincent Rapide Series B

  • Engine: 998cc air-cooled OHV 50-degree V-twin, 84mm x 90mm bore and stroke, 12.5:1 compression ratio, 96hp @ 6,500rpm (at crank)
  • Top speed: 128mph (Goodwood, 2014)
  • Carburation: Two 1-3/16in Amal Monobloc (approx. 30mm)
  • Transmission: 4-speed, chain final drive
  • Electrics: 12v, coil ignition
  • Frame/wheelbase: Oil-bearing steel spine frame w/ engine as stressed member/56.5in (1,435mm)
  • Suspension: Girder fork with fully adjustable Race Dynamics monoshock front, dual Öhlins shocks rear
  • Brakes: Dual 7in (178mm) SLS drums front, single 7in (178mm) SLS drum rear
  • Tires: 90/90 x 19in front, 110/90 x 19in rear
  • Weight (dry): 389.4lb (177kg)

Melbourne-based brothers Ken and Barry Horner are the can-do kids of Australian road racing — whether vintage or modern.

Over the past decade, they've amassed an enviable roster of race wins and podiums with the various Irving Vincent 1,300cc V-twin racers they've created from the ground up in their Hallam, Victoria, Australia, machine shop. Then, just to show they could take on the modern twin-cylinder mafia equally well, in 2008 their enlarged 1,600cc air-cooled 2-valve pushrod V-twin ridden by Craig McMartin rumbled away from a full grid of liquid-cooled multi-valve race replicas, including Ducati 1198 Superbikes with such famous names as two-time World Superbike champion Doug Polen and AMA Superbike star Larry Pegram aboard, to win the world's premier ProTwins race on the Daytona bankings.

For those unaware of the Horners' achievements thus far, their exquisitely engineered bikes are based on the classic Vincent 50-degree V-twin motorcycle, and are built as a tribute to legendary Australian engineer Phil Irving, creator of the Vincent. The Horners struck up a friendship with Irving after he moved back to Australia, where Ken Horner, now 64, and brother Barry, a year younger, had both tasted success in sidecar racing. Ken retired from racing in 1977 to start his own engineering company, later joined by Barry, and today K.H. Equipment exports half its production to China and the U.S. This mainly consists of air starter motors for the mining and fuel exploration industries, entailing a 20-strong workforce turning out high-precision machined components, including trick race components for Australia's leading V8 Supercar teams.

Second-ever Black Lightning headlines Barber auction

Vincent Black Lightning

Rollie Free's capture of the "world's fastest production motorcycle" record in 1948 on a tuned Series B Black Shadow led directly to Vincent marketing a racer of similar specification to Free's machine: the Series C Black Lightning.

This Vincent Black Lightning — frame no. RC3548, engine no. F10AB/1C/1648 — was the second one built, completed in January 1949. It was ordered for Hans Stärkle, a rider for the NSU works team, during the Earls Court Motorcycle Show in October 1948, where the first Black Lightning was displayed on the Vincent Stand. Stärkle, who had already won three European Championships for NSU, raced RC3548 in the Unlimited Class with a sidecar attached. The Black Lightning was sold in May 1952 to a Mr. Amrein of Basel, Switzerland.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.