Sterling Autocycle: Going Back in Time

The retro classic Sterling Autocycle makes its way to the U.S.

  • Retro classic Sterling Autocycle
    Honda-developed pushrod single looks perfect in the Sterling Autocycle.
    Photo By Motorcycle Classics staff

  • Retro classic Sterling Autocycle

Further proof of growing interest in so-called “retro classics” comes with news that Black Douglas Motorcycle Co. will produce the Sterling Autocycle in the U.S. Created by motorcycle enthusiast Fabio Cardoni, Brugarolo, Italy, the Sterling has garnered praise in Europe, where demand has kept ahead of supply. The company says it’s been getting requests from around the world since introducing the Sterling prototype last year, with particularly strong interest from the U.S. That interest has prompted Cardoni to partner with Chris Sidah, Atascadero, Calif., to bring the Sterling Autocycle to the U.S. Sidah, former long-term author of Rider magazine’s Tech Q&A column, will spearhead building the Sterling Autocycle in Atascadero. Cardoni plans to move from Italy to California early in 2014 to oversee manufacturing.

While the bulk of retro classics have taken their inspiration from postwar American or European motorcycles, the Sterling features styling reminiscent of British singles of the Teens and Twenties — in particular BSA singles. A Chinese Zongshen electric-start 230cc pushrod single provides motive power. Fabio Cardoni says the engine, which is based on the Honda CG developed for Third World markets, is built to Japanese levels of quality and has proven its reliability. Top speed is about 70mph and the Sterling weighs in at a claimed 220 pounds.

Following the British tradition of the “bespoke motorcycle,” bikes can be individualized at the factory with a variety of component options. A sidecar variant — complete with wicker body — using a Fuji/Robin (Subaru) 500cc engine and torque converter is in the works and should be available by late summer 2014. Sidah says there are no plans to offer a solo bike with the big engine.

A higher performance “period racer” model, The Brooklands, is planned after the sidecar model is in production. Manufacture in the U.S. of the solo Sterling Autocycle is expected to begin in March or April of 2014, with prices still to be determined. The European market will continue to be supplied with bikes built under license. More info at The Black Douglas Motorcycle Co. MC

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