Tuesday, February 08, 2011


As enthusiasts groan about rising prices for the best motorcycles, complaining 'they'll never be ridden again', it's worthwhile to reflect that there is 'using your machine', and USING your machine.  The degree of involvement each rider has with his/her cherished old motorcycle varies enormously, from pottering to the annual Vintage rally, to weekend enthusiasts, to the rare daily commuter (they still exist!), to the lofty Olympian heights of the ultra-user, such as Stuart Jenkinson.

Stuart bought his 998cc Vincent Black Prince in 1955,  from St. Andrew's motors in Newcastle.  It was his daily rider - a very special one of course - and he both commuted on the machine and rode it on long touring holidays.  He developed the Black Prince over time, as it became a totally reliable tourer with 100mph cruising speed, and gained the fond nickname 'Vinnylonglegs'.

In 1980 he began a moto-tour company, using the Vincent as his tour-guide machine, leading his charges through Germany, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Czechoslovakia, Montenegro, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Hungary and Greece. He has led more than 40 tours of Greece, and at over 3,000 miles each, that's the life expectancy of the average car.  Now Jenkinson has logged an incredible 721,703 miles on his Vincent, and reached an age when he needs to pass his cherished bike along for the next enthusiast.  It will be sold at the Bonhams Stafford sale on April 24th, 2011.

From the Bonhams press release:  
Stuart comments, “As any long term owner of a bike or car will understand, selling Vinnylonglegs after 56 years and almost three quarters of a million miles is going to be a serious wrench. I’ll just have to make do now with the memories of all our wonderful trips.”
Modifications have included a re-designed front fairing, incorporating twin headlamps, and replacing the original upper frame with a stiffer box section Series C frame, while a four gallon Series C fuel tank now caters for the longer distance tour. Electrical equipment has been modified to provide greater safety and reliability, while disc brakes and Koni dampers provide both safety and riding comfort. The pannier frames carry two five gallon boxes while the shelf above normally carries a large army kit bag with full camping gear.


Rapide said...

Amazing machine and wonderful history. As rare as Vincents are, it is not unusual to hear of them with significant miles under their tires like this one.

Anonymous said...

Now there you have it ........ to all the fairweather riders and "enthusiasts" who keep their bikes locked away under covers in case they get dusty .......... this is what happens when a real rider gets his hands on a classic .......... he rides the damn thing!!!
Alf R.

Anonymous said...

Great story. 55 years with the same bike! That's amazing. How many teardowns on the motor? Never crashed or fell off in 3/4 of a million miles? That is also extraordinary if so.
45 minutes ago...
Like ‎55 years of faithful marriage to the same machine! You'd think it wasn't possible. Nor 3/4 of a million miles without a fall or a crash, if that's right. But is the front end really from a 70s jap bike?
Mark D.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Girdraulics with adapter mounts for the Brembo calipers. Wonder what the hub is? But it still has the tommy bar for wheel removal!
Wesley G.

Anonymous said...

Disc brake mods for Vincents are very common and involve no permanent modifications to the bike - proves that its really ridden.

- Bob

Raúl Vicente said...

Beautiful is the only word. I wish my SV650N will grant me as many miles...
But they're just not built like that nowadays. I only hope it endures. Your post is an example of how a machine can transform a human and vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

It peeves me that beautiful classic bikes are stuffed in the corner of sheds and rarely used. There is no reason that Vincents cannot be used as every day transport and Stuart has proved that. Vincents have the best spares back up of all the classic bikes and there is a huge number of up dates available as well. I don't just speculate on that, I have been using my Norvin EVERY day for 32+ years.

Anonymous said...

Hey, what a nice new logo, M. d'Orleans
Can we get T's ?

Anonymous said...

There's another good write up of it here, which explains the front end, for any of the other Anonymous posters who want to know, and no it's not a jap front end:

This man lived what some of us might call the dream, and I admire him greatly for doing so. My Ural is no Vincent (obviously) but I am looking forward to many glorious miles and trips with her in the years to come. I'd give my left foot for a Vincent, but alas a 27 year olds left foot isn't worth enough =P

Anonymous said...

Classics do not get ridden because riders no longer own them. They have mostly been turned into commodities and bought up by the wealthy.

No, I am not talking about common Harleys, Indians, Triumphs, BSAs and Commandos, I am talking about bikes that are actually rare or were of limited production like Vincents, Velocette Thruxtons, Goldstars, Cammy British singles etc..

The rich bought most of them up, and as older owners fall dead or sell of, they will continue to be bought by the wealthy upper class.

All the lower income man can do is enjoy what he still has, or grab what he can to ride while he is able.

You will see the wealthy running these bikes to "bike nights" and around shows, or maybe from their estate to the office on a nice day, but aside from the occasional drunk or flash-in-the-pan celebrity, the majority will certainly not take any more risks with their classic motorcycle investments than they will with any other.

As the Vincents, Broughs and cammy singles move up and up in price, less well off investors latch onto the next best things, the more common production bikes, and drag their prices up too. So eventually we get down to BSA Bantams and Harley Hummers and then someday mopeds will be pounced upon if they have not already.

The British bikes being hard to find, speculation began on the masses of Japanese bikes, and it keeps migrating to the more and more common and the newer and newer, and then it is reversed and "collector's items" are simply manufactured right at the factory for the fool and his money.

So when no one can find an original Ducati 750ss, they simply make new ones, and then special editions etc..

It has been sad to watch what once my father and friends and myself had a lot of fun with, become harder and harder to keep and maintain.

Not long ago I saw an alloy cylinder for a USED Matchless scrambler go for close to $1000, much more than anyone ever paid for one in the sixties even taking inflation and the devaluation of the dollar into account.

These fantastic prices are not because riders and racers are wearing out parts and creating a demand for them, they are created because investors and speculators and businessmen are buying them up to suit their $pecial interests.

The old retired racer or rider on a fixed income with a broken bike
could very well be out of luck permanently, the vultures are circling...


The Vintagent said...

@ Ben G;
I couldn't disagree with you more. A phantom 'them' buying up bikes simply doesn't exist. Yes, truly rare machines are very expensive, but they have always been expensive - when I bought my first Brough in '88, it was twice what I paid for my Velo Thruxton, which was again more than I had ever paid for a motorcycle. And, I rode them both plenty.

Vincents aren't rare, they made 16,000 of them, but there is huge demand for them, so prices are high. Most hi-production bikes like Norton twins are very reasonably priced, and spares backup is now a thousand times better than when they were new!! You can buy anything you need, which was not the case when they were in production.

When I hear people grouse about high prices, I think,'sour grapes'. So we can't find an old British bike for $500 anymore, that's life. If you want one, you'll have to pay $6000 for a really good Triumph...go shopping for a new bike and tell me I'm crazy to think the majority of Britbikes are priced like a new motorcycle. That doesn't seem irrational to me.

People have been saying since the 1950s that collectors would drive prices through the roof for old bikes...so now, 60 years later, the creme de la creme are going for big bucks; seems to me only natural. But most old bikes are still as affordable as a new motorcycle.

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