Vincent Black Shadow? - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-09-2003, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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Vincent Black Shadow?

Hunter S. Thompson makes several references to this bike in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Anybody know anything about this bike?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2003, 10:50 AM
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First bike to break 150 mph.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-10-2003, 11:11 AM
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Vincent Black Shadow

Yeah, this bike was the Hayabusa of it's day (1950's). Compared to what was available at the time, it was a very advanced, high performance motorcycle. 1000cc pushrod V-Twin engine putting down about 55 rear wheel horsepower. (Yeah, I know, a Ninja 500 nowadays puts down about that much- but hey, this was 50 years ago!) Street version was good for a top speed of about 120-125. Could pretty much smoke everything else on the road at the time.

As was posted previously, this bike was the first to break the 150 mph barrier. In 1948, a version of this bike called a Black Lightening (somewhat modifed) was piloted by Rollie Free who was wearing nothing but a swimsuit! Here's the famous snapshot of him:

Now this guy had some serious cajones!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-13-2003, 01:51 AM
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This bike was (is) one of the best bikes ever built.
It was designed and built to very high standards of engineering and quality.
Everything that shines on the bike is stainless steel, and it has monoshock rear suspension!!
It had the nickname 'Plumbers Nightmare' because of all the external tubing used for the fluids.
It was designed by Phil Irving, a very tallented engineer who was ahead of his time. He wrote the legendary book 'Tuning for Speed' which is still very relevant and eye opening.
Phil Vincent hired him to design an engine to fit on his bikes which were using engines from other manufacturers until then.

It was conceived when he combined the designs of two Vincent Meteor, Comet engines (single cylinder 500), and realised he could make a Vtwin 1000. The Black Shadow was not just the 'Hayabusa' of its time, it was much more than that.
There are quite a few bikes with similar specs to the Hayabusa, or any 'Busa' nowadays. Back then there was nothing even coming close to the Black Shadow, and the cost of owning it was 3 times that of the second best bike of the time, which would be something like a 650 Triumph or Norton .
The Vincent was produced in various stages of tune and equipment:
Vincent Black Shadow,
Vincent Black Lightning,
Vincent Rapide,
Vincent Black Prince with full fairing, touring version and ugly IMHO.

These bikes are very expensive and very collectable, the owners are organised in the a group and pay tribute to Phil Vincent every year at the cemetary where he is burried.
I hope I was able to fiil in a few gaps about the one of the best motorcycles ever built.

You can see more info here


Last edited by ariszr7; 10-13-2003 at 01:57 AM.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-26-2006, 08:07 AM
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by all reports still an enjoyable ride today. prior to their own design used JAP engines j a prestwich or like shared with several custom built bikes like brough superior and morgan 3 wheel cars (tax loophole). jap's considered superior by many people at the time. never easy.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-04-2006, 01:11 PM
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yea, the guy who did 150 did it laying flat on the seat wearin nothing except like underwear and his helmet

Rollie Free, sept 13, 1948. 150mph
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