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The Vincent-HRD Company Limited was based on the Old North Road in Stevenage, Herfordshire. Started by Philip Conrad Vincent, their superb machines became the superstars of the British post-war scene and for many, represent the pinnacle of the British industry's achievement. This guide details six Vincents from the post-war period, a time when the company's vee-twins were quite simply in a class of their own in terms of speed, strength and stability.
The 1950 Rapide motorbike is unique in that it is the last machine to carry the Vincent HRD tank transfer, making it a series B model. It is fitted with the light-alloy bladed Girdraulic front forkwhich was introduced in 1950 when the initials HRD were dropped. All subsequent Rapides, Black Shadows, Lightnings, Knights and Princes bore only the name "Vincent". All these machines had 998cc engines, four speeds, dual carburettors and two brakes on each axle. The price of the Rapide in 1949 was £323 17s. It weighed approximately 460lbs, could top 110mph and had a consumption figure of around 65mpg.
Vincent Black Lightning
The Black Lightning was highly modified version of the Shadow built for racing. Its engine was tuned with TT carburettors and straight-through exhaust pipes. It had a rev-counter, but no kickstart, lighting eqipment or stands. Both wheels had alloy rims and magnesium alloy brake backplates, while the tyre sizes were 3.00 x 21 in. front and 3.5 x 20in rear. There were short alloy mudguards and a racing seat, which used the standard mountings. Only 27 are believed to have been made.
Vincent Grey Flash
Based generally on the Comet model, the Vincent Grey Flash racer was built to Black Lightning standards. It employed a specially enlarged and steamlined cylinder head with polished ports. Triple valve springs were used with lightened and polished rockers and cam followers and a special camshaft was also fitted. The series C Grey Flash could also be supplied as a fast touring model with lights, horn etc or the same completely equipped touring model with extra bits and pieces necessary for converting the model to racing tim.
Named after the model originally introduced at Olympia in 1934, the single-cylinder Comet was destined forever to be the poor relation of the Vincent big-twins. Virtually half of the vee-twin, with engine inclined, the Comet was assembled to Black Shadow tune, with a softer model called the Meteor also available. Despite pleasing performance and near vibratin-free running, the Comet was not a big seller. By comparision to the good-looking vee-twin, the machine looked unbalanced and potential buyers turned away to conventional singles from the bigger factories.
Vincent Black Shadow
As an ultra-high performance mount for the connoisseur, the hand built Vincent Black Shadow was the post-war equivalent of the Brough Superior. Its 998cc vee-twin produced an incredible mixture of high speed and docility made possible by a compression ratio of only 6.45 to 1 and a top gear ratio of 3.5 to 1. At the designed maximum speed of 125mph, the engine shaft was turning at a lazy 5800rpm.
Vincent Black Knight
For 1955 Vincent unveiled something a little special in the form of the fully enclosed Series D range, with teh object of providing the discerning rider with a high-speed tourer; a two-wheeled Bentley as Phil Vincent put it. These machines represented a remarkable development for the time and created a sensation athe the Earls Court show that year. It has to be said though, that later, production problems arose with the mouldings eventually leading Vincent into difficulties. With their new clothes, there were new names; the Shadow became the Black Knight, and the Rapide, the Black Prince.