Friday, June 28, 2013

Vincent Series A Comet

Series A Vincent-HRD singles were the model which set the Stevenage maker on the road to immortality. The story goes that the engine was designed in under four months, as Vincent was disillusioned by the performance of 'bought in' engines...
Arguably the ‘A’ single was the most important motorcycle in Vincent history, and tales of its conception are legendary. So the story goes, disgusted by the performance of ‘special’ proprietary JAP engines fitted in his Isle of Man TT racers during the 1934 event, Phil Vincent vowed to no longer depend on bought-in engines. In just four months, the in-house designed prototype single cylinder engine was ready for display at the Olympia motorcycle show, whereupon Phil Vincent (PCV) confidently predicted a top speed of 80mph for the cooking Meteor, 90mph for the sportier Comet and a ton for the racing TT Rep... despite the fact no engine had yet been run.

However, PCV’s confidence was proved well-placed – and there was no real surprise, as the engine was the work of well-respected Australian Phil Irving. The ‘high cam’ engine – the camshaft is set as high as possible in the timing chest, allowing short pushrods to be used; a similar set-up to Velocette’s M series – proved itself a fast and reliable unit.

The Series A single of course was doubled up to create the first Vincent (HRD) V-twin, while the Post-WWII singles (and twins) were extensively redesigned. However, without the Series A singles, then there would surely have been no Rapides, no Black Shadows, no Black Lightnings, no Gunga Din, no Rollie Free record attempt, no Nero...

The series A models are very sought after by collectors and the stigma of the Vincent single isn't as strong as it used to be here in the States.  The 500cc singles were always well thought of in England as they are reliable and great for just riding around on.  The later 500cc Comet was raced under the Gray Flash label and it was just a hotted up version of the Comet.