Did your dad own a motorbike? Were you not allowed to ride a bike because you were a girl? It's the '60s and the 'times were a changing! Let us know your motorbike memories in the comments below.
Was it a Thunderbird, a BSA Rocket or a Sunbeam? Were you ever lucky enough to get a ride in the sidecar?
Did the first ride light a passion for bikes that you still have to this day? The wind in your hair and the sun on your face, did it light a lifelong passion in you or did it scare the life out of you?
The 1960s British Motorbike
It was every boy and girl’s dream to be able to become independent and simply go wherever they wanted to go. The motorbike offered the youth just that, freedom!
In 1958 the Government changed legislation which allowed new bike riders registered in England and Wales to ride motorbikes of limited capacity before gaining a full licence. One of the first bikes to take advantage of this change in the status quo was the iconic Norton Navigator. In its wake came Royal Enfield’s Continental GT250, every boy-racer’s dream.
The British motorbike scene of the 1960s was just beginning to show recovery after the Second World War. New designs and engine layouts meant the motorbike was a much safer and viable option for many. The three big players in the market were BSA, Norton and Triumph and for a moment in the 1960s they seemed to have the British market sown up.
The style and engineering of the big three has been much copied even to the present day. The Triumph Bonneville has been phoenixed for 3 generations and continues to this very day out of Triumph’s new plant in Hinckley, Leicestershire. It was the ‘Bonnie’ that was perhaps the blueprint for Triumph and BSA to build one of the first ever super bikes, The Triumph Trident 750.
Sadly, by the 1970s, British motorbikes were competing with the Japanese offering. The Japanese bikes often improving on British design and providing additional speed, reliability and value for money. The 1970s were to prove tough for many of the iconic British brands of bikes.
Café Racer’s Ton-up Boys and Rockers
Before the late ‘50s and ‘60s rolled around motorbikes were hulking great machines often shackled with a cavernous sidecar, a far cry from the bikes on display in films like The Wild One.
But it wasn’t long before things changed. The Ton-Up boys, rockers and greasers of the era soon realised that these machines could be the answer to their dreams. Freedom and adrenalin all in one cool looking chromed up package.
The young rebellious image of the rocker or greaser soon became synonymous with the Norton Commando, Triumph Tiger or BSA Rocket Gold Star.
Springchicken Motorbike Memories
For many members of the Spring Chicken community, a motorbike with a sidecar was the main choice of transport for days out in the summer.
Followers of our Facebook group have been sharing their memories:
An old colleague used to give me a lift every night after work. He would insist I travel in the sidecar it was the scariest time of every day!
My dad had one and we went everywhere in it. I loved it. I even ended up riding motorbikes myself. Got my full bike license before my car one.
My dad built his own and him and my mum used to take all of us kids out every Sunday! He was in engineering and he used to work on aeroplanes during the war, so it was a belter.
My grandad had one and took me to the coast in it when I was 6. I've never forgotten the experience.
Can you remember the cramped space and uncomfortable seats? With Dad on the bike and the family in the sidecar, this mode of travel provided hours of fun throughout the 60s; great adventures and great days.
Let us know about your Motorbike memories in the comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!
Norton Fuel Tank Image– Max Pixel