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Vincent Black Shadow 1952
His motorcycles' design innovation and engineering excellence notwithstanding, Philip Vincent well understood that it was performance that grabbed the headlines and stimulated sales. Season-long racing was prohibitively expensive but a one-off speed record attempt was more affordable and the latter was the obvious choice for cash-strapped Vincent, all the more so because it was already producing the world's fastest production motorcycle: the Black Shadow.
The most famous and spectacular Vincent record attempt is that undertaken by Rollie Free, who rode journalist John Edgar's special factory-prepared Black Shadow to a speed of over 150mph on the Bonneville salt flats in Utah in 1948, the first time that an un-supercharged motorcycle had surpassed that figure. The photograph of Free, lying prone on the Vincent wearing only swimming trunks and running shoes, is one of motorcycling's most reproduced images.
See the Rollie Free and other motorcycle artwork in my Galleries.
August 14th, 2013
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