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This Is What A Motorcycle Should Be – Ian Barry's Falcon Black

Ian Barry’s Falcon Black

The Falcon Black from motorcycle artist Ian Barry, and he is indeed an artist, is based on a Vincent Black Shadow, a machine widely considered one of the  best – and fastest – production motorcycles of all time.

The Black Shadow held the title of “The World’s Fastest Standard Motorcycle” for over 25 years after its introduction in 1948, and it was only dethroned at the top of the speed heap in the early seventies with the introduction of the Kawasaki Z-1 superbike.

If you’ve ever had a bike, you almost certainly fell victim to the urge to put your personal stamp on the machine, customize it to a degree that says, “This is me, and this is what I think.”

Ian Barry, on the other hand, has made customizing motorcycles his life’s work.

Barry is the the man who built the bike you see here, The Falcon Black, and he was once, in a previous incarnation, a computer consultant.

No more.

Barry, like so many of us who love machines – was interesting in how things actually work. At the tender age of 19, Barry got his first bike, a Triumph, and it was entirely dismantled in short order. It was the start of an apprenticeship dedicated to knowing motorcycles, really knowing them. And taking his cues from books, pals and old masters of the craft, Barry was off and running on his quest to make motorcycles that were more than simply the sum of their parts.

They had to have, well, soul.

“I spent all my time and money buying bad customized bikes and making them better,” Barry said.

The result of ten years obsessing over what makes the perfect motorcycle is what you see here, and it is indeed sublime…

HRD – Series C Black Shadow


Make: Vincent HRD
Model: Series C Black Shadow
Engine: 998 cc (84 x 90 mm bore and stroke)
50° OHV V Twin, 7.3:1 CR, polished conrods
Carburetor: 2 x 1.125 inch type 29 Amals
Ignition: Lucas Magneto (’55 models had Kettering ignition)
Electrics: 6v 45w dynamo
Lubrication: Dry sump, 3 US quarts
Gearbox: Burman 4 speed, triplex chain primary, wet multiplate clutch
Final Drive: 530 chain, 46/21 sprockets
Tyres: 3 x 20 in front, 3.50 x 19 in rear
Wheels Front: 1.65 x 20 in.steel rim; Rear: 1.65 x 19 in.steel rim.
Frame: Brazed lug duplex tubular cradle.
Cantilever rear springing
Front forks: Vincent Girdraulic forks, 3″ travel
Brakes: Twin drums, 7 in diameter in front
and rear, single leading shoe 7/8″ wide.
Weight: 455 lb – 206 kg [Wet – 500 lb (227kg)]
Wheelbase: 56.5 in. (1435mm)
Seat height: 32.5 in. (826mm)
Performance: 125 mph / 201 km/h – 55 bhp at 5500
Fuel Capacity 3.5 gallons / 16 litres (Other sources suggest 5 gal – 19litres)
Manufacturer: The Vincent-HRD Co. Ltd., Great North
Road, Stevenage, Herts

Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle

As for insurance for your collectible motorcycle? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a classic 1959 BSA Gold Star Catalina valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage.

You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.

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