Vincents with Big Sid
by Sidney and Matthew Biberman
127 pages, $45.00
The Rapide Press, Copyright 1998
Via the author and Whitehorse Press
What is it about a big Vincent V-twin that enthralls us, some 50 years after they last rolled off the assembly line? Why did they capture the imagination of speed-crazy postwar gearheads? This was the motorcycle that set a Bonneville speed record of over 150 mph in 1948. Remember; this was in the day when a ‘hot’ Mercury coupe would wheeze out 85 bhp.
Sid Biberman first rode a Vincent in 1950, and has never looked back. For over five decades years he has owned, ridden, tuned, raced and restored the legendary machines from Stevenage. In that time, he has toured the factory, chatted with their racers, competed on and crashed the big twins.
For those new to the brand, he presents a short history of the Vincent-HRD company and its products, starting with its humble proprietary machines, up through the final Series D twins. He shares his drag strip adventures as well as recollections of illegal challenges to local fast guys. Subsequent chapters chronicle other Vincent drag-racers, Bonneville top-speed attempts, and Vincent restoration.
The author devotes an entire section to Vincent tuning secrets. One benefit to the ‘pedestrian’ Rapide and ‘sports’ Black Shadow is that they both could be easily converted to competition Black Lightning specification with over-the-counter parts from your dealer. Mr. Biberman reveals many specifics, including exhaust diameter & length, cam lift & duration, intake runner length & diameter and tire size and pressure. For both historian and enthusiast, this stuff is golden.
The highlight of the book is the excellent photography. Vincents with Big Sid contains over 200 photos with 32 pages in color. Vincents are shown doing battle at drag strips and attempting record runs at Bonneville. Mr. Biberman presents scores of images from his private collection, many published here for the first time. Restorers and bolt-spotters will appreciate the dozens of close-ups, with specific, detailed captions.
Sharp-eyed MMM readers and classic bike aficionados will notice local guys Bob and Sid Chantland thanked in the text, a reminder of our vibrant moto-community here in the Twin Cities. Vincents with Big Sid is highly recommended with (special to this review) both big cylinders.
“What’s a ‘Vincent?’ “–Entertaining history of the legendary V-twin.
“I had to lay ‘er down.”–Personal tales of Vincent riders and races.
Vincent Freak –Awesome photos alone well worth the asking price.