Garelli resumed production of powered two-wheelers after an 18-year break. Instead of sporty 350cc two strokes the firm churned out diminutive clip-on ‘micromotori’ better suited to the needs of post-war austerity.
The classic one-day trials resumed in February with the Colmore Cup Trial; Fred Rist and Bill Nicholson came first and second, both riding competition versions of Beeza’s new B31. Before the end of the year the British Experts Trial was back too; solo and sidecar honours went to Bob Ray (Ariel) and Harold Tozer (BSA).
BSA cashed in on its acquisition of Sunbeam with the launch of “a new kind of motorcycle”, the Sunbeam S7, built in the firm’s wartime ‘shadow’ factory in Redditch. The rolling chassis was pure BSA, including the latest telescopic forks and plunger rear suspension; rider comfort was further enhanced by 5.00×16 ‘balloon’ tyres. But the Erling Poppe-designed driveline comprised a unit-construction ohc 500cc in-line twin with car-style clutch and four-speed gearbox. The first batch were sent out to the South African police who but returned them with complaints of vibration problems. BSA duly rubber-mounted the engine.
Also new from BSA was its reply to the Triumph Speed Twin: the 500c ohv vertical twin A7. Designed by Val Page, it had a number of features in common with the Triumph 6/1 he had built for Triumph in 1933.
Somewhat less luxurious was the diminutive Corgi, a civvy version of the wartime Welbike. It was produced for Excelsior by Brockhouse Engineering of Southport.
Titch Allen called a meeting of enthusiasts to form the Vintage MCC, dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of old bikes. They classified machines as veteran (made before 31 December 1914) and vintage (made before 31 December 1930).
The Sunbeam MCC teamed up with the Belgian Motorcycle Federation to resume Continental road racing with a meeting at Le Zoute. A dozen Brits crossed the Channel and dominated the proceedings. Jack Brett headed the 250s on an Excelsior; Peter Goodman took 350 honours for Velocette (he was the grandson of the company’s founder) and Maurice Cann rode the fastest 500 – but it was a Moto Guzzi.
The Manx Grand Prix attracted 133 riders; most of the bikes were pre-war models detuned to run on low-octane pool petrol. As expected, Ken Bills won the Junior for Norton but in the Senior Ernie Lyons beat Bills Norton into second place. Despite a broken downtube Lyons’ sprung-hub Triumph won by more than two minutes; in pouring rain he set a fastest lap of 78.8mph – compared with Bills’ 1938 record lap of 86.31mph. In the Lightweight race LW Parsons gave Rudge what would prove to be its final Manx victory.
The first major postwar show was the Paris Salon, 809,000 visitors were attracted by a mostly pre-war line-up of bikes and cars, though FN did come up with an unusual front fork suspension incorporating steel springs and rubber bands.
The Norman range, launched in Ashford, Kent, used Villiers power; also new was the Swallow Gadabout scooter, with 4.00×18 tyes, made by Heliwells of Walsall, West Midlands.
In the US the Monroe Auto Equipment Company was offering hydraulically damped telescopic forks; between them Indian and Harley Davidson snapped up the factory’s entire output.
Brands Hatch, still a grass track venue, hosted an Anglo-Irish match courtesy of the Bermondsey MCC. England’s honour was upheld by the likes of Eric Oliver and Jock West; Irish stars included Ernie Lyons, Artie Bell and Rex McCandless, who was using the swinging-arm frame he’d designed with his brother Cromie. The English scraped a 19-17 victory but the McCandless frame would win renown as the Norton Featherbed.