British singles, I love ’em. I’m not talking about the ones on match.com.uk, well, some of those are quite attractive as well but I’m talking about motorcycles. I have owned one that was stolen out of my garage, I have ridden a few that I was loaned and I believe that the British Single cylinder racing motorcycle is truly the epitome ‘Golden Era’ of motorbike racing.
As I look back on my years of riding and racing, most of the memories that are truly embedded in my brain are on big singles. Desert racing on a BSA 441, vintage roadracing on a BSA Gold Star and a Honda Ascot. I have a Yamaha SRX 600 in my shop waiting for its turn.
Single cylinder motorbikes have a look, sound and feel that can’t be matched by any other bike. You feel and hear everything. Singles handle like no other…light steering, low center of gravity, narrow enough for you to just tuck into, and because of all that, you and your motorbike become one. The engine vibrates enough to let that it’s alive, and the sound is pure music. I love singles.
Today on ebay I found a really nice 1956 B33. It’s a 500 single bred out of the very successful B31 350. These are not the high-bred Gold Stars, these are the more pedestrian ride it to work, take the wife for a Sunday morning ride or even attach a sidecar to it kind of bike. The B33 was just a good solid reliable motorbike…Cycle Magazine called it, “the poor mans ‘Gold Star'”. Good handling, easy starting and smooth riding. When magazines tested the B33 it was good for about 90mph. Truth be told, I would feel very uneasy riding one of these at those speeds…I have been on a Gold Star at about that speed and had to check my underwear when I stopped.
The bike I found today is a very nice example of a bike you could buy and go riding this weekend. This B33 has a bit over 43K miles on the clock but is a solid runner according to the seller. The bike looks its age and that’s just fine. This will be a wonderful bike to have and ride, classic style and sound. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. Owning a classic British single cylinder motorbike is something every true motorcyclist should do at least once.