Part three in Retro Rider’s three-part series features the oldest and most iconic model Neale Bayly has yet sampled. The Series B Vincent Rapide may not be as well-known as its cousin, the Black Shadow, but the Series B Rapide is the predecessor that made the Black Shadow possible. The Series B was the second iteration of the Rapide models, Series A being the first. The most notable difference between the Series A and Series B models is the Series B’s use of the engine as a stressed member of the frame, as in the Black Shadow. Other improvements included unit construction of the 50° V-Twin engine and gearbox, internal oil lines and improved suspension.
The owner of this Rapide, Doug Carper, had the bike built to be rideable by himself and his friends, so it’s definitely not an expensive dust-collection device sitting alone in his livingroom. In doing so, a few modifications were made, such as using modern motocross-style handlebars, a larger front wheel, Triumph handgrips and Honda rearview mirrors.
Neale certainly enjoys the experience of riding the Rapide, claiming it to be a career highlight. Of course he can’t help but be the motojournalist he is and evaluates the bike fairly. “When you put the front brake on you feel a bit like Barney Rubble rubbing a couple bits of wood up on a stone,” says Bayly of the Rapide’s dual front drum brakes.
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