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Classic bikes at Pebble Beach Concours

Iconic Vincent HRD Twins entered in showcase

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Apr. 15, 2009
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will feature motorcycles for the first time in the event’s 59 year history.

The annual elegant automobile showcase is one of the world’s top celebrations of rare cars. Held on the 18th fairway of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif., the Concours has featured rare classics owned by celebrity collectors such as Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren.

The 2009 edition of the Concours, scheduled for Aug. 16, introduces a new class of competition: British motorcycles built through 1959. Mixed among the classic Bentleys, Bugattis and Ferraris will be a collection of restored Ariels, Brough Superiors, BSAs, Nortons, Triumphs, Velocettes and Vincents. Organizers say future Concours will feature motorcycles from other countries or regions.

“International interest in collecting classic motorcycles is on the rise, and we want to celebrate them and do all we can to support their preservation and restoration,” says Sandra Kasky Button, chair of the Pebble Beach Concours. “These motorcycles will both complement and contrast the automobiles on our field. In a very real way, they expand on the history of the car; many early automakers started by making two- and three-wheelers – and some still do!”

The iconic Vincent Black Shadow "Bathing Suit Bike" will appear at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.Scheduled to appear at the 2009 Concours are a pair of Vincent HRD V-Twins, the 1947 Gunga Din and the 1948 “Bathing Suit Bike” featured in the iconic photograph with rider Roland “Rollie” Free.

The Gunga Din race bike started out as a standard Series B Rapide with a 998cc V-Twin engine. Initially used by Vincent as a publicity test ride, race enthusiast George Brown entered it in competition where it set numerous records and won road races, sprints and hill climbs. The Gunga Din was also used as a platform to test new technologies which were later used in the development of the Vincent HRD Black Shadow and Black Lightning race bikes.

One of the Gunga Din’s heirs was the Black Shadow built for American sportsman John Edgar. Edgar hired Free to attempt a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1948. After the stitching on his leathers began to unravel, Free stripped down to swimming trunks and a swim cap to reduce the drag. Lying flat on his stomach, Free proceeded to set a new world record for unstreamlined, unsupercharged bikes with an average speed of 150.313 mph. The Bathing Suit Bike subsequently became the first in a new Vincent series, the Black Lightning.

Collectors are invited to enter their classic motorcycles by emailing Pebble Beach Concours Entrant Relations Manager Sean Jacobs at