3 Parts To Inspect When Buying Early English-Make Bikes

There is no such thing as a bad reason to go out and get your own classic motorcycle. With a little restoration, it's a joy to take them to rallies or even just use them the way you like: plain riding, no fuss.

Early motorbikes from England like the Triumph Bonneville, Norton Dominator, A10 BSA or any of the better models of Ariel, and Royal Enfield bikes are still great to collect as well as being fun to ride.

Not many contemporaries can offer you the same intimacy with mechanicals as these early motorbikes. For some, their primitive elements are precisely why riders enjoy a closer connection to the road and the spirit of riding.

But before you go out and get one, the basic idea with classics is preventative maintenance… if you know which parts to keep an eye out for, you can keep costs low and downtime to a minimum. Here are some of those common fault areas of an English classic bike.

1. Petrol taps
Many original taps had a cork seal and would have worn out by now, replaced by neoprene. You can still purchase original corks but these tend to shrink, causing leakage and require regular replacement. British companies like Chris Knight Motorcycles will sell you vintage brass replacement taps, or you can seek out manufacturers like Aerco.

2. Magneto
No, an X-Man will not stand in the way of your pursuit of an English classic bike. The magneto is a cam shaped disc that revolves to open and close ignition points. It often gives trouble with its points breaker and can advance or delay ignition timing.

Always keep a spare assembly. Remember many BSA, Triumph, Norton, AJS, Matchless used similar units and many parts in the magneto interchange. The Matchless one runs the opposite direction to the AJS although both bikes are basically the same, for example.

3. Generator
Early British bike owners had a lot of cause to moan about the Joseph Luca generator used on many bikes. Riders would have lights on approaching destination, changing down gears. Then, as soon as engine revs increased, the generator would melt all the solder off its joints, dumping them inside the generator's end cap. You'll want to re-wing the generator to boost output and replace solder with high-temperature resistant solder on joints.