The Strange Death Of The British Motorcycle Industry
The Strange Death of the British Motorcycle Industry
The British motor cycle industry once stood ‘at the top level of world production’. BSA, Ariel, Norton, Triumph, Matchless and Vincent led the world in design, technology, and popularity. After 1945, when the German industry failed to develop, British bikes continued to be untouchable both on the racetrack and in the showroom.
Then it all began to go horribly wrong. Lucrative overseas markets began to decline, and foreign scooters tore into the UK market. At the same time, rates of motorcycle accidents rose and many British consumers were deciding to buy cars instead of two-wheelers.
Finally there came a whirlwind from the East, as fierce competition arrived from innovative, sophisticated and more mechanically reliable Japanese machines. By the early 1970s, with alarming rapidity, the British motor cycle industry had all but disappeared.
Koerner is as much a British motorcycle enthusiast as he is an academic, but he doesn’t wax nostalgic about the industry. He is critical in hindsight, and although players in the trade aren’t identified as heroes or villains, it’s fairly obvious who they are.... Crippled by the early 1970s there is no easy answer regarding the downfall of...