BMW Motorrad Spezial

OEC Commander

OEC Commander motorcycle
Which motorcycle maker is famous for oddball front suspension and steering, and for using high-performance engines from other makers? Five marks for mentioning Bimota—but ten marks if you guessed the Osborn Engineering Company of Britain.

The trajectory of OEC is uncannily similar to that of the modern-day Rimini outfit, right down to an erratic involvement in racing. OEC lasted longer than most early British makers, from 1901 to 1954, and was famous for its unusual engineering and experimentations with girder forks—as well as several attempts on land speed records.

You don’t often see OECs come up for sale, but the Dutch classic dealer Yesterdays has no less than three on its books right now. The pictured bike is a 1938 Commander model, and the sticker price is a surprisingly reasonable €12,750 (US$16,000). The Commander used a 500cc single cylinder Matchless engine and a duplex steering system: just check that front end closely in the shots above and below. Any custom builders out there fancy grafting that engineering onto the front end of a bobber?

OEC Commander motorcycle

  • David Enfield

    Cap on backwards & goggles, rubberised mac & gauntlets , stout boots & gaiters men and women launched themselves out on wonderful machines such as this . You can feel the adventure of it all .

  • Dave

    Absolutely love its looks – cool!

  • Ecosse

    never heard of oec until now. it’s an intriguing machine and company; thanks for the heads up b. exif!

  • emmet

    wow. that is such a low price for a bike from 1938!!

  • I’d add Ner A Car to that list of makers with odd front suspension and steering with bought in motors, but they kept their motors on the slower end of the spectrum. Don’t forget the famous tag that OEC has carried all these years: Odd Engineering Contraptions. Sammy Miller has been playing with them lately, check his museum if you can.

  • WRXr

    Odd Engineering Contraptions always had interesting stuff.

    Very difficult to make sense of that front end, even with it staring you in the face!!

  • kim scholer

    For odd front suspensions I’d also recommend a look at a Czech Böhmerland and a Belgian 1949 FN.