BMW Motorrad Spezial

Vincent HRD Black Lightning

Vincent HRD Black Lightning
In 1948, Vincent launched a production version of its Black Lightning land speed record holder. It immediately claimed the title of “Fastest production motorcycle in the world”, but only 31 were built. They came with magnesium components to cut weight to 380 lb (170 kg) or so, plus race tires and rearsets. Vincent’s established 998 cc twin was beefed up with stronger connecting rods, larger inlet ports, race-spec carbs and a choice of compression ratios: you could choose between 6.8:1 and 12.5:1. Heady stuff, even today. Vincent Motors actually reappeared in 2002 with a reborn Black Shadow, powered by a Honda RC51 motor. But company founder Barney Li was killed in 2008: we may be waiting some time for the rightful return of Vincent.

  • aeolus

    Drop dead gorgeous.

  • this is super bad!

  • drooling

    Saw one of these (maybe a ’52) with a supercharger at a Kansas City vintage bike show last weekend…wished I’d remembered the camera. There were a few other Vincent HRDs, but the Black Lightning was by far garnering the most attention.

  • Peter Merrington

    Superb bike. What’s happening with the Australian Vincent? The Irving Vincent? The Irving Vincent has a newly engineered motor based on the original Vincent V twin, and is intended for the racetrack. Very sorry to hear about Barney Li.

  • Odile

    This is hands down, for me, the most beautiful motorbike ever made. It reaches so close to aesthetic perfection that the design has simply become timeless. In that sense, it occupies a standing amongst motorcycles that is beyond opinion. I must confess to being somewhat relieved that the current revival of Vincent halted, albeit for tragic reasons. The updated version of this classic brand was mundane at best. i admit that it was well intentioned, but the whole new prototypes smacked of compromise at every turn.

    If I was looking for a precedent today that had taken the Vincent outline and then advanced the concepts to create some thing as bold and comparably innovative today it would be a company like ‘Confederate’. If you look closely there is even an obvious homage in their ‘The Wraith’ front forks to the Black Lightning forks above.

    Take a look and you can see how the geometry is almost identical.

    Anyway, seeing this photo has made my day, and I have already sent the link on to friends.

    Great site. Thrilled to have stumbled on to it.

  • Odile, absolutely! It really can’t be matched in terms of its presence. Have a look though at the website of KHE engineering, Victoria, Australia, for the story of their new racing Vincent –

    This is I reckon the closest thing to what was, with a direct pedigree. Though without the real romance of the original, even so.

  • Facebook User

    the ace! so cool.

  • Suzi

    Said James to Red Molly, I give ya my Vincent to ride……………Richard Thompson, immortalised this bike in a song.

  • joe momma

    …no comments abooot those vulgar, unimaginative straight pipes……i marvel at the way the psyches swirl around this site……???