The Ten Best Bikes Of The 11th Quail Motorcycle Gathering
With everything from Dunelts to Ducatis, the country’s top vintage event had some prime examples of classic machinery on display.
“Best” anything is always going to be subjective, but these are the bikes that hooked us. Some won awards, and some were just on display, but all of them left a strong impression. The full list of winners follows below.
1969 Honda CB750 Sandcast
1969 Honda CB750 Sandcast. First things first: Best of Show honors (as well as 50 Years of the Honda CB750 Award) was given to this 1974 Honda CB750 Sandcast model, rolled in by one Sam Roberts. The “sandcast” term refers to Honda’s choice of dies at the time. Because Honda was unsure how the bike would sell, it opted for less costly casts over expensive high-production die casts. The so-called “sandcast” models are hugely collectible.
1925 Brough Superior SS100
1925 Brough Superior SS100. In a group of equally immaculate peers, this pristine SS100 model won the featured 100th Anniversary of Brough Superior class, with Larry Bowman taking home the trophy.
2019 prototype BMW boxer
2019 prototype BMW boxer. We all know this as the Revival “Birdcage” bike by now, but Revival Cycles’ ethereal, titanium-framed, hand-shift creation featuring BMW’s new prototype engine is no less impressive every time you see it. It and its 23-inch Dunlop slicks won the Industry Award for Custom/Modified, presented to “ground-breaking and thought-provoking motorcycles.”
1966 Honda S90
1966 Honda S90. Dustin Kott’s cafe-ed out yet somehow futuristic-looking S90 could have made the cut in a number of the other classes, but it won second place in the Custom/Modified category. The unbelievably clean Honda speaks volumes about the builder’s painstaking attention to detail.
1964 BSA Lightning Rocket
1964 BSA Lightning Rocket. Winning first place in the British class was Robert Ives’ 1964 BSA Lightning Rocket, which looked like it just rolled off the showroom floor. The Rocket was BSA’s attempt to home in on the potentially lucrative US export market in the 1960s.
1928 Douglas 4 1/4
1928 Douglas 4 1/4. Taking top honors in the Antique class was this ultra-tidy 1928 Douglas 4 1/4 model. Ninety years old, and it looks like you could eat off it. This flat-twin, rare Colonial version is supposedly the last of the flat fuel tank models and sports a belt drive and even a front brake (Douglas built the first disc brakes)
1976 BMW R90S
1976 BMW R90S. The Hans Muth-penned R90S is an instantly recognizable classic in most circles, especially in the awesome “Daytona Orange” livery. This 1976 beauty snagged a first place award for the Other European class.
1953 Triumph T100C
1953 Triumph T100C. This ultra-clean twin didn’t win or place in the British class, but we’re still smitten. Given the fact that it runs an air-cooled engine, rigid frame, and Lucas magneto you might think we’re off our meds, but back in the day the Tiger T100 was regarded as the high-performance motorcycle of its time. At least for a brief while.
1953 Indian Chief
1953 Indian Chief. There was a wide variety of American iron on the grounds at the Quail, but this Indian Chief kept us going back for second and third looks (maybe because of that brilliant factory Tangerine color scheme). Indian was already on the ropes when it rolled out this last-gasp 80ci V-twin in 1953, and only a few were produced. This perfect example garnered the trophy for first place in the American class.
Honda XL500. Niki Smart won the Design and Style Award for this 1981 Honda XL500 presented in the Custom/Modified class. Winners are judged on design and concept, which are two things the Brit designer is intimate with, given his years at GM’s design division. The bike also won first place in the Custom/Modified category.