The same…But different

Egli-Vincents were an Anglo-Swiss creation which have sustained enduring popularity. In the land where they were produced, a single and a twin are compared.

Words and photographs: Colin Taylor

Visit the Canton of Jura in Switzerland, not far from Basel, and you’ll encounter most of the things for which the country is famous.

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Perfectly kept villages, a vista rich in landscapes which are not blighted by overhead power or communication cables draped from poles or pylons, cows aplenty and horological factories making parts so tiny and precise they make an average classic vehicle mechanic’s work seem agricultural.

More importantly for us, in Courtedoux there live a group of aficionados of British classic motorcycles whose enthusiasm is incredible. Several have wonderful collections of 1950s and 60s classics.

A huge, full-ish size model of a diplodocus dominates a traffic island just outside of the village and within sight of it lives a recently retired water treatment engineering manager whose real passion for old British bikes can now be given full-time attention. Jean-François (aka ‘Jeff’) Vallat is well known in the classic community.

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His last project (a Rocket Gold Star) was completed to a very high standard and the pair of Egli-Vincents here are a fine example of his rebuilding competence.

On the road. The machines boast vastly different manners.

The history of the Egli-Vincent is well documented. Suffice to say issues of ground clearance when competing in hill climbs, quirky handling and braking of the ‘standard’ Vincent twin he was racing caused Fritz Egli to design and build what has become an iconic machine.

Compared with the production Vincent, the bike made by Egli was lighter, and had improved brakes.

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Suspension at the front was by more conventional (telescopic front forks replacing the Vincent Girdraulic equipment) and the rear by a swinging-arm and two spring units, rather than the cantilever scheme used on the stock Vincent.

Nowadays, nearly 60-years after the initial concept of the original Egli, there remain features to be seen on modern day silhouette replicas which stood-out on the original.

Read more and view more images in the August 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!

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