On paper it’s often hard to separate the British 650cc twins of the late 1950s/early 1960s, but on the road they can be very different animals.
Words: PHIL TURNER Photographs: GARY CHAPMAN
The B1107 in Norfolk wouldn’t have been my first choice of road for my first ever outing on two of the finest examples of the British 650cc twin – narrow, bumpy, busy – but the rasp from the exhausts of Mathhew Hilton’s Super Rocket echoing off the Thetford Forest pines that stood either side of us, goaded me to keep pace. I started to wish I could hear what the Norton 650SS (also Matthew’s) I was on sounded like from behind…
It didn’t take long for my mind to start wandering and wondering how many other Brit-twin pilots I was following in the wheel tracks of, and how many of them had earned their café-racer stripes on these bends.
There’s a fair chance some of those would’ve been earned on the Rocket and SS. Although both enjoyed only a brief time in their respective range spotlights – the 650SS quickly overshadowed by the Atlas, the BSA by the Rocket Gold Star – it can still be argued that both represented a high point in the development of the British 650cc twin; doubtless they were both much more affordable for the budding road-racers of the early 1960s, compared to their poster boy, headline-grabbing siblings too.
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