Showing posts with label 1950s Race Bikes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1950s Race Bikes. Show all posts

Mondial 250 GP

Mondial 250 GP 1950s MotoGP bike

The Mondial 250 GP was a unique piece of performance kit. Motorcycle manufacturer FB Mondial was run on a shoestring, compared with some of its more mainstream rivals. They included MV Agusta and Ducati. But it had entrepreneurial spirit by the bucketload. Bespoke to the core, its products were masterpieces of creative engineering. Founded in '29 - by five Boselli brothers - Mondial Moto was based in Lombardy, Italy. Bike racing was in its blood!

Though small, the Mondial race team was a serious player. After all, the great Mike Hailwood successfully campaigned Mondial 250s - in '59 and '60. A decade or so before that, Mondial machines won the first three 125cc World Championships. The opener was in '49. In '57, Mondial won both 125 and 250cc GP series. So, no slouches, for a relatively underfunded équipe!

Such motorsport feats, of course, do not come cheap. Ultimately, Mondial were unable to sell enough roadsters to foot the competition bill. Sadly, therefore, they were forced to retire early from racing. Mondial, as was, ceased trading in '79. Since then, they have enjoyed something of a renaissance - and, indeed, are back in business at this point. And their classic bikes - resplendent in silver and blue livery - still circulate around racetracks. After all, the Mondial 250 GP harks back to a time when beauty was built to last!

Manx Norton

Manx Norton 1950s TT race bike

The Manx Norton has a proud heritage. Throughout the '30s, Norton were nigh on invincible at the Isle of Man TT. Their top-selling roadster at the time was the International. It was the production racer based on this bike that was first to sport the legendary 'Manx' badge. However, it was not until 1950 that the most memorable Manx Norton of all arrived on 'the island'. So flexible was its frame that one of Norton's race aces said it was like riding a feather bed! From then on, it was known as the 'Featherbed Manx'.

But a great bike still needs a great rider. And riders do not come any greater than Geoff Duke. Clearly a perfect fit for the Featherbed, in '51 Duke took both the 500 and 350cc World Championships. Supreme sportsman that he was, Duke would have been first to acknowledge the part played by Irishmen Rex and Cromie McCandless. They were the top-flight engineers who designed the Featherbed frame.

Today, it seems inconceivable that a bike as successful as the Manx could have been a single-pot 'thumper'. Air-cooled, four valves, 54 bhp. Indeed, it would be the first four-cylinder forays at the TT - by Gilera and MV Agusta - which finally signalled the end of Manx indomitability. Thankfully, though, those booming single-cylinder sounds - exiting megaphone exhausts - can still be heard at classic race meets. As the majestic Manx Norton swoops into sight - on its way to completing yet another lap. Basso profundo, basically!