The red bike pictured here is an extremely rare documented red Vincent Rapide Touring with the color-matched valanced fenders; some versions used a few black accents, were not solid red. The next time you visit the Museum you can review it and several other Vincents.
The Vincent Rapide was the basic moderate performing machine, the Black Shadow the hot street bike, the Black Lightning the Factory Racer, and there were 500cc singles named Comets as well.

The machine of songs, speed records and other lore, there’s no motorcycle like a Vincent. A British machine conceived with no compromise to perform and impress, the Vincent was made from about 1928 but really hit its stride after World War II with the Series B and C Black Shadows. This was near the end of production which came about in 1954. Only 11,036 Vincents are said to have been produced.

Perhaps a Land Speed Record racer named Rollie Free gave us one of the best known Vincent images when he was photographed at speed at Bonneville Salt Flats doing 150+mph, completely prone on the highly modified Vincent Rapide wearing a Speedo and helmet. But songwriter and musician Richard Thompson also brought us his song Vincent Black Lightning further sealing the brand into our mind’s eye. We get to visualize a mortally wounded bandit, his girlfriend, Red Molly, next to his hospital bed receiving his keys and riding off with his Black Lightning, the best of Vincents with less than a few dozen made.  Said James to Red Molly, “I give you my Vincent, to ride.”
Specs? Vincent Rapides are 998 cc 45 horsepower machines with four-speed transmissions and many interesting mechanical details that are a feast for the motorhead’s eyes. If you visit the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, you can see half a dozen of these fabulous machines in stock and competition form, a Comet and a Shadow built for Bonneville, and a Rapide built into a Bobber.


  • Engine Type – OHV 50 Degree V-Twin
  • Displacement – 998 cc, 61 Cubic Inches
  • Bore & Stroke – 84 mm bore x 90 mm stroke
  • Compression Ratio – 7.3 : 1
  • Carburetors – 2, Amal Type 29, 1.125″
  • Horsepower – 45-horsepower at 5,200 rpm
  • Primary – Chain Driven
  • Clutch – Wet, Multi-Plate
  • Transmission – 4-speed, Foot Shift
  • Ignition – Lucas Magneto Ignition, Miller Dynamo
  • Suspension – Girdraulic Front Fork, Hydraulic Twin-spring Rear Suspension
  • Brakes – 2 7″ SLS Drums, Front, 1, 7″ SLS Rear
  • Wheels/Tires – 3.00 x 20 /  3.50 x 19
  • Top Speed – Approximately 110mph
  • Dry weight – 455 lb.
On Loan to the National Motorcycle Museum
10 replies
  1. Stephen Hill
    Stephen Hill says:

    All Bikes look Brand new,love to see all in person would be great vacation ! Someone tacks time,energy and PRIDE in keeping bikes in pristine Condition.Thanx for great pictures for those of us who cannot ride that for to sebe in person ,nice of Y’all !!

  2. Chuck Thomas
    Chuck Thomas says:

    What a great bike !! A friend of mine back in the late 60’s had a highly modified Vincent Black Shadow and, at that time was the fastest street bike in San Diego. ( You never saw Bob Castro when he was’ent way out front of everyone else ) MAN THAT GUY COULD RIDE FAST
    Anyone know what the sprocket on the left side is for ?????????

  3. ross metcalfe
    ross metcalfe says:

    The extra sprocket on the rear of touring Vincents was to take the wheel off and change the gearing, say if you were approaching the Alps and needed the gear change. Nice feature and can basically be done without tools.

  4. Lumidaire
    Lumidaire says:

    I think that everything typed made a lot of sense. However, what about this?
    suppose you added a little content? I ain’t saying your content is not good., however
    suppose you added something that grabbed folk’s attention? I mean Featured Motorcycle:
    1952 Vincent “Red” Rapide » National Motorcycle Museum
    is kinda plain. You ought to peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they
    write news titles to grab people to open the links.
    You might add a related video or a picture or two to get people excited about everything’ve got to say.
    In my opinion, it would make your posts a little bit more interesting.

  5. Torin Bryan
    Torin Bryan says:

    Working on getting my fathers 1951 Rapide to original condition.
    Nice to see an example of what it will look like.
    Cant wait to get it started. Once its running again will try and get you some video.
    Not many around and his is a modified engine that tops out at 150 MPH.
    Thanks for the photos as it helps with getting it back to original.
    Nice site and love the bike.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *