The Vincent Comet
The Vincent Comet Road Impressions of a Sports 500-c.c. Motor-cycle
TI fESE days the accepted idea of 'a road test is such a cut-and-dried affair. wit h standardised lists of figures and tfiblthif 10115, that. I felt something rather different Wto: called for when dealing with any given nuleliine. I fidef. the normal font mac fin. at Press road tcM the firm concerned usually pick oftt a good model from tlw productioli line, check it, and test it to make sure everything is spot-on. and then hand it over for test with a reasonable amount of miles on the speedometer consistent with removal of the high spots. Now, while a machine may be perfect when loaned from the works, or delivered to the customer, one wonders at times what the state of the machine will be after some thousands of miles of usage by the average owner.
Having fielded that the Vincent Coned was the machine to put to the test, i was very fortunate in meeting, unite by eleince, Mr. Roy. Branch, tile owner of a Comet and, through a mutual friend, arranged ID try it. Rote, indeed, was at Vincent as desired. H. was in regular daily use in the hands of its seeonel owner and it had just paSigal the 9,000-mile toark. I felt that this would definitely give one experience of a Cornet as average as one could find , with no q uestion of picking out a good one, or making sere everything was perfect before riding It. in other Words, I was to have the opportunity of expel-lowing the Comet lust AA any average Cornet owner Uses hiS machine, and by so doing could record very genuine impressions of a popular model.
This Series " c " (Nutlet Was standard in all respects with the exception of having a manuallycontrolled 1St'. Ii. racing Magneto in place of the normal Luella anbeicatie advance and retard model. From the end of the magneto shaft a rev,connter drive wits mounted, the instrument being lit ted to the top of the forks, matehing with the speedometer head. This rev.-counter mod itleat i011 was from standard parts as used ou the raring version of the single-cylinder Vincent. The single-c') tinder engine, of 84 by 90-mm. bore and stroke, giving a capacity of 499 ex., is mounted at an angle of 25 deg. and ILS Will he seen from the illustration, the engine itself forms the front down tube of the frame. The top member of the frame, which passes through the petrol tank. forms the oil raservoir.and the rear pivot type suspensimi swings about a point just tic the rear of the four-speed Burman gearbox. Tice front forks are the patented Vincent " Oirdriodie," which very cleverly eombine the rigidity of girder forks with the movement and characteristics of telescopic forks. Long coil springs are mounted in the tubular members Isffiind the Main fork member and a central hydraulie damper acting in both directions takes the place of the 'cortical central fork spring. With 11,0(l) miles al read y VON 1.1,1,1, this Gomel, Showed no very great outward ,figiis of not being a new machine, and the fIrst-class finish, which leis always been lc dable about Vincent machines, Was %Miring well. from the black find gold 32-galloe petrol Wilk tone. p,flished al ;milldam mudguards. On taking the Heyde over, at night and In torrential rain, my first impression ll .1.1 the confidence the machine gave ine :titer only a [natter of half a mile or so. Naturally. coming from one's woarztimaonti,Isitentotyvitir,,,tu,l,gu=s11,1;Zi,,Ir 1 ,Iyit,yi.itItici,,i11,,r-:, with which I settled clown to a 5ii•in.p.h. cruising speed through the relic and dark. stsaved that there was not very much amiss with the general handling of the motor-eyrie. The beam from the Miller headlamp, like so limy mob ir-eyele electric components, was my first. worry. For some reason there exists it feeling among electrical neinufaeturers that motor-cyclists do not want to travel fast at night. While well up to standard. the headlamp beam did not encourage ine to go meal over 60-65 m.p.h. under the conditions prevailing, which were foul to say the least. At 50 m.p.h. lighting was adequate. but above that I had to peer into the gloom pretty carefully. After some 50 miles through
tile 110,111Y0111' 1 141%111111,1 t1/ 111111 that the front brake had keel very clear oi water and Was just :Is pfuvertill as when I started. 'the haek one, Iii wever. was not ef nit, the MoVenient through the ItowdelieX cable being rather stilt and requiring an abnormal all101111t 01. " standing on the pedal " to II.' indulged in if any sort of results were to be officinced. Without. a doubt the most outstanding feature of the Vincent was its perfect. straightsline rininieg : it may Seel» a relatively simple matter to makecc bieyele run in at true straight line, but it is surprising how few maelcities really etalle Ill) to scratch on this point. So sure is the X'ineent that the steering damper was 111•Vvr needed. and at. Woo m.p.h. I found myself releaSing the liars with both hands to wipe My goggles without giying a thought to whether the maehine Woilld deviate Over any bumps : hi fact, it was not until I n:e., getting hold cci the bars again that I realised exactly wiuit had heen in ailtoniatic actiOn. If at bicycle can Instill that Sort of confidence in you oil thrst acquaintance under very had conditions, then it must be pretty sound. In traffic% in London, the low-speed balance of I lie inaeidne enabled tile to arrive at trattle•lights and cc cine to rest before having to remove a c:.ct from one of the high-set rests, It the riding position oi the Vincent needs criticising, then it is iii the mounting of the footrests that eriticisio lies. Relative to the one.pietie saddle, I found them too high. so that my legs were bent at all uncomfortable a nele, and I have rather short legs, so that at tall rider most find some difficulty,. Admittedly the rests are adiustable, hut us they swing about the end ot. a long arm it tnearis that there can only he one position where their to-and-fro distanee from the gear-lever and brake-pedal are right. Also, it was neeeSsfiry to get used to what might he termed the " Stance," that is, the hands close together on the very nice narrow handlebars, but the feet very wide apart, stnuidling the gearbox. definitely not tele of the niost comfortable riding positions, for it puts undue strain on the leg muscles. The dark and wet precluded any last Motoring, but I was able to appreciate to the full the very good gear ratios and acceleration of the Comet, for they enabled one to shake off traffic at any checks with great ease. In bottom gear, 2f1 m.p.h. felt a nice speed at which to select second, am 1 in that gear 40 m.p.h. Was a comfortable speed at cilia)! to go into third, and if there 'was no hurry then top cOnifit Ice aeleeted alillOst immediately afterwards and a 50-m.p.h. cruising speed was soon reaelied. However, if time was short or there WWI a gap to nip through in the traffic on an arterial then 50 m.p.h. in second came in very useful, and if that did iffit suffice to get clear of the traffic then 60-65 in third usually did. The makers Chinn Mitch higher maximums in the gears. hat Ibid. naturally entails Wiring the engine up to peak revs and in the norrital course of riding no cam does that habitually. The figures quoted, Icy speedometer, of course. are those you can use all day and every clay without causing auy fussiness in the engine, tiering the course of some 200 miles of daylight running the reel qualities of this 50ffie.e. machine canto to light.. It cruised happily at 70 m.p.h. on the open road, but more surprising was the wcay I found myself holding 5.-i-110 m.p.h. along very seeendary roads When doing a cross-country route. 'that was not so much due to the perforillatiCe of lice bicycle AS tO its handling proDertieS. It gave such a smooth cunt steady ride that those speeds seemed finite normal and did not motile any undlie eoneentration. If In hurry on the Main roads then 10 m.p.h, emild he reached very easily and held with no fuss at. all and with the I wist-grip rolled hack quite a (considerable amount, while till ro.p.h. (could be shown on the speedo without Iciving to lie down to it. Admittedly only an belie:Lied sicced. hut the average Smiths instrument is rarely lifore then 4 or 5 mulch, fast, if that. It was when 1110101lInt f}let, that the I rile worth of the v meow •deering heeame notice:fide Mr the way it (gelid lie driven rOlind open bends Id 75 cr so m.p.h, was quite except iellat, and all the while there waS that
r, rot: steady feel to the w hole ntaebine and lutver'WaS there any need hir the steering damper to he used. I had the feeling that nothing would ever make the Vinceut wag its handlebars, and at times I felt perhaps this soli.' feeliiig was verging on the edge of a " deadness." but :hist to slimc it was alive it wagged its head Jost once (Moo:Mout the whole rim and over some very humpy roads, taken at speeds betw cen the '70 and 90-m.p.h. Marks. For at bic'yc'le to handle as OAS 011e did after nearly I 0,1?00 Miles Of Ilse shows that very little wear Was taking place in the Inallr Pivots and joints of the suspension system, and, of course, one would not expeet anything else from a quality machine, but one iletiTS SO Often Of DOW machines literally falling apart. after very little use that to find it machine cis new after its opening period of life is the sort of thing one appreciates. Without question the handling of the intent is its main charm, for the engine is not, an exceptional power unit, although it is very silicieth for a single cylinder : it is noisy, much of the valve-gear 110iS0 being transmitted tip through the Is-I rol tank so that one is always aecompiinied by a chieking noise at all speeds. 2'fie gearbox, with its short •travel lever, is not found wanting, 'exeept for its inability to ila.Ve Isittoni gear selected from neutral without sone' grating. To say that. the steering and roadholding of the Vincent is the best. there is would he a foolish statement., for it would indicate that I have ridden every nuitor-eyelit ever made, which would not be true ; equally, to say It is the hest I have tried would mean little., the reader not knowing lime' many machines I hall tried, but to say there was nothing to complain about witli Its handling would he very true, for there WaS nothing, and I cannot say fairer than that. The brakes were divided, for the front one maile up for the deficiencies of the rear one ; so good is the Vincent duo-front brake. with its two 7-1n, drums. that hard application made the speedo needle drop back as though it. were a rev,-counter.
Dining the run I called in at the Vincent works at 5tevenaee and learnt from their Very extensive files that this tart iettlar comet had been built in January, 1950, was despatched to a dealer in the West Country ill March of that. year and they had not set eyes on it si tire. .1111'y were very gratified to find one of their inaehines being Med for this particular test and had sufficient faith ill I Flo•ir products not to be surprised II, find the In:whine as good as new and going as such, if mit a little better. Admittedly Komi miles is net a great mileage. Ina it is one that is liable to take the " new shine " oft a tititeltine; htit it had not (haw thdt hi this particular comet in any respect, apart fro.' scam. wear f al the brake Ii cilcices anti tjaes, of e1.111,'. Here then was II very robust, sports 500-c-c. mc dorcycle surveyed during two days of its normal life and not found wanting. It had had no preparation whatsoever; We merely swoinsal 1113C11111eti in the eottrice Of 0111 everyday use and went on riding. It. could show Sc) and Oft M.p.h, oil the clock with great case, handled stitierbly. braked adequately and gave a very pleasant ride. It (lid (10 m.p.g. ridden hard and with the carburetter set on the rich Side for perfornimice rather than economy mei 11Se11 110 1111, nor did it leal;
any, apart front inevitable hint!'
joints% aniontiting to an accumulation ci stiek y titarkS. NOIII• "I tile 111,111V,4 of appeaninee leech gone from the bieyele and those: points whieh did erill for critieiStil Such :is Its riclimig position were all in the orieinal design. Taken an round, thls Comet, now It serif/01mnd inaeliitte, from new in all respects and represerited a Very intriguing mount for the fast sporting rider who likes Ins motor-eyele to be a inotor-eyele, to feel like One 111111 perform like one. 011 handing it tO 11,101.1111'1/ felt that if I tried it again after ;Mot t,c,r i 0.000 tidies, or even the same again, it Would ridt have elianged Very ranch. It had
a very %Mind 411141.01111 a11011t itS Whole being.
1111. Series •' *oinet costs £191) phis I fis. purehase tax, and represelibs Id f..ery sound piece ni tooter-cycle engineering with an external finish equal to atcything.Id.