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1949 1000cc Vincent Black Shadow Series B1949 1000cc Vincent Black Shadow Series B

If you owned a 1000 cc Vincent Black Shadow in the Forties or early Fifties, you were king on Brirain's unrestricted roads. The only other vehicle likely to rival the Vincent's shattering performance would be a very special sports car. A 1948 Motor Cycling road test reported a top speed of 122mph from the Black Shadow and Vincent claimed a round 125mph maximum. Either way, it was by far the world's fastest standard motorcycleThe compact but costly V-twin built by HRD-Vincent in Stevenage was developed from the company's first post war twin, the Series B Rapide.

The Series A models, including the original 1000cc Rapide twin, had been produced prior to World War Two. The brains behind the twins were factory boss Philip Vincent and brilliant Australian engineer Phil Irving, both men being keen motorcyclists.The Shadow engine's increased output was mainly due to bigger carburettors and a raised compression ratio, although it could run on the low-octane fuel of the time and retained the pleasant flexability that Vincent twins were famous for.

The more powerful 1000cc unit is instantly recongisable, as all its main castings are coated in black enamel.Many of the Shadow's cycle parts are shared with the Rapide, both having Vincent's famous 'frameless chassis'. The imposing engine and gearbox unit is part of the structure, being hugh from a steel box that also serves as the engine oil reservoir.

The front of the box carries the steering head, while its rear end provides the upper anchorage for the spring and damper units controlling the patented cantilever rear suspension. Front suspension is by a Brampton girder fork, dropped in favour of Vincent's own Girdaulic design when the Series C Shadow arrived in 1949.The Shadow's brakes were uprated to cope with the extra velocity and are readily distinguished from the Rapide's by the heat-dispersing fins on the dual drums. Topping off the Black Shadow is its magnificent five-inch 'dinner plate' 150mph speedometer, a feature exclusive to the legendary Vincent twin.During 1949 Philip Vincent visited America to promote his products. Concerned that some people muddled the HRD initials with Harley-Davidson, he changed the tank insignia to simply read 'The Vincet'.