Strange Death of the British Motorcycle Industry PUB ABANDONED


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  • ISBN: 9781905472031
  • Author:
  • Publ Date: 2012-02-23
  • Edition:
  • Binding: PaperBack
  • Pages: 368
  • Imprint: UNKNOWN
  • Publisher:
  • Country of Publication:
  • ID - 63545


The British motor cycle industry once stood 'at the top level of world production'. Before and after the Second World War famous names such as BSA, Ariel, Norton, Triumph, Matchless and Vincent led the world in design, technology and popularity. After 1945, when the German industry failed to develop into the serious threat that the British had feared it would, British bikes continued to be untouchable both on the racetrack and in the showroom. Then it all began to go horribly wrong. First, various lucrative overseas markets began to decline or were closed to British exporters altogether; then came a huge influx of inexpensive, mainly Italian scooters that tore into the UK market. Rising rates of road accidents and motorcyclists' deaths resulted in unremittingly bad press coverage for motor cycling, and by this time many British consumers were deciding to buy cars instead of two-wheelers. Finally there came a whirlwind from the East as fierce competition arrived from innovative, sophisticated and more mechanically reliable Japanese machines. At first these mainly small, light-weight bikes seemed to pose little threat to the larger more powerful machines that the British factories specialised in, but when Honda in particular began making bigger bikes which, frankly, were streets ahead of the ageing British designs, the writing was on the wall. Not even a strong export market in the USA and Canada for Bonnevilles, Tridents, Commandos and the like was enough to save the British industry. By the early 1970s, with alarming rapidity, the British motor cycle industry had all but disappeared. To many the collapse seemed indicative of a wider malaise that prevailed throughout British manufacturing industries. But what was the real explanation? Perhaps British motor bikes were too focused on the sports end of the market, or perhaps just old-fashioned and technologically backward? Were the trade unions to blame? Or did the British fail to introduce new, smaller light-weight bikes that might have been popular enough to provide economies of scale for a wider modernisation of the factories? Or, as the manufacturers frequently complained, had their industry been smothered by excessive government regulation and taxation? At long last Steve Koerner presents an original and in-depth analysis, based on hitherto unused sources, of what really happened. Fascinating, detailed and totally convincing, this book provides the first comprehensive explanation of the strange death of the British motor cycle industry. A fascinating story of a once-great industry.



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