1949 HRD Series C Comet

A Vincent by any other name, this HRD Series C Comet features a few upgrades to make it a more usable bike.

| May/June 2014

1949 HRD Series C Comet
Top Speed: 90 mph (claimed)
Engine: 499cc air-cooled OHV single, 84mm x 90mm bore and stroke, 7.3:1 compression ratio, 28hp @5,800 rpm
Weight (dry): 390lb (177kg)
Fuel Capacity/MPG: 4gal U.S./ 80mpg (est.)
Price then/now: £273 (approx. $1,007)/$20,000-$30,000

If it looks like a Vincent and sounds like a Vincent, it’s probably a Vincent, right?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Sometimes it’s an HRD. Most enthusiasts are familiar with the iconic V-twin Rapides, Black Shadows and Black Lightnings made by Vincent. Their recent meteoric rise in value has only added to their legendary status. The single-cylinder machines are less well-known, especially those sold under the HRD name.

HRD, Vincent and singles

Philip Conrad Vincent developed an interest in motorcycles at an early age. As a teenager, he designed and later patented a novel cantilevered rear suspension system. He built his first “Vincent Special” motorcycle in 1927 while studying engineering at the University of Cambridge in England and later convinced his father to help him establish his own motorcycle company. Philip’s father felt his son would be more successful bringing a machine to market with a recognized brand name rather than launching a new machine under his own name, which brings us to HRD.

Howard R. Davies founded HRD in 1924. Riding a machine of his own design, he went on to win the 1925 Isle of Man Senior TT. His company produced motorcycles for a few years, encountered financial problems and was liquidated in 1928. Later that year, Philip’s father purchased the rights from OK-Supreme to the defunct HRD name, tooling and patterns. Vincent-HRD was thus established with “HRD” displayed prominently on the new company’s products.

In 1931 Phil Vincent hired the brilliant Australian engineer Phil Irving as chief designer. Both Phils shared a profound passion for motorcycles and they worked together toward the common goal of producing high-performance motorcycles, built to a standard of uncompromising excellence, regardless of cost.

5/22/2014 9:09:27 PM

28 horses, 400 pounds, 90mph? Hmmm. Still, the thing is gorgeous.

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