Top 10s

Top 10 oldest bikes still on the road

Ever seen one of these prowling your local streets?

The typical bike in use in the UK is a little over 14 years old, so if you’re riding something that dates back to Tony Blair’s third general election win and the Crazy Frog version of Axel F then you’re right on par. But there are plenty of bikes on the road that are older than that. Much, much older.

According to the DVLA, the oldest bikes licenced for use on the road in the UK date back to 1903, more than a century older than average (no fewer than nine 1903 bikes are recorded as being in use).

What those DVLA records don’t tell us are what bikes those are, though. We know one is a Douglas, one’s a Triumph and another’s a Raleigh, but on the rest the manufacturer is ‘other’ and the documents don’t reveal the models.

In fact, record keeping anomalies mean you have to move forward by a couple of decades before the DVLA documents can reveal the exact make and model of old bikes remaining in use. These are the 10 oldest specific models listed as remaining in use.

8=: 1949 Triumph TR5 Trophy

Launched in 1949, the TR5 was a Speed Twin-based 500cc twin, developed using alloy barrels and heads from a WW2 generator motor that Triumph had made during WW2. While production lasted until 1958, one of the earliest examples remains on the road according to the DVLA’s records.

8=: 1949 Triumph Thunderbird

The Thunderbird name first appeared in Triumph’s line-up in 1949, on the 6T model derived from the older Speed Twin. A 1950 version of the bike would go on to become a legend as Marlon Brando’s ride in The Wild One but one of the very first 1949 models is the 10th oldest specific model of motorcycle recorded as still licensed for use on the UK’s roads.

8=: 1949 Enfield Bullet 350

Enfield’s Bullet first appeared on the market way back in 1931, but the oldest Bullet 350 to appear on the records as remaining in use today is a much newer 1949 version. There may be older ones, but if they’re out there then the DVLA’s records don’t contain their model name details.

7: 1948 Gilera Saturno

While a lot of the old bikes still on the road in the UK are British – after all, we led the world in bike design and production for decades – the eighth spot on the list goes to an Italian. Gilera’s 1948 Saturno 500 was a pretty exotic machine back in the post-war era, so perhaps it should be no surprise that one has been treasured and kept on the road to this day.

6: 1940 BSA Gold Star

The 500cc Gold Star was a bike that reached production back in 1938 but remained available right up to the 1960s. The 1940 example that’s the 7th oldest specific model listed as remaining on the road today by the DVLA records is unusual, since there was a huge drop-off in bikes registered during WW2.

Top ten continues on page two >>>

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