Matchless: A Historic British Motorcycle Returns?

Last week a story arrived in my inbox noting that there was to be a revival of a once great British motorcycle manufacturer – Matchless.  I have been an enthusiast of British motorcycles for a very long time.  These days I am a member of the British Iron Association of Massachusetts and I ride a modern Triumph Bonneville motorcycle.  The first ride that I ever had on a motorcycle was when I was 8 or 9 years old when Doug Deller gave me a ride on the back of his Matchless motorcycle around the half mile horse racing track in Shelburne, Ontario.  Doug’s bike later somehow burst into flames and Doug gave up on motorcycles.

Matchless Advertisement

Matchless Was A Major British Motorcycle Manufacturer (1)

A British entrepreneur is trying to revive the Matchless name with the new Matchless X motorcycle.  This new Matchless X is named after an earlier Matchless X that dates from the 1920s.  The original Matchless X had a V-Twin engine and this version will also have a 1,916cc S&S V-twin engine which will likely put out about 100 horsepower.  It is anticipated that the motorcycle will have a six-speed transmission.  Below is an early rendering of what the new Matchless X is planned to look like.

Matchless X Reloaded

An Early Rendering Of The New Matchless X Motorcycle (2)

The actual Matchless X prototype motorcycle was debuted at the recent EICMA 2014 motorcycle show in Milan.  The folks at Autoevolution had a couple of pictures taken at EIMCA of the first new Matchless X that has been built.

Matchless X Image 4

The Prototype Matchless X (3)

I think that the new Matchless X is interesting, somewhat attractive design.  Matchless is planning on a limited production and these will have a price tag over $50,000.  I don’t have confidence that this is the correct approach for Matchless.  I think that Matchless should consider an approach that is similar to the successful approach used by Triumph Motorcycles.  Triumph started out by only building early models that were very reminiscent or familiar to customers that were actually still potential customers and with products that were affordable to a wide cross section of motorcyclists.  There are no potential customers which remember the Matchless X V-Twin from the 1920s and 1930s and there are only a few more who can afford more than $50,000 for a motorcycle.

Matchless X Image 5

I like The Oversized Tire On The Front (3)

The great Matchless motorcycles that people (i.e. [potential customers) remember are the vertical twin-cylinder motorcycles and particularly the big single cylinder models of the 1950s and 1960s.  These are the types of motorcycles that I think Matchless should be emulating.  There very few big singles on the market and this would give Matchless an entry point into the market, which would allow them to develop a new name and reputation for themselves at a much lower price entry point.  The big, expensive V-twin models could be added later to the model line-up.

I have included some pictures of Matchless motorcycles that would have been a better model or “go by” than the original Matchless X.  These pictures were taken at the spring  show of the British Iron Association of Massachusetts and at “Brit-Jam”, a mid-summer show put on by the British Iron Association of Connecticut.


A Matchless With A Vertical Twin Engine


A Matchless Single Cylinder Competition Motorcycle


Matchless Made Their Fame With Single Cylinder Engines

If I owned Matchless then I would have used the following Matchless G45 racer from 1955 as the motorcycle that I would have tried to base my new line up on.  I think that is an attractive, unique Matchless design with a much lower price point that would be quite successful.

Matchless G45 racer

1955 Matchless G45 Racer (4)

 I wish the folks trying to revive Matchless all the best in getting this once glorious motorcycle marque back into the marketplace.


  1. “British Motorcycles Of The 1940s And 1950s” by Mick Walker, 2010.
  2. Matchless
  4. “The Complete Book Of Motorcycles” by Roger W. Hicks, 1993.
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