The number 22 John Player Norton that Phil Read rode to fourth on in its debut in the 1972 Daytona 200.
Dirt-tracker Johnny Allen piloted this 1956 650cc Triumph Streamliner to a world speed record of 214.17 mph at Bonneville.
Englishman Steve Lancefield built this 1962 Norton 30M (bike no. 32) 500cc Manx, making 52 hp @ 7500 rpm and weighing 310 pounds with a 135 mph top speed.
Another view of the John Player Norton that Phil Read debuted at Daytona in 1972.
What is listed in the foreground as a rare 1929 Newmount 200 is in fact a re-skinned German Zundapp two-stroke single.
This 1932 1000cc Brough Superior SS 100 is the one that George Brough is best known for, mostly for its most famous rider: T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia.
 This 1927 Triumph TT racer finished third in the Isle of Man Senior TT, with Tommy Simister averaging 65.75 mph for the seven-lap, 264-mile race.
The 1955 1000cc Vincent Rapide Series D was the company’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save the brand.
The 600cc Ariel Square Four was reintroduced in 1939 with pushrod valves instead of the overhead cam format.
The first twin-carb 650cc Bonneville in 1959 was one of the most important milestones in Triumph’s history.
Once the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) was an industrial powerhouse that also made bicycles, cars, buses, firearms, power tools and a number of other products.
The late Barry Sheene rode this FWD Manx Replica built by Fred Walmsley to a pair of wins on the undercard of the 2002 British Grand Prix at Donington Park.
Steve Hislop made history by riding this Norton NRS588 to a 4.4 sec. victory over Carl Fogarty in the six-lap, 226-mile 1992 Isle of Man Senior TT.
Matchless and AJS were both part of Associated Motor Cycles, with similar models rebadged. This 1951 Matchless 500cc G9 was also badged as the AJS 2.
The 1970 BSA 750cc Rocket Three that Mike Hailwood raced at Daytona.
Walk into Britain’s National Motorcycle Museum and you’re immediately taken back to the roots of motorcycling.
There was a time when the twisty roads and race tracks were ruled by the British. Vincents and Brough Superiors and Ariels and Matchlesses were the Ninjas and GSX-R1000s of the day. None of those venerable British marques survived — few did — but their place in the history of two-wheeled sport cannot be overstated.
There is nowhere better to celebrate the history of British motorcycles and motorcycling that at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. The museum is a glorious celebration of the contribution Great Britain has made to the world of motorcycling, starting from its earliest days, with historically significant motorcycles lovingly restored to showroom spec. And what makes it more impressive is that the collection was nearly wiped out.
A devastating fire on Sept. 16, 2003 damaged 75 percent of the structure and 400 of the machines. The museum then began the arduous task of rebuilding not only the structure, but also the collection. Restorers both at the museum and around the world were asked to contribute. Team Obsolete in Brooklyn restored a pair of AJS models now on display. Fifteen months after the fire, the museum reopened and continued to grow. Currently there are more than 650 motorcycles in the collection, which is growing daily. It’s nowhere near the biggest collection in the world — the Barber Museum in Leeds, Alabama has over 1200 machines — but the National Motorcycle Museum is the largest collection of various brands of motorcycles from a single country.
The motorcycles are arranged in five exhibition halls, mainly by manufacturer. The early halls are filled mostly with brands that haven’t survived. Brands like Scott and Arno and Comet, but also early Triumphs and Nortons, both of which are well represented: The museum boasts the largest collection of Norton Rotary race bikes in the world.
Race machines are also a large part of the collection, with bikes ranging from a 1921 BSA Works TT Model to a 2006 Crighton Norton NRV588. In between there is no shortage of road racers, off-road bikes, and even a Triumph streamliner.
The museum is located minutes from the Birmingham International Airport, which can also be reached by train from London in a little more than an hour. If you’re in the UK, there is no place better to spend a day immersed in the history of motorcycling. sr