To those who love motorcycles, Henry Cole has a dream job as a television presenter making programmes about riding the world’s best roads, unearthing lost classics and telling the stories behind some of the greatest marques.
But recently he has realised a personal dream: setting up his own company creating made-to-order machines. Gladstone Motorcycles – named after Cole’s Uncle Dick “Red Beard” Gladstone, both men descendants of 19th-century Liberal prime minister William Gladstone – operates from a tiny factory in the Cotswolds, where the first batch of nine Gladstone No 1s (£28,800) is nearing completion.
Based around specifically designed and beautifully crafted Métisse frames (built in Oxfordshire by Métisse Motorcycles, maker of the Steve McQueen desert racer), the single-seat “bobber”-style bikes are powered by 1960s and 1970s Triumph Bonneville engines, reimported from the US and fully refurbished by renowned south London workshop The Baron’s Speed Shop.
Virtually all other components used on the Gladstone No 1 are specially made, from the headlamp and seat to the mudguards and exhaust system, then assembled by British motorcycle manufacturer Guy Willison, who builds every motorcycle from start to finish.
Orders have come from as far afield as New Zealand and the Philippines, leaving only one of the edition of nine currently available. But fear not –next spring will herald an all-new model, the Gladstone SE, made in an edition of 50.
Dive into the British motorcycle revival with a bike from one of these three storied marques, who are following in the footsteps of Triumph. Or for something truly new age, take a look at what Harley Davidson has planned next…