Vincent - Wheels, Tires, Spokes, Nipples, Fenders  (Discussion letters at end of charts)

"B" and "C" Series Vincent
Name Description Rapide Shadow Lightning Comet Meteor remarks
Rim WM 1 x 20", steel , chrome - Dunlop
1 1
1 1 front
Rim WM 2 x 19", steel, chrome - Dunlop
1 1
1 1 rear
Rim WM 1 x 21"alloy - Borrani
- - 1 - - front
Rim WM 2 x 20"alloy - Borrani
- - 1 - - rear
Spoke 10 gauge x  9 3/4" - - 40 - - front
Spoke 8 gauge x  9 1/4" 40 40 40 40 40 frt/rear
Spoke 8 gauge x  ? 40 40
40 40 rear
Nipple 10 gauge - - 40 - - front
Nipple 8 gauge 80 80 40 80 80 both
Tire Avon 

3.00 x 21

Tire Avon 

3.50 x 20

Tire Avon 3.00x20 3.00x20
3.00x20 3.00x20 front
Tire Avon 3.50x19 3.50x19
3.50x19 3.50x19 rear

Tire Size
Front - Avon
Tire Size
Rear - Avon
A" 1935-39 Meteor 3.00x20 3.25x19 20 21

Comet 3.00x20 3.25x19 20 21

Comet Special 3.00x20 3.25x19 20 21

T.T.Replica 3.00x20 3.25x19 20 22 Race tyres

Rapide 3.00x20 3.50x19 22 21
"B" 1946-49 Meteor 3.00x20 Speedster
3.50x19 Supreme
20 20

Rapide 3.00x20 Speedster 3.50x19 Supreme
22 21

Rapide Touring
3.50x19 Speedster 4.00x18 Supreme

Black Shadow 3.00x20 Speedster
3.50x19 Supreme
22 21
"C" 1949 - 1952 Comet Standard 3.00x20 Speedster
3.50x19 Supreme
24 20

Comet Touring Model 3.50x19 Speedster 4.00x18 Supreme 17 17

Rapide, Standard 3.00x20 Speedster 3.50x19 Supreme 26 21

Rapide, Touring Model 3.50x19 Speedster 4.00x18 Supreme 18 17

Black Shadow 3.00x20 Speedster
3.50x19 Supreme 26 21

Grey Flash 3.00x21 Racing
3.50x20 Racing
20 18 race tyres

Black Lightning 3.00x21 Racing
3.50x20 Racing
21 22 race tyres
"C" 1953 - 1954
3.00x20 Speedmaster
3.50x19 New Supreme

Comet Touring
3.50x19 Speedmaster 4.00x18 New Supreme

3.00x20 Speedmaster 3.50x19 New Supreme

Rapide Touring
3.50x19 Speedmaster 4.00x18 New Supreme

Black Shadow
3.00x20 Speedmaster 3.50x19 New Supreme

"D" 1955



Black Knight

Black Shadow

Black Prince

The above table contains approximate indications for average conditions. Average increase for 2 up riding is 7 psi for Standard machines and 3 psi for Touring models (rear tire only).  Please refer to your Vincent motorcycle owners manual or to the tyre manufacturer for definitive recommendations.

Torquing Nylon Locknuts on Your Hubs

1.  From the factory, the nuts used to bolt together the rear and front hubs were of the dark red or brown nylon type.  They were part #499  5/16" B.S.F. Simmons Stop Nuts.

2.  There was no torque specification when factory assembled, they were just made up tight.  Put aside the fact that access precludes the use of a torque wrench.   

3.  Periodic inspection of these bolts for tightness is unnecessary when the parts are in factory specification for hole diameter, condition, and diameter of shoulder bolts.

4.  In the manufacture of the hub, spoke flange, and brake drum, the hole patterns were machined separately.  Possibly they were jig drilled, but more than likely they were index drilled with a rotary table.  In lieu of this manufacturing procedure of the time, it would have been almost impossible to drill three separate parts and have them go together with precision.  I have personally put together many hubs, spoke flanges and brake drums from all new old stock parts, and all new after market parts, and never encountered a precision fit.  All have required the shouldered dowel fit bolts to be tapped home, often dragging metal.  They are impossible to install with a thumb push fit.  

5.  The best tool for assembly requires it's manufacture.  Using a quality 12 point box end wrench, cut the open end off to a 7" length from the center of the 12 point box.  Heat and bend at a close point to the 12 point box, the wrench's handle slightly, to achieve a 7o angle.  That would be the relation of the handle to the wrench's box end. 

6.  With the hub and it's brake drum  loosely assembled, meaning all brake drum retaining bolts driven home, and the nylon nuts all started and run down to the nylon, you can now insert your special wrench between the spokes, holding the wrench with your right hand, thumb, and fingers.  With your left hand index finger, guide the box end wrench onto the nut to be tightened.  To speed up the tightening process, ensure that the wrench handle is as far to the right as possible in order to achieve an approximate 30o tightening arc.  Repeat until the nut feels slightly tight.  After all of the bolts have been preliminarily tightened, you can now finish the tightening process.  The ends of your fingers cannot apply adequate pressure on a 7" wrench to achieve proper tightness.  This is easily solved by gripping your hands around the spokes and the wrench handle and squeezing.  The ten bolt Shadow and Lightning hubs take longer, due to the doubling up of the number of bolts, and due to the 30o tightening arc being reduced to approximately 15o. 

7.  If the holes in any of the parts are suspect,i.e., oversize, wallared out, or egg shaped, it is strongly advised to repair or replace.  For the design to work for any length of time, the bolts must achieve a dowel like fit.  Locktites or over tightening of parts isn't the way to go in my opinion.

8.  Crow's foot or open end wrenches are absolutely useless on a 10 bolt flange.  An open end wrench on a 5 bolt flange can be used, as it has an off set angle to the wrench's handle, and can be flipped on each tightening stroke.  

Max Lambky

Wheel Balancing:  I would recommend that you throw away the felts and fit Nilo-rings. Eddie Stephens descibes them fully in KTB and they're available from the Spares Company.  Whilst you've got the tyres off I would also recommend that you remove the balance weight studs and plug the holes. It's much easier to balance the wheels by adding weight to the spoke at the lightest point and will require less weight by being in the most effective position. I make up my own balance weights from stainless. They're about 5/8" to 3/4" diameter, cylindrical with a domed top, drilled to fit over the spoke and counterbored to a press fit over the nipple, then slotted to enable them to be fitted. However, you don't need to go to that much trouble unless your fussy about the appearance, Instead you can use what used to be standard racing practice in the days of spoked wheels and just wrap lead strip around the spoke and cover it with plastic tape.
As far as the balancing goes, that's fairly simple. once the tyre is fitted, running true and holding air, remove the brake assemblies and the seals, wash the grease out of the bearings, ensure that there's a little bit of end float, put a drop of oil in the bearings and mount the wheel in the forks. When the wheel comes to rest just tap the end of the spindle with a mallet until the wheel stops moving. Wind your lead strip around the top most spoke. Use a bit more than you need and cut bits off the end until the wheel will stay in any position whilst you tap the end of the spindle. The balance of the front wheel is more important than the rear. 
Roy Cross  11/24/10

Wheel Balancing:  After you get your tire mounted and aired up, ensuring that you haven't pinched the tube, (which I have, more times than I would like to admit) leave the brake backing plates off, using a couple of thick washers to replace the thickness of the backing plate.  Install the aluminum spacers and the aluminum steady plates onto the hollow axle.  Nut up tight.  Check and see for an easy spin.  To achieve an easy spin for balancing purposes, it's sometimes a good idea to remove all grease from the bearings and add an extra shim to loosen the bearing. The freer you can spin the wheel, the better the static balance will be.  Use the swing arm for the static balance jig.  Obviously, do not install rear chain.  The wheel now should be free enough to find it's heavy portion at the bottom of it's circumference.  Add weight to correct balance 180o from heavy side.  Play with the balancing until you can spin the tire, to where when it comes to a stop there's no reverse motion or rock back. 

If you have a bubble balancer, (they can be bought quite cheaply at Harbor Freight) you can balance your Vincent wheel, but it's more of a trick.  Before you buy the bubble balancer, measure the round liquid bubble holder to ensure that it is smaller than the Vincent hub bore.  When placing the wheel on the cone of the bubble balancer, with all the bearings and the hollow axle removed, you have to align the outer race as accurately as possible to the bubble cone.  That's difficult to do, as the taper of the cone isn't the same taper as the bearing race.  You can then place weights without affixing, until you center the bubble in the X cross hairs.  When satisfied, you can then attach your weights to either the spokes, the wheel lock bolts, or the valve core stem. 

The best way to balance your wheels is to remove all the bearings and hollow axles and take the wheel to your local tire shop that has a spin balancer.   The trick here is to find a spin balancer with a small enough arbor the aluminum hub will slip over.  The wheel is centered on that shaft by double alignment coning.  If you choose to do this, it's a good idea to bring your own weights.  All they'll have is glue back lead weights, that are attached to the wheel itself.  Not saying that they wouldn't work, modern bikes use this type of weight all the time.  The only thing wrong with them is that they distract from the vintage look, it seems to me.  Max Lambky  11/24/10

Here are a few reasons why I prefer to eliminate the rim locks and substitute fake bolts to retain the original look.  Rim locks vary from manufacture to manufacture, there are even inconsistencies to be found in rim locks from the same manufacture.  If you were to take three rim locks from the same manufacture and weigh them on a gram scale, surprise, surprise.  They don't come even close to weighing the same.  The difference in weight is corrected during balancing, which always has to employ an inherent amount of spoke weights, and nut weights on the retaining rim lock bolts, giving the bike an unnessessary bit of ugly.  The next thing that's a negative in the use of a rim lock is the difficulty in assembling tire, rim lock, and tube, without punching a hole in the tube, or cutting the tube.  It's always been an exciting and exhilarating moment for me when I go to air the tube up, to see whether it's going to be a go or a no go--and let me tell you, there've been too many no goes in my restoration experience.  #:^)#

So now you've taken away the purpose of the rim lock.  More than likely with the new rubber, and the way tires and their beads are manufactured, you'll have no trouble with tire to rim slippage.  This tire to rim slippage occurs when there is hard braking, both front and rear.  Rear tire to rim slippage can also occur during hard acceleration.  Any slippage of the tire on the rim causes an adverse effect on the tube by tearing it's valve core out, which causes rapid deflation of the air.  So there's always that thought in the back of your mind when removing the rim locks.  'Could this happen?'  The answer is unlikely, but it could happen, especially if the tire wasn't inflated to it's design pressure.  Of course I mean less pressure, not more than the design pressure. 

For insurance, I take a sharp center punch and punch knurl the inner portion of both sides of the steel rim, the portion where the tire bead rests.  This, when the tire is inflated, provides a gripping surface which almost eliminates any possibility of wheel to rim slippage during braking and hard acceleration.

Alloy rims inevitably will have a knurled helical cut on the inner sides of the rim.  The helical angle is the key to determining the direction of rotation of the rim.  The helical angle cut, during braking, on the front, exerts pressure between the rim and the tire bead.  On the rear wheel, the helicals are so designed as to put pressure on the bead during acceleration, which is at the opposite angle from the front wheel.  This method is only employed on wheels that can go either way when laced, in other words, the drilled spoke nipple angle is the same, or the wheel is centered on it's hub with equal diameter spoke centers on both sides of that hub.  When alloy rims are fitted to a hub with unequal spoke diameters, the wheel usually contains an X stamping on the inside diameter of the wheels, or a total cross hatch. 

It probably isn't all that difficult to keep tires from turning on their rims and ripping out the inner tube valve core stem.  This only happened to me twice in my entire 57 years of motorcycling.  In both cases I was on a dirt road, picked up a nail or thorn, tire went flat.  Tried to get the old girls home on flat tires. 

Used to run 4" Avons quite a bit on my drag bikes.  Ran them with as low as 10 lbs. pressure to provide a better footprint on launch.  I used a series of sheet metal screws around the alloy rim, about 8 on each side through the rim threaded into the tire bead.    Max Lambky  10-23-10

My original 1951 back wheel evidently had black paint with red lines, but 75% of the black paint has gone, and about 25% of the red lines. The old black-painted rim (standard when chrome supplies dried up during the Korean War) had perfect paint. Unfortunately it also had three large flats. My new stainless front, four years and 10,000 miles on, done by Conways, is still perfect.
Before committing to "the perfect job" I ask myself: how old are you, and how long do you intend living? I can't quite link this to "So do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you?" but you know what I mean.
Ideally, shot-blast or acid etch the chrome (or stainless) to give the black paint a grip, then don't clean the rim without washing the grit off it first.  Sunbeam  5/1/2010

Rims: I would recommend making the black stripe using powder coating and the red stripe with red tape and then powder coating the entire chrome and all rim with clear.  Richard 5/1/2010

Drilling a Fender:  Buy a step drill in order to get a clean sharp hole in thin sheet such as mudguards. They work perfectly. If you have flat material a Whitney punch is even better.
 Carl Hungness  12/17/09

Wheel Building Info.:                
Wheeel truing and Balancing stand:                                                11/23/09
Yes, the "Cross 4" standard Vincent pattern will give an angle just over 180 degrees.  Insert through each flange slot from opposite sides.  Don't insert them all the same way or you'll set-up stresses in all manner of wrong directions - and truing-up will be virtually impossible!  Peter Barker  11/06/09
19" Rims: Central Wheel Components (44 1675 462 264) is one supplier (a Vincent 20" rim was offered for 35 + carriage), Devon Rim Company (44 1769 574 108) is another.  There is a huge market for 19" rims since Norton, BSA, AJS, Matchless and virtually every other maker used them for some thirty years after WW II so suppliers (and second hand rims) aren't hard to find. Your best US bet might be custom dealers selling to builders of chops.  Suppliers will punch the holes to suit if you name the bike.  Sunbeam  9/3/09
Tyres: Tyres, like bread, can be baked for long life, or for usability. (American and British synthetic supermarket bread is designed for long shelf-life, sacrificing all other properties - like edibility - to that end, and are not part of this discussion). Tyres used to be baked like ships biscuit: bloody hard, but lasted a long time, at the expense of grip (for the tyres) or chewability (for the bread). The bread analogy is a very good one.  Nowadays road tyres (of the types and sizes we use) are as soft as racing tyres USED to be.  They are far easier to fit, wear faster, but provide much more grip. I'm quite happy with that. I've worn out one 4.10 x 19 rear Avon Roadrunner in about 6000 miles, but they've been fun, and until recently safe, miles. (I'll explain that: once they've been worn square, like "Safety Mileage" the handling goes to ratshit. Tip the bike over and they climb up on one corner, inducing sphincter fluctuation.) Race tyres (18" but almost identical in profile ) last about 300 miles. If I was 30 years younger that would be 150 miles. They tend to lose grip by hardening due to heat cycling rather than losing profile. This is the sort of subject ideal for long inebriated discussions in, say, County Kerry, in late August. When, if I can remember, details can be fleshed out. Meantime, buy the newest tyres you can obtain, and keep repeating "tyre life is the antithesis of tyre grip, and grip gets me home in one piece".   Tom  Gaynor  6/28/09
SRM Engineering (

Spoke Sizes
10 Gauge = 3.20mm Light Motorcycle
9 Gauge = 3.60mm Standard Motorcycle
8 Gauge = 4.00mm Heavy Motorcycle  6/28/09
I switched to a
21" Front Tyre  in 2008 from my 19" and like it so far.  Some observations:
- fills fender better
- easier to get tires and tubes
- seems to make my speedo spot on
- the bike needs to be off the rear stand to spin the tire while on front stands
- while pushing, it seems to need more effort to go lock to lock, maybe changed trail dimension?  Bruce Metcalf   5/15/09
I fitted a
21" front wheel to my "C" Comet 20 years ago & noticed an immediate improvement in ride quality. It goes over road imperfections (holes) rather than into them.  I wondered whether there was an increase in gyroscopic forces which could exacerbate tank slappers but have had no problems.  I fitted a similar wheel to my "B" Rapide (with modified spring over damper suspension) & it was even more of a revelation. Going into downhill curves it "feels"  lighter than the Comet. I will never revert back to 20"  Alyn Vincent  5/16/09

The large speedo drive gear is a shrink fit on the hub. To remove it simply heat with a blow torch and it will drop off. To refit, heat again and drop it on, making sure that it abuts the shoulder on the bub.  Phelps.  4/21/09
How exactly do you heat the large speedo gear without heating the alloy hub? Applying heat will only expand the alloy more than the steel gear ring and the gear will be a tighter fit. It is a better bet to get the hub as cold as possible or,  if not possible,  apply no heat at all. Remove the gear with a gear puller and replace by tapping back into place.  I always replace with a little Loctite which keeps the gear tight. Derek J. Peters.  4/21/09

I would certainly not advise using intense heat to a speedo drive gear, it is entirely unnecessary. If you look in Paul Richards's "Vincent" you will see that he says that the gear ring is only a press fit on the hub and he suggests removiong it with a 3 arm sprocket puller. I do feel his idea of refitting it by using an old piston to tap it into position is an excellent one. The staking after fitting that he recommends is no longer necessary if Loctie is used.  Derek J. Peters.  4/22/09
Speedo drive gear removal: By using an oxy-actylene torch which has an intense flame that can be directed locally. Heat the  teeth edge of the gear quickly and it will fall off.  If in doubt, place a short piece of tube over the hub to protect it from the  flame.  Phelps.  4/22/09
Fitting a Rear Fender:
1. Fit chainguard.
2. Fit lifting handle and bolt to chain guard.
3. Fit Mudguard hinge to lifting handle.
4. Locate forward half on to hinge piece. Mark and drill. Fit bolts.
5. Offer the guard forward until it touches the rear frame. Mark for hole, through frame. Although you might need a spacer between guard and frame.
6. Fit rear half of hinge, which can be bolted to the flap, before assy.
7. Raise rear stand and mark guard for fitting anchor nut.
8. Side stays can now be drilled and fitted.   Trevor  4/15/09

Tyres: I have a D Prince and when rebuilt, for the sake of originality, I fitted a Speedmaster front and an SM rear. The handling was poor. I have now fitted  a 90/90H-19 Roadrunner front and a 110/90H-18 rear. The transformation in the handling is amazing. Although a 100/90-18 is the nearest equivalent to 4.00/18 the slightly wider 110 looks better and still fits in the RFM and has a vitually identical rolling circumference. The 90/90-19 has a slightly small circumference of about 5% so the speedo will overread.  Paul Craven  8/18/08
While doing some tire kicking last weekend we noticed the following:

Avon Road Runner - 4 ply tread 4 ply sidewall
Avon Safety Mileage - 4 x 4
Avon Super Venom - 4 x 4
Avon Road Rider AM26 - 4 ply tread 2 ply sidewall
Avon Speedmaster (front) - 2 x 2

This may explain the reduced cost of the Road Rider, also why it is advertised as a 'mid range bike' tire, not that it doesn't fall within the requirements of most Vincent riders.  I'm in Glen's situation of having to plan for 400+ lbs. of riders and luggage, most of it on the rear wheel, some actually behind the axle so I think I'll stick with the 4 ply sidewall in back.   Paul Zell  8/18/08

Spokes:   The allegedly factory-standard cross-4 pattern was fine in its day but causes problems now:

1.  Modern spokes have a larger diameter 'forged head' at the flange-end by over 1/16 inch.  This causes an adjacent spoke to touch the 'head' and bend.  Half of each set of spokes needs a flat lightly and accurately ground on the circumference of the 'head' to prevent spokes touching and bending.  I've just done my Shadow wheels and had the problem, and I've currently got Dad's Comet wheels in the jig with the same problem.  Cross 3 pattern doesn't suffer from this malady and is just as strong.

2.  The bend at the flange end of the spoke is never close enough to the head on modern spokes - especially stainless ones.  Whatever spoke pattern you choose, the bend will be sticking further outboard of the flange than with old original spokes.  This means that, with the extra material on reproduction brake drums, the back of the drums press against the spokes and cause stress in both parts.  (Original drums seem mostly to be OK).  When assembled it is very important that you can put at least a 5 thou feeler gauge between spokes and drums.  You can always skim some off the back of the drums in lathe, but its easier to use the 20 thou stainless shims I have made for this purpose to fit 5 or 10 hole hubs.

The same problems will undoubtedly apply to the nearly identical pre-war hubs, although I haven't tried to lace mine up yet.        Peter Barker  12/20/07

Wheel Beaings:
Vincent Pt # H22  =  W5413  =  09074/09196  (Timken)
Vincent Pt # H22/1  =  W6413  =  09067/09195  (Timken)

Either of the above will fit the swinging arm and the wheels, Vincents used both.  H22/1 is narrower and will likely need a one-eighths alloy spacer over the hollow tube.  A high quality variant is also available from SKF (can't remember the number, sorry) but don't buy Chinese, Russian or other dubious copies under any circumstances.... unless you want to change them regularly.    Peter Barker  7/19/07

As I have been building a rear wheel today with new Shadow drums and 8/10 gauge spokes, I decided to check your point about drum to spoke clearance.  Sure enough, the back of the drum contacts the right-angled bend in the spokes before it is up tight against the flange.  Only by about 8-10 thou, but quite enough to put both spokes and drums under severe stresses with the nylocs done up tight.  A shim is indeed required here and I plan to get a few stainless ones laser-cut (with 10 holes to meet the Shadow requirement).  When I fitted an original (Rapide) drum, I could put an 8 thou feeler gauge between back of drum and the spokes.  I therefore surmise that the "new" drums (bought some years ago and left on the shelf) have too much material on the back face - or the inner mating flange has had too much material machined off the back of it.  Tomorrow, I'll check for run-out of the mounted drums with a dti.  In the meantime, my recommendation would be for you Not to file the spokes.   Another related problem is the tiny differences in the 5/10 mounting holes.  I nearly always find I need to put an 8mm reamer through the drum/flange/hub and/or make bolts with the shank a few thou down to get everything to fit.  Peter Barker  5/27/07
I just bought a set of rims and spokes from Central Wheel. Caution ! When I received the spokes the bend going into the spoke flange was not tight enough (the spoke ends stuck out 1/8 ") I sent them back, and got a set from Buchannon Wheel. They made up a set with a tighter bend that fits great I had a lot of issues with this new set of Shadow drums, new spoke flanges, new hubs, and new spokes. I had to machine the hubs, spoke flange, brake drum to get 1 to 2 thou run out. After lacing the wheels up,I am still having an issue with the spokes hitting the brake drum and causing some extra run out/wobble. I am going to have to loosen the drum and file the back sides of some of the spokes. I wish I had know of this; I would have made up a thin shim/spacer. I think that a thinner spoke may have solved the problem also. I will now fit everything I put together. Note: I did not have as much problem with the rear wheel. Cary Lindsey  5/27/07
4-crossing lacing has always been the std and that's what I have used for my std concours Shadow.  However, the Comet when restored, will get 3-cross-laced because I find that 4-cross lacing invariably causes a slight clash of spokes over the spoke flange.  One spoke touches the press-formed head of the adjacent one - especially with butted spokes.  Thus causing a slight bend and undue stress in every spoke.  It seems that this press-formed head on modern spokes is larger and deeper than the original spokes used to be.  And as an aside, I also find that I have to file-out all the (original) spoke-flange slots about 20 thou before sending them for plating.  Otherwise modern spokes just don't fit at all.   Peter Barker  5/27/07
I buy all my
rims and spokes, also tyres, from Central Wheel Components in Birmingham ( and cannot fault them on either range, price, quality or delivery.  I use stainless spokes with nickel plated brass nipples to avoid any tendency for the thjreads to seize.  For the Vincent be sure to order spokes for 4 cross lacing if you want to stay original. The spokes are always accurate on length which makes wheel building a pleasure.  Roy Cross 5/27/07
Tyres: Classic racers are almost all running 110/80 x 18 rear, and 90/90 x 18 front - unless, note, you want it to turn in even quicker in which case the (low-profile if run on a wide rim) Dunlop KR825 275/375 front triangular is used.  By tyre convention, there are 25 mm to the inch, so 4.10 is 110 and the second number is the aspect ratio. 110/80 means 4.10 wide and 80% of that high.  Tom Gaynor  2/22/06
alloy sprockets I would sudgest B&C Express, who will make sprockets to suit in any size. All you need to tell them is the centre hole dimentionss, how many bolt holes there PCD, and if the sprocket is dished. This will cost you approx 40-60 pounds and is in 7075 T6 aircraft spec ally (the best). Neil Diggens  3/23/05
WheelCalc - A Spoke Length Calculator For Wheel Builders:

The original wider wheel bearings (H22) which are best.  The numbers for the narrower ones (H22/1) (for which you need a 100 thou alloy spacer) are #09195 and #09067.  If your wheels have the metric bearings (H22/2), you need the SKF 30204 which is widely available at low cost.  Peter Barker 1/2/03

Wheel and Swing Arm Bearings:  There are SKF bearings available from Dixie, etc. Come in two part #s as you noted. Outer # is 09196, and inner assembly is # 09074.  Some wheels take a slightly different width besides the rarer small diameter type,  requiring use of a spacer behind the outer. Thank Bill Jean for this info. Sid  12/9/02
Wheel alignment: One little turn of the rear chain adjuster equals almost a quarter of an inch out of alignment.  Put bike on rear stand, both wheels pointing straight ahead, lie on your nose about 8-l0 feet in front of it and you can SEE, positively if the
wheels are tracking. Turn one adjuster more than the other so you can see how much one turn changes the alignment.  It is best to back them both off, precisely, and start fresh.  That is your starting point. Carl Hungness  2/26/02
Wheel building: First point, after seeing the parts, I discovered I had wheels built by two different spoking systems, one short and long. Seems the "real" Vincent system was the longer spoked method. Next problem is that the new spoke heads are just a fraction bigger than the old, but that fraction is too much. Where on the old wheel, spokes just cleared the head of the adjoining
spoke, with the new spokes the neighbours actually touch. And the spoke is deflected, ie bent.

The answer with the Comet wheels is to mill each and every spoke hole on the H2/1 flange, just a touch, with a 45 mill on alternate sides. The head then goes in just a fraction deeper, looks better, and doesn't (quite) touch the neighbouring spoke. The wheelbuilder suggests getting the centre portion of the stainless rim lightly sandblasted, to give the black epoxy paint a
better grip. He also suggests I re-check the spoke head to spoke shank angle, and reset if necessary.

The wheelbuilder and I understand each other better now, and each has more respect for the other's work. When I get the paint finished, I'll assemble loosely the spokes, drums in place and H19/1s tightened up, bearings in place, and he'll true. I can understand he didn't want to waste time with the sort of problems I found.  Bruce McNair  1/3/02

I asked who imported these nice looking wheelrims (made by Excel Takasago) into the UK, and discovered that they're imported by Talon Engineering and distributed by Jim Morgan of Disco Volante in Wales (

His promotional blurb says (quote):  Excel Tagasago Classic Flanged Rims are expensive (most things are in Japan!) but we know that this type of rim has never been made to this standard, since Borrani stopped. They are much superior to the old Akront, and are a wheel builders delight!  Phil  Blakeney  05/06/01

Wheel Bearings: You can check out on the bike by grabbing hold of the tyre, moving the wheel sideways, should have about fifteen thou. of movement. = the five thou. at the bearings. Too little or too much movement . Time to check out the shimming / or the bearings. Trevor  03/24/01

Wheel Bearings: E.M.G.S. and P.R. recommend 5 thou endfloat as a "nice running fit". Make sure to assemble and fully tighten the hollow axle absolutely clean and dry to check this with a feeler guage placed between the roller/s and race of one bearing with the other having no play (i.e you end up with a running 0.0025" float at each bearing). It takes several tedious reassemblies and playing with a variety of shim sizes to get it right and at the same time equalize the protrution of the spindle ends but good handling and maybe your life sometime depends on it. Only then should you pack the bearings with grease and finally assemble. Obvious to "old hands" so forgive me for reiterating but  when I first rode my Shadow after purchase it almost killed me at speeds over 50 mph. Then I found 0.05" play on the back axle and a whopping 0.08" on the front! Then I bought the books.....and new bearings.  Tim Holcroft  03/24/01
The easy way to look at shimming the wheel bearings is to put just enough shims under the inner races to get a nice running fit.  The shims should be divided between each end in such a manner that equal lengths of spindle should protrude from each of the inner races.  Then any extra shims you use are to get the neccessary clearance between brake plates and drums.  The nuts  should be flush with the ends of the spindles when they are both tightened up.  If you can achieve this without the alloy washers then you do not need them.  Derek Peters. 03/24/01

Not on the Web but the main US Avon tyre distributor is:

Hoppe & Associates Inc.
407 Howell Way Edmonds Wa. 98020
Phone 425 771 2115  800 624 7470 fax 425 771 4246
Talk to Mark Phenning

Tyre Pressure: A popular modern opinion is that because even our old pattern tyres are now made with modern sticky rubber the tyre pressures should be much higher than those recommended by the manufacturers; even well up into the thirties p.s.i.  I can only really give my experiences with the Series "D" set up, as I haven't owned or wished to own anything other than a "D" since I first tried one back in the early sixties.  I tend to agree with you about pressures.  I think most Vincent owners are not aware of how low the tyre pressure recommendations were originally.  In the case of a twin using 3.50 x 19 front and 400 x 18 rear the highest  recommended pressures were 18 p.s.i and 17 p.s.i. respectively with a 3 p.s.i. increase in the rear tyre only when carrying a pillion passenger.  I was quite frankly amazed when members talked about using 30 p.s.i plus in their tyres.  Whatever has happened to tyre manufacture, we have to realise that our suspension systems are at least 45 years old and were designed to run with low pressure tyres. I personally find that about 18 p.s.i. front and 20 p.s.i. rear are ideal for my over 200 lbs weight.  If I go much over these figures I find it is difficult to keep the wheels on the road over a rough surface and the
comfort drops considerably.  It was suggested by certain sources that providing the tyres did not overheat due to flexing of the tyre walls and the roadholding was satisfactory  there was little to worry about and I subscribe to this thinking.  I have felt my tyres after over 100 miles continuous fast riding and the temperature has never been excessive and I have always found the handling over all surfaces to be satisfactory. Derek Peters  12/29/00
Rim and Tyre sizes: To appreciate the excellent steering characteristics of any Vincent then it must be ridden with 300 x 20 front and 3.50 x 19 rear tyres. Rims should be WM 1 x 20 front and WM 2 x19 rear. I was fortunate to do a good few miles on a Ron Kemp restored Shadow with this standard wheel and tyre setup and was amazed with the pin point accuracy of the
the steering and the way the bike seemed to float over any irregularities in the road surface. The only drawback , not enough
rubber on the road to go nailing deep into corners whilst hard on the brakes and the footrest on the tarmac. For this kind of riding then my choice is :
    100/90 H 19 Avon AM20 Front  on a WM3 Akront flangless alloy rim
    110/90 H 18 Avon AM 21 Rear on a 2.50 (WM4?) Akront flangeless alloy rim

This gives me more rubber on the road than I need, plenty of grip from the Avons especially when they get hot and really sticky, although they are not the "track compound" which I believe are available from Avons. Wear rates for this tyre are good, 10,000 miles rear, 20,000 miles front. I believe that it is false economy to buy a tyre and only use the middle bit.
Wm. Clive Richards 12/14/00

Birmabright, right lets now clear up the mysteries........ To give it its proper spec.  Birmabright BB2, Produced by Birmetals Ltd.,  Birmabright works,  Clapgate Lane, Quinton, Birmingham. Now defunct . This material could have also been called  Hiduminium 22 ,  Alcan  GB M57S , BA 21, Alcoa 510 , AWCO 21 .  These being the same thing, but produced by other
companies of that era.  But we only know it as Birmabright, because thats where the factory or the mudguard manufacturer purchased it from. Today we know this material as NS4, or in American  terms 5251.  ISO designation A1 MG2.  I have had a chemical analysis carried out on a piece of original material . So now you can go manufacturing , and use todays equivalent of
the original. I originally thought the material to be an alclad, I have now proven myself to have been wrong.
Trevor Southwell  8/08/00

I have used Avon AM20 & AM21 tyres front  and rear on my Vincent for some time now and have been well pleased with them. High levels of grip and good wear rates. I get them from M & P Accessories who always have them in stock. One
point to note, the current Avon handbook recomends using wider wheel rims for their range of tyres, e.g.a 100 x 90 H19 requires a WM3 rim. this tyre fitted to a WM2 rim looks very "pinched" on this narrow rim. The sidewalls slope steeply inwards whereas on a WM 3 rim the tyre looks completely at home. Similarly ,at the rear I run a 110 x 90 H18 on a 2.85 (WM 4?) rim. M & PAccessories Gorseinon South Wales UK are your best bet.   Clive  7/18/00

Yesterday whilst travelling back from Mara Lake in central BC in the company of two other Vincents one of them had a rear wheel problem.  The rear drums were drilled for cooling or ????  and whoever assembled the drums to the hubs (Rapide) used 3/8" socket head capscrews with thread all the way to the head.  Needless to say, the drum must have been fretting and
two bolts sheared and the drum shatered and forward momentum was lost.  20 Min later we were on the road again.  Sprocket moved to the other drum, wheel turned around, damaged drum removed leaving the shoes exposed.  Is there another motorcycle that you could do that with??

Morals to the incident (well some people have no morals)
- know what you are driving
- use the proper bolts in the proper place!!

Robert (Woolly Mammoth) Watson

Letter on Birmabright fender repair:

We have now successfully welded the Birmabright with not only 4043 rod, but 5356 wire as well..TIG (Heliarc) welded. My only cracks are at the mounting stays and I too shall install some rubber grommets when they go back on. I made patches to
repair the cracks out of 606l T6 material and so far, it seems to have worked perfectly.

Rather than mess about with  the cracks, I punched a one inch hole in the mudguard which totally eliminated the crack..then I "domed" the donor piece of material to match the contour of the mudguard and welded in place..a tricky operation as the Birmabright is only .035 thick..I used .061 aluminum as a filler and let it stand slightly proud of the parent material, so when filing the weld, you can actually allow the file to touch the new patch without worrying about filing a hole in your new patch. I used a sandbag and gentle hammer blows to contour the patch.

    I am in the midst of polishing the Birmabright...but to my eye it looks "Over-Restored" when it is highly polished, so I have the mudguards Clear Powder Coated which not only insures I never have to polish them again, but the thin coating tones down the sheen to just the right gloss (for my eye anyhow).

    Beware if you do Powder Coat is a definite problem to remove the material. High quality aircraft paint remover works and in many cases so does MEK (methyl-ethyl-keotone). If you do a metal part such as a frame member, be ready to sandblast the Powder Coat off..     Carl Hungness

Thanks to those who posted interesting info on Birmabright, and how it's to be distinguished from stainless steel.  I have a slightly trickier variant on the same question.  My bike arrived with alloy fenders of some sort; clearly not stainless. They could (conceivably) be original Birmabright fenders, or (more likely) replacements made of some other aluminum alloy.  How does the discerning Vincent owner tell genuine Birmabright from brand X aluminum alloy?  If my old fenders are original they may be worth salvaging, otherwise not.    Dave Hartner  4/18/00

 The only clue I can offer at this point of my limited knowledge of Birmabright, is that it measures .035 thick. I successfully plugged a one inch hole I punched in it to eliminate some cracks. I made the plug from 606l T6, domed it on a sandbag and TIG (heliarc) it in place with 4043 rod and also used the 5356 wire.       Carl Hungness  4/18/00

Well it took since last SEPT to trace the man who has 3:00 x 20 inch tubes made on a custom basis in Italy. These are good quality, I have been using them for some years in all my Vincents.

Tony Etheridge,
118 Oaklands Avenue,
Oxhey Hall,
Hertfordshire WD1 4LW
Great Britain

44 (0) 1923 231699  (24hr answerphone when unattended). I bought one today for 9. Call him to ask postage rates.
Arthur Farrow   4/20/00

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