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Little Classics News: 11 November 2013

Gladstone No.1 to Make Worldwide Bike Show Debut at Motorcycle Live

Gladstone Motorcycle

Gladstone MotorcycleA beautiful British Bobber manufactured by the first bespoke British motorcycle brand since Hesketh is set to make its global bike show debut at Motorcycle Live (NEC, Birmingham, 23 November – 1 December).

Powered by the classic Triumph T140 engine housed on a distinctive Metisse nickel-plated frame, the Gladstone No1 and its namesake brand are the brainchild of Henry Cole, the eccentric, bike mad presenter of TV’s World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides and The Motorbike Show.

The prototype that will feature on motorcycle insurance specialist Carole Nash’s stand (3E30, Hall 3) precedes just nine machines set to be made by Gladstone Motorcycles, six of which have already been sold. Just four people have ridden the stunning 750cc machine – Cole, co-designer Gerry Lisi of Metisse, builder Guy Willison and internationally renowned motorcycle journalist, Alan Cathcart.

Cole, chief executive of Gladstone, sees the marque as appealing to “discerning hooligans” with the No.1 being, in his words “quintessentially retro British.” Whilst it’s undeniably beautiful to look at he insists the bike is not some modern museum piece.

Gladstone Motorcycle Speedo“We’re building a Bobber that actually rides, it’s all about go rather than show,” he enthuses. “That prototype has been hammered, on purpose, so we could spot what did and didn’t work. For instance we’ve just fixed a bit of tank slapping on the fake oil tank.

“Whilst it’s detailed to perfection and stunningly beautiful it’s not a show bike, it’s a go bike,”

Each of the new bikes will take six months to build with the first off the Cotswold “production line” set for delivery in 2014. Cole, who cheerfully admits his design expertise comes solely from a lifelong passion for motorcycles, has seen his ideas translated into stunning reality by Lisi’s more traditionally acquired technical skills and Willison’s engineering brilliance.

Gladstone Motorcycle with Henry ColeThe result is a bike that both looks and sounds incredible, the refurbed blue printed Triumph engine throwing out a pleasingly gutsy roar to complement the immaculately detailed retro styling. Available in any colour as long as it’s black, each of the nine individually numbered machines will feature a vintage style brass bound battery box – housing thoroughly modern lithium batteries – bespoke alloy petrol and fake oil tanks and a handmade diamond-stitched leather seat fitted on string twisted springs.

The whole enterprise is imbued with the kind of exclusivity rarely seen in modern manufacturing, not just through the limited nature of production runs, but in attitude. “We don’t offer a warranty with our bikes. Our views is, if you own a Gladstone, we’ll look after you – always,” says Henry. “If you break down on the M40 someone’s going to come and get you, not turn around and say ‘you’re out of warranty.’”

Gladstone Motorcycle brandingAnd the Gladstone name? Whilst former Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone was Henry’s great, great uncle it was from another branch of the family tree from that he took his inspiration. “My Uncle Dick, an eccentric bike nut we knew as ‘Red Beard’ made a profound impression during my formative years. He had Broughs, BSAs and Triumphs knocking around his garage in Liverpool and they stirred something in me. I’ve been obsessed with motorcycling ever since.”

Carrying a relatively modest price tag of £22,995 for a hand-crafted bespoke machine, the Gladstone No.1 has thus far only been seen at the £250-a-head Salon Privé. “There’s no doubt Salon Privé is a fantastic event held in a beautiful location but the sheds of the NEC will be packed with my kind of people, people who are absolutely passionate about biking who will really appreciate what Gladstone and this bobber are all about,” says Henry.


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