British Motorcycle Brands

British Motorcycle Brands

The British automobile industry is one of the oldest in the world and is famous for its luxury cars. The second area in which it has also excelled is the production of quality motorcycles. Its rise came in the early thirties of the last century. Developing this type of industry in the conditions of constant competition with the world leaders in this field, British manufacturers staked on vintage models. This direction became especially popular among collectors of motorcycles and representatives of the richest families in the world. They, acquiring such models, indulged their sublime aesthetic tastes.

What are British motorcycle brands?

This is a list of the most famous brands representing the British motorcycle industry. These include Triumph, Royal Enfield, Brough Superior, Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) and many others.

During the general industrial decline in Europe from 1939 to 1945, the British motorcycle industry withstood with dignity. And already in the fifties, it reached pre-war levels. Although in the sixties, British motorcycle athletes ceded the laurels to the Italians, the production of two- and three-wheeled machines only grew, giving rise to the first famous on the world stage British brands – Triumph Bonneville and Ariel Square Four. In the 70s, some of the famous British brands became a thing of the past. However, even today, many of the representatives of this trend have remained and continue their legendary procession.


Ambassador Logo

In 1946, the British motorcycle brand Ambassador appeared, founded by British racer Kaye Don, the champion of the twenties. The basis of production was light motorcycles. The company lasted until 1963, headquartered in Ascot, Berkshire when it was absorbed by rival DMW. In 1965, it was closed down. In 2016, an attempt was made to reform the brand – 2017 saw the launch of Ambassador Supreme in a vintage “café racer.” In 2021, the Ambassador 400, in a classic version, “saw the light.”

The brand logo is presented in two variants, the use of which depends on the location. The first is a text variant. This is the name of the brand, made in gold color with a dark border for each letter. The second is the capital letter of the name and several important elements that have forever defined the style and visual identity of the brand – spread wings and a royal crown. The wings symbolize movement, speed, and the feeling of flight that comes from riding the brand’s motorcycles. The crown is a tribute to the heraldry of the past. But its presence, together with the gold color, indicated the presence of a claim to royal status in the manufacturers of this type of transport.


Ariel Logo

The oldest British brand, Ariel, has been known to cycling fans since 1870. At that time, the company’s founders, James Starley and William Hillman, began assembling penny-farthing bicycles with 48-inch wheels. In 1902, a motorcycle with a Kerry engine was introduced. Innovative in many ways, the company never became the largest in British motorcycle history. Its notable products include the SuperSport, Red Hunter, HF 4, and Arrow. The brand ceased to exist in the seventies of the last century.

The brand name of the model range was simple and concise – a regular oval containing the name in lowercase letters. It was used on all signs and emblems of Ariel appliances. The most common variant was a circle with a thin black border and several circles inscribed in sequence to reduce the diameter. The first one was yellow, and the other four were red, separated by a black border. The interior had a stylized image of a radiator, nine stripes of which were inscribed along the radius of the third red circle in a yellow-black border. On top of it, in the center of the whole emblem, was an oval with the name of the brand. The text was executed in the same yellow color, characteristic of the whole emblem, on a black field, as well as the oval border.

Brough Superior

Brough Superior Logo

The world-famous brand of British motorcycles Brough Superior began its history in the 19th year of the last century. Its first flagship model, SS100, appeared in 1924. Unlike mass producers of the same type of equipment, the son of the company’s founder, George Brough, relied on individual production of each new motorcycle in accordance with the customers’ requirements. In terms of production level and price, these were “Rolls-Royces” on two wheels. However, the beginning of the war led to the mandatory reorientation of production for military needs. After its end, the brand could not restore the previous production volume.

The emblem of the brand was also characterized by an exclusive design. Practically excluding from its symbolic graphic elements, except for the oval, which appears in one of the variants, the creators of the emblem directed all their creativity to the development of the text. The name of the brand – Brough Superior – becomes its main and unique emblem. The font has become a central element that can be easily connected to various advertising schemes and blends perfectly with any design. The connection of Q and S gives a very effective visual symmetry, allowing the logo to be seen as an option that is not tied to the traditional “top” or “bottom.”


BSA Logo

The beginning of BSA’s history dates back to 1863 when the company began manufacturing guns in Birmingham. It would become a motorcycle brand in 1910 with the production of its first motorcycle. During the First and Second World Wars, the company actively specialized in the production of two-wheeled equipment for the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain. However, in the 50-60s of the last century, errors in marketing led to a drop in demand for obsolete models in the absence of new developments. In 1973, the company was absorbed by Norton-Villiers.

The brand’s logo was characterized by brevity and a little bit of words, characteristic of many brands in this area. One of its elements was a wing, an element widely used by car and motorcycle manufacturers. The logo itself consisted of the company’s abbreviation in large lowercase letters and, placed below it, the word MOTORCYCLES in a smaller font aligned with the outermost letter of the logo. The font is slanted to the right, symbolizing acceleration and striving. The letter “B” has a wing emanating from the top and its line, the image of which created the illusion of wind action at high speed. The sign was made in bright red to enhance its impact, ease of perception, and memorability.

Francis Barnett

Francis Barnett Logo

This is the oldest motorcycle brand, founded in 1919 by Gordon Francis and Arthur Barnett. The first models of the brand were motorcycles equipped with Villiers and AMC two-stroke engines. They had a displacement of 125cc. The company’s office was located on Lower Ford Street, Coventry, England. Their Cruiser motorcycle was the first motorcycle to include a rider’s mud and oil guard. In 1947, Associated Motor Cycles was absorbed by the more successful Associated Motor Cycles. But in 1966, they announced their closure. The brand’s first models were motorcycles powered by Villiers and AMC two-stroke engines. They had a displacement of 125cc. The company’s office was located on Lower Ford Street, Coventry, England. Their Cruiser motorcycle was the first motorcycle to include a rider’s mud and oil guard. In 1947, Associated Motor Cycles was absorbed by the more successful Associated Motor Cycles. But in 1966, the company announced its closure.

Today, there is an attempt to revive Francis Barnett under their brand name, creating machinery equipped with the most modern components and units. At the same time, the classic color scheme of the emblem is preserved – warm bronze, which, in combination with black color, gave the brand aristocracy and luxury. The company logo was a name with a unifying arc that enclosed the text at the bottom. Its modern design took the form of a circle within a circle, with the circles in a warm bronze color. The margin between the large and small circles is filled with black. The central one is burgundy, on which is placed the bronze monogram of the company, consisting of the first two letters of the name “F” and “B,” connected by a semicircular arc.


Matchless Logo

1899 is the year when Matchless, the world’s oldest English brand, began fitting engines to its bicycles. The company was founded in 1878 by Henry Herbert Collier as a bicycle manufacturer and was headquartered in London. The first production model appeared in 1901. And already four years later, the first two-cylinder version was put into production. The company’s historical fame was brought by the Silver Hawk, the world’s first dry sump V4, which ceased to exist in 1966. An attempt by Les Harris to revive the brand in 1987 was unsuccessful.

The brand’s logo was one of the first to use a winged symbol on its products. They were located on both sides at the top of the trademark – the letter “M,” made on a dark red background of a small circle, which encompassed two semicircles. The wings had a stylized heraldic pattern and went beyond the circle. The semantic meaning embedded in the logo was to convey the essence of the brand’s existence – creating two-wheeled vehicles (two rims) and providing high-speed, flight-wings. The red color contrasted very effectively with the metal of the badge and rims, making the emblem especially memorable.


Norton Logo

The company was founded by Lansdowne Norton in the late 19th century, like most of the oldest British motorcycle companies. Its first motorcycle was produced in 1902. The line of light motorcycles produced under this brand was characterized by the greatest popularity, the best speed, and the best handling. In addition, their design was considered particularly sexy. The Norton Commando, produced from 1969 to 1977, was the world’s first and best superbike. Subsequent changes of several owners led to the company’s closure in 1995.

The company’s classic logo was the brand name in Gothic script with monograms. The spirit of the Middle Ages was strengthened by highlighting the upper end of the leg of the letter “N” in ornate ornamentation. The letters “O,” made in the form of screw heads with slits slanted to the left, created an original dissonance of visual perception. A curved line coming out of the upper part of the second leg of the letter “N” covered the entire text and ended at the bottom between the last two letters. The monochromatic design suggested that the emblem could be used in either metallic, bronze, gold, or silver paint.


Rickman Logo

Famous in the fifties of the last century, motocross and scrambling athletes brothers Don and Derek Rickman decided to express their dissatisfaction with the quality of the British motorcycle industry, creating a car that, in their opinion, would reflect all the expectations of real bikers. In 1959, their model, equipped with a new racing frame, conquered not only the championship but also motorcycle enthusiasts around the world. But in 1980, the brothers sold their assets and closed the business. But in 1982, the rights to the brand were acquired by Pat French. In the crisis of the ’90s, he teamed up with enthusiast Jerry Lisi, which allowed the production of the legendary Rickman to survive to our days.

For all the time of the brand’s existence, it practically did not change its emblem. Its background – closer to light olive – was the color of the uniform of the Rickman brothers. The absence of various additional graphic elements, except for the frame with arc-shaped upper and lower parts, did not distract the viewer from the holistic visual perception of the name. The font had an individual graphic design. The roundness of the letters suggested the shape of a race track. The font style, characteristic of the mid-50s, has been retained to this day.

Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield Logo

Founded in 1901, Royal Enfield produced its first motorcycle the following year. But two years later, the fascination with automobiles led to a reorientation of production. However, success in this area was not achieved, and in 1910, the production of motorcycles resumed. The brand successfully presented its technique in the 30s of the last century. During the war, it created light paratrooper motorcycles. However, post-war difficulties and stagnation of the fifties led to the sale of the company to Indian Madras Motors, where the history of the brand continued in Chennai.

The emblem is made in the original combination of the bright red-orange color of the font and elements that soften the warm, deep, light yellow color of their contours. The mark is inscribed in a circle and represents the first letter of the name with wings on both sides. The company name is executed in a modified Medin Medin font, with original transitions symbolizing the curves of rails – the foot of the letter “R” smoothly forms the letter “O.” The lower line of the letter “E” with a curve overlaps the leg of the letter “N” as another level of the track. The connection of two letters – “L” and “D” – into a single joint reinforces this impression. The overall visual perception refers the viewer to the smooth curves and beauty of the shapes of the brand’s products.


Triumph Logo

The Triumph brand is very serious and strict about the appearance of its logo and the shape of its motorcycle designs. Since 1937, the brand has produced some of the most elegant models in the world, which will hold this palm until the emergence of stylish “Japanese.” In the sixties, the brand became part of BSA, which had already disintegrated by 1972. The history of Triumph ended in 1983, when the company, already owned by the workers of the enterprise under the new name Meriden Co-Op, announced its closure, becoming a victim of creditors. However, the enterprising John Bloor, a lover of the brand, gradually bought up all remnants of the company and the rights to the brand, and in 1991 produced two lines of three-seat motorcycles.

Tracing the history of the development of British brands, you can notice a lot of similarities in the formation of their emblems. Emblem Triumph has a basic for all types of its sign element – the text name. Its accent element is the lower arch, which, in one form or another, is found in other manufacturers of motorcycles. It joins the stem of the “R” and returns as a continuation of the center line of the last letter of the name “H.”


Velocette Logo

Founded in 1905 by John Goodman (Gutgemann) and William Gue, originally Taylor, Gue Ltd., the company that later became the famous British motorcycle brand Velocette Motorcycles mastered the production of the first Veloce motorcycles. Already a year later, their name became a brand name, which was the basis for renaming the company to Veloce Ltd. In 1913, a fundamentally new model, called Velocette, was released. It was so successful that it overshadowed the name of the manufacturer itself. As a result, it became necessary to change the name of the brand again in favor of Velocette Motorcycles. Roadster racing models became the backbone of the brand’s production until the early 50s. The beginning of the production depression of the 60s led to the closure of the brand in 1970.

An interesting decision was the original logo of the brand. Traditionally, it represented the full name of the company – Velocette. Stylishness and memorability were its important advantages. Executed in the form of a handwritten uppercase font of gold or bronze color, it created an impression of aristocracy and luxury. The final monogram in the form of a stroke after the signature seemed to certify quality, stability, and high technical characteristics.


Vincent Logo

The history of the British brand Vincent begins in 1917 in a German prison, where the future founder of the company, Howard Raymond Davies, a pilot of the British Air Force in the First World War, found himself. At the end of the war, together with E. J. Massey, he assembled several models under the name HRD. However, the crisis of 1928 led to the sale of the brand with all its facilities to Ernest Humphreys of OK-Supreme Motors, who immediately resold it together with Phil Vincent’s drawings and new designs. From this point on, Vincent HRD Co., Ltd. appeared with the “Vincent” TM, with the HRD mark removed from the logo in 1949. The brand was closed in 1955.

Its logo is very memorable and original. Probably because Phil Vincent was an American. The badge is completely different from the traditional British emblems. Made in the form of an arched ribbon with rounded edges, like ancient scrolls, on its main field, made in gold, it showed the name of the brand – Vincent. It was in pure white with a black border for each letter. The font was simple, without any additional elements, monograms, or scrolls. Its curve was the same as the shape of the ribbon. Above the name, the preposition “THE” was printed in a small black font – a tribute to the rules of the English language.

What motorbikes are made in the UK?

Among all British-made motorcycles, one can distinguish the Royal Enfield Bullet, which appeared in the films Friday the 13th and Big Fish, and the Triumph Bonneville, known from the films Grey’s Anatomy and Harry Potter. In addition, the updated Brough Superior, which received the honorary title of Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles, is being manufactured in the UK.

Are there any British motorcycle manufacturers?

Yes, there are many motorcycle manufacturers in the UK, and among them, there are world-famous brands. Some of these companies fell into decay in the second half of the last century, but now they are being revived.

What is the most popular motorcycle in the UK?

Despite many British motorcycle companies, the Japanese brand Honda and its closest competitor Yamaha remain the most popular in the UK.

How many British motorcycle manufacturers were there?

If you take into account both existing and bankrupt UK motorcycle brands, there are more than a thousand of them. At least 700 brands were registered only at the beginning of the development of motorcycling.