SOLD for £5,827.50
“Look, this is not a major legend like a Featherbed Norton or Triumph’s Bonneville, but it is one very fine riding motorcycle. It goes like whatsit off a silver shovel, its general smoothness of operation makes vibration unobtrusive at 75mph in the top of its four slick gears and it wears Norton Roadholder forks and an eight-inch front brake that stops it really well. … it’s a joy to ride…” ‘Classic Bike Guide’ magazine test of this very machine, October 2004.
Well spotted! A bike. Not a car. But what a bike it is. A scant year after this tip-top AJS Hurricane rolled out of the Associated Motor Cycles works in Plumstead, south east London in 1966 (it was not registered until July ’67), the receivers were at the door and the backbone of the great British motorcycle industry was gone taking with it legendary names such as Matchless, Norton, James and Francis-Barnet as well as AJS, meaning this bike one of the very last of the line. Though the flame was rekindled for some marques in later years, things were definitely never the same again as Japanese machinery took over in no uncertain terms.
The AJS 31CSR (Competition Springer Road, trips off the tongue doesn't it) burst onto the scene in 1959 and a pretty standard example won the 500 mile production bike race at Thruxton in 1960 with Chapman and Langston aboard to underline its sports bike credentials. Powered by a gutsy 650 twin which compressed the mixture at an 8.5:1 ratio and utilised a Lucas magneto to make it go bang, the bike’s proven performance was matched with undeniable good looks, being slim of hips and tank and yet simultaneously taking a purposeful stance; ‘ansom is the word that springs immediately to mind, especially if you hail from Plumstead. While its duplex frame broke little new ground following fairly standard AMC practice with brazed lug construction, at least its swinging arm rear was well suspended by Girling oil damped units. Well-appointed in the braking and front forks departments, especially so with later production examples, the 31CSR also had one of the sweetest changing gearboxes of its time and in combination with a delightfully light clutch it was very much a standard setter when new.
The refreshingly forward-thinking AJS and Matchless Owners Club hold an annual fundraising raffle for a bike (quid a book) and this very machine was the First Prize in 2004. The lucky winner received a motorcycle that had been vetted by Club experts and bought from one of their more ‘mature’ members who had enjoyed riding it all over the country, never having been let down by it - perhaps somewhat at odds with those who would have you believe chronic unreliability was a major contributing factor to the demise of the British Bike Industry. Charmingly a book of tickets is still in the bike’s history file confirming the 1st prize was the 31CSR or £1000 though the organisers were quick to point out that this did not reflect the value of the motorcycle!
This interesting interlude in the Hurricane’s life was very well documented in ‘Classic Bike Guide’ Magazine’s “Raffle bike on test” article in the October 2004 issue, which featured this very machine. Extensively ridden and photographed, journalist Jim Reynolds positively raved about pretty much every aspect of the AJS: looks, performance, ride, handling and condition. Well worth a read and a nice addition to the machines history.
As a late example, this Hurricane has Norton ‘Roadholder’ front forks and accompanying eight inch front brake from the same source - one of the advantages of having so many brands under, literally, one roof and a sensible way to eke out meagre resources over a range of products and makes. The CSR was available with a sort after ‘Speedkit’ which consisted of twin Amal carburettors plus a more urgent camshaft and rev. counter (an 8,000rpm cable driven Smiths unit to match the standard speedometer) all of which, on this bike, are either visibly present and correct or assumed to be if buried in the depths of the engine. The twin exhaust element of the kit has in this instance been foregone with the standard CSR two-into-one system in its place, doubtless to the benefit of the torque curve and presumably touring prowess.
Though we have to admit to not having ridden the AJS ourselves, it is reported that it handles very well with a lovely ride and the previously noted slick gearbox and light clutch are apparently still well up to mustard. One sits quite upright on the machine and though there is a bit of vibration at around the 3,500 rpm point or 60mph in top, this is just a good excuse to push on past that and add another 10mph. Despite the riding position and consequent effects of quite a stiff breeze (if not a full Hurricane), a cruise beyond the National Speed Limit is more than achievable, not that we would condone it obviously.
Condition-wise the CSR is still in very smart condition and the chrome tank sports what AJS themselves described rather underwhelmingly as ‘blue’ highlights (aspirational marketing at its best, surely worth a ‘Kingfisher’ or similar additional adjective). The enamelled black frame and all its associated ancillaries such as the chain guard are in very nice condition as is the chrome-work. All the alloy castings are in un-corroded condition without being over polished. The black vinyl seat is tastefully pipped in white and free from marks, nicks or tears. Foot peg rubbers are all good and the tyres have a generous amount of tread left on them. Both chain and sprocket look to be in good order.
The bike comes with a good history file including a copy of ‘Classic Bike Guide’, October 2004, an AJS and Matchless Owners Club Certificate of Authenticity dated 14th July 1998 which confirms the frame number and that the original engine and gearbox are still fitted. A useful copy of an AJS Instruction book is present along with sixteen old MOT certificates dating back to 1988 which indicate that while some 10,000 miles have been covered since then, only two to three hundred have passed under the AJS’ wheels each year since 2013. There are also some twenty tax discs going back as far as 1981, the current V5C and two CDs – a Matchless Parts Book and AJS Handbook.
A very capable and useable machine then and in top condition to boot; highly recommended and as Classic Bike Guide found, “it goes as well as it looks”.