Gladstone Motorcycle’s mantra is simple: “To design and build limited production runs of the finest handmade British motorcycles available”
What we’re currently looking at is the start of adventure, whether looking at it, learning about it or even riding it. The Gladstone No.1 is certainly a talking point at The Motor Hub right now and for good reason.
To quote from the website “Only nine of the inaugural Gladstone No.1 will be built with delivery starting in April 2014. Each Gladstone No.1 requires a build programme lasting 6 months being delivered with a brass plaque on the oil tank to denote the production build number.”
There are six of them out in the world, seven if you include the prototype, which took two years to rise from the drawing board. The project by Gladstone Motorcycles is the first bespoke British motorcycle brand to come to the market since 1984, and was set in motion by the founders Henry Cole and Guy Willison. Henry is CEO of Gladstone and also a popular TV host to two long established motorcycle series and many other TV programmes. Guy is the brains behind the bike, and has put every facet of his forty years of riding experience into it, which really shows.
From inside out, this machine has been forged by passion, understanding and maturity.
This isn’t a delicate custom or unusable art piece. Instead, this is a no holds barred, dignified yet raw, individual machine that wants to be ridden and enjoyed by someone who holds the same characteristics. You could say you have seen many bikes like it but to the discerning biker, they could analyse it’s DNA and identify clues as to why it’s so special.
The frame is from the renowned Metisse Heritage. Now a nickel plated, hard tailed bespoke design. Using completely custom mounts, the frame holds the tried, tested and proven Triumph Bonneville T140 750cc. The only original parts being the visible ones.
Completely blueprinted, built from the ground up, every cog, valve and bearing of this particular T140 has been crafted by none other than The Baron Speed shop, known for their land speed trails using the Bonneville unit.
The front end looks so good because there is some Italian blood running through the suspension and braking system, in the form of replica ‘60s style Ceriani hardware. A purpose made five inch speedometer sits dead centre on the yoke , though the symmetry of the bike does not end there.
The bike requires a decent kick to get it started, and if it’s the first outing for a while, it may need a little priming on the single carburetor. The reason for dropping a carburetor from the original T140 setup is simple, more midrange, less weight, more go.
Everything on this bike has been paired down for weight. Entirely custom made cropped motocross style exhausts with no baffles certainly saves a few pounds and obviously cause quite a stir upon start up.
Trundling through a quiet Cotswold village on the Gladstone No.1 turns more heads than a streaker, if only for its noise alone. Once you set eyes on the bike, the marrying of subtle touches of brass, chrome and copper blends seamlessly and demands attention.
Out on the open road, you’re the conductor to a raucous symphony of sound. The Cotswolds, with its narrow twists and turns, humpback bridges and almost blind junctions suddenly become a joy due to the assortment of instruments at your disposal.
From the air induction roar to the cackle of the overrun, almost every gear change brings a smile to your face. This brings biking back to basics with buckets of class. Built to consume your senses and deliver new ones, the Gladstone No.1 bares all, not hidden under plastic and gadgets. It’s your new reason to live to ride.
Words by Mike Belshaw