Great British bike-off! BSA Gold Star vs Norton Commando 961 SP vs Triumph Bonneville T100

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Right now, if you want to ride a British bike, you are spoiled for choice. Obviously we have to use the term ‘British’ with a slight pinch of salt as a fair few actually come with a degree of overseas intervention.

Nonetheless, if you want to buy a new Triumph, Norton, BSA, Royal Enfield, CCM, Ariel, Brough or Metisse, you can. And they are being joined by new British brands building electric bikes, such as Maeving and Arc. And with this extensive menu comes a wide spread of prices, meaning that there genuinely is now a British bike out there to suit most budgets.

At the lower end of the price scale are machines such as the Royal Enfield models and BSA Gold Star that are both built and owned by companies based in India yet still carry a revered British marque on their tanks.

Riding modern British retro motorcycles on the road

Upping the budget a bit gets you a Triumph, which is a completely British-owned manufacturer but they build the vast majority of their bikes in Thailand, or a small-volume bike built in the UK using parts sourced from both home and abroad such as the CCM models.

Then you have premium machines such as the Norton, which is hand-made in the UK, while the company is owned abroad, or the Ariel models, which are also hand-built in the UK by a British company but using a Japanese-built engine.

But does parentage, place of manufacture and of course price make a difference to how ‘British’ a bike feels? What better way to find out than to take three bikes from three different price levels on a thoroughly British road trip – from the Ace Cafe in London to Brighton’s famous Madeira Drive.

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