When it comes to the competition, the G80 is Matchless in more ways than one. From the cold and calculated silhouette to the grinding roar of the exhaust, this masterclass machine has everything a superbike enthusiast or even a motorcycle purist could ever want.
Reserved Its Place in History
Initially produced by the Matchless Motorcycle Company in 1949, the G80 was absolutely peerless. It’s design marveled collectors and riders alike. Everybody wanted one. Unfortunately, the Matchless company didn’t have the same reputation.
Founded in 1899, Matchless began making motorcycles soon after, only to run itself out of business in 1966. Some might call it a coincidence that this happened a mere three years after the company’s decision to remove the G80 from production. Others might call it cause and effect.
A Matchless Design
The G80 was truly one of a kind. In many ways, it still is even today. Like others in its time, it was a push-rod single with standard architecture and design in that respect. What really set it apart, however, wasn’t to be found in the individual components but how they were brought together.
Nothing was necessarily over-the-top special or unique about the engine, suspension, or even the frame; but the way the engineers managed to put all of these rather humdrum parts together made for a timeless classic with unique potential and incredible performance.
The Black Sheep
The G80 is part of the long-standing G-series motorcycles produced by Matchless, but only one G80 generation was ever put into production. You could call the G80, the black sheep of the G-series.
- Matchless G80 (1949-1963)
Put into production at the end of World War II, the G80 soared to the top of recovery-era demand. Not only did it have all the parts and potential that riders wanted in a motorcycle, but it exceeded those expectations in a way seldom seen in its competitors prior to this.
The engine was a rather moderate four-stroke single with a pushrod and two valves for the single cylinder.
Everything else from the frame to the suspension followed a similar standard design; however, the use of teledraulic forks instead of the more commonplace girder forks gave this model a fluidity of speed and control that set it far above the rest.
News of the Matchless G80
Matchless went belly up more than half a century ago and production of the G80 stopped even before then, so there hasn’t been much in the realm of modern news for fans and collectors of the G80.
Perhaps the most famous portrayal of the G80 is in the 2001 blockbuster film James Dean, in which James Franco plays the cult-pop icon. James Dean and some of his associates were known to be quite fond of the G80.
The best place to go to socialize with other Matchless owners and G80 enthusiasts is most definitely the Worldwide AJS and Matchless Motorbike Owners group on Facebook.
The Matchless G80 – a Classic without a Match
Whether or not Matchless went out of business primarily because of their decision to remove the G80 from production, as a mere side effect, or due to financial burdens of operating through two massive wars and a world-wide depression remains a mystery.
But if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the classic G80 is set in stone as an eternal icon in the world of superbikes, motorcycles, and scooters.