Common Tread

Video: Motorcycle training 60 years ago

Mar 20, 2018

After watching this video, I'm not sure whether to be surprised by how much has changed in 60 years or how little.

British Pathé is a vast archive of newsreel footage in Britain, some of it dating back to the 1890s, when film was brand new. Back then, just a simple clip of a train arriving at a station was fascinating to people because the technology was so novel. Today, those same, simple clips are fascinating because they give us a glimpse at a time that is now so distant. And different.

The world of motorcycles made many of those thousands of films, from a simple clip of an old man starting his odd-looking motorcycle in the 1930s, to a newsreel report of British paratroopers landing with their fold-up Corgi motorbikes and deploying across the countryside, to numerous reports on races over the years. If you enjoy old film, I encourage you to explore the archive on YouTube — but only when you have some time to spare, because it's easy to get drawn in.

One of the motorcycle films that caught my attention was this report on motorcycle training in 1958. On one hand, nobody was too worried about ATGATT back then. On the other hand, training was more extensive, in some ways. A session lasted all day and students learned on both dirt and asphalt. How would you have done in motorcycle school, 1958?