Saturday, April 01, 2017


The revived Zenith logo; old school retro cool

In a remarkable comeback, the Zenith Motorcycle Co is being revived by an Anglo-Swiss-American triumverate, the first-ever collaboration of the Swiss watch maker of the same name (Zenith), an English-born financier, and an American designer.  Zenith motorcycles (1903-49) is perhaps the most esteemed 'forgotten' brand to be picked up in the current mania for revival; in their heyday, Zeniths held the most 'Gold Stars' at the Brooklands race track (for laps over 100mph) and captured the World Land Speed Record twice.
Zenith brand ambassador Dimitri Coste

Zenith watch brand ambassador Dimitri Coste will remain the public face of the expanded Zenith lineup, and in a display of riding virtuosity at the press launch in Zurich today, he performed a double-backflip on an electric motorcycle between the wristwatch assembly bench and the pressure-testing tank inside the factory.  For the press event, the normally white-coated watchmaking staff wore the new Zenith signature white-black-and-red check pattern leather jackets, designed by Dimitri's brother Jérome Coste.
The Zenith heyday at the Brooklands race track

The CEO of the new company, Amaryllis Knight, spoke briefly about the exciting opportunity to build a next-generation motorcycle which "actually runs like a Swiss watch.  Because it is."  She added, "My father always said the best way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one. We intend to make a very small fortune indeed."   
Designer/conceptual artist Ian Barry (c.MotoTintype)

Knight's husband, custom motorcycle designer-turned conceptual artist Ian Barry (formerly of Falcon Motorcycles), will act as chief designer for Zenith.  He declined to speak at the press announcement, but was later interviewed at Zurich's finest restaurant, El Tiempo Transparente.  "I chose this restaurant as it relates to the idea behind the new motorcycle, that might not be a motorcycle like we've thought of in the past, as we're combining the watch-making expertise of the Swiss factory with new technology, using their ideas of transparency to see the mechanism, or the movement, and the passage of time, and the analogness of that, and the importance of the crystal, and maybe combining the crystal with the movement, because a motorcycle moves through space and time, so a motorcycle is a time machine and we're adding a crystal face to see through it, to see it happening, because motorcycles are happening."   
Ian Barry aboard a vintage supercharged Zenith, which may or may not be the inspiration for the new machine.

When pressed on design details, Barry demurred, saying cryptically "you'll see it soon, but you won't be able to see it." Asked whether the power source would be petrochemical or electric, he said "Yes, that's correct."  We eagerly await the outcome of this new venture! 


Roy H Caldwell said...

This is just the most excellent news. I will be a treat to endure the wait to see what comes of this. It should be nothing shirt of spectacular.

David Blasco said...

In related news, I retract my misstatements about the new Regal Empire Motorcycles twin, due to be released this century. In fact, it probably will not be ready by then.

Jack Dimby said...

You probably won't post this, but here goes.
I expect this will be a high end fashion accessory and nothing to to do with innovative new designs. nor will it, I am pretty certain, bring an ultra low carbon, disruptive vehicle to market. It's sad that such lack of vision plagues the 2 wheel World and it is likely to be yet another poor facsimile of a once great brand. Will it be true to the marque and respectful to the memory of the pioneering forefathers? Or will they be turning in their graves? Maybe it is another pure vanity product for the wealthy and a nostalgic ego trip for all involved in its production. Sorry I don't seem positive, but the amateur attempt at creating tension before the "reveal" is just so passé now and is a good predictor of the type of product this is and its target market. No thanks.
Jack Dimby
Definitely in My Back Yard

Rhynchocephalian said...

Very disappointed to here this, I was really hoping that Canada was going to bring back the Zenith name as a perpetual motion pocket bike. So sad.

Matt said...

I really hope I'm wrong, but I sorta agree with Jack Dimby.

klooz said...

Damn, you got me again.

Nortley said...

If it took me a while to catch this, I can only plead that I have been distracted by the pending delivery of my 1990 something Matchless.