1930 AJS R10 500cc

In March 1913 the first Johannesburg to Durban motorcycle race took place over three days and three stages. The winner’s total time of 12h45m, on a 544cc Bradbury, is amazing as the whole route was on open public dirt roads and included stopping to open and close farm gates! These machines were little more than motorised bicycles with minimal front suspension. With the exception of three years during WWI, the race was held annually until 1936, after which it was deemed to be too dangerous to still be racing on public roads. The record race time was 6h05m set in 1936.


1928 Norton Model H 500cc

Since 1970 an annual commemorative Durban to Johannesburg Run for motorcycles manufactured pre 1937 has been held. It has become South Africas most prestigious vintage motorcycle event. The DJ Run is a regularity rally which requires riders to maintain varying speeds by means of a route schedule and stopwatches. Marshalls at unspecified positions along the route, clock riders as they pass. For every second early or late the rider scores one penalty point. The rider with the least points at the finish wins. This sounds simple but being competitive requires many kilometers of practise. Visit for a very comprehensive history of both the original races and commemorative events.


1931 Rudge Ulster 500cc

This year is the centenary year of the first race in 1913. The event was held in March and was run from Johannesburg to Durban. Retro Write Up was at the start to capture the motorcycles. With all the startline activity, photographic opportunities were limited, so the quality is not up to our usual standard. We trust you will still enjoy the images of these veteran and vintage machines. Photographs will be posted in themed batches over the next weeks. The motorcycles featured this week are examples of typical British race bikes of the 1930s.
1934 Triumph 250cc
In the early years of racing the motorcycles were generally road going models converted and tuned for racing. Certain manufacturers did however produce models which were more racing focussed, like the Excelsior Manxman models shown below. One of these machines is the actual 1935 race winner.
1936 Excelsior Manxman 250cc
1936 Excelsior Manxman 350cc
1936 Excelsior Manxman 500cc
1935 Excelsior Manxman 350cc
Norton produced motorcycles which were highly successful roadracers. In later years the Manx Nortons ruled the Isle of Man races.
1936 Norton 500cc
1936 Norton 500cc
1930 Norton International 500cc
Many manufacturers of motorcycles never survived WWII. The DJ is home to many of these forgotten names.
1935 Levis A1 350cc
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1935 OK Supreme 350cc
We hope that this series of articles will motivate a few readers to get involved with the vintage motorcycle movement. To ride one of these basic but technically marvelous machines is an indescribable thrill. Taking their age and rarity into consideration, these motorcycles are good value for money and the various clubs are full of technical and social support.