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Hit single

The AJS 7R was launched in 1948, a 348cc SOHC single that looked remarkably like an updated Velocette KTT, although that was hardly fair. But, like the KTT, the 7R (quickly nicknamed the “Boy Racer”) was intended to be sold as an over the counter racer that would allow privateers to be competitive in grand prix racing, if not fighting for the podium. Nonetheless Geoff Murdoch took his 7R to fourth place in the 1948 Senior TT, only beaten by Manx Nortons with an extra 151cc. It was no fluke either and Les Graham would repeat the trick. Built from 1948 to 1963, the AJS 7R was one of the most – quite possibly the most - successful off the shelf racing 350 motorcycle of all time, until the arrival of the Yamaha two-strokes around 1970. Its robust and comparatively simple construction endeared the model to the privateer responsible for his own maintenance and for most racers this comfortably offset the slight speed deficit compared to the equivalent cammy Velocette or Norton. The chain (rather than shaft) drive to the overhead camshaft was cheaper to produce and much easier to assemble, especially by an owner working in his shed. The twin loop frame and Teledraulic front fork was designed from lessons learned racing the Porcupine. Photos courtesy of Bonhams

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