Matchless G80

1946-1969.  498cc, OHV, air-cooled, heavyweight single


Why buy a Matchess G80?


Performance: 80-85mph.

Looks: Handsome rigids. Swinging arms are simply nice.

Reliable: Tough British built single. Not much goes wrong.

Sound: Traditional thumper. Early bikes are softest.

Spares: Pretty much everything is out there, new or used.

Re-sale: Steady demand. Moderate prices.

Investment: Not ideal. These bikes plod the market too.

Economy: 65-80mpg. Squeezing out more is possible.

Maintenance: Do it in your sleep. Mostly basic tools.

Tuneable: Not easily. Best buy a competition model.

Starting: Not ideal for weak knees. But manageable.

Gearbox: Burman boxes are cruder. AMC box is best.

Clutch: No dramas. Keeps a steady grip when set right.

Finish: Original AMC is great. With rebuilds, it's pot luck.

Street cred: Not too much. Will suit more "modest" riders.

Long stroke engine: Lots of chuff & grunt on earlier bikes.

Alternator: Fitted to later bikes. Sufficient juice on tap.

Magneto: Traditional sparks, but not on alternator models.

Matchless logo: The flying "M" looks better than AJS.


... and why you might want to sell one


Handling: 7 out of 10. Bikes need taming on faster bends.

Brakes: Adequate at best. You won't want to heat them much.

Lighting: Inoffensive. Convert to 12-volts for regular night work.

Vibration: Acceptable up to 55-60mph. Beyond that is a pain.

Weight: They don't call then heavyweight single for nought.

Teledraulic fork: Crude. Later Norton Roadholders are better.

Magneto: Under the carbs on early bikes. Asking for trouble.

Mechanical noise: Piston slap mostly. Some top end clatter.

Oil leaks: Weepy primary covers plus minor g/box leaks.

Carburettor: Twin set-up needs regular balancing/optimising.

Badge engineered: Some folk think it's an AJS.

Cylinder fins: Plenty have been damaged and bodged. Check.

Short stroke engine: Later bikes. Different vibe and feel.

Compression: Later bikes are a little harsher. Compare.

Candlestick shock absorbers/dampers: Not good. Leaky.

Jampot shock absorbers/dampers: Worse. Get over it.

Side stands: Not on all bikes. Check the parking arrangement.

[AJS Model 18 & Matchless G80 buyers guide]



Bonhams sold this Bud Ekins restored Matchless G80CS in May 2008 in San Francisco. The price? 16,080. The "CS" stands for "Competition" and "Spring", as in swinging arm. Normally iron engines, the G80 competition bikes are all aluminium. Features include bigger valves and revised cams (all these bikes, and the AJS variants, are fitted with twin cams; one under each pushrod). Later, the 82.5mm x 93mm, 498cc engines would adopt short stroke dimensions (86mm x 85.5mm). Bud Ekins raced these bikes with great success in US desert competitions and made AMC a force to be reckoned with. The high price of this machine reflects the Bud Ekins connection. Note the Magneto in the forward "AJS" position.




Other features on the Bud Ekins restored Matchless include the Lucas rubber battery; "Jampot" shock absorbers; aluminium alloy fuel tank and mudguards; removable headlight and tail light; off-road forks; off-road gearing; a Lucas competition magneto; and a "period correct" Amal Monobloc carburettor (which, we hear, Ekins preferred to the TT/GP types fitted to the production bikes).


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