Get Yer Motor Runnin’… Bruce Main-Smith Archive Goes Online!

Looking to tinker with the carbs on that AJS you’ve had kicking around the shed for the past three decades? The UK’s National Motorcycle Museum is here to help, with the newly digitized Bruce Main-Smith archive.

The Bruce Main-Smith archive was named after its founder, a British motojournalist and publisher who died in 2018. The archive is a massive collection of out-of-print technical documents and other literature from motorcycle manufacturers (vintage advertisements, sales catalogues and more). This collection of more than 5,000 items stretched from the 1800s to the 1980s. Riders could buy photocopies of these documents, to get their hands on the necessary info to keep their bikes running. For instance: if you wanted to tear down your 1952 Matchless, you got in touch with BMS, and got a photocopy of the factory tear-down instructions mailed to your address.

This enabled riders to get their hands on otherwise-unavailable information. Many of these manuals would otherwise have disappeared, or become the sole domain of collectors, not available to the public.

However, the process of ordering photocopies was clumsy and out-of-date in our digital world. With that in mind, the National Motorcycle Museum (the one in Northern England, not the one in Iowa, which is shutting down next month) is now offering digitized copies of the Bruce Main-Smith archive. Riders can order a PDF copy of the paperwork they want and have it emailed directly to them that day, instead of waiting weeks for parts diagrams or shop manuals, etc.

Obviously this is a big benefit to DIY types. The archive is now listed online, and it appears to be easily used and searched—see here, if you’re looking for vintage bike help, or just curious about this new resource!

Join the conversation!