Back to the Future - Sterling Modern Retro Classic Motorcycles
The Black Douglas Motorcycle Company of Italy builds a “modern motorcycle with a classic soul.” Powered by a 230cc, OHC 17-hp Zongshen single with a 5-speed transmission, the Countryman Deluxe replicates a 1920s machine with the reliability of a contemporary engine.
Zongshen, based in Chongqing, China, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers, building a claimed one million-plus motorcycles a year. A supplier of components to Honda, Harley-Davidson, Piaggio and BMW among others, the company has facilities in Taiwan, Thailand, Brazil and Pakistan. Their North American supplier is in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Sterling is currently available in Europe and the UK, but not in the USA. California tuner and chronic sidecar fabricator Chris Sidah had a hand in the bike’s early development, showing it at The Quail Gathering in 2014. “The main reason the bike hasn't worked in the States is that the carbureted, air cooled engine didn't pass the emissions standards,” he said. “We talked about selling frame kits with mounting plates to fit ubiquitous small Honda singles, but shipping costs from Italy bumped the kit price too high. And projected sales didn't warrant setting up a manufacturing facility in the States.”
The Sterling has a stout, high-gloss powder-coated frame, matched by the wheels and handlebar. The control levers, gas cap, seat springs, brake arm and valve cover are nickel plated. The Countryman features a Herring Can replica headlight, Klaxon-style horn, and an umbrella/tool box with umbrella and tools included.
The exhaust pipe is polished stainless steel, and the seat is covered in “top grade aged leather.”
“Using the other options available, the customizing possibilities are almost endless: handlebars, headlights, tanks, exhausts, saddles, storage boxes, leather parts, color combinations are all items that can be tailored to suit your style. For everyday use, the Sterling Countryman Deluxe can be equipped with a rear luggage rack where leather or canvas sidebags can be fitted, and on top of the rack, a classically styled wicker basket.”
The opening scene in the promotional video shows clearly the marketing approach for the Sterling. An elderly chap arrives on the Countryman to present the bike to a young bearded fellow, in a tender “geezer-bonds-with-hipster” vignette. While Sidah reported that overall build quality is good, the Sterling’s limited market is probably guaranteed by the price, which is in the $11,000 to 14,000 range. Nonetheless, the Countryman would surely attract some attention on the Sunday morning ride.
For more information: Black Douglas Motorcycle Company