A great number of hopeful OEMs have come and gone in the hundred and twenty-some years since motorcycles were invented. Some disappeared, never to be heard from again. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, though. That’s surely one of the reasons why so many modern hands have reached beyond the veil to raise the spirits of long-dead OEMs to join us once more. They keep calling us, even decades later.
While BSA and Norton grabbed all the headlines in the lead-up to the UK’s Motorcycle Live 2021 show, another revived British marque quietly took its turn in the spotlight. Friends, meet Dot Motorcycles—and if you don’t know a lot about them, strap in.
In modern times, Dot Motorcycles is a project of Dr. Anthony Keating, in direct consultation with Guy Martin and others. The bikes are largely hand built at the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering, which is a school at the University of Bolton in the greater Manchester area. Speciality items like the saddle were outsourced to other British firms—but by and large, Keating said, Dot wanted to keep all the chassis engineering in the UK as much as possible.
The historic Dot Motorcycles marque began in the early 1900s, when founder Harry Reed first formed the company in Salford, close to Manchester. In 1908, Reed won the Isle of Man TT twin-cylinder class on a Dot Motorcycle that he’d built by hand, powered by a Peugeot engine. Pretty soon, he was building and selling five different models to the public by 1911. Incidentally, Reed’s wife, Hannah, was also an avid rider in her own right. This love of motorbikes was a true family affair, and you love to see it in any era. While it had a good run, though, the lights seemingly went out for good at Dot Motorcycles in 1978.
From the beginning, Dot Motorcycles built chassis, and preferred to source its engines from suppliers it deemed suitable at the time. Back in the day, that may have meant Peugeot or Villiers—but in 2021, that means a liquid-cooled, 650cc Kawasaki parallel twin. Back in the day, the name “Dot Motorcycles” was said to stand for “Devoid of Trouble,” which is an element that the 2021 incarnation of the company is keen to replicate.
At Motorcycle Live 2021, Dot Motorcycles unveiled two models powered by that same engine: the Reed Racer, which is a café racer, and the Dot Demon, which is a scrambler. As you can see in the video, the photos don’t quite seem to do either bike justice. Showa forks and Brembo brakes adorn both new Dot Motorcycles that were built by hand in Bolton.
Pricing and availability of these hand-built bikes aren’t clear just yet, but if this is the first time you’re hearing of Dot Motorcycles, it looks unlikely to be the last.