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Friday, 2 September 2011

Friday bike

Another oddity this week, but not only have I actually seen one, I've ridden one as well!

A Spanish built Sanglas S2 500cc single. Back in the late 70s/early 80s, big singles were apparently 'the next big thing', hence the appearance of the Yamaha SR 500, Honda FT 500, and Suzuki GN 400. All of these bikes were particularly poor sellers (I only saw one Suzuki!), but Sanglasses were imported as an alternative. On paper, they were the best specced with alloy wheels, disc brakes, 'modern (ish)' styling, and an electric start, but were substantially more expensive than the others (I paid £950 for my SR, but a Sanglas was £1300).
A year or so after I bought my SR I was camping in Wales on when a Sanglas put-putted onto the campsite. I chatted with the owner (us big single owners are a friendly bunch), then we went out for a run on each other's bikes.
What was it like? Well, compared to the SR the best word to describe it is 'rough'. Slow, heavy, and  ponderous with a very heavy 'all or nothing' clutch and a crunchy gearbox. Although the bike was only a year or two old, it looked really shabby with a lot of rust and corrosion starting to appear, especially the fasteners. The fittings like levers, switches and dials were about the quality you'd expect on a CZ, and it certainly wasn't worth the extra money over the Yamaha.
I found a roadtest which likened it to a Matchless, and that's what it felt like - a tarted up 50s/60s British bike.
Apparently, they were common in Spain until import restrictions were lifted and riders could buy imported bikes. There's club website in Spanish.
This was not the only Sanglas I've seen. There was also a 400cc version used by the Irish Army.

I saw one of these at a classic show which claimed to have been used as a Presidential Escort.


  1. Only heard about them in magazine articles, never seen one. Engine looks like a "unit construction" Goldstar...or maybe a Victor on steroids? Definitely beefy looking, wonder how sturdy they were? The army version is interesting, styling seems to fit the motor better.

  2. I'd only ever seen the 2 I mentioned, plus a couple of new 500s at a trade show. All I know about them is what I've found on the Web. Seems that when the company ceased in 1981, the spares quickly dried up. I agree the 400's styling suited the engine better, it was almost as if they were trying too hard to look modern with the 500.