Sunday, 5 February 2012

Book review: Big Sid’s Vincati

by Matthew Biberman,
Big Sid's VincatiSid Biberman fell in love with motorcycles growing up in Norfolk Virginia. A favourite hangout was the local motorcycle shop where he would gaze longingly at the assorted machines for sale or in for repair, and read the motorcycling magazines scattered about. He craved speed and power, and the freedom those represented, so it didn’t take him long to be drawn to the Vincent, arguably the most powerful motorcycle of the day.  And when, in Rollie Free1948,  Rollie Free set a new world record of 150.313 mph for unstreamlined and unsupercharged bikes he was truly hooked.
Fast forward through many years of Vincent ownership and repairs to other owners’ bikes. Big Sid Biberman was the “go to” guy when it came to repairing and refurbishing Vincent motorcycles. But then, Big Sid’s fortunes turned. A serious heart attack, a failing marriage, and financial woes all sapped his will to live. That’s when his son, Matthew, suggested they build Big Sid’s dream bike, a Vincati.
vincatiThis is the story of Big Sid, son Matthew, and a dream they brought to life. It wasn’t an easy road and the project nearly got derailed on several occasions, but they overcame many obstacles, not least of which was their own somewhat dysfunctional relationship, to make the Vincati a reality.
Almost as a back story to the main narrative, the book provides a fascinating window into the world of vintage motorcycle ownership. Anyone who has been involved in such a community (I’ve dabbled on the fringes) will recognise many of the characters and relationships that develop between people who are passionate about and focused on a single marque – especially one as limited as the Vincent.
Big Sid’s Vincati was a very good read. Recommended.


  1. The story is real, every last word. My name is Stan Ellefson, and I worked for Sid for about 17 years in Norfolk,Va.. I'm not a composite character, and I'm still very much alive. At 61 I still do a 100 mi. a day commute all year round. Sid will always be my friend, father, brother, and teacher for all time, Matt ? Also brother & friend for all time. Where else could you hang your coat on a 29 Indian,work on a 32 Ariel Sq.4, ride a Vincent to lunch, test ride a Turbo Kaw.Z-1, and all of that in 1 day. Those were the best years of my life.

  2. Stan - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Big Sid sounds like the kind of guy many of us would like to know and call a friend, so you are indeed a lucky man.

  3. yay another good one! thanks canajun, i'll have to check it out!

  4. I am a little late to spot this nice review of my book but I see my good friend Stan saw it early on. Thanks! Matthew Biberman

  5. I am a little late in spotting this sympathetic review of my book but I see my good friend Stan spotted it early on. Stan is indeed a great guy and a very cool character. Thanks again! Matthew Biberman

    1. Matthew - Better late than never as they say. It was great to get a comment from Stan; that just added a little spice to the post. I really did enjoy the book, so thank you for writing it and sharing your experiences with us.
      And thanks for stopping by and commenting yourself.

    2. I just read this book and it absorbed my interest for the last 48 hours. As a fellow member of the small fraternity of lifelong motorcycle lovers and of the even smaller fraternity of old jews who ride and wrench, I loved it. Thank you Matthew for this wonderful memoir!


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