British Motorcycles

Superb Four

Superb Four was a motorcycle produced in 1920. The engine was designed by W. F. Hooper.

  • 1920 This machine was launched in November 1920, to coincide with the Olympia Motor Cycle Show. It featured in the press and there was much talk that it was to be the first British-built four-cylinder since the end of the Wilkinson TAC/TMC.
  • The in-line air-cooled four-cylinder 991cc engine was in-unit with the three-speed gearbox and chain final-drive. It had ohc valve operation, finned light-alloy cylinder block, fully enclosed working parts and pressure lubrication. It was also fitted with a Zenith carburettor and Lucas Magdyno for mixture, ignition and lighting respectively. The well-designed unit fitted into a purpose-built duplex frame and the whole machine was of high specification.
  • Only a handful were produced and the under-funded company collapsed in 1922.

1920 Superb Four

A diferencia de los estadounidenses (y los belgas también) los británicos fueron reacios a instalar motores de cuatro cilindros en línea en sus motocicletas. La Wilkinson TCM fue una de las pocas excepciones y se fabricó entre 1911 y 1916 hasta que la Primera Guerra Mundial truncara su producción. Posteriormente, en el Olympia Show de 1920 se presentó la Superb Four, una cuatro en línea con un avanzado diseño del ingeniero William Frederick Hooper que, entre otras características, y siguiendo las tendencia de los aeromotores utilizaba aluminio para la fundición del monobloque de cilindros, que incluía la mitad superior del cárter, y una carcasa de aluminio encerraba completamente el árbol de levas a la cabeza y el mecanismo de las válvulas. Las camisas de acero estaban prensadas en los cilindros. Al retirar una serie de tuercas, la tapa de cilindros entera (incluyendo las válvulas y el mecanismo de las válvulas) se podía quitar para la descarbonización. Para una mejor refrigeración, se fundieron aletas longitudinales por encima de las tapas de las válvulas y un enfriamiento adicional se lograba con un pequeño ventilador en el extremo trasero del árbol de levas que inducía un flujo continuo de aire a lo largo del interior de la carcasa del árbol de levas desde una tubería conectada a la admisión de aire del carburador.

El motor era (según la categorización del RAC) un 10 HP de 998 cc (63.3 x 78.7 mm) cuatro tiempos con árbol de levas a la cabeza y lubricación forzada. Llevaba carburador Zenith y Magdyno Lucas comandado por cadena. La caja de velocidades de tres marchas estaba integrada con el motor en una sola unidad y la transmisión final era a cadena a través de un embrague de doble cono.

En esta máquina se incorporaba una nueva forma de desmontar la rueda trasera Dunlop, sencillamente diseñada y de construcción muy fuerte, mientras que había muchas otras novedades, como un tablero de instrumentos en miniatura entre los manillares y una trampa de agua en el tanque de gasolina de cuatro galones.

A pesar de todas estas novedades, su elevado costo de £ 200 hizo que las ventas (eran comercializadas por Coppen, Allan & Co) fueran escasas y en un par de años desaparecerían del mercado.


The Motor Cycle, December 2nd, 1920

10 h.p. ; 63.3 x 78.7 mm. (998 c.c); four cylinder four stroke ; overhead valves; forced feed lubrication Zenith carburetter; Lucas chain-driven Magdyno ; three-speed gear, integral with engine unit ; final chain drive ; Dunlop 700x80 mm. tyres.

COPPEN, ALLAN AND Co., 89, Great Portland Street, W. (sole concessionnaires).  Since the passing of the T.M.C., it is a deplorable fact that Great Britain has not, for many years, possessed a home-built four-cylinder motor cycle.

Therefore, if for this the advent of the Superb Four is calculated to arouse great interest. But, apart from this, the high efficiency design is unique when applied to a motor cycle and actually advanced when compared with average car practice. Aluminium is used for the monobloc cylinder casting, which includes the upper half of the crank case; and an aluminium casing completely encloses the overhead camshaft, and valve gear. Steel liners are pressed into the cylinder barrels. By withdrawing a series of nuts, the entire cylinder head (including the valves and valve mechanism) may be removed for decarbonising. Longitudinal fins are cast above the valve pockets, and, for additional cooling, a continuous draught of air is induced along the interior of the camshaft casing from a pipe connected to the carburetter air intake by a small fan on the rear end of the camshaft.

Lubrication is by forced feed to the cylinder walls and to every important bearing in the power unit. In the flywheel is incorporated a double cone clutch, which drives the transverse countershaft in the gear box through a pair of helical gear wheels. Three speeds are provided by the gear set, which has constant mesh gear wheels and sliding dogs, the layshaft being just at the rear of the main shaft. From the countershaft the drive is taken from an external sprocket through a large roller chain to the rear wheel. A new form of detachable wheel, simply designed and of very strong construction, is being incorporated in this machine, while there are many other novelties, such as a miniature instrument board between the handle-bars for all the lighting instruments, etc., a water trap in the main petrol tank, special sidecar connections, twist grip controls, and a four-gallon petrol tank.

A British Four.

The Motor Cycle, December 9th, 1920

Britain's challenge to American and Belgian designers of four-cylinder motor cycles — the Superb Four.

The Superb Four? Sceptical to the core, I cannot accept Mr. Hooper's estimate' of 250 lb. for its weight: why, that is only 14 lb. more than the solo Sunbeam. Still, weight doesn't matter so very much for sidecar work. I deplore the magneto position. £ 220 is a de luxe price for a de luxe machine. But the technical design is just what anybody who is keen on aero engines had hoped to see. There are plenty of men ready to pay for the best; let this dazzling specification once make good on the road, and a large clientele awaits it.

In the meantime hearty plaudits to Mr. Hooper (and no less to Mr. Bradshaw) for offering us a motor cycle lubrication which is as automatic as the action of the liver, i.e., you never need think of it until it clogs. Let us commend to other designers Mr. Hooper's notion of a motor cycle instrument board — a little fan- shaped aluminium plate just beneath or behind the steering head; it is a million times neater than the usual cross tube between the handle-bars, on which the gadgets are hung out like the week's wash.

Sources: Sergio Scalerandi & Howard Burrows, Grace's Guide, The Motor Cycle, MotorCycling

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