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British Motorcycles

Avro Motorcycles

Roe were motorcycles produced by aircraft builder A. V. Roe and Co from 1905 to 1926 and in 1957.
  • 1905 A. V. Roe disliked motorcycling without weather protection and proposed a motorcycle with extra-large mudguards.
  • 1913 A design was produced whereby the rider sat low, with legs either side of the Douglas flat-twin engine. There were to be Druid forks, wheel steering, rear suspension, a 72-inch/183cm wheelbase and outrigger wheels to stabilise the machine when it was stationary. Little more was heard of the design for several years.
  • 1921 Harper Runabout was a motorcycle produced from 1921 to 1924 to a design by R. O. Harper of Salford. The machine was a three-wheeled scooter of a very practical runabout design. It had a single front wheel steered by long bars with the rider seated above and between the two rear wheels. A 269cc two-stroke Villiers engine drove one of the rear wheels by chain, through a three-speed gear. Enclosure panels provided ample protection and the machine performed well throughout a Scottish Six Days Trial. Although the Harper Runabout was thought to provide everything a discerning purchaser might require, its unconventional appearance, in the form of a motorised bath-chair, did nothing for its popularity. It is though that its design, together with a downturn in spending power, following the First World War, contributed to its failure.
  • 1922 A machine was built called the Avro Mobile. It had low seating and, to begin with, was fully enclosed. It was fitted with a 349cc Barr and Stroud engine, three-speed Albion gearbox and all-chain drive. The frame was made of sheet steel formed into a channel section, with sprung front and rear suspension. It had hub-centre steering, 12-inch disc wheels and drum brakes. Although the machine started out with a completely enclosed body, this was soon revised to resemble a scooter-type with bonnet and front screen and a seat and tail behind. Under the hinged tail-panel lid was a storage space with the tools carried inside the lid.
  • 1926 The machine was road tested and the designer, who was by now knighted, introduced the Ro-Monocar. This was fitted with a 343cc Villiers engine and three-speed gearbox with shaft and worm to the rear wheel. Once again it was almost fully enclosed and resembled the Mobile.
  • Later, it was to be renamed the Saro Runabout, to promote the new Saunders-Roe company.
  • Later still came the Arro model in similar form, but none of these really caught on.
  • 1957 Around this time the Avle Bicar appeared. This had a Velocette 192cc LE engine, gearbox and rear axle in the same format. Yet again, only one was constructed.
Sources: Grace's Guide



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