Lea-Francis motorcycles were produced from 1912 to 1924, in Lower
Ford Street, in Coventry.
1912 Lea Francis is perhaps better known as a car manufacturer but in the
very early days the firm gained a reputation for the excellence of their
bicycles. The prototypes of their motorcycle were produced in time for
the 1912 Show. The machine was very well received, and featured all-chain
drive in oil baths, multi-plate clutch, quickly detachable rear wheel,
2 speed gearbox with kick-starter, and particularly efficient mud-guarding.
used JAP engines
1912 Having already dabbled with cars since about 1904, the firm turned
to motorcycles and introduced one model, in August. It had a 3.25hp JAP
V-twin engine with chain-driven Bosch
magneto, a two-speed gearbox, plate clutch and fully-enclosed chain final-drive.
There were also Druid forks and
dummy-rim brakes on both wheels. It was offered as a reliable and comfortable
1914 It was joined by a prototype combination using a 6-hp V-twin MAG
engine, but the project was dropped due to the outbreak of war. Meanwhile,
the other model was uprated to 3.5-hp JAP
1915-1916 The 3.5hp model continued, with a three-speed gearbox.
1919 After the War, the same model reappeared, but with only two speeds.
1920 That model was joined by one with a 3.5-hp MAG
1921 The 3.5h-p model, plus another with 5hp, were given three speeds.
Engine capacities were 495cc and 592cc.
1922 Those models ran on, together with a stripped sports version of the
1923 The 592cc machine was given a Burman
1924 The above model was the only one listed that year, after which motorcycle
It is recorded that some 1,500 machines were made, of which around two
dozen remain today.
The Lea Francis story was recorded by Ken Hallworth in Old Bike magazine number 18, summer 1996.
Lea-Francis was a motor manufacturing company that began life building
1895 Richard Henry Lea and Graham Ingoldsby Francis started the business
in Coventry as Lea and Francis.
1896/7 Directory: Listed under cycles as Lea and Francis, Lower Ford Street,
1903 They branched out into car manufacture. Lea-Francis built cars,
under licence, for the Singer
1911 Began motorcycle production
1912 Listed in Spennell's directory of Coventry as Cycle Manufacturers.
1914 Motor cycle and cycle manufacturers.
1925 Motorcycle production ceased.
1937 The company had a chequered history with some notable motorcycles
and cars, but financial difficulties regularly arose. The Hillfields site
was abandoned in 1937 when it was sold by the receiver and a new company,
under a slightly different name moved to Much Park Street in Coventry.
It survived there until 1963, when the company was finally wound up.
1963 The motor manufacturing parts of the company passed into the hands
of the Receiver in 1963 leaving Lea-Francis to continue with their