Today in Motorcycle History

Burman Gearboxes

Burman and Sons, Ltd , 89, Gooch Street, Birmingham manufactured gearboxes used in a great many European and British motorcycles. The firm also built engines before the first war.

Supplied rack and pinion steering units to the automotive industry in the late 1960s.

Burman gearboxes were fitted to a host of British and European marques including:

Motores Burman

Apenas iniciada la Primera Guerra Mundial la conocida fábrica de cajas de velocidades Burman presenta para la temporada de 1915 un motor de baja cilindrada. A diferencia de sus competidores que optaban por los económicos dos tiempos Burman diseña un motor de cuatro tiempos con válvula de admisión automática (IOE) de 298 cc (76 x 65 mm). Entre las particularidades del original diseño se encontraban la tapa de válvula de aluminio, novedosa para la época, el inusual cárter con los pernos interiores y el cigüeñal abulonado a los volantes externos a éste. Llevaba un magneto Dixie comandado por engranaje y se ofrecía con un gran silenciador incorporado.

Sin embargo no era una buena época para su comercialización y parece que no sobrevivió luego del final de la Gran Guerra…. al menos no lo he visto colocado en ningún cuadro de moto de la postguerra.

Sergio Scalerandi

Burman Engines

At the onset of the Great War the well-known gearbox factory Burman released a small displacement engine for the 1915 season. Unlike its competitors which opted for the economical two-stroke, Burman designed a four-stroke engine with an automatic intake valve (IOE) of 298 cc (76 x 65 mm). Among the characteristics of the original design were the novel aluminium valve cover and an unusual crankcase with inner bolts. It was fitted with a Dixie gear-driven magneto and a large primary exhaust collector box.

Production did not survive the difficult economic conditions as the war intensified.


AT the present time, when most new productions in the small engine line act on the two-stroke principle, it is particularly interesting to find a well-designed and original small four-stroke. Such an engine is the Burman 2½ h.p. manufactured by Burman and Sons, Ltd , 89, Gooch Street, Birmingham

The enclosed overhead inlet valve and the crank case are the first points to strike the eye. The latter is of peculiar shape, for the bolt lugs are internal and their external radii are joined by neat curves so that the crank case can be wiped down with ease, and there are no ridges to collect mud. The valves are operated by a single cam, and the rockers are mounted in such a way that each has a long bearing surface on which to work. A Dixie magneto is mounted at a right angle behind the cylinder, and is driven from the camshaft through a single intermediate gear wheel. A large silencer is attached to the front engine bolts, and is supplied as part of the unit.

Dealing next with the cylinder, which has a bore of 76 mm. (the stroke being 65 mm.), the design is clean, and a clear air passage is left between the valve port and cylinder wall. The overhead inlet valve, complete with its seating and spring, drops into position from the top, and is held in place by a screwed dome. The inlet pipe casting, which is formed with the rocker bearings and cooling ribs, fits over this dome, and is held in place by a large diameter nut, and the rocker operates the valve through the medium of a small plunger, which prevents air leaks and takes up any side thrust. The inlet pipe is bushed to receive the inlet tappet rod, and the pipe is specially formed so that the bush does not choke the passage of the gas. Over the whole rocker gear fits an aluminium cap, precluding all grit, but removable for lubricating purposes by two small thumb nuts.

Novel Crank Construction.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the engine is the crankshaft construction, which is quite unusual. The crank itself is a solid forging, hardened and ground to size. The crank pin is hollow, and through this is driven a pin which serves to locate the flywheels. The flywheels are internal, and the inner webs are set eccentric to their outside diameter, so as to provide correct balance. They are bored to fit the crankshaft, and have a hole to suit the positioning peg already mentioned. Consequently, they can be dropped into position and held on by locking nuts in such a manner as to ensure true running. This, unfortunately, is not a common feature on most inside flywheel engines, and materially affects high speed running.

The connecting rod carries a split big end of large dimensions, and the small end is also split and grips the gudgeon pin firmly, so that the pin oscillates in the piston. This method has much to commend it, for besides providing a much larger bearing area, no other gudgeon pin fixing is required. A ball bearing is fitted to the crankshaft on the pulley side, and all the other bearings are plain and of ample proportions.

Altogether the engine is an example of excellent design and high-class workmanship.

The Motor Cycle, December 24th, 1914. pp704,705

k1020 at
Hello, I am looking for help, I bought a Matchless G3L motorcycle in parts with 3 gearboxes type Burman including one of marked SLEL 21085.I wanted to identify this gearbox in what motorcycles she rode, but I can't find any information, could you help me identify?I have one foto my gearbox. I will be very grateful:) Gregor
Den Hag NederLAND

  • Burman-SLEL image posted to Comments (×)
    Comments Button

    Go to comments
    Click the image for a clearer view.
    Login using FB, Twitter etc.


kmmotorcycles at
burman gear box
Hi Guys Dave here , after a few parts for a couple of burman gear boxes
The first one is out of an Ariel Colt the gear box has these numbers on it
GB33 K55 C966
Need a set of clutch fiction plates x3
the O.D is 7-1/4" the I.D is 4-1/2" and the have 8 tangs on them
Also Burman gear box 4spd out of a Panther 350 the gear box has these numbers on it G4K51 87 Need a kick start lever assembly x1
kick start shaft x1 kickstart quadrant x1
kickstart inner bush x1
kickstart seal x1
could you let me know if these parts are available and also a quote
many thanks

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle, Sergio Scalerandi

If you have further information or a query related to this page, please contact us