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British Motorcycles

Arden Cyclecars

A Brief History of the Marque

Arden of Balsall Common, Berkswell, Coventry produced cyclecars and automobiles between 1912 and 1922. 

The company was situated in Berkswell, near Coventry, and was first known for cyclecars and light cars. After World War I they developed and marketed a spring front-fork with side members from pressed steel, with adjustable links on cup-and-cone bearings. They also produced a 269cc two-stroke engine. That engine and the fork were used by several smaller assemblers such as Endurance, Gaby, Norbeck and Priory. They are not thought to have produced many complete machines. 

From 1912 they built a cyclecar which developed into a well-made four-cylinder car, featuring full four-seater coachwork. 

The first model of 1912 was a 8hp V-twin, air cooled, 898cc JAP-engined cyclecar with a wooden chassis which continued in production until 1915. 

Only one Arden, a 1913 Alpha two-cylinder-engined, two seater, is known to survive. 

After World War I they developed and marketed a spring front-fork with side members from pressed steel, with adjustable links on cup-and-cone bearings. They also produced a 269cc two-stroke engine. That engine and the fork were used by several smaller assemblers such as Endurance, Gaby, Norbreck and Priory.

They are not thought to have produced many complete machines.

A Trial of the Arden Cyclecar.

IT is some weeks since we described and illustrated the Arden cyclecar made by the Arden Motor Co., Berkswell, and now, thanks to the kindness of the manager, Mr. E. A. Isherwood, we are enabled to speak of its behaviour on the road.

Before doing so we may mention one or two more or less important alterations since our first reference appeared." The petrol tank has been moved behind the dash, and is neatly located under the scuttle. Formerly it was in front of the dash and under the bonnet. The fan drive is also differently arranged. It will be remembered that a belt was used at first, but this broke occasionally and disappeared altogether. The drive is now by friction wheel, and proved, to be efficient by the cool running of the 8 h.p. J. A. P. engine. The fan, it may be mentioned, is in front of the engine, the cylinders being set transversely.. To form the friction wheel three discs of leather are clamped between metal plates, and bear on the periphery of the clutch drum, a spring helping to keep them in contact.

A further amendment in design is the substitution of 28in. wheels for the 26in. fitted to the first model. Our trial was on the experimental cyclecar which has npw run several thousand miles. Starting away, the top gear lever was engaged in about thirty yards, and there it remained for practically the whole of our trial, except after stopping. We first steered for Stoneleigh, the Coventry test hill, and accelerating to about 30 'm.p.h. at the hill foot, the little car ascended the 1 in 8 gradient oh top gear without, hesitation. The dozen or so testers we noticed in; the shade of a huge oak tree, with all makes of. machines, could really be forgiven for a smoke and chat that close afternoon. Continuing via Milverton and Warwick, and repeating the top gear run through the centre of the latter town, which is no easy matter on account of the combination of narrow streets, traffic, and tramcars, we ran along the main road to Strat-ford-on-Avon. Changing places with the driver, we were impressed by the ease of steering, but for that matter we always had a high opinion of the wire and bobbin method on the 8 h.p. Rover for light cars. The vibration at the steering wheel was, however, rather discomforting. It disappears, we found, at faster speeds, but is always present at about legal limit pace. The bodywork and springing was quite comfortable, and should be better still after the substitution of the wheels.

The control is simplicity itself. The ordinary Amac air and throttle levers, are clamped to the steering pillar, and with these alone one can throttle down to about 10 m.p.h. and accelerate to nearly 40 m.p.h. without a change of gear, but in our opinion the top ratio could be raised with improvement. Any machine is much more pleasant to drive with the engine turning over at a comfortable speed.

A long gradual rise known as Sherbourne Hill, the Arden simply revelled in. Satisfied with its hill-climbing we retraced our path, the good J. A. P. again making light of the gradient past the Leicester's Hospital, Warwick, and so back to Coventry, via Pibbet Hill . Only once did we have occasion to use the change-speed lever; it acts on a quadrant and was rather stiff in action, but details such as these have been amended on the standardised car.

To sum up, the Arden is fast enough for all reasonable minded tourists. The gears and differential are practically silent, and if one may judge from a short trial, it is reliable and economical in running. Finally, the weatherproof shaft drive is a big point in its favour.

The Motor Cycle 1912.

Arden-1919-Twostroke-TMC.jpg
Arden 1919 Twostroke Engine

A NEAT TWO-STROKE ON STANDARD LINES.
The Arden engine unit produced by the Arden Co., who before the war were in the light car industry.

The Arden Two-stroke Engine unit.

A New Proprietary Engine Unit made by an ex-Light Car Firm.

TWO-STROKE engine units have been in such demand during the present year that it is not sui-prising that they are receiving the attention of engineering firms who, on the signmg of the Armistice, had to decide upon a new peace programme. The Arden Motor Co., of Berkswell, who before the war made the Arden light car, were one of those firms who appreciated the fact that, while a strong demand existed for certain types of engine, it would be folly to introduce an entirely new design necessitating long experimenting. For this reason the Arden two-stroke engine follows well known and accepted practice. Having both bore and stroke of 70 firm., the engine embodies roller bearings throughout, and is well made. In order to avoid a sharp bend in the exhaust pipe or a special duplex frame tube, twin exhaust pipes are fitted, which give the engine a more symmetrical appearance than is the case when a single pipe is fitted ou. one side of the front down tube of the frame.

A C.A.V. magneto, Amac carburetter, steel barrel silencer, and engine plates form part of the equipment. The Arden Co. are in a position to produce large quantities of this engine, which is standardised throughout. The sole selling agents are Messrs. C. B. Harrison and Co., Sheepcote Street, Birmingham, who have, an extensive business as frame manufacturers to the trade, at home and abroad.

The Motor Cycle October 23rd, 1919.

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle


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