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British Motorcycles

ASL Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Marque

Made in England from 1909 until 1915*, these motorcycles had pneumatic front and rear suspension, and were fitted with 3.5 hp and 5 hp engines.


1909 ASL con suspensión monoshock neumática

Air Springs Ltd de Stafford fabricó las motocicletas ASL entre 1909 y 1914. En la Londres - Edimburgo de 1908 presentan dos motocicletas que diferían de la mayoría de las demás (que contaban con cuadros rígidos) porque tenían suspensión delantera y trasera. Mas aún, en lugar de utilizar resortes de acero utilizaban aire, un elemento barato y que no está sujeto a la rotura (hay que tener en cuenta que en esos tiempos, los resortes eran poco usuales debido al poco dominio que había del acero). Para adaptarse a la carga se podía ajustar fácilmente la dureza de estas suspensiones aumentando la presión en el cilindro con el inflador de neumáticos. El recorrido del amortiguador diseñado por Mr. A. Sharp era de unas dos pulgadas. En todos los demás aspectos la moto era convencional y estaba equipada con motores Peugeot monocilíndricos o V-Twin aunque durante los siguiente años utilizarían también motores Fafnir, White & Poppe, JAP y Precision.

Una de las ventajas adicionales que proclamaba ASL era que el cuadro con suspensiones permitía usar ruedas de menor diámetro sin que se notaran vibraciones y de ese modo se bajaba el centro de gravedad y así se mejoraba la estabilidad en la conducción.

ASL ofrecía sus amortiguadores neumáticos como un kit de suspensiones para adaptar a cualquier motocicleta y también para instalar en el sillín de motos y bicicletas.

Algunos piensan que Air Springs comercializó sus motos con el único propósito de promover los productos y soluciones ofrecidas por la empresa. Sin embargo sus motocicletas estaban, sin duda, adelantadas para la época puesto que, con la aparición de nuevos materiales para los sellos, la idea del amortiguador neumático reapareció unos 70 años más tarde.

Las motocicletas ASL participaron en diferentes carreras con relativo éxito y con Harry Martin batieron records de velocidad en Brooklands. En 1914, con el inicio de la Primera Guerra Mundial, ASL como muchas otras pequeñas fábricas cerró sus puertas definitivamente.

~ Sergio Scalerandi


Air Springs Ltd of Stafford made ASL motorcycles between 1909 and 1914. In 1908 they presented two motorcycles which differed markedly from others which had no suspension front or rear. ASL used air suspension units which avoided the problems associated with the steel springs of the day where breakage of the relatively primitive alloy steel was not uncommon.

The air suspension units could be adjusted by increasing the pressure in the cylinder with the tyre pump.

Suspension travel, as designed by Mr A. Sharp, was about two inches. In all other respects the bike was conventional and was equipped with Peugeot single or V-twin engines, and later with Fafnir and White & Poppe. They also used JAP singles and V-twins.

One of the additional advantages that ASL claimed was that the suspension allowed the use of smaller diameter wheels without noticeable vibration, and that the resultant lower center of gravity would improve stability.

ASL offered their shock absorbers as a suspension kit to adapt to any motorcycle, and this was also available for bicycles. Some think that air springs marketed their motorcycles with the sole purpose of promoting the products and solutions offered by the company. However their machines were undoubtedly advanced for the time since, with the emergence of new materials for seals, the idea of air springs reappeared some 70 years later.

ASL motorcycles participated in different races with relative success and with Harry Martin achieved speed records at Brooklands. On the 17th August 1910 he traveled one mile in 32.76 seconds at a speed of 68 miles per hour using a single-speed JAP V-twin ASL, creating a new world record. Presumably because brakes slow you down, it had none.

In 1914, with the start of the first world war, like many other small factories ASL closed its doors for good.

1909 Stanley Show

A.S.L., Stand No. 142.

3½ h.p. Model: 80 x 90 mm.; m.o.i.v.; Bosch b.b. magneto; B. and B. carburetter, h.b.c.; 3¾ to 1 gear; 2¼ in. Shamrock-Excelsior tyres; V-belt transmission.

Air Springs, Ltd., Kingsway, W.C.

The A.S.L. machine is new to the show, and also to many readers of The Motor Cycle. The firm, however, have decided to market two models of their spring frame motor cycle for 1910, and splendidly finished specimens are staged on their stand at the show. The spring frame enables small sized wheels to be used without any undue vibration being noticed. Of course, the advantage of small wheels, as most readers know, is to lower the centre of gravity, and thus increase the stability of the machine on grease.

Professor Sharp's air spring is a patent device which has already been dealt with in these columns. These springs give most luxurious riding, even on bad roads, and have many advantages over steel springs; but the trouble with devices of this nature in the past has been to keep the air in the cushion. The twin-cylinder model is the same in general construction as its single-cylinder brother, but we might draw attention to the special shape of the induction valve, which renders the carburetter much more accessible than other machines in the show - a desirable feature.

The engine used is a 5 h.p. twin Peugeot, otherwise the specification agrees with the single-cylinder.

Stanley Show 1909

The Motor Cycle, November 22nd, 1909. Page 920

* Notes: Sources vary on dates; Tragatsch gives 1907-1915. Graces Guide gives "A. Sharp - A.S.L." as a competitor in the London to Edinburgh Run of 5th-8th June 1908.


Sources: Sergio Scalerandi, Tragatsch p78, The Motor Cycle.


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