British Motorcycles


Butler were motorcycles first designed in 1884 and produced until 1897.
  • 1884 The world's first petrol-engined tricycle was patented by Edward Butler (this was a year ahead of Gottlieb Daimler in Germany). It had a single rear wheel, a single seat between the front wheels and a horizontal twin-cylinder engine operating on a Clerk two-stroke engine with pump compression running at around 100rpm. Its cylinders went either side of the rear wheel, directly coupled to it by curved connecting rods. That design was never built.
  • 1888 A revised version, named the Petrol-Cycle ran. It had a four-stroke engine and a reduction gear to allow it to run at 600rpm. It was water-cooled with coil ignition and a jet carburettor supplied by a float chamber.
  • 1889 It was first used and called an Inspirator by its designer.
  • 1890-1897 The original design could only carry one person, so a later version was designed to carry three people - two at the front, between the twin wheels, and the driver at the rear. This is thought to have been a Bolle built by Humber and fitted with the Butler engine. At that time, British legislation was very restrictive and although the clever design was advanced for the era, its backers moved on to other fields. The patents were bought by Lawson Co but never progressed any further.
  • Butler is credited with inventing or developing the spark plug and coil ignition, magneto and the spray jet carburetor, as well as the word 'petrol'. His Petrol-Cycle was broken up for scrap in 1896, the few remaining pictures of this first British motorcycle are in the Science Museum in London.

  • See also:
  • Daimler
    Unrelated to Chris Butler
Sources: Graces Guide

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