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British Motorcycles

Midget Bicar

These motorcycles produced from 1905 to 1909, by J. T. Brown of Oxford Road, Reading (50 miles W. of London).

Very few of these machines were either built or sold - even in the United States, where they were constructed under licence. This was probably in part due to the unusual feature, in the Edwardian era, of an enclosed engine, something which was relativley rare until the 1980s. The engines were rated at 3hp for the single and 5hp for the V-twin.

The machine was displayed at the 1908 Stanley Show

  • 1905 The machine was first exhibited at the late Stanley show. It was different from most others of the era in that the frame and tank were constructed of sheet steel. Only the braced front forks, handlebars and headstock were made of tubing. All the frame joints were riveted and the outline was one of a normal frame with enclosed sides, except for the 3hp Fafnir engine. The machine was long and low with footboards and a prop stand on each side. There were no pedals. Some versions had a foot-controlled free-engine clutch and the hinged battery tray could be swung out for servicing.

    1908 The design had been licensed to the Walton firm in the United States who used American-built V-twin engines. It continued to be offered in the UK with a choice of 3½ hp single or 5hp V-twin engine.

    1909 A two-speed option was added.

    1910 Machines were fitted with 3½ hp or 4¼ hp Fafnir engines and Druid forks.

    1911 They used a 3½ hp Precision engine with a 4½ hp listed for sidecar work.

    1912 The smaller engine was used on a ladies' model and there was also a 2½ hp lightweight machine.

    1914 The marque was discussed in The Motor Cycle during the latter half of that year.

David Collins posted this image to the Motorcycles 1867-1930 FB group stating that it's from an original postcard, apparently titled "Stefan Zimmermann German Fafnir engine and Fafnir carburettor".
Nick Smith replied, "If 'F2221' is a British registration, then it's from Essex County Council. The first motorcycle registered in 1907 was 'F2224', suggesting late 1906 for the registration of the one shown."

Stanley Show 1908

Midget Bicar.

J. T. Brown and Son, Reading. Stand No. 85.

This exhibit consists of three motor-bicycles and a "Roc" clutch. The bicycles are distinctly interesting. No tubes are used in the frame, it being entirely built up of pressed steel. The various members are joined and enclosed by sheet steel, thus forming petrol tanks, oil tanks and tool cupboard. The engine is a "Fafnir," carburetter an Amac, and ignition by magneto. A two-speed gear may be fitted at a small extra charge. The single-cylinder single-speed machine is priced at 30 guineas, and the 2-cylinder, with 5 H.P. Peugeot engine, at 45 guineas.

Stanley Show 1908

Olympia Show 1910


J. T. Brown and Sons.
Reading. Stand No. 269, Annexe.

The Midget Bi-car is a motor-cycle with a personality. It is in appearance quite distinct from the majority, and by its claims commends itself to the notice of riders who require something different from the standard type. The open frame type, suitable for either lady or gentleman, has all its parts enclosed, thus giving protection from dust and wet, while presenting a decidedly neat appearance. This machine is handled as a car, by means of the automatic variable pulley, and free engine device. The engine fitted is a 3 3/4 H.P. "Precision," equipped with B. and B. carburetter and Eisemann magneto, and the machine is completed with Druid spring forks, Dunlop tyres and belt, and Brooks saddle. A neat side-car is also shown.

Olympia Show 1910

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle



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