ABC Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

ABC Motorcycles by All British (Engine) Co

The All British (Engine) Co of Weybridge, Surrey, near Brooklands, was established in 1912 by Ronald Charteris in Byfleet, Surrey as a producer of piston engines.

1912 ABC first became involved with the production of motorcycles when their designer Granville Bradshaw was asked to produce some special parts for a 350cc Douglas, owned by Les Bailey. This machine was raced at Brooklands and late that year set a new record. A new flat-twin ohv engine was also produced that year.

1913 A few machines were built, two of which were entered in the TT, but both retired early.

1914 An ABC ridden by Jack Emerson set a new 500cc record at Brooklands and a two-model range was launched, both with the flat-twin engine, conventional frames and laminated leaf-spring suspension. The company moved to Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, where they became involved with war work and also produced a few motorcycles.

1915-1916 Those motorcycles built had an ABC four-speed gearbox, gate-change and a sprung frame.

1919 The company was bought by Sopwith as that company attempted to diversify its activities following World War I.

1919 Built by Sopwith at Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, Granville Bradshaw designed what was to be the definitive ABC machine. The Sopwith aviation company produced the machine in an effort to keep the 3,500 strong workforce employed when the need for aircraft had diminished strongly after the end of the war in 1918. It had a 398cc flat-twin transverse ohv engine, a four-speed gate-change gearbox and leaf-spring front and back suspension, internal front and rear expanding brakes and a cradle frame, footboards and leg shields. A kickstarter, however, was seen as surplus to requirements because the machine was easily push- started. It was innovative enough to cause a sensation at the annual Motor Cycle Show, This sophisticated and advanced machine caused the company many headaches. Orders poured in, but the valve gear was troublesome and caused production hold-ups. Production problems caused rising costs, and their initial popularity died. The machine was also very expensive to manufacture.

1920 January. Illustrated specification of their sporting light car.

1920 In the November of that year they exhibited at the Motor Car Show at Olympia and the White City with a lightweight car with two seats and a 'dickey'.

1921 Originally the selling price was set to £70, soon a price of £160 became realistic and later it became clear that any price under 300 pounds was bringing a loss to the manufacturer, so the price became too high. After producing somewhere in the region of 3,000 machines, Sopwith went into liquidation.

1923 Output of all ABC motorcycles in the UK came to an end.

Note: The French company Gnome and Rhone continued to build these motorcycles under licence until 1925.

1929 They built one single-seater aeroplane designed by A. A. Fletcher known as the ABC Robin and it first flew in 1929 but was scrapped in 1932.

1951 The company continued its activities until it was absorbed into Vickers in 1951.

ABC Skootamotor Source: Graces Guide

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