European Motorcycles

Australia and New Zealand Motorcycles

This page covers motorcycles and motorcyclists from both the land of the long white cloud and the lucky country.

Famous names like Phil Irving, John Britten, W.O. Bentley and Harry Hawker are mentioned.



Denco of NZ

Harry Hawker





W. O. Bentley




Edworthy Motorcycles, built in Rozelle, NSW in 1906.

Sun Motorcycles, mentions the Waratah and E.W.B.

Whiting Motorcycles, quite an extraordinary tale.

Motorcycle Dealers, AU

Swinging Jean Foster

Alan Puckett, Artist

Maori by Zealandia Motor Works

Osborne Louis de Lissa of Australia managed Motosacoche Ltd (GB).

Numerous Australian speedway machines are discussed in the pages of the Speedway Workshop

An account of the first motorcycle to reach Australia, in early 1896, a Hildebrand and Wolfmuller

There is mention of Alron, Pasco, Quirk's Mona, Simplex, Terry Prince, McIntosh, the Sixstroke, Drysdale V8 and Dryvtech 2-wheel-drive, the Favourite by Smith Brothers Garage in Peterborough, and of course the Aussie-Also.

For more information on Australian motorcycles visit Murray Barnard's Ozebike.


In September 1918 Australia Post minted four stamps about motorcycles. The motorcycles are described thus:

$1 1904 Kelecom

James Hill & Sons of 63 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, assembled cycles using Kelecom engines from 1902 to 1904, most of which were sold with the Kelecom name on the tank. The engine was named after Belgian engineer, Paul Kelecom. The 1902 machines used 1¾ or 2¼ hp engines in a BSA bicycle frame set, with the engine mounted on the seat tube. In mid-1903, the engine was mounted in the now conventional position in front of the pedal bracket, with choice of 1¾, 2 ¼, 2 ¾ or 3¼ hp engines. The motorcycle on the stamp dates from 1904.

$1 1912 The Precision

Precision engines were manufactured in Birmingham, United Kingdom and exported all over the world. Several Australian firms used Precision engines in their motorcycles, including AG Healing of 354 Little Bourke Street in Melbourne and Adelaide companies Lewis & Bullock and James Hill & Sons. The range of Precision engines included the 2¼ hp two-stroke up to 8 hp V-twin, in frames of their own construction. Most cycles were equipped with the 4¼ hp "Big Four" single-cylinder engine which was widely marketed from 1912 as the Precision Big Four motorcycle. The example on the stamp was originally assembled with a 500cc air-cooled side-valve "Big Four" single-cylinder Precision engine in 1912.

$1 1919 Whiting V4

The Whiting V4 motorcycle was conceived in Melbourne in 1912 when engineer Saville Whiting designed and built an innovative spring-frame cycle with semi-elliptic leaf sprinting on both the front and rear wheels. In 1914 Whiting took his design to England, where he became a partner in a London engineering firm, intending to market his design. In London, Whiting designed an air-cooled V4 engine for the motorcycle. The prototype was built and installed in the original frame and bought back to Australia in 1920.
(More on the Whiting)

$1 1923 Invincible J.A.P. The Invincible J.A.P. is perhaps the best known of pre-World War II Australian-constructed motorcycles. Constructed mainly of British parts, the Invincible J.A.P was built in Melbourne for Turner Bros of Swanston Street by Firth Bros., Richmond. Firth Bros started constructing the Invincible J.A.P. in 1922 when, after losing its Harley Davidson agency, it needed a large motorcycle to compete with American models. For the next five or six years the Invincible J.A.P. sold all over the country to a strongly patriotic marketing campaign that included "It's all British, built in Australia by Australians!" The Invincible J.A.P. was constructed from a J.A.P. (J.A. Prestwich Industries) engine, a Burman gearbox, Messenger No. 1 saddle, Australian Excelsior/Henderson copy forks and Edwards Brothers saddle tanks. The cycle on the stamp is a standard 6hp 770cc Invincible J.A.P. dating from 1923.


1932 Models Arrive.

THE British Motor Cycle Company has received a batch of the new 1932 model Waratah motor cycles.

These machines are totally redesigned, having visible top rail, tapering away under the saddle, and giving an exceptionally low riding position, and gaining very high ground clearance

An interesting feature is the enclosed webbing of the front forks, making them exceptionally strong and practically unbreakable.

The machine, which is quite an attractive lightweight, is fitted with electric light, battery, and dimmer, soft top saddle, and balloon tyres. The engine is a Villiers 147 c.c. two-cycle type, giving remarkable brake horsepower. Petrol consumption is estimated at approximately 150 miles to the gallon The machine is quite suitable for Queensland road conditions.

All persons interested should not fail to inspect this impressive English lightweight machine, which is now on display at the showrooms of the British Motor Cycle Co., 205 Adelaide Street, Brisbane.

Trove NLA Brisbane Courier Dec 3, 1931

Quirk's Mona was built in Alexandria, NSW, during the early years of WWI. Everything including the 4½ h.p. flat-twin engine was built in-house, with the exception of the Druid-style forks which were sourced from Peerless in Melbourne.
An example was auctioned by Webb's in New Zealand in 2012. It had been part of the Paddy Ryan collection and is thought to be the sole survivor of the 90 machines built.
Source: justbikes.com.au

Manufactured by Lightburn & Co. Ltd., Camden, South Australia
Based on the British Anzani Astra, the outlandish Zeta had a locally made fibreglass body powered initially by a Villiers 324cc two-stroke twin and then by an Excelsior three-cylinder engine. 28 cars were built from 1964 to 1966.
Source: Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

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