Australian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Champion Motorcycles Tasmania

Champion Cycle & Motor Works of 123 Charles Street, Launceston, Tasmania. (197 Charles Street in 1905 and 1907)

Established in 1901 by John King and sons.

John King bought his first motocycle, a Beauchamp, in 1901, and soon began building the Champion machines using Minerva engines.

John King and his wife Sussana had three sons, William, George and Herbert.

Will set the Launceston to Hobart record on a Champion in 1904, and broke it many times over the following decade.

George also raced the Champion, and managed the extensive workshop facilities which included nickel plating, baked enamelling, lathes and milling machines, and brazing.

Herbert managed the showroom and spare parts business, which involved consigning packages by rail on a daily basis to towns all over Tasmania. He was also a keen photographer, and rode his motorcycle to often remote areas of the state to record the stunning wilderness views on offer. He and his wife Lucy Minna were among the first group of motorcyclists to ride to Cradle Mountain, in 1922. Herbert's works were exhibited internationally, and he became honorary photographer for the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston for the years 1958 to 1962. Among the 340 of his works in the collection of the museum are aerial photographs dating from c1920. He photographed aeroplanes as early as 1914.


Sole agents for Peugeot, NSU and FN motor Bicycles, and Montgomery sidecars. Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.) Thu 3 Oct 1907

1911 Matchless, J.A.P., Champion Peugeot, Rudge, Douglas, F.N. Indian. B.S.A. and V.S. Motors. Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas) Mon 18 Dec 1911


This firm, of which John King is the proprietor, has not to date had a stand at the show, owing to the great number of orders in hand each year for the famous Champion bicycles, for which this firm is so justly popular. The standard of workmanship in goods turned out by the firm is very high indeed, as seen by the results these machines have gained.


The firm has also the sole agency for the famous Griffon motor cycles (with spring front forks, which dispense with any vibration in the handles), three of which are being landed this week to the order of well-known gentlemen of Launceston and neighborhood. This make of motor cycles holds all Continental records for speed and reliability, also in the last two hill climbs in Victoria "Griffons" secured first, second, and third places. There is also on view a "Griffon" motor cycle fitted to the Montgomery side-car, which forms a most comfortable and reliable motor tricycle, carrying two passengers.

As builders of motor cycles this firm has led from the start, producing the best models for speed and comfort yet made. As evidence of quality and speed, Mr W. King, of this firm holds the speed record for motor cycles, Hobart to Launceston, time 4hr 17min, also all track records to date...

Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas) Fri 6 Oct 1905


(Fitted with Peugeot or J.A.P. Engines.)

The Champion Motor-Cycles need no introduction to the public, being built locally, especially to meet Tasmanian conditions, strongly framed, saddle position very low, and with high engine clearance. They are fitted with large and heavy tyres, and finished in well-known standard style, in grey, with cream panel tints. Another great advantage is the complete stock of duplicate parts, so that the rider may replace any piece without inconvenience, a great advantage to the user.

(The article continues with information on Rudge and "Red Indian" motorcycles, Humberette cycle cars, and Champion bicycles.)

Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.) Thu 16 Oct 1913

Sources: Trove NLA, et al

H J King was a registered conscientious objector during the Second World War due to his Christadelphian faith.

Moto Vecchia Cafe of Bellerive, Tasmania give a detailed and well-written account of the King family and the Champion motorcycle on their FB page.

See also King, Herbert John (1892–1973) by Margaret Tassell

Other marques using the Champion name: Disambiguation

If you have a query or information about this Australian motorcycle please contact us