Australian & NZ Motorcycles

Lewis Motorcycles

Manufactured by Vivian Lewis Ltd., Lewis Cycle Works, Adelaide from 1901 to 1927.
174-180 Gawler Place, Adelaide, (1913) 168-180 Gawler Place (1922)
Branches — Balaklava, Broken Hill, Clare, Kadina, Mount Gambier, Port Pirie, Unley. (1922)

Established in 1892 to built bicycles, they built cars for a brief period before launching their motorcycle marque, which proved very successful.

They fitted engines from Minerva (1902-1904), A.W. Wall, De Dion-Bouton, Stevens, Precision, JAP and Villiers, and also their own water-cooled 335cc sidevalve engines, introduced in 1910.

who have a well-assorted and attractive display and with the great interest now being taken in the development of motor vehicles and motor bicycles this firm was wise in showing samples of its manufacture. The motor car shown is one in which several very successful runs have been accomplished. It has been over the principal hilly roads out of the city, including a run to Maclaren Vale (25 miles) in 1 hour 45 min., proving the adaptability of such vehicle over hills, as well as on the level. A motor bicycle, fitted with l¾-h.p. air-cooled engine, is also shown, and was favourably commented upon by cycling visitors. Amongst the bicycles shown...

The Register (Adelaide, SA) Sat 14 Sep 1901 (Trove)

...with various schemes for locomotion in and about Adelaide it was not surprising that the motors shown by Mr. V. Lewis, of the Lewis cycle works, proved a source of attraction. The exhibit was neatly placed in the main hall. Three motors were shown, including a motor bicycle, the main points of which varied little from the usual bicycle, though it was more strongly constructed. A motor tricycle with a De Dion 2¾ horsepower motor, looked a strong and powerful machine: Being fitted with two-speed gear it can be ridden over the most difficult hills or roads with ease.

The Register, Sat 8 Mar 1902 (Trove)

At the Adelaide Spring Show of 1913 the Lewis 3½ h.p. water-cooled, three-speed motorcyle proved very popular, and by 1914 Lewis motorcycles had won every almost every event they entered, and also established a 24 hour world record.

A 1920 advertisement offered a Lewis 2-stroke and Lewis 6 h.p. JAP, along with P&M and Sopwith ABC motorcycles.

Vivian Lewis died in 1919 at the age of 54. The business was taken over by Fred Mann in 1924, and the Lewis Cycle Works continued to trade until 1975.

Lewis Motor Cycles.

No branch of Australian industry has achieved greater success than Motor Cycle Manufacturers, as seen by the consistent wins- of locally manufactured machines. Take the last three years' record as an illustration. During 1913-14 season, out of 14 possibles in which they: competed, Lewis riders won first place on 11 occasions. It was in this year that J. G. Ramsey made his famous 24 hour ride on a 3½ horsepower Lewis and won the coveted honor of being the first Australian to establish a worlds' 24 hour record. In this season also the interstate-reliability ride from Adelaide to Melbourne was held and the team of four Lewis riders all rode through without losing a single point - a most unique and creditable record.

In 1914-15 season ten events were contested and nine first places were secured by the local machine, including the 60 mile championship.

The Lewis does not live on past victories. This season it has contested on four occasions, and has secured the judges awards of first place in every instance. These competitions are not limited to speed alone, but include reliability runs, hill-climbing contests, and petrol consumption tests. All-round excellence is required to secure such consistent victories, and the Lewis Company are to be congratulated upon having built up in South Australia a reputation for manufacturing a machine that can win against the world's best makes.

Blyth Agriculturist (SA) Fri 7 Jan 1916 (Trove)

The Vivian Lewis firm assembled a 9 h.p. Drayton motorcycle in 1915, built by the Davis Sewing Machine Company of Dayton Ohio.

Sources: Wikipedia NL, Simon Fleming,, Trove NLA

Leon Mitchel at has detailed information on the marque

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