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.
The Register (Adelaide, SA) Sat 14 Sep 1901 (Trove)
The Register, Sat 8 Mar 1902 (Trove)
Tom O'Grady was works manager of the South Australian manufacturer, Lewis, who built a range of water-cooled motor bicycles in the veteran period. In 1902, O'Grady built this fine special with a large Excelsior engine very like the first machine John Osborn built which started his career in transport, and the Osborn Engineering Company he founded during WW1.
Osborn's machine was pictured in Eric Walford's book about the motor bicycle before the motorcycling press came along. Compare the two: Excelsior by F.J. Osborn
~ Martin Shelley
At the Adelaide Spring Show of 1913 the Lewis 3½ h.p. water-cooled, three-speed motorcycle proved very popular, and by 1914 Lewis motorcycles had won every almost every event they entered, and also established a 24 hour world record. At the beginning of the war, one in eight motorcycles on South Australian roads was a Lewis.
The Vivian Lewis firm assembled a 9 h.p. Dayton motorcycle in 1915, built by the Davis Sewing Machine Company of Dayton Ohio.
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.
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)
1914-1915 Lewis 6 h.p. Twin-Cylinder 760 cc 75 x 86 mm, SV, Baker Precision
1914-1916 Lewis 3½ h.p. 499 cc single cyl. 85 x 88 mm, SV, Baker Precision
1. A Facebook post reads, "Before the formation of Vivian Lewis Limited in 1907, Vivian Lewis's businesses traded under various names including the Ormonde Bicycle Depot, the Lewis Cycle Works and the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works." It goes on to list over 200 people associated with the Vivian Lewis firm.
2. Bonhams writes "... in 1904 the similarities with overseas developments ceased abruptly with a patent design for water cooling... By 1905 the first water-cooled Lewis models were to be seen the streets of Adelaide, along with an air-cooled model of the same 2¾ hp rating..."
3. The Lewis company had earlier used the Osborn name.
Leon Mitchel at earlymotor.com has detailed information on the marque
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