Belgian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Bercley Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Marque

Manufactured in Belgium, 1904 to 1909
c.1906 616cc Bercley

This fascinating Belgian veteran machine has a long single-family history and a notable public one. Originally taken as a part exchange in 1914 by the vendors family-owned motorcycle business, the Bercley languished in a hidden corner of the extensive workshop for decades until spotted by Graham Walker (father of Murray), the one time curator of the Montague Motor Museum. Taken in by the museum in 1962 it was restored by them and put on display for many years until retrieved by the family in 1970. From then until 1996 it was on permanent display in the family showroom and was occasionally started up for demonstration purposes. Last run in 1986 it has been dry stored since 1996 until the present with a very occasional airing.

The parallel vertical twin engine was designed by the engineer Gustave Kindermans and has a three bearing crankshaft and mechanical side valves all mounted transversely in the frame. The fuel from the black lined silver flat tank is fed via a Longuemare carburettor. Of particular interest is the complex arrangement of the sprung forks. These machines are described in the November 27th 1905 issue of "The Motor Cycle" where its debut at The Stanley Show is covered.

The Bercley is discussed between the vendor and the motoring journalist and historian, Michael Worthington-Williams, in a letter supplied with the motorcycle. It would appear from this letter that at least two other examples of the Bercley have survived and that there is plenty of scope for some detailed research by the prospective purchaser. Detailed examination of this rare piece of motorcycling history is recommended.

Source of the information above unknown.

In 1909, Triumph experimented with a vertical twin 616cc Bercley engine.

Hugh Mason of N.U.T., in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is mentioned in connection with Bercley.[1]

Bercley 1905 Parallel Twin

The Bercley Motor Bicycle, which is fitted with a twin-cylinder engine, the cylinders being arranged side by side, with a space for the air draught between the two.

An Entirely New Design.

A new machine which made its debut at the show is the Bercley. The engine which propels it is a 6 h.p., and has mechanically operated valves. The cylinders are placed side by side, there being an air gap between the two. Both exhaust ports, of course, are separate from one another, and the pipes from these go into opposite ends of the silencer. The inlet valves are at the rear of the engine, and over these sparking plugs are fitted in the valve caps in the usual fashion.

The distribution gear is arranged in the following manner. There is a pinion keyed on to the main shaft which . meshes with the central wheel. This wheel serves to take the strain off the distribution gear wheels with which it meshes, the one on the left operating the exhaust valve camshaft, and the one on its right the inlet valve camshaft. In the case of a magneto there is yet another wheel which meshes with the gear wheel on the first-named shaft, which carries the distribute. When accumulator ignition is fitted the wheel has a contact breaker of good design made on the positive make and break -system. The Bercley motor bicycle is fitted with spring forks and back-pedalling brake, which may be put out of action if desired. The latest type Longuemare carburetter, which was described in our last issue, is fitted to this machine. Stanley Show, November 1905


1. Ian Chadwick writes that Hugh Mason later "built bikes under the names Jesmond and Bercley until he used NUT in 1912." ianchadwick.com/motorcycles/britbikes/otherk_q.html

2. François-Marie Dumas writes, "... Royal Consort built Bercley single and twin cylinders in 1906. The twin was tested by Triumph in 1909. Hugh Mason, winner of the TT Junior in 1913, employee and driver at NUT used until 1912 a Bercley -powered racer and under the label HM (Hugh Mason) Berkley [probably a typo]. In Italy, finally, the twin is used by the Italian motorcycle pioneer Prinetti e Stucchi. The 1906 catalog of the Italian brand shows models equipped with single and twin cylinder Bercley and Motociclismo has in his archives a photo showing Carlo Guzzi riding a... [entry curtailed]"
('scuse the Franglais)

Sources: Tragatsch p86, The Motor Cycle, Moto Collection, et al.