Bowden Motorcycles

British Motorcycle Manufacturers of the Edwardian Era

E. M. Bowden's Patents Syndicate Co

Bowden of Gray's Inn Road, Holborn, London.

  • 1902 The earliest model had a 2hp Simms engine with magneto tucked in behind the seat tube, on top of the chain-stays. With a clutch and shock-absorber incorporated in the drive, the rear wheel was driven by silent chain and the pedals were placed ahead of the crankcase.

    Report from the 1902 Stanley Show

    Stand 101. E. M. Bowden's Patent Syndicate, Ltd., Brook Street. E.C., show a frame with a special cradle to take any design of engine. The pedals and chain wheel are placed ahead of the engine, thus making a lengthy wheel-base. The machine is driven by chain and Bowden clutch, with the ordinary form of conical faces, but thrown in and out of gear by the Bowden wire, which permits a free engine at will. The claim that this firm has a design of machine adaptable to every form of engine operated entirely from the handlebars by the well-known Bowden system is clearly evidenced, as they show the frame fitted with various well-known makes of motors.

    A handy system of lubrication, which enables the rider to accurately measure the quantity of oil delivered to the crank chamber, is smart. It consists of a glass cylinder with a central rod or spindle having a valve at each end, and when screwed down the oil enters the chamber from the tank; when screwed up it shuts off the tank and opens the connection to the crank chamber. The action of applying the brake cuts off the current, and this can be graduated to suit the requirements of the rider.

    Motor Cycling, 26th November 1902

    1903 The engine, with coil ignition, was supported in a cradle and Bowden controls were fitted. Another version was fitted with a Belgian FN engine and some of the models were sold as the New Bowden. Also used his own engines. It was the name first used for the Bowden (1902 to 1905) using Simms and FN engines which were usually positioned behind the seat pillar with silent chain-drive including a clutch to the rear wheel. The use of the prefix to the name did not last long and the company went on to become better known for carburettors and control cables.

  • 1904 The FN engine was still used and moved ahead of the pedals. Two tricycles were listed along with a quadricycle powered by a 4hp water-cooled Daw engine with magneto ignition.
  • 1905 This was the last year of manufacture. After that the company concentrated for many years on producing control cables, levers and, eventually, carburettors.

    1932 Built commercial three-wheel vans under an agreement with the Stevens brothers.

    1937 General light production engineers. "Bowdenex" Brake Cable Assemblies and "Bowdenite" Wire Mechanism and Fittings.

    1961 Manufacturers of "Bowden" wire mechanisms and "Bowdenex" cable assemblies for vehicle handbrakes, "Bowdenflex" precision ball bearing remote control, high pressure flexible hydraulic hose units and fittings. 400 employees.

    Note: There was further mention of the name in the early 1920s when there was a short-lived involvement with a lightweight motorcycle. It is thought that it was a method of promoting their existing product line as mentioned above.

Source: Graces Guide