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British Motorcycles

Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters Made in Great Britain

Notes on some of the rarer British marques

This page lists brands of which little historical information is currently available.
For a more complete listing visit the British Index.

A

AC Sociable Tricars


Allen-Bennett
Allen-Bennett Motor Co of 9 to 11 Royal Parade, West Croydon
In 1922-23 they offered a 2 1/4hp lightweight under their own brand.
Dealers for Douglas, Calthorpe, Matchless, Rudge, Royal Ruby, Rover, OK, Triumph and several others.
Sources: gracesguide.co.uk, contemporary literature.


B

Barko
Built by Arthur Barker, the 1915 Barko is quite similar to the 1915 Calthorpe Junior.
Source: Graeme Robert Wilson


Berkeley
Berkeley Cars Ltd of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, built front-wheel drive microcars with motorcycle-derived engines of 322cc to 692cc from 1956 and 1960. They also built miniature caravans which could be towed by a motorcycle.
Source: wikipedia.en


Border Bandit
Built by Rob North and a partner in the early 1970s, possibly in California.


Busy Bee
These were cycle attachment engines from the 1950s which were home-built using instructions published in Model Engineer in 1951.
Source: BuyVintage


C

Collinge
Built in 1949 for speed records, the streamliner was fitted with a 500cc horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine and a cigar-shaped body in which the rider lay prone.
Source: wikipedia.nl


Crayshaw
Built by Mr. Raymond V. E. de B. Crawshaw in 1910, this very attractive rear wheel drive tricycle is thought to have been a one-off.
Source: The Motor Cycle


E

Earles
Ernie Earles built a simply beautiful BSA 500cc twin using a light alloy frame and forks of his own design. These forks were used on BMW motorcycles for many years, and the design remains very much in favour with sidecar riders.
The Earles BSA is on display at the Sammy Miller museum.


G

GMS
Geoff Monty was a successful racer and motorcycle parts specialist who developed a series of racing motorcycles. The GMS Special used a heavilly modified BSA Goldstar engine of 250cc. In partnership with Allen Dudley-Ward the Monward Triumph was produced in 500 and 650cc versions (the fastest of which was believed capable of 145mph), and in 1966 a Rickman Metisse-framed Triumph appeared.
Monty died in 2009, aged 92.
Source: Wikipedia


H

Harding
Manufactured in Bath by Gordon and Loxley in 1921, their focus was on invalid carriages, which they built under government contract during WWII. Production ceased in the early 1950s.
Some post-war models used Cyclemaster engines.


1939 Haythorn 4 500cc

Esta moto de construcción artesanal tenía un motor de cuatro cilindros con árbol de levas a la cabeza, refrigerado por aceite, y una novedosa transmisión de dos velocidades utilizando dos transmisiones diferentes por cadena a la rueda trasera. Este ejemplar, en el museo de Sammy Miller, es la segunda de las dos motocicletas hechas por John Haythorn, un ingeniero automotriz escocés que trabajaba para un fabricante de sobrealimentadores. Su desarrollo finalizó cuando fue trasladado para apoyar el esfuerzo de guerra en 1940, pero ya era una máquina utilizable que había sido presentada a la prensa del motociclismo.
A handcrafted motorcycle which has an oil-cooled OHC four-cylinder engine with a novel two-speed transmission using two different transmissions per chain to the rear wheel. The second of only two built is on exhibition at the Sammy Miller Museum. It was constructed by John Haythorn, a Scottish automotive engineer who worked for a supercharger manufacturer. Its development ended when he was transferred to support the war effort in 1940, but it was already a usable machine that had been presented to the motorcycling press.
Source: Sergio Scalerandi


J

James H Smith
Built in Camberley in 1904 by an engineering firm which was still operating in the 1950s, only one machine survives.
Source: The Bikesheds archive


L

L.S.D. Motor Co
Manufactured three-wheeled cyclecars named the Family, Popular and Standard models as well as 3 and 4 cwt vans.
The firm was established in 1919 at Huddersfield, later moving to Linthwaite and then to Mirfield before closing in 1924. The name is derived from the initials of the founders, Longbottom (the designer), Sykes (the manufacturer) and Dyson (the accountant).
An example has beeen displayed at the Tolson Museum, Huddersfield.

  • L.S.D. Stand 169

    Hailing from Huddersfield, the L.S.D. is an exceptionally strongly constructed three-wheeler using various forms of the air-cooled J.A.P. engine in identical chassis.

    A two-speed reverse gear and shaft and chain drive is employed; detachable and interchangeable wheels are used.

    Bodywork has been considerably improved for next year, and a family model as been added to a range that now meets every need.

    The Motor Cycle, 1922


Sources: gracesguide.co.uk, The Motor Cycle


Lynton
Colin Lyster developed a 500cc twin designed for GP racing in 1968 using two cylinders from an Imp engine and an 8-valve DOHC cylinder head.
After moving from Rhodesia to Britain in the early 60s, Lyster built café-racers using his own frames loosely based on the Norton Featherbed. They were considerably lighter than the factory product.
He also designed and patented a disc brake system which failed to interest the British motorcycle industry, so the patent was sold to Lockheed. In 1968 Honda released their Four, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Colin was suffering a recurrence of kidney problems incurred in a GP crash in Germany and was unable to work effectively for some time. This led to serious financial difficulties and the liquidation of the company in 1968, hours, literally, before the first track tests were to commence.
Lyster moved to New Zealand and became something of a legend in the power-boat racing scene.
Sources: thevintagent.com, Racing Line by Bob Guntrip.


M

Megelli Logo

Megelli
Introduced at the Milan EICMA exhibition in November 2007, the motorcycles are produced by British firm which has them assembled in China. The Megelli range has been exported to 37 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, and to Australia.
Source: wikipedia.en, megelli.com


P

Petty Weslake
During the 1970's Ray Petty and Harry Carter built a racing special utilising a 750cc Weslake twin cylinder engine housed in a Petty built chassis. The machine, producing approximately 74bhp, was raced by Harry Carter's son during the 1970's. This example was built during 1999 using A replica of the original constructed by White Rose Racing in 1999 fitted with a reconditioned Weslake 750cc parallel twin engine. A Hemmings clutch and belt drive transmit the power via an RGM four speed gearbox.

The completed machine made its competition debut in 2000 at Cadwell Park in the hands of Gary Carter, Harry Carter's son and the original machines' rider during the seventies. It placed first.
Source: H&HClassic Auctions


Phoenix
Built in Worcestershire before the Great War in small numbers, information on this marque is scarce.
There were two other British Phoenix brands, one in London (1900~1928) and another in the 1950s, a scooter, also based in London.
Source: Graces Guide


R

Regina

Ilford Motor Car & Cycle Co., High Road, Ilford, Essex, 1902-1907.

Advertised as "The Queen of Motor Bicycles", the lightweight motorcycles were fitted with engines from Minerva, Fafnir, MMC and others.

There was another marque of the same name built after the first war at Derby, some 150 miles away. Tragatsch says that these machines were identical to those built at Ilford. See Regina of Derby

Report from the 1902 National Cycle Show:

Ilford Motor Car and Cycle Co, High Road, Ilford.
A Regina motor-bicycle is here shown, fitted with a 2.75 De Dion engine, in a vertical position. The machine is, driven by a Lincona belt, which has a special form of adjustment by a small jockey pulley, depending from the bottom stay, and moving vertically in a slot. Lubrication is by a positive sight-feed pump, which can be operated from the saddle whilst travelling. Two brakes are fitted, front rim and back Bowden.

Other Regina branded machines were produced in Lewisham (c1906) and Paris.

Sources: Tragatsch p259, Wikipedia NL, Graces Guide.


S

Scootacar
The Hunslet Scootacar was manufactured by Hunslett Engineering Company of Leeds, better known for its Puffing Billy style locomotives. Powered by a Villiers 9E 197cc engine, the tandem two-seater microcar had a fully enclosed fibreglass body. Designed by Henry Brown, around 1000 of these three-wheelers were built betweeen 1958 and 1964. From 1961 they were also available with a 324cc Villiers twin in the Mk3 version.

An example of the Mk1 was on display at the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum for many years.


T

T.B. Cyclecars

The Thompson Brothers of Bilston built three-wheeled cyclecars at their aircraft factory from 1919 to 1924. These accomodated two adults and a child, and were guaranteed to do 60 m.p.h.

A distant relative of the machines saw service as an aircraft refueler during WWII and these remained active at some airports into the 1990s. Of the 150 cyclecars constructed in the 1920s only one remains, but some 20 of the 3-wheeled refuelers exist in museums and collections around the world.

Sources: wikipedia.en, The Motor Cycle.


W

Wilcomoto

Manufactured by by Wilcox Engineering of Holme Lacey, Hereford, 1981-1983

The firm built motocross and enduro machines fitted with a lightweight 500cc engine, making extensive use of magnesium alloy in components such as wheel hubs, fork sliders and engine components. Suspension was progressive monoshock and long-travel telescopic forks.

Although technically superior in several aspects, they did not fare well in competition and production was curtailed after just two years.

Source: brightwells.com


Wolseley Gyrocar
The Shilovski Gyrocar was commissioned in 1912 by Count Pyotr Shilovsky, a member of the Russian nobility. A clever gentleman, by all accounts, he designe the car whilst living in Britain and contracted the Wolseley company to build it. It was completed in 1914, just as things got rather busy in Russia - and elsewhere.

The gyrocar was powered by a modified four cylinder Wolseley 16-20 engine displacing just over 3 litres. This was front mounted with the radiator forming the firewall, and drive was via cardan shaft to the rear wheel. The machine had no wheel brakes; it used a transmission brake on the drive train.

Capable of carrying five passengers, it weighed in at 2 3/4 tons empty and with a wheelbase approaching 20 feet its turning circle radius was comfortably within that of a football field.

Shilovski returned to Russia at the outbreak of WWI and Wolsely did not hear from him again so they did the sensible thing and buried his machine. It was disinterred in 1938, restored and featured in the Wolsely museum, just in time for the next war. The weirdness failed to abate, however, and Wolsely broke the machine up for scrap in 1948.
Wolseley were also associated with the Italian Wolsit , and a Wolsley engine powered a Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Sources: wikipedia.en, et al.


X

Xtra-1921-TMC-0712.jpg
XTRA CARS at the Olympia Show 1921

The Xtra Car exhibit will be of interest to those who are looking for a cheap three-wheeled monocar which is economical in upkeep. Weather protection is ensured on the novel Xtra car.
More images...

Xtra Cyclecars

The Xtra was an English three-wheel cyclecar built from 1922 to 1924 by Xtra Cars, Ltd., of Chertsey, Surrey.

No vehicle built offers such a remarkable choice of power units, while otherwise remaining essentially the same as the 1923 Xtra car. A two-seater model has been evolved; in the runabout form, it is fitted with a 347 c.c. Villiers engine and costs £105; in the "touring" form a 976 c.c. V-twin J. A. P. is substituted, when the price is increased to £122 17s., incidentally the lowest priced two-seater three-wheeler on the market.

On this unconventional vehicle, two pairs of transverse springs act as front axles and carry car type stub axles on pivot pins. Rear springing is by two quarter-elliptic springs. The body also acts in the same capacity as a chassis on a normal car.

The Motor Cycle




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Classic Motorcycle Fibreglass
Classic Motorcycle Fibreglass
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