Today in Motorcycle History

Zephyr & Airolite Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Marque

Made in England between 1921 and 1923, these cute little machines had Simplex engines of 110cc.

Zephyr & Airolite Motorcycles

Manufactured by Small Engines Co of Coventry Road, Birmingham.

Zephyr was a motorcycle announced in 1917 and produced after the end of World War I, until 1922. This motorised pedal cycle reached the market after the end of the war, powered by 110cc Simplex engines*. It was also sold under the name of Airolite. The machine was very light, weighing only 70lb (32kg), and was therefore ideal for those who could not handle a heavy machine. A ladies' version with an open-frame version of the Zephyr was also available, and it is likely that this model too was marketed as Airolite; it remained on the market until 1924.

Airolite 1922

Easily the smallest outfit in the Show is the 110 c.c. Airolite, which has a child's sidecar attachment.

The 1922 Olympia Show.

AIROLITE. (Stand 20.)

A Very Miniature Sidecar.

1½ H.P. Model.

52x52 mm. (110 c.c); single cyl. two-stroke; petroil lubrication; Amac carburetter; chain-driven mag.; single-speed gear; no clutch or kick-starter; chain and belt drive; 28xl¾in. tyres. Price: Solo, £27/6;. with sidecar, £33/12.

Small Engines Co., 131, Coventry Road, Birmingham.

By the standards applied when considering a bigger machine, the Airolite motorised bicycle is not so attractive to look upon, but examination reveals that it is quite a workmanlike job.

The engine is a Simplex two-stroke which has a ball-bearing mainshaft. The countershaft is also mounted on ball bearings.

Simple spring forks have been incorporated as standard since the machine was introduced last spring, but otherwise it remains perhaps more like a pedal cycle than any other miniature in the building. An open frame lady's model is also on view, which, except for a necessary change in the shape of the tank and the addition of what in pedal cycle phraseology is called a gear case over the pedalling chain, is a replica of the other.

The reader is advised to brace himself up at this point, for an Airolite sidecar outfit is shown. But it is not so bad as it appears, for the sidecar, although fitted with a hood and windscreen, is only intended for a child up to ten years of age.

Olympia Show 1922
The Motor Cycle, November 30th, 1922. Page 823

Also listed as a 132ccc engine.

Sources: Graces Guide, Henshaw, The MotorCycle

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