Today in Motorcycle History


Ruffells was a motorcycle produced in the London area early in 1919.

This marque appeared briefly during the rush for personal transport that occurred after the end of World War I. It was a lightweight machine with a Villiers 269cc two-stroke engine, two-speed Albion gearbox and Druid front forks.

A touring version had footboards and a sports model was also available.

Ruffells 1919 Villiers

The Ruffells, the latest newcomer among two-strokes.


Strenuous Test of New Two-stroke with Villiers Engine and Burman Gear.

A NEW motor bicycle, unknown to the motor cycle public, came unexpectedly into our hands at Plymouth on the occasion of the Arbuthnot trophy. This is known as the Ruffells, and is sold by the Ruffells Imperial Bioscope Syndicate, Ltd., 8-9, Long Acre, W.C.2. It is fitted with a 2 3/4 h.p. Villiers engine and a Burman two-speed gear box, incorporating a clutch and kick starter of the type described in The Motor Cycle of the 3rd inst. The machine was absolutely brand new and not run in, and to expect it to follow so strenuous a course as that chosen for the Arbuthnot Trophy Trial was asking a great deal.

On the Steep Hills.

When we left Plymouth on the first day's run the Ruffells suffered very seriously from its new condition, a complaint from which it rapidly recovered after careful driving and plenty of lubricating oil - in fact, it ran better and better every mile, and by the afternoon it ran extremely well. After lunch it was called upon to climb the exceptionally steep and rough ascent between Moretonhampstead and Tedburn St. Mary. This entailed a hairpin corner almost at the very foot, a gradient of 1 in 4 or worse, and an exceptionally loose surface. It failed the first time, but the second time it got up quite well, and the hill near Clifford Bridge, which formed part of the course, was taken in really excellent style.

On the next day the little Ruffells acquitted itself most creditably. Its main work was over average roads, such as are encountered during every-day touring, although the main road hills taken were often extremely long, and such as might be expected to tire an engine pretty severely. The worst task it had to perform during the day was to climb out of Lostwithiel over the old coast road, a straightaway ascent with a good surface, and of considerable length. One could get no run at it, and it had to be climbed on the low gear practically the whole way, and this the machine did very satisfactorily till within a few yards of the top, when, after about three minutes' rest, it restarted and finished up in excellent style. The last trick hill on the course out of Tavistock on to the golf links was taken without a falter.

We cannot speak too highly of the Burman two-speed gear and clutch, which took up the drive smoothly and effectively, and several times restarted the machine on the most appalling gradients. The little engine ran well, and the machine was quite comfortable. The chief criticisms we have to make refer to the smallness of the petrol tank, and the fact that the heel brake pedal is too near the clutch spindle. Otherwise the Ruffells pleased us extremely well, and satisfactorily accomplished the difficult task it was asked to perform.

The Motor Cycle July 24th, 1919.

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle

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