Today in Motorcycle History

Vickers Motorcycle Engines

8 h. p. Royal Enfield 1920

The side-by-side valve engine is manufactured by Vickers, Ltd.

Vickers was a large company which built all manner of engineering equipment and armaments including 100 ton cranes, 1200 horsepower engines, and aeroplanes, During WWII they built 188 warships including battleships and aircraft carriers, guns for the battleships, and machine guns. Vickers machine guns were fitted to many motorcycle sidecar combinations during the first war.

Vickers motorcycle engines barely rank a mention in the annals of the firm's extensive history, however they owned a substantial stake in William Beardmore and Co who built, among other things, Beardmore Precision motorcycles.

It is reported that in 1921 Vickers built a 976cc V-twin Wolseley engine to an Enfield design. The model remained in the Enfield catalogue until 1924, replaced in 1925 with a Royal Enfield engine.

As Vickers had owned 60% of William Beardmore & Co. since 1902, it seems possible that these engines were actually Beardmore Precision engines, but Howard Burrows does not think so. Vickers sold their shares back to William Beardmore in 1926.

Matchless built a military combination named the Matchless-Vickers 8B2/M, with the same engine capacity (976cc) as the R.E. but built by J.A.P. In this case "Vickers" referred only to the machine gun. Some 250 of these were supplied to the Russian Tzarist forces in 1916/1917 - the same engines were used by Royal Ruby, who supplied similar machines to Russia.

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle.

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