Today in Motorcycle History

Wallis Motorcycles

Wallis Motors Ltd, Queens Mead Road, Bromley, Kent. (1925)

Directors: Guy Underwood, G. L. Wallis.

Wallis motorcycles were produced from 1925 to 1930, to designs by George Wallis whose career began in earnest when he became manager of the Harley-Davidson racing team in Britain at the age of 21.

  • 1925 A revolutionary design appeared, with hub-centre steering. For this he used a chassis with a pivoted-fork at the front to carry the hub assembly, with leaf springs for suspension. The Blackburne ohv engine was inclined around 45 degrees in the prototype. This was in order to achieve a low riding position and centre of gravity. It had all-chain transmission, the machine sat low and handled well.

    1926 The ease of handling prompted George Wallis to enter the Junior and Senior TT races, with machines that had JAP engines and drum brakes front and rear. The machine finished sixteenth in the Junior, but was a non-starter in the Senior. The Wallis was shown at Olympia that year.

    1927 The machine was listed with a variety of engines, from a 249cc sv to a twin-port of 490cc, but the project then collapsed.

    Wallis then became involved with the early days of speedway, managing the workshops of the Australian Speedway team in London. He began building machines on the lines of the Harley-Davidson Peashooter model.

    1929 These machines made their debut. One was the Wallis-Blackburne, with that make of engine, and the other, more successful, with a 344cc JAP. Many of these speedway machines were sold.

    1930 The latter adopted the new JAP speedway engine and they were taken up by Comerfords, the big dealers of Thames Ditton in Surrey, and George Wallis moved on to other things - although he continued to build speedway machines for some years.

    In 1966 G.L. Wallis & Son patented a banking three-wheeler which allowed the machine to be leaned into corners thus vastly enhancing its handling characteristics. The design was licence by BSA in 1970 and produced as the Ariel 3, but it seems they did not quite grasp the concept and the project failed. Somewhat later a similar design appeared as the Honda Stream; this proved superior to the Ariel 3 but lacked some of the original design's more important features.

    George Wallis was both a remarkable inventor and a businessman of some nous who made a great deal of money over the years. He was involved developing radar during the war and created a business for that postwar which he sold to Decca, and later designed an agricultural machine the rights to which he sold for £120,000.

See also: Speedway Index

Sources: Graces Guide, MxN, George Wallis by Mark Revelle.

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