Chater-Lea Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Chater-Lea Motorcycles

Chater-Lea Logo

A Brief History of the Marque

Founded by William Chater-Lea in 1900, the company initially built bicycles, and the first complete motorcycles were built in 1903.

In addition to their own engines, Chater-Lea used motors built by Blackburne, Villiers, Fafnir, JAP, Trent, De Dion, Minerva and others. They were quite successful in racing during the 1920's and 30's.

Dougal Marchant developed a Blackburne engine which had been converted to OHC and with it achieved the magic ton on a Chater-Lea, the first time such a speed had been achieved with an engine of only 350cc.

The last of the 800 or so motorcycle combinations Chater-Lea built for the AA was completed in 1936, and many of these machines have survived.

The company also built automobiles between 1907 and 1922, and aircraft components during WWII.

Chater-Lea History

kenmac at dot au
I have come across this barn find and was wondering if you could help me find out a few details about it please.
What I know is is is apparently a 1925 model with a JAP engine. Hp and CC not known. It has interchangeable hubs. The part that confuses me is that it has over head valves and twin exhausts and I cannot find an image on the web of another Chater Lea with twin exhausts. Could this be one of the experimental models they talk about towards the end of 1925.

If so I would appreciate knowing how many were made and are left in existence or any other details you could provide me with. There also doesn't seem to be many Chater Lea motorcycle's in Australia.

Thanking you in anticipation.
Regards Ken McNamara

    Image posted to Comments, above.
    A marque specialist at a vintage motorcycle club is probably your best bet. This page may have some helpful information: British Resources

14 November 2020
johnglynn2008 at
1926 sports cam
Hello I am in the process of restoring a sports cam that came to me in pieces, I am. Just wondering if there are any drawings of the engine. Thank you very much.
John Glynn
  • Sorry, have no engine drawings at present. Is it a conventional engine, or a face cam engine?

johnglynn2008 at
1926 Chater lea
Hi I would like some history on this bike if possible.
Under the gear box of the bike (are) vague numbers 26 which I this is the year followed by 692 or 592.
If it's any help I was told it's works number is 607.
John Glynn

    It may be a 350 OHC Super Sport
    Chater-Lea-1926-JoG-01 images posted to comments, below.

Mon Jan 21 2013
Parts and manual book
Chater Lea 500cc with sidecar 1926
My gear at 1st ok but not 2nd gear it catch in gear but jump when  accelarate yhen 3rd gear in it is fine. i look for spares for clutch and gears. I dont have manual book so i desperately need manual book.
Ronald Mc Master, South Africa

Wed Jun 24 2009
flattank at bigpond dot com
JAP Motorcycle
Chater Lea 1910
I have attached a photo of my c1910 Chater Lea / JAP with 1905 pattern Auto Inlet Valve engine....I claim this to be the oldest V twin JAP in going you know of an earlier one?
Hobart, Tasmania

Thu Mar 12 2009
robcrow at
cenntenial ride.aug 2009 kent to kerry
chater lea 1907
google "further Adventures in Motorcycling 2009". We are looking for participants

Mon Oct 27 2008
risboroughz at hotmail dot com
Chater-Lea No.7. 1912
I would like to contact other owners of this model.
Please find attached a picture of my chater lea from some years ago. Could you please add this to the profile. It's a rare motorcycle, and any help would be most appreciated.
Thank you once again,

Thu Oct 25 2007
oldtimers22 at
Chater Lea 550 ?

Hello !
I found this engine in Poland, it's not complete.

Sat Aug 11 2007
esi-sor at
CHATER LEA 545cc Sports
HI there any help would be appreciated i have the makings of a 1926-1930?? 545cc sport any info, parts , contacts, owners, i have had this bike (collection of parts) for about 12 years and have slowly be gathering bits and piece's and i come across them any help at would be very much appreciated thanks Ross
New Zealand

Tue Jan 30 2007
cutler at
Chater-Lea 1927 Face Cam
I am looking for any available engine components to assist with restoration
South Africa

Mon Dec 18 2006
camneill at supanet dot com
ChaterLea 500 single 1927
I have recently purchased a Chater Lea and am struggling to get any info on it.
Does any one have any brochures, bookets, info on Chater Lea motorcycles.

Sat Nov 25 2006
r.king8 at ntlworld dot com
1904-5-6 chater lea
could you give me any info on 1904 chater lea
what i really want is some picture's of the machine

Tue Mar 28 2006
cota25 at gmail dot com
I am looking for any Chater-Lea restored or unrestored and any kind of brochure of this brand.

Do you know if this chater Lea is still for sale and if so how I can find the owner?

Do you mean the one for sale on Ebay? Ed. Date: Tue, 3 May 2005
<John.Hurst at novuswestasia dot com >

Sorry for not being explicit. Yes I mean the 31 Chater Lea 500 that was advertised on ebay. I tried to get in contact with the seller through ebay but my message kept getting bumped back. Any help you can give gratefully received.

Regards, John

There appears to be no further information available on Ebay, so I think that's a blind alley. Suggest contacting the UK vintage clubs - someone will know about the bike. Ed.

26th January 2005
Chater-Lea on Ebay UK
Vendor's Description:
...a very rare 1931 Chaterlea 500cc single cylinder road racing motorcycle, there is every possibility that this is the only surviving model of its kind. This bike has been 100% fully restored to full race (Concourse) condition and is ready to race. To the best of my knowledge there was 1 previous owner who personally raced this machine in the early 1930's. Since this Bike has been restored (which took 3 years) it has been kept in my living room, this is a much loved and cherish machine.

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