Today in Motorcycle History

Orbit Motorcycles


Orbit motorcycles were produced from 1913 to 1924 by a firm founded by S. Dorsett of the Diamond company, using old works in Vane Street, Wolverhampton.

1913 The first machine was an experimental motorcycle that appeared in June. It was of unit construction with enclosed rear-drive chain and an internal expanding rear brake. The engine was typical and the proposal was to use sv 2.75hp and 3.5hp, but with an unconventiional crankcase. The primary drive was by gears to the camshaft and then by a second gear-pair to a clutch on the countershaft of the two-speed gearbox. All mechanical parts were fully enclosed and the exhause pipe forked to connect to footboards that acted as silencers. It was priced at £50.

The outbreak of the Great War made it virtually impossible for the project to be taken any further.

1921 The first models appeared, powered by the company's own 261cc two-stroke engine, belt drive and either single-, two- or three-speed transmissions.

1922 Towards the end of the year further models were shown. The engines were: 348cc Barr and Stroud sleeve-valve; 349cc oil-cooled ohv Bradshaw; and 348cc ohv Blackburne. A three-speed Burman gearbox was fitted as standard and the overall appearance was of a sporting machine.

1923 A 350cc, oil cooled machine was developed, which sold for £60.

1924 Expansion was short lived and only the Bradshaw model and their own two-stroke made it through to that year. The last model was the T.S.12, which sold for £45, after which production ceased.

The 1922 Olympia Show.

ORBIT. (Stand 24.)

Four Lightweights.

2¾ H.P. Model.

68x 72 mm. (261 c.c): single cyl. two-stroke; drip feed lubrication; B. and B. carb.; chain-driven mag.; 3-sp. gear; clutch and kick-starter; chain drive; 26x2¼in. tyres. Price £55.

Orbit Motors, Ltd., Orbit Works, Wolverhampton.

Four Orbit lightweights are shown, all practically to an identical specification, excepting in the engine units. Only the two-stroke, as detailed above, is fitted with the firm's own power unit, a conventional but well-carried-out design of the three port type with plain bearings and a deeply-finned cylinder. Internal expanding brakes on the front and rear wheels, a well-balanced front mudguard, and a capacious metal tool box on the saddle tube, are items common to all four models, although a Bradshaw-engined type is distinctive on account of its pair of highly-polished aluminium mudguards. Swan front forks, which have an enclosed central shock and rebound spring, are employed in every case. The silencer, which is right at the end of the exhaust pipe, is of Orbit design and embodies baffle plates.

For the rest the exhibit is best described by detailing the prices of the models not covered by the specification: 349 c.c. Barr and Stroud, £67 10s. (A.J.S. lightweight sidecar, £20 extra); 349 c.c. Bradshaw, £67 10s.; o.h.v. 349 c.c. Blackburne (semi-racing equipment), £70. Disc wheels are an extra.

Olympia Show, The Motor Cycle, November 30th, 1922. Page 839

Orbit 1922 265cc

New silencing arrangements form the most important change on the two-stroke Orbit.


Own Two-stroke and o.h.v. Sleeve-valve or Oil-cooled Four-stroke Models.

IN these days of proprietary units it is refreshing to find manufacturers of two-stroke lightweights building their own engines. There is a certain type of buyer with a rooted, albeit usually quite unreasonable, objection to assembled machines, and although many of the more important lightweight firms make their machines throughout, the majority of the smaller people patronise the proprietary unit.

Not so the Orbit, in its two-stroke form, anyhow. The 265 c.c. (68x72mm.) engine, however, is quite conventional. Such details as a passage for the release-valve gases to the main exhaust pipe have received attention and the silencing arrangements for next year have been improved. A wide-swept exhaust pipe terminates in a large detachable silencer below the rear stay.

All-chain transmission via a three-speed Burman gear box is employed.

Other features are ample mudguarding, large footboards and a tool box on the saddle tube.

The remaining Orbit models are to a similar specification, but variously employ 349 c.c. o.h.v. Blackburne, sleeve-valve Barr and Stroud, or oil-cooled Bradshaw engines, thus meeting all requirements.

The Motor Cycle November 16th, 1922.

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle

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