of Birmingham and London
An early James bicycle is in the National Cycle Collection.
1890 The company moved to larger premises.
1897 The company was registered on 22 May, to take over the business of Henry William James.
1897 Harry James retired and the (then) works manager, Charles Hyde, became managing director.
1897 Public company.
1902 The firm turned to power. Harry James died, Charles Hyde had left the company and Fred Kimberley had become managing director. He remained with the company for more than fifty years. The first two motorcycles in the James range were primitive - one used a Minerva engine hung from the downtube and direct-belt drive. The other had a Derby, mounted within the frame, with a short chain-drive back to a spring loaded friction roller, in contact with the rear tyre. A lever allowed the drive roller to be lifted clear and both frame and forks were simple bicycles. See also James 1902
1903 Only the Minerva style was listed, with 2hp and 2.5hp versions being offered.
1904 The design changed to a loop frame and an FN engine with a cast-iron crankcase.
After 1904 little is known for the next few years.
1909 Saw the launch of a radical new design and this was invented by P. L. Renouf. Known as the Safety model and advertised as the 'one-track car'. It had all the frame tubes to the left of the wheels, which ran on live axles, the front with hub-centre steering. Laminated springs provided the front suspension, while the saddle was supported by flat and coil springs. Both hubs had expanding metal-to-metal brakes, while the wheels were easy to remove and interchange. The petrol tank went in front of the headstock and acted as a front mudguard. Initially, the 523cc engine was inclined back to the headstock angle, but soon adopted a vertical position. It had variable lift of the inlet as a control, ball bearing for all shafts except the gudgeon pin, cylinder cooling-fins that were square in plan but alternately staggered around the casting, chain-driven rear-mounted magneto and a free-engine pulley design. Transmission was by belt, a handle was provided for starting, while foot-boards aided rider comfort.
1910 The machine was modified, the engine was enlarged to 558cc and adopted conventional sv and gear drive to the magneto. The front tank became the oil tank and toolbox, while the petrol tank fitted over the frame top-tube so it became a model with an early form of saddle tank. See also James 1910
1959 In came the Flying Cadet, trials Commander and scrambles Cotswold, all with AMC engines.
1960 The Captain turned to the 199cc AMC engine, so only the Comet was left with the Villiers. The James scooter was added to the range, using a variant of the 149cc AMC engine. It was typical in style, with enclosure and leading-link forks.
1961 Manufacturers of the James 2-stroke motor cycles and general engineers.
1961-1962 Some models used the Villiers engine for competition versions. New models were the Sports Captain in 1961, and the Superswift in 1962.
1963 The Sports Superswift appeared when the competition models returned to 246cc Villiers engines, the 32A for trials and the 36A with a Parkinson top-end conversion for scrambles. All models had been fitted with Norton forks and a new model that was actually a carbon copy of the Francis-BarnettPlover appeared - the only difference was the badges and the colour finish.
1964-1965 The range of models was reduced and simplified.
1966 Problems within the group brought production of these illustrious machines to an end and they disappeared altogether when AMC folded.
Source: Graces Guide