James Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

James Motorcycles 1914-1915


Both sides of the 2¼ h.p. two-stroke James


WHENEVER it has been our lot to visit the works of the James Cycle Co., Ltd., at Greet, Birmingham, the roads have invariably been "up." Whether for sewers, water pipes, gas, or for the laying of tramlines, the fact remains that the roads were up. This has nothing to do with motor cycles, the reader may say, but in this particular instance it has, seeing that we started out of the James works on a two-stroke mount entirely strange to us, and at once commenced winding in and out a network of ropes and notices "Road up," often with less than the space of a yard between the roped off portion and the stone kerbing of the pavement.

But this was no anxiety; in short, the controllability of the little James leaves nothing to be desired. Its control can be mastered by any novice in a few minutes. It starts with the greatest ease by a dig with the foot on the ground whilst sitting in the saddle, and we repeated this operation regularly during the time the machine was in our possession - no matter whether the engine was stone cold after standing some time, or warm after a run. It will crawl along on low gear two-stroking regularly by the simple expedient of retarding the spark lever and cutting down the throttle opening, and immediately accelerate when the throttle is opened.

A blow-back or spluttering through the carburetter was occasionally experienced when the compression release was operated, but this failing applies to practically every two-stroke engine on the market, and the obvious remedy is to govern speed on the throttle only.

An Ordinary Stock Model for Trial.

The particular machine we sampled was not one got ready specially for test, but was in just such a state as we prefer to try new models.

Those who know Meriden Hill, on the Birmingham-Coventry Road, will gain some idea of its hill-climbing abilities when we state that it ascended this quarter mile rise of about 1 in 12 at 25 m.p.h. - on top gear of 5½ to 1, of course. As a matter of fact, we formed the opinion that a slightly higher ratio for the top gear would be an advantage, as when travelling at full speed on the level vibration in the handle grip and footplates made its presence felt. It would be a difficult hill that could stop a 226 c.c. two-stroke James with its low ratio of 10 to 1.

A Well-Protected Mount.

What particularly impressed us about the James was its cleanliness. Large and efficient mudguards with side extensions, an enclosed flywheel and footboards of large dimensions, combined to screen the rider very thoroughly, so efficiently indeed that we found that legging overalls were unnecessary for short runs.

The riding position of the two-stroke James has been well studied. The handle-bars are of large size and gracefully swept back to allow a natural pose with the result that one does not get tired even after long runs in the saddle. The detail work generally is very good. The lubrication, it may be mentioned is by the "petroil" system, that is, the usual mixture of petrol and oil, but we like the idea of an auxiliary pump direct to the crank case so that one may inject an extra charge of lubricating oil if deemed desirable In a word the James is a very attractive town mount on account of its extreme handiness and low build and it is nevertheless able to average a speed of nearly 20 m.p.h. over give and take roads.

The Motor Cycle, September 24th, 1914. p362.

Engine - 2¼ h. p. two-stroke, 226 c.c.
Iqnition - Bosch magneto.
Carburetter - Senspray.
Change Speed - Counter-shaft two-speed, 5½ and 10 to 1.
Transmission - Chain and belt.
Dimensions - Height of saddle from ground, 28in. Ground clearance, 5in. Forced feed to main bearings and oil in petrol.
Other Features - Druid forks, enclosed driving chain.
Price - 35 guineas.

James Cycle Co., LTD., Greet, Birmingham.

British Lightweights, 1914


THE James Cycle Co. of Birmingham, have decided only to modify their present types, as they find no necessity to make alterations. They have entirely dropped all belt-driven models with the exception of the little two-stroke, which will remain exactly as before, except for the fact that the choice of 26in. or 24in, wheels is given.

The big single will be marketed with both two and three-speed gears, and in main details remain unaltered. Some parts of the frame have been reinforced, though they retain their original appearance. One of the most striking alterations is the removal of the change-speed lever from the side to the centre of the tank; this now passes through a slot working in a gate on the side of the top tube. This allows the tank capacity to be increased by widening the tank without interfering with the rider's comfort. Two gallons of petrol are now carried without causing any unsightly projections.

All riders will appreciate the fact that grease cups are fitted to all the spring fork shackle pint, which permit proper lubrication of the important part without fiddling with tiny lubricators. Both chain cases are now provided with neat inspection caps, which are instantly detachable, and permit a clear view of the lower part of the chain. The cases themselves are &split horizontally instead of vertically as before, and appear absolutely flush without projections. The hubs have an all-black finish, and the front hub with its Timken roller bearings can now be adjusted readily.

In the case of the 3½ h.p. twin the alterations are somewhat more noticeable, though in reality only detail refinements have been carried out. A similar frame to that used in the Isle of Man is now employed with a very strong design of steering head. The gear control has been carried rather further forward so as to be in an accessible position, and clear of the rider's knee. The rear brake will in future be heel applied, and the chain case and the spring fork grease cups are as already described, as on the big single.

Arrangements have been made for fitting the Lucas lighting set as an extra, the dynamo being carried in a specially adapted bracket in the saddle tube. The drive is, however, an extension to the gear shaft, and the whole thing is extremely well carried out. Another addition which can be obtained in the extras is a most excellent leg guard, which thoroughly protects the rider on the muddiest of days. Although this guard appears to cover most of the front of the machine, it has been found that it does not in any way affect the cooling.

The James sidecar combination with these extras is one of the most complete and comfortable outfits we have ever seen. The sidecar wheel is sprung, and the attachments to the motor cycle are excellent. The chassis remains as before.

The Motor Cycle, November 19th, 1914. p563.

JAMES 1916.

A catalogue was printed for 1916. The illustrations were identical to those in the 1914 Catalogue.