OK Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Humphries and Dawes

OK motorcycles were produced in Birmingham from 1899 to 1926.

  • 1899 The first motorcycle was made by Ernie Humphries and Charles Dawes of Hall Green, who were partners in the cycle parts trade.

    Over the next decade several OK machines were ridden to TT wins, and the partners expanded their business to include motorcycle parts, and built a few machines using Minerva, Precision and Green engines.

    1912 Now located in Lancaster Street, they introduced a new range using 2.5hp, 3.75hp and 4.25hp Precision engines with belt drive and hub gears.

    1913 The largest model was replaced by one with a 6hp JAP V-twin engine, two speeds and chain drive.

    1914 The OK Junior was introduced, fitted with a 2hp engine, with overhead inlet valve, and drove a two-speed gearbox by chain. Final drive was by belt and other components included an Amac carburettor, Ruthardt magneto and Druid forks. Other models were the 3.5hp single and 3hp V-twin, both with OK engines.

    1915 The V-twin was dropped from the range, and a 269cc two-stroke and a 2.5hp JAP four-stroke were added.

    OK 1914/15 Junior

    OK 1915 Two-stroke

    1916 Only the Junior and the 2.5hp were produced.

    1919 After the First World War there was an overwhelming demand for cheap personal transport so the firm decided to concentrate on one simple and affordable model. This was the OK-Junior, with a 293cc Union two-stroke engine and direct-belt drive. It claimed to be the 'Ford' of the motorcycle world. Arrangements were made to produce 20,000 a year by 1921.

    1920 By the middle of the year, 2,000 Juniors per week were leaving the works, and the option of a 269cc Villiers engine became available. Demand soon fell as the post-war buyers' market waned.

    1921 To increase appeal a two-speed Albion chain-cum-belt version was listed.

    1922 A three-speed Moss-geared model was added.

    1923 The range began to expand in a serious way as two four-strokes with Blackburne engines joined the two-stroke.

    1924 A 349cc oil-cooled ohv Bradshaw and 348cc ohv Blackburne with three speeds and all-chain drive were produced.

    1925 Those same models were seen again, with a few modifications. Burman gearboxes were standardized, with the Moss as an option.

    1926 A new version of the Junior was announced - three speeds, all-chain and with dummy belt-rim brakes to both wheels. Early in the year the Ernie Humphries and Charles Dawes partnership ended and Veloce moved into the Hall Green works.

    Note: Ernie Humphries moved to new premises and started afresh with OK-Supreme.

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle