Today in Motorcycle History

Premier 1912 3½ h.p. TT

1912 3½ h.p. T.T. Premier

The writer on his 1912 3½ h.p. T.T. Premier.

The Light Weight "3½."

A Word for the Simple Solo Single of the Type made a Decade Ago, and which weighed under 190 lb.

THE idea, now so prevalent, that a solo motor cycle to be effective must be equipped with a three-speed gear, chain drive, and other costly and heavy refinements, is to a great extent fallacious. The simplicity and briskness of a single-cylinder 500 c.c. machine will be found to compensate to a large degree for the lack of a kick-starter and gear box. Certainly an automatic pulley may be fitted to advantage, because it in no way deprives the T.T. motor cycle of its best characteristics, and it eases the engine just when necessary. Experience proved that with such a pulley there was no trouble from belt-slip or excessive wear on belts; in fact, it eases the belt from snatch when the engine is "plugging," and also when it is violently accelerated.

Achievements of a 1912 Model.

In the autumn of 1912, the writer purchased a 3½ h.p. T.T. Premier, fitted with a drilled pulley. Drilled engine pulleys are a constant source of belt-slip, and for serious motor cycling they can be classed with discs as being undesirable. This machine was improved by the substitution of a Philipson pulley, and at the United Services meeting, held on the Brooklands Track in September, 1915 (the machine then being three years old), and, in spite of at least 20,000 miles to its credit, as good as the day it left the Premier Works), it easily won a heat, and almost secured a place in the 600 c.c. Open Sprint, and, without any adjuslment to the pulley, tied equal first in the 600 c.c. Open Test Hill-climb. The weight, stripped, on this occasion was only 156 lb., and the machine as used for touring scaled under 190 lb., with lamps and spares. The carburetter used was a Senspray, which the writer considers to be well . adapted to this type of motor cycle. No mechanical trouble was experienced, although the Premier was not specially nursed; but always care was taken, first, not to race the engine until it had warmed up to its work, and secondly, to see thet the valves were down on their seatings when a ride was ended; both of which simple rules ensure even expansion or contraction, and make a great difference in preserving the tune of the engine.

Reliability and Liveliness.

For or comfort and reliabihty no less than for high average speed the writer can recommend such a machine, which, with lamps and horn, should not cost more than 70% of the heavy tourist or sidecar medium powered motor cycle.

A valve cap decompressor was found useful during a sojourn in the Metropolis, but for ordinary country this was discarded. The average consumption 80 m.p.g. with petrol, and the only time benzole was tried 120 m.p.g. was obtained on easy, but muddy. roads. Twice, through runniing out of petrol, neat paraffin was requisitioned, and the journey home was completed, but (in common with the writer's experience on other machines') the carburetter insisted on less, and not more, air. As to "speed wobble," a slight "dither" of the rear wheel was noticeable at high speeds, but this in no way affected the control of the machine, as there was never any tendency for the rear wheel to swing right out of track, and one soon became accustomed to it. The wide, low footrests, rigidly supported behind the crank case, helped to steady the cycle, especially on corners, which were taken by leaning the machine well inwards, with as much pressure as was possible on the outside footrest.

Previous to this the writer's last two machines were a 7-9 h.p. American twin and a 3½ h.p. machine of the same make as the T.T. cycle, but fitted with a Sturmey-Archer hub gear and weighing 230 lb. Neither of the latter was as fast nor as handy as the T.T. machine, and most active riders would have preferred the simpler type for anything except traffic dodging.

Faith in the Single Cylinder.

At present the writer has an I.O.M. pattern 3½ h.p. Rudge-Multi which seems to combine all the best qualities of the purely sporting mount with a capital variable gear and a clutch. The power unit, too, confirms one's belief that the sturdy single of first-class design will more than hold its own with twin or multi-cylindered engines of various patterns.

It must, of course, be understood that personal taste will create a market for almost every type of motor cycle that is known, and that the writer in no way intends to trumpet an overwhelming superiority on behalf of the single-cylinder machine or of the T.T. type. One's own machine may indeed be "another man's poison," but therein lies much of the interest to be had in the progress of the modern motor cycle. In any case, the present-day enthusiast need not fear to plunge for, say, a Norton, Rover, or similar T.T. machine - the Premier is no longer made - if he considers that the price of a more elaborately furnished machine with gears, clutch, and kick starter, is beyond him. His personal inclinations and needs can be reconciled with probably a number of the many excellent machines now being manufactured.


The Motor Cycle October 21st. 1920. Page 403