Rex-Acme Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Rex Motorcycles 1900 to 1921

Manufactured by Birmingham Motor Manufacturing and Supply Co 1900 to 1921. The company was founded by brothers Pilkington as a car manufacturer in Coventry, in 1899.

Rex was one of the first and foremost manufacturers of motorcycles in Britain. Their advertising slogan read 'The King of British motors', and the firm was a true market leader in design and development.

1900 The marque, built by the Birmingham Motor Manufacturing and Supply Company, made its debut at the National Show, Crystal Palace, London. It was a forward-sloping, four-stroke engine positioned within the frame of a safety cycle.

1902 The company, having joined forces with Allard, moved its factory to Earlsdon, Coventry. They then redesigned the model so that the engine was vertically positioned ahead of the bottom bracket.

1903 The design was changed and a 'beehive' silencer added, so that it was incorporated into the right side of the cylinder. Thus, the model had an unconventional exhaust and silencer. That year also brought the arrival of air-ducted engine cooling. A Rex was entered for the Paris-Madrid race, but failed to start.

1904 A combination tool and battery box was fitted between the seat tube, chain stays and rear mudguard on a machine with a 3.25hp engine. Harold Williamson set a new End-to-End record, which he kept until 1908.

1906 was the last year Rex used their distinctive number "7" or pistol-shaped tank. The 1907 frame had a tube below the tank and a rectangular tank. [1]

Rex 1907 Models

1909 Walter Bentley, known later for his cars (and more importantly, alloy pistons), raced Rex motorcycles around this time.

Rex 1909 Models

1910 Following further expansion, a new engine cradle was introduced. This replaced an outdated version that had been in use since 1902. They also produced 499cc two-stroke Rex Valveless with magneto ignition. This was eventually sold as the PMC.

1911 Early in the year, the factory underwent some reorganisation. Later, after a boardroom row the Williamson brothers left the company. William went on to form the Williamson motorcycle company and Harold Williamson joined Singer. Under the direction of George Hemingway, Rex began manufacturing its own engines.

Rex 1911 Models

1912-1916 Various models were produced with many being built in the Rex works but sold by the Premier Motor Co of Birmingham. Gradually the range shrank and by 1916 only chain-driven, three-speed V-twins were produced. All production then stopped completely.

Rex 1919 Models

1920 A three-model range appeared consisting of two 4hp singles and a 8hp V-twin - all with three speeds and chain-cum-belt transmission.

Rex 1920 Models

1921 The Rex company joined forces with Acme and then became Rex-Acme.

Note: Made the first telescopic forks in 1906, and several other innovations including rotary-valve engines and, in 1908, were the first to angle the top tube downward to lower the riding position.

Rex and ROC

Commenting on a photograph depicting Muriel Hind with two similar motorcycles, Mike Braun wrote:

DU1551 is a Rex 1907-8, rigid forks hint at speed king model, valve gear and drive all on one side is odd, AA111 is a ROC 1907-8, also built at the Rex works in Coventry...

The Rex mark specialist Paul Dutton did a Rex history in the vintage motor cycle club magazine. That is accurate.

The 1907 Rex brochure has a photo of a line of completed bikes ready for delivery, in the middle of them are two ROC motorcycles, they have all come from the 'production line'. Rex are known to have made the Mountaineer and other makes at the works.

1. Robert Binns

Sources: Graces Guide, et al.