Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum
Triumph, BMW, & Kawasaki Sales Spares & Repairs.
Established for over 40 years and run by expert motorcyclists.
Fully authorised workshop.
However, the following month Motor Sport got another machine out of a manufacturer. It was an 8-h.p. Royal Enfield and sidecar, looking very "vintage." It proved a great top-gear runner, pulling away smoothly and accelerating briskly from low speeds in its highest ratio. The brakes were another feature - enormous drums on both wheels, pedal-operated, so that either wheel could be locked even on a dry road, whereupon the Enfield upended, putting all retardation on the front wheel. Normally used, these were admirably smooth brakes.
This Enfield was the side-valve sports model, not the older 8-h.p. V-twin with touring bars and handle-starting that was sold only as a sidecar outfit, although foot-boards still figured in the specification, likewise, balloon tyres were standard wear. Hill-climbing was another strong feature of the Enfield, Kop, in really rough condition, being topped at about 80 m.p.h. in second gear in spite of a baulk on the first steep pitch. However, nothing mechanical is completely perfect and this combination used oil at the rate of 200 m.p.g., no ready adjustment of the mechanical pump being provided, yet, in spite of ample lubricant, two momentary seizures were experienced.
Moreover, speed wouldn't rise above 55 m.p.h., the gearing seeming on the low side, although a small carburetter jet may have caused the sluggishness and over-heating, as fuel consumption worked out at some 60 m.p.g. Comfort was good in spite of a rather high saddle position, the front fork action admirable and the sidecar, so low and racy as to be rather unsociable, aided stability on l.h. corners. Indeed, with passenger, the tyres could be screamed on such corners before the sidecar wheel lifted.
The sidecar was very comfortable, had ample leg-room and an efficient screen, and a locker that would accommodate a tool-kit and a two-gallon petrol tin or, as the tester pre ferred it, two one-gallon oil tins! Right hand corners gave rise to a rather wilting feeling and the front wheel tried to go straight-on if the surface was loose. However, the tester was decent enough to say that he was apt, "imbued with the spirit embodied in the title of this journal, to drive all test vehicles in a distinctly hectic manner as though life were one great race." Through ordinary hands the Enfield would have passed with flying colours.
He even rode the machine solo in a hectic grass track affair and made fastest time in the s.v. class. Moreover a mild crash, due to a locked front wheel, failed to damage the Enfield in any way. It proved capable of high averages, largely by reason of its excellent brakes, and sold for £84.
In spite of the rather frank admission of testing-methods contained in the Enfield test, another bicycle duly came along, in the form of a 350-c.c. o.h.v. Humber. Such factors as car-style mudguards, a sensible lifting handle and substantial build and excellent finish were apparent at first sight. The gearbox gave ratios of 5.65, 7.75 and 11.59 to 1, and in spite of a weight of 260 lb. the Humber steered exceedingly well and cornered really fast.
The 75 by 79 mm. engine used an M.L. magneto and a B. and B. carburetter, and equipment included knee-grips and a comfortable saddle; the price was £60. The Bonniksen speedometer showed 68 m.p.h. as the best registered, but it was felt that 75 m.p.h. should be possible under good conditions; 40-45 m.p.h. could be kept up with no sign of overheating and the only criticism was a vibration at 35 m.p.h., the only trouble in a week's riding a broken outer inlet-valve spring. Both brakes were smooth and powerful. The easy gear-change was a most notable feature; incidentally, the throttle lever opened inwards.
If you have a query or information about vintage Royal Enfield motorcycles please contact us