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Rudge Whitworth in the Edwardian Era
1910 Stanley Show Report
Rudge-Whitworth, Ltd. Coventry.
Three motor-bicycle models will be exhibited on this stand, and as the Rudge-Whitworth Co. are for the first time launching out on the motor-bicycle business, they will be bound to prove a big attraction to all agents.
The machines are of standard H.P. single-cylinder type, the engine being designed to afford the greatest possible accessibility and ease of manipulation. The cylinder is 85 mm. bore, and 88 mm. stroke; the radiators are largest on the combustion head, where most heat is generated, in addition to which advantage it imparts a graceful appearance to the machine.
The valves are easy to get at, the inlet being of the overhead type actuated by rocking lever, the advantage being that the incoming gases keep the exhaust valve cool; owing to the special construction of the exhaust, trouble at this point has been done away with on the Rudge-Whitworth.
A very low and comfortable position is afforded by the design of the frame, and the spring forks are particularly effective in absorbing road shock, being connected with the steering head through a compression spring in a telescopic sheath.
Foot-rests are placed well forward to give an easy riding position, and both pedals may remain down to give an alternative position: A cut-out on the silencer is operated by the foot from the right foot-rest, and the back brake which works on the belt rim is connected with the left foot-rest by a perfectly straight connecting rod.
One of the machines is equipped with a free engine operated by a plate clutch attached to the engine shaft and fitted with gear connection for starting. By a patented device the back mudguard is hinged on the carrier, and can be raised to give access to the back wheel.
The 1912 model is the first year of the Rudge Multi, which uses a multi-speed axle and gear system with a laminated rubber drive belt and was a great improvement over the previous single speed configuration.
Rudge had its beginnings in 1868 making velocipedes (forerunners of bicycles). In 1894, the company was acquired by bicycle manufacturer Whitworth Cycles. They started manufacturing motorcycles in 1910, which included several early innovations, including a spring-loaded stand, a front-and-back linked braking system, a spray-action carburetor and, in their early 1912 model, the 500cc Rudge Multi, a belt-gearing system that offered no less than 21 gear ratios! The Multi became a highly sought after machine and gave the company their first racing win in 1914.
Rudge made a 998cc V-twin in 1914, but war halted production of it until 1919. In the 1920s, Rudge built four-valve cylinder heads for their 500cc single, a version of which won the 1928 Ulster Grand Prix - "The World's Fastest Road Race" - with a speed of 80.078 mph. As a result, their next model was named the Ulster and offered a top speed of 90 mph. Financial trouble and World War II brought production to an end in 1939.
Here are the 1912 specifications for this machine:
Engine: Single cylinder, 85mm x 88 mm, 499cc. Overhead inlet valve, side exhaust
Lubrication: Oil tank on seat tube, pump operated by right foot
Ignition: Ruthardt magneto, gear driven with vernier adjustment
Transmission: Direct laminated rubber belt with Multi gear with engine-shaft clutch
Frame: Simple diamond, Rudge enclosed-spring fork
Wheels: Rudge, with 650x65mm beaded edge tyres
Brakes: Single shoe acting on rear belt rim, stirrup on front rim
Tanks: Separate fuel and oil
Builder: Rudge Whitworth
Original Finish: Frame black enamel. Tanks silver with thick green stripes lined in black. Black celluloid on handlebars, levers, pedal arms and hubs. Small parts nickel plated.
1915 998cc V-twin Model 7/9hp, introduced this year, was fitted with an IOE engine and a Jardine four-speed gearbox. Later models had the Rudge Multi variable pulley system.
1915 3½ h.p. "TT" replica also added to the Rudge range in this year. Few were made, due to increasing demands of the wartime economy, until after the armistice of Nov 11th 1918.