Today in Motorcycle History


Sturmey-Archer is a manufacturing company from Nottingham, England. Best known for their bicycle gears, they also produced motorcycle components including hubs, gearboxes and complete engines.

The company was founded in 1902 by Henry Sturmey and James Archer under the guidance of Frank Bowden (from whose name the term 'Bowden cable' originates) the primary owner of the Raleigh bicycle company.

The Sturmey-Archer name was also credited with the 49cc two-stroke engine fitted to early Raleigh mopeds, although this was actually a reworking of Vincenzo Piatti's "Trojan Mini-Motor" and built by BSA's motorcycle operation.

Sturmey-Archer engines were used in a numerous machines including Allegro, Aliprandi, Ardie, Bauer, Carlton, Coventry-Eagle, Dunelt, Durandal, MP of Italy, Raleigh, Rex-Acme, Soyer, Vaga and Victoria. They also made gearboxes and bicycle components.

Motorcycles with Sturmey-Archer gearboxes included Bradbury, Burney, Raynal, Rush and Rovin.

Engine types include:
1935 742cc air cooled side valve V twin
600cc SV single cylinder c1936

250cc OHC Engine, 1929

The 248 c.c. O.H. Camshaft Model as illustrated is particularly neat in design. silent in action, and possessed of immense stamina, coupled with economy of petrol and oil. These features are, in fact, embodied in all Sturmey-Archer Engines. and have gained for them world-wide pre-eminence.

D.R.S.O. 496cc Sidevalve Engine, 1929


Bore 79 mm. Stroke 101 mm. Double roller bearing big end. Internal flywheel. Aluminum piston with fully floating gudgeon pin. Crankshaft mounted on roller bearings throughout. Interchangeable valves. Enclosed valve springs and tappets. Detachable cylinder head.

Lubrication by Dry Sump System.

Magneto platform integral with timing cover.

Complete with sparking plug, engine sprocket, magneto sprocket, magneto driving chain, and tools.

Compression ratio 4.6 to 1.

Nett Weight 73 lbs. (approx.)

At 4000 revolutions this engine develops approximately 10.35 brake horse power.

From the factory catalogue, which also stated the specifications in French and German

1. The Sturmey-Archer three-speed epicyclic gear was not invented by Sturmey or Archer, but by one William Reilly. "To save Sturmey’s blushes, and to create a more marketable product (Sturmey was one of the most famous cycle engineers of his day), Raleigh relegated Reilly to the sidelines and instead promoted Sturmey and Archer, neither of whom had anything to do with the hub gear their names became attached to." ~
2. It was suggested that Victoria employed an S-A engine which was most likely built at their factory in Germany. However, a German site on the marque says that they ceased to import S-A engines after 1933. Sturmey-Archer had a factory in Nurnberg in 1929, but it's likely they only made gearboxes there, not engines.
3. In 2000, Sturmey-Archer was sold to Sun Race Sturmey-Archer Inc. and operations were moved to Taiwan.

Sources: Graces Guide, et al.

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