Victoria Motorcycles

Victoria KR21 197cc

In 1951 Norbert Riedel returned to Victoria, with whom he had worked in the 1930s and 40s. There he used some of his ideas from the Imme to create two new machines, the Peggy scooter and the the KR21 Swing.

In the fashion of the most popular scooters of the day, the engine was integral with the swinging arm. One of the advantages of this was that the cast alloy fully-enclosed chain guard was a structural element, forming part of the swinging arm. Ease of chain maintenance and longetivy were greatly improved as a result, as was cleanliness.

Driven by a 197cc two-stroke (65x60mm) mounted horizontally in a duplex cradle frame, both the Swing and the Peggy had electric start, a rarity in the day. They also had an electric gearshift.

Activated by a pushbutton system mounted on the left handlebar, the four buttons acted with a gear change system similar to that developed for the Imme. Finding neutral was quite an art, and stopping in the wrong gear proved somewhat of a pain. It took some time for the rider to master, and was also rather delicate.

The Swing not did achieve good sales.

Swing High, Swing Low

ALAN BAKER Covers Some Interesting Miles on the Push-button 197 c.c. Victoria


ONE of the sensations of the 1955 Copenhagen and Amsterdam Shows was the 197 c.c. Victoria, a single-cylinder two-stroke called the Swing, one gathers, because the complete engine-gear-transmission unit pivoted with the rear wheel, At that time the Swing had twistgrip control of the gear change, but soon afterwards it was fitted with the ingenious Getrag transmission. This, as is now widely known, features electro-magnetic gear changing by means of push-buttons on a small handlebar panel adjacent to the clutch lever.

Other unusual features are a leading-link front fork with pressed-steel stanchions and a single, hydraulically damped spring unit in front of the steering head, and a cast-aluminium oil-bath case for the rear chain which is automatically tensioned. The case forms the main rear-wheel support; on the left side is another light-alloy casting. of internally ribbed channel section. A live rear axle is employed, running in a ball bearing housed in the casting.

The widespread interest in enclosure and weather protection of motor cycles has encouraged the Victoria concessionaires, Europa Imports, Ltd., to evolve well styled polyester/ glass side panels, legshields and fairing-type windscreen. Replacing the pressed-steel mid-section cowling, the side panels are held by two coil-slot screws at the upper rear and two bolts at the front which also secure the legshields. Additionally, both panels are located at the lower rear by pegs and rubber sockets. The screen fairing fits snugly round the headlamp nacelle and is braced to the front-fork stanchions by fabricated vee-brackets.

Journeys in wet weather revealed a-high standard of protection. Height of the screen suited me well - its top edge was about the right distance from the eyes - and the hand shielding was markedly effective. I wore light gloves merely out of habit. Shoes remained pristine, but in heavy rain the outside of my legs became a little damp, attributable to the gap between fairing and legshields. A point of criticism, though, was the need to set the unduly long brake pedal too high for easy operation, to avoid its fouling the lower edge of the right shield. Shortening of the pedal would therefore achieve a dual purpose.

The panels do not hamper access to the plug and contact breaker. Other tasks, such as cleaning out the float chamber or draining and refilling the gear box, necessitate removal of one or other of them. Both came off without difficulty and left a clear field for action; replacement was equally simple, and on the road there was no sign of drumming.

And what of the gear-box operation? First, let me doff my helmet to the Getrag organization for having produced a box which is dead quiet in all ratios and can give virtually instantaneous, clean changes in either direction. I have ridden very few other roadster models which merit the same comment. However, I have rather short fingers, and this lack of span made it difficult for me to thumb the more remote second- and third-gear buttons simultaneously with disengaging the clutch; I had to make two distinct movements - clutch and then button.

Even so, a day or two of practice and the changes were going through almost as quickly as with the average foot-change, though I could not help wishing my hands were as large as those of colleague Jimmy Simpson, who had no bother in control synchronization and could really take advantage of the lightning change.

In the earlier stages I was caught out once or twice because, although neutral can be obtained from any gear, it must be selected while the machine is still rolling. If not, one is left at rest in gear - usually top or third in the case of an emergency stop - with no response to button-pushing. The getaway drill then was to slip the clutch until the speed reached about 5 m.p.h., whereupon neutral could be obtained or the necessary changes down could be made.

The engine started readily, ticked over evenly and reliably, and, for a one-nine-seven, pulled lustily over quite a wide speed range. However, vibration could be felt at high r.p.m. and there was appreciable pinking above half-throttle unless engine revs were high. Open-road riding revealed a gluttony for work and one could cruise indefinitely with the speedometer needle hovering around the 55 m.p.h. mark - stop-watch tests revealed an average speedometer optimism of about five per cent. Mean maximum speed (riding sitting up, of course) was an indicated 61 m.p.h. and all-in fuel consumption was in the region of 80 m.p.g.

Rear springing was good and the simple load adjustment - a tiny two-position lever on the right-hand suspension unit - was most effective. On the other hand, the front-fork action was over-firm and, with the slightly lean-forward riding position, resulted in some jarring of the wrists on bumpy surfaces. That long reach to the handlebar is my only criticism of the riding position and would probably not apply to an unscreened model; I liked the narrow bar and tank and the fold-away kick-starter.

Thanks to its short wheelbase and good handling characterists, the Swing was an entertaining machine to ride on twisty toads, It could be banked over or picked up very quickly, and considerable enthusiasm was needed on cornets before anything grounded. Steering could be criticized only in respect of slight Low-speed heaviness. Braking power was well up to modern standards, but considerable lightening to the powerful front-brake pull-off springs would have made for less fatigue in traffic and greater sensitivity of control.

I judged the noise level to be about normal for a two-stroke from phon-conscious Germany, while lights and horn were well up to the expected standard, and the high-quality tool kit was comprehensive.

Finally, a word of unstinted praise for the centre stand with its cam-shape feet: practically no effort is needed to pull the model on or off. the lift is sufficient to bring the front wheel clear of the ground and the toe peg is accessible.

The Motor Cycle, 7th August 1958

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