Zenith motorcycles were produced from 1905 to 1950.
Zenith Motors, Ltd.
Weybridge. Stand No. 70.
There will be a comprehensive exhibit on this stand including the 3 1/2 H.P. Zenith Gradua, the 3 1/2 H.P. Zenith with side car, the 6 H.P. Zenith Gradua, and the Triumph Gradua. There will be a demonstrating model of Gradua gear. All the machines are fitted with J.A.P. engines, Brown and Barlow carburetter, Druid forks, and special Zenith stand. Amongst the improvements will be special parallel brake movement, and a new pattern silencer and cut out.
1910 Stanley Show Report
Cycle and Motor Trades Review
1912 During the year there were many detail improvements.
1913 The range added three racing models with JAP ohv engines, 2.75hp and 3.5hp singles and an 8hp V-twin, plus a road model with a 4hp water-cooled Green engine.
1914 The models were much revised, with a chain-driven countershaft, complete with clutch and kick-starter, mounted in front of the crankcase. The countershaft carried a large pulley to drive the rear wheel by a long belt, while retaining the Gradua Gear and rear wheel movement. The engines still came from JAP, but all were twins of 3.5hp, 6hp or 8hp. During the year, the firm moved to Hampton Court, Middlesex and continued with their twins until world War I stopped production.
1919 Production started again with the 6hp and 8hp models, still with the counter-shaft and Gradua Gear, but, by November, these were joined by a 346cc flat-twin, still with the same transmission.
1921 A model fitted with a 494cc oil-cooled Bradshaw flat-twin engine was introduced and was soon listed with the choice of the Gradua gear or a three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox and all-chain drive.
The chief item of interest on the Zenith stand will be the chain-driven Bradshaw-engined model, which is a distinct departure from the procedure followed by this firm since its inception being the first all-chain drive type introduced. A detailed description of this machine appears elsewhere in this issue.
Four examples of this new model will be shown, and four Bradshaw-engined Zeniths, which will be belt-driven and with the Gradua gear. These exhibits will demonstrate the cleanness of design of the Bradshaw oil-cooled engine, a road test of which was described in The Motor Cycle of November 10th. There will also be a 5 h.p. J.A.P.-engined sports model, a 5 h.p. J.A.P.-engined machinine with clutch, and an 8 h.p. sidecar outfiit with counter-shaft drive and clutch. The requirements of all classes of riders have been studied, and the machines range from the fastest and most powerful twin cylinder to the mediumweight sports models while the family man's requirements have not been overlooked, the sidecar outfit being a thoroughly well-designed and practical mount.
The MotorCycle, November 24th 1921
1923 Several singles were introduced, all of conventional form. There was also a special built for an enthusiast, fitted with a Barr and Stroud V-twin sleeve-valve engine.
1924 The Gradua Gear had run its course, so the company offered all chain drive on a range of singles and V-twins that increased annually. All were typical of the decade. One used an ohv single-cylinder Bradshaw engine.
1926 By now there were machines with 348cc Blackburne, 490cc JAP singles and 680cc and 980cc V-twin JAP engines.
1927 A 175cc sv lightweight was added for that year only.
1928 The lightweight was replaced by one using a 172cc Villiers two-stroke engine. The firm still had a sporting interest, and that year O. M. Baldwin set the motorcycle world speed record at over 124mph.
1930 Joe Wright used a Zenith to take the record to over 150mph/240kmh. Unfortunately, these sporting successes did not sell many machines, and the firm was taken over by Writer's, a large south London dealer.
1931 A reduced range was listed, all with JAP engines.
1933 Twenty models were offered.
1934 The range had reduced to fourteen models.
1939 The range had dwindled to just six models, which were all somewhat old-fashioned.
Post-war. They returned in 1947, but only one model was ever listed, and this used the 747cc sv JAP V-twin, in the pre-war format, with Druid girder forks. In time these were changed to DowtyOleomatic.
1950 Production ceased.
Sources: Graces Guide
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