Zenith Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Zenith Motorcycles

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A Brief History of the Marque

Made in Finsbury Park, London from 1904 to 1950, Zenith motorcycles had engines by Blackburne, Fafnir, Green, Green-Precision, Villiers, JAP and Bradshaw, usually with drive by the Gradua belt and pulley system which was retained into the 1920s. Notable models include an oil-cooled horizontally opposed Bradshaw-engined twin of 1922, and JAP V-Twin engined racing bikes which achieved considerable success, usually as a result of the technical prowess of Freddy Barnes. Riders of the day are the stuff of legend, not least among them Bert Le Vack.

Their earliest model was the Zenith Bi-Car with a 3hp water-cooled Fafnir engine.

Other Interesting models include:

1912-1918 Zenith Gradua in various capacities using engines which included the water-cooled V-Twin Green.
1925 Zenith 680cc V-twin (3-speed Sturmey Archer gearbox and chain drive)

1928 Zenith Model 19C 348 cc OHV Blackburne, also available with a JAP engine as Model 20 A (twin-port) and Model 19 B (single port).
1932 Zenith 490 cc JAP
1934 Zenith LC1 245 cc
1936 Zenith CP 1100 cc V Twin JAP Engine

More on the history of Zenith motorcycles...

A report on the 1924 Motor Cycle Show reads, in part,

"A special 8 h.p. racing model, equipped with the new overhead-valve J.A.P. engine, is the most attractive feature of this stand. This is in addition to the Super-Eight Model Sports, with J.A.P. 980 C.C. side-by-side valve engine, Sturmey-Archer three-speed gear, kick-starter, handlebar controlled clutch and mechanical oiler, which remains very nearly the same as it was last year, a slight alteration having been made to the design, so as to afford a lower saddle position. Other sports models on this stand are the 344 c.c. J.A.P. engined model and another new model, of the same capacity, but with two-port engine, special racing duplex frame, saddle tank, and Sturmey Archer gear.

Zenith Motors, Ltd., Hampton Court, England.

Motor Sport Magazine, 1924

rpedwards54 at optusnet.com.au
JAP 750cc side valve from a Zenith motorbike 1937-1947
I need pictures & literature on the motor can you steer me in the right direction thanks
Shane Edwards
Sydney Australia

I was going to suggest you try the FB group JAP Engine at fb.com/groups/262038688796/, but I see you've already done so.
lynne.hudd at gmail.com
I am about to start work on the box of bits that should go together to make a 680 Zenith 1925 but I am missing the tank. I would love to make contact with anyone who has one of these and particularly anyone who might have a tank for sale.
Lynne Huddleston
New Zealand

rmccullagh at tpg.com.au
1936 zenith
could you please help me with any information on this bike its original colour or any manuals.
ron mccullagh

Try this page: Books and Manuals

Sun, 19 Nov 2017
vincentone at satx.rr.com
Zenith C5 Special 1936

I have recently acquired the bike described above. I find little information on the C5 Special. Can you direct me to a source of information? I would like to know how many were built and how many may still be in existence. I believe the one I have to be near original and do not know of another here in the states. Any information on the C5 Special would be appreciated. It seems 1936 may have been the only year they were produced. I can furnish photos if anyone has interest. Much obliged for any information that can be offered. John Martin
John Martin
Seguin, Texas USA

Fri Dec 30 2016
mezzak at talktalk.net
1947 zenith big twin
I am building a zenith big twin, 1947 model. I have the engine and gear box but no frame, can anyone help? It would also be helpful if anyone with this machine would let me photograph it for reference purposes should I be lucky enough to find a frame to identify it.
regards Conrad.

Tue Mar 08 2016
twezwink at hotmail.co.uk
Rebuild Motorcycle
Zenith 1929 Jap 350cc
I am looking for a manual or pictures to help rebuild my Zenith 1929 350cc Motorcycle
New Zealand Gisborne

Fri Oct 16 2015
daniel.meurine at orange.fr

Hello, I look for some informations, and transfers, for a 1915 Gradua, model with clutch.
Bert wishes,
Clermont Ferrand . France.

Dec 2015

Hello, more informations on the ZENITH in restauration. I've the engine and clutch at the workshop. Its a twin, 8HP, and the stamp readable is: 66689, following by '8HP' and '830cc'. The bike is, I think, a 1914 model. I look fot some information. Mainly, the valves lifter in missing. A picture of them is a good helping. And also some details, but I work on the engine in first. Thanks for all. Daniel.
Center of France

The engine appears to be stamped 830cc, but no reference to such a JAP has turned up to date. Ed.

Thu Jul 11 2013
Zenith Information
Zenith 1936 CS5 600cc JAP sv
Hi, I just purchased this Zenith, I am keen to get as much info around this model and specifically which carb it should have had. Pictures would also be great.

Any info would be great.


South Africa

Fri Oct 19 2012
paul.abeck<at>btopenworlddot com
Zenith V-Twin
Iam trying to identify the make and model of the motorcycle & sidecar in the photo

Sun Dec 18 2011
Picture from the first world war
zenith Unknown
Just thought you might like this photo of my grandfather on a zenith of some kind. He was a captain in the Army in the first world war, where he was awarded the Military Cross, and he was a Squadron Leader in the second world war. His name was Reginald Mayo, and his grandfather Edmund Mayo was the founder of the Coventry Eagle Motorcycle company, which started life as Hotchkiss, Mayo and Meek. and manufacturer.
Phil How

Richard Hotchkiss (1837-97) of Hotchkiss, Mayo and Meek was not the manufacturer of machine guns. That was Benjamin Hotchkiss, 1826-85, of the USA.
Thanks to James Reeve, Oxfordshire. Nov 2016

Fri Dec 18 2009
trotty at nettel.net.nz
Zenith B2 1930
I have got one of those B2 1930, 350cc OHV Twin Port JAP I have restored at 95%. I have got some litterature on those Zenith, if I can help...or just share some "ideas".
Tauranga NZ

Sun Nov 23 2008
vintagent1 at aoldot com
Zenith information; Super Kim and Argentina
Zenith KTOR supercharged
There was a query about 'Super Kim'; I have written extensively about this machine on my website; www.thevintagent.blogspot.com
I have also researched the life of Freddie Barnes; search around my site. The history of 'Super Kim' is now almost fully documented, although there is a period from 1925-1929 which is vague. The Sigrand family may have purchased this machine directly from Zenith, or did they buy a used Brooklands machine? I'm in contact with the family in Argentina, and we're trying to work all this out.
Paul d'Orleans


Thu Aug 07 2008
michalsam at atlas.cz
Zenith 350, 1928
Zenith 350 OHV, model 19
I have got a motorcycle Zenith 350 from the year 1928. This motorcycle has not been completed yet(motor 250). I need front and back wheels, motor 350, rack and complete steering handlebar. I send some photos. And I need some another photos and literature about this type. Thank you for every help. Michal

Sat Apr 05 2008
xmastree-ph at yahoo.co.uk
Spotted this today.
Zenith not sure
I was working today, at a place called Zenith House in Manchester. They had this in the foyer. Sign says it's a 1912 Zenith. It's a JAP V twin, with a variable seed belt drive. Apparently it was the racing version, but this one had lights and a sidecar.
Manchester, UK

Fri Mar 21 2008
pnmilner at yahoo.co.uk
information and parts required
Zenith CP1100
Hi folks,
does anybody out there have any information or parts to help the restoration of my Zenith CP1100. It's a 1936 1100cc JAP engined bike. I'm aware only a handfull were built and 5 or 6 went to the Madrid civil guard during the Spanish cicil war....
Thanks in anticipation,
Paul Milner.

Sun Jun 24 2007
mike at marubicon.co.uk
A friend recently came across a photo of his great uncle Sim sitting astride a Zenith Vee twin sidecar outfit. The registration number is BC 1595. Clearly a Leicester, England number. Does this machine still exist?
Following my earlier e-mail regarding Uncle Sim's Zenith, please find
attached picture.
Thanks in advance for your help
Best regards
Mike Dawes
Thu Aug 26 2010
mike at marubicon.co.uk
Zenith motorcycle
The picture of the man sitting astride the Zenith motorcycle and sidecar, Leicester reg no BC 1595 is a friend of mine's Great Uncle Sim. My friend still has the original photograph wondering where this copy came from and if the motorcycle is still around.

Sat Feb 24 2007
frostbite.blues at optusnet.com.au
JAP Supercharged Engine
Do you have any information regarding this motorcycle ?
 I saw it years ago in an auction site - I lost the best picture of it ... Any details would be appreciated... Thanks, Greg Asmussen - Australia.
Canberra Australia.
It would be interesting to find out the history of the bike - I think from memory it was used in some speed trials in Brazil at some stage of its life......

Very interesting machine though - with the Garrett Blower attached and carby bowls mounted so low on the left side - definately not for left hand
cornering ...

SuperKim post 0811

Wed Jan 17 2007
b31pete at btinternetdot com
Where is it now?
A few years ago I sold a Blackburne engine. Some time later another chap had bought it and contacted me, saying that it was one of only four made, a 1000cc and fitted to a Zenith motorcycle. He told me that it was rather famous in it's time and set a lot of speed records back in the early 20's. He had reunited the engine with the frame and built the bike; he invited me to ride it at Brooklands but I was too unwell to do so. Curiosity is making me wonder if anybody knows anything about this bike and where it is now.
B31 Pete

Sat Sep 09 2006
mikenash at xtra.co.nz

There are some queries on this site from NZ/Australia re Zenith.

A chap who belongs to one of the Kiwi Vintage or Veteran car clubs (whichever one it is which has the really old cars) has a restored Zenith - perhaps 1908-1912? - with a 500cc JAP single engine. I just met him at a function in the Manawatu district of NZ about a decade ago, and I think he may be from the South Island. Someone in NZ vintage or veretan car clubs will know who he is

Sat Apr 22 2006
apache at wideband.net.au
Zenith frame

I came across this frame at a swap meet, trying to get as much detail about it as possible. Frame number is 10424.
Any help would be much appreciated.


Wed Apr 12 2006
nols at infogen.net.nz
Zenith motorbike
1912ish? Racing single
Hi, we live in New Zealand and would like to know the email address of any Zenith motorcycle enthusiasts or club as we have just bought an unrestored factory race machine of about 1912-14 (single cylinder JAP). Missing very few parts, but would appreciate the right contacts. Will post some photos hopefully soon. Thank you very much for any help, as it is very hard to find the right sources from this side of the world!
New Zealand

I don't know of a Zenith club, but suggest contacting the larger clubs in Australia and the UK to ask for contacts with other owners.
Classic-Clubs/ Tue Apr 25 2006
Zenith OHV JAP Racing single
Here are the promised photos, hope they are of a decent quality. The bike is an OHV track racer, however it has very different handlebars to the pictures of racers we have seen to date. These handlebars appear to be very genuine though. The frame/petrol tank/ and engine (not pictured) are also off the racing model. Frame number is 771, no other numbers appear to be visible. Does not have "Coffee grinder" unfortuneately. Would love to gain any knowledge from readers of this article, or leads to find appropriate parts.
New Zealand

Thu Jan 19 2006
bobi at idx.com.au
350cc Zenith in 1929 raced by RNM Grounds
My Dad raced a Zenith in 1929 on Forbury Racecourse in Dunedin against a moth flown by Captain Bolt. I'm trying to find any information relating to my Dad's racing in the 20's. I have photos too!
Robyn Grounds
I've included 2 images, one of the racetrack with my father racing the moth and a closer view of him on one of his bikes [a New Hudson]. I hope the quality is ok.

Mon Nov 14 2005
cford2 at shaw.ca
Can you please identify this Zenith. The photo was taken in 1938 near London UK.

Many Thanks

I am trying to assemble an album of all the bikes I have been associated with. This was my Mother in Law

Sun Sep 18 2005
cahoehler at gmaildot com
Zenith motorcycles
My grandfather raced a Zenith in the early Durban-Johannesburg races. I would like any info. THANKS

Sat Aug 20 2005
grant at xnet.co.nz
zenith 1929 250
Im looking 4 a tank for the above bike any ideas where I might locate one?

Wed Apr 13 2005
ms-montie at yahoodot com
Zenith Motorcycle
Hi I have a Zenith motorcycle that I would like to sell, would like to know what it is worth.

The following are numbers taken directly from the motorcycle: Engine# GT I 80 436 Frame # 11004 Plate # YH 3761. It also has a metal plate that reads Trademark 1912. I don't know if this is the year the motorcycle was manufactured or not. I am not sure what the year of the motorcycle is. I hope that this information if helpful. Looking forward to hearing from you if you are able to help me. Thank you so much for your help. Kelcee Kelly

As it turned out, the email above related to a stolen motorcycle: Stolen 1927 Zenith

If you have a query or information about Zenith motorcycles please contact us