Historical note: A number of 1911 stories refer to “the strike”. In mid summer the National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union voted for a merchant seamen’s strike. It was based in Liverpool but spread throughout the country and was supported by workers in other sectors, including the railways and road transport. This dispute, also known as The Great Transport Workers’ Strike, has faded from history but it was bitter and bloody. At one point 3,500 soldiers were mobilised in Liverpool; the cruiser HMS Antrim was sent up the Mersey; two strikers, one of them 10 years old, were shot dead by soldiers of the 18th Hussars.
“A MOTORIST WAS caught in a police trap in a fashionable part of London recently—a fact which greatly aroused his ire, and caused him to ponder over the matter deeply. The result of these deliberations led him to hit upon a plan. In the course of his walks during the next few days he kept his eyes wide open and took the number of every policeman who gossiped, as the best behaved policeman will do, with the fair denizens of the nursery and area. Well-nigh 100 poor bobbies were caught in the act, their leave was stopped, and now they swear to catch the informer if he drives at but 20.1mph.”
“LIEUTNANT CJ JANSSEN, late of the Danish Dragoons, who is well-known to our readers as a rider of a Moto-Reve motor cycle in numerous competitions in 1910, produced last week at the Oxford a ballet sketch The Abduction Those who knew Mr Janssen will be sorry to hear he has had to give up motor cycle riding. Last New Year’s Eve he was run over by a taxicab in Copenhagen and had both legs broken. In the cab was Mlle Karina, of the Royal Opera House, Copenhagen. This lady, whom he recently married, takes a prominent part in the sketch above referred to.”
AUSTRALIA STARTED the year with 1,805 motor cycles registered on its roads, up from 1,372 in 1910, 955 in 1909 and 305 in 1908. The first event run by the MCC of South Australia attracted more than 50 bikes including three combos. A hillclimb was staged during the run. Triumphs came first and second but third spot went to an Aussie-made water-cooled Lewis.
AN AMERICAN correspondent wrote to The Motor Cycle: “Tandem attachments are quite common in the States, and to see the fellows starting out on Sunday mornings with a lady on behind is not an unusual sight. The riding is very comfortable on one of these attachments, as the position is about the same as on the other seat. The steering is not any more difficult; in fact, one does not notice the difference at all, except possibly in turning a sharp corner or riding in deep sand.”
“THE PRACTICE of carrying a passenger on the carrier appears on the increase amongst lady motor cyclists. A Bromley (Kent) lady owner of a Hobart Bird is frequently seen with her sister seated on the carrier of her machine, which is painted an attractive grey. Mrs Hardee of Greenwich, has made several long runs lately in Kent with a passenger, and at the week-end climbed Westerham Hill with a passenger scaling ten stones on her two-speed P&M. She considers it is more pleasurable than driving alone. Another lady was seen riding down Brasted Hill on Saturday after the Streatham hill-climb was over with a male rider on the carrier.”
“MANY ARE the lessons which may be deduced from the five winter reliability trials held in the North, South, East and West of England last week. One thing in particular has been demonstrated in no inconclusive manner, and that is that the motor cycle can be relied upon as an all-weather machine in spite of the carping statements of the sceptical to the contrary, and there is every likelihood that the industry generally will materially benefit by the advertisement and the fillip which has been given to the motor cycle by the complete success of all five trials. Grease there was in abundance, but the modern low-built machine provides no terrors in its skidding propensities…It may be observed that practically every machine had side extensions to the front mudguards, some the whole length of the guard, and it was noticeable that a goodly number had fitted belt guards around the engine pulley. Last but not least the variably geared machine scored another triumph. A number of riders failed on hills owing to misjudging the gradients in the dark, others were afraid to ‘rush’ the hill owing to the grease, but the change-speeders were prepared for all sorts of conditions and crawled uphill and round comers comfortably.
“JAKE DE Rosier, America’s leading professional, is coming to England this year to compete in the Tourist Trophy Race, and will also attempt to improve upon certain records at Brooklands. De Rosier is the big chief of the Indian racing camp, and is having a 32hp racing machine built with a four-cylinder engine with the object of capturing world’s speed records. The engine is in reality a 32hp Indian intended for use on aeroplanes.” It later transpired that De Rosier saw the aero engine during a visit to the factory and asked if it could be mounted in a motor cycle frame. It couldn’t. As if to put the Brits on their metal de Rosier rode a 7hp Indian round the new Los Angeles track to set a clutch of records including 84 miles 135 yards in an hour.
THE ACU launched a five-bob-a-year individual membership scheme. The Motor Cycle might be pardoned for its smug reaction: “This decision was gratifying to us, as we first suggested an exactly similar scheme in April, 1908…If our advice had been followed at that time, the ACU might have had a very much larger membership than it now possesses; in fact, it would have had two years’ start on rivals who are preparing to give motor cyclists the same benefits and terms that it has so tardily acknowledged as being the only course.” Remaining firmly in smug mode, the Blue ‘Un also reported: “In connection with the new series of Quarterly Trials we are glad to announce that the ACU has at last adopted our repeated recommendation to send all competitors up the test hills with ‘hot engines’. In the past it has been the ACU practice to stop the riders at the foot of the hill and despatch them again singly, but it is generally recognised that the true test of a machine’s hill-climbing capabilities is whether it will climb a steep hill on the run and with a hot engine.”
THE CAPE Peninsular MCC was established in South Africa, where the most popular marques were said to be Triumph, P&M, Humber, Rex, Zenith-Gradua and FN. A number of riders had also placed orders for the new Scotts.
“A ‘BASIC’ patent covering the construction of all motor cycles is modestly claimed by EJ Pennington, and the announcement is made that he is bringing a claim against the Hendee Mfg Co, of Springfield, Mass, for roughly £108,000. Pennington is not unknown to some of our readers. He was at one time located in Coventry and connected with the Great Horseless Carriage Co (now part of the Daimler Works).”
THE ACU’s established six-day trial evolved into the International Six Days Trial. Instead of the usual End-to-End route the ISDT was held over tough terrain in the north of England where, yet again, variable transmission was put to the test. Douglas shared top honours with that archetypical northerner P&M; both sported two-speed countershaft boxes. Many manufacturers were fitting three-speed hub gears from Armstrong or Sturmey-Archer. The Sturmey-Archer was described as “a combined hub gear and clutch of great ingenuity”. The clutch was engaged by the rider’s right foot; gearchanging was by his (or her) left hand.
OVER THE Pond the FN in-line four had clearly made an impression. Hot on the heels of the Pierce four, Henderson debuted in Detroit with a hefty 965cc/7hp in-line four, soon uprated to 1,065cc/8hp, but with only a single speed to its name. The passenger was carried ahead of the rider, harking back to the ‘air-bag’ passenger design of early forecars.
TT-MODEL Triumphs flew the flag for the burgeoning British industry with high-profile victories in Italy and Russia (where the race was over 40 ‘versts’, which turned out to be 27 miles).
ALTHOUGH the ACU and The Motor Cycle had come out against record breaking End-to-End runs Ivan Hart-Davies made a final End-to-End run in 29hr 12min aboard his Triumph to average over 30mph. Hugh Gibson and George Wray made an end-to-end run on a single-speed 3½hp Triumph outfit in 40hr 47min; the outfit weighed just 300lb. It was later described as “the finest ride on record”. Albert Catt rode another Triumph into the endurance record books, covering 2,557 miles in six days. At the end of the ride he was in such a poor condition that he had to be lifted from his motorcycle.
FOLLOWING the success of the Indian twins in Britain, Pierce appointed an agent in Yorkshire to sell its in-line fours; Thor also appointed a British agent.
A WHOLESALE tobacconist in High Wycombe launched a range of ‘motor cycle cigarettes’ branded Premier, Rex, Triumph and Minerva.
“SEEING A little crowd gathered around a motor cycle in the Upper Street, Islington, on Wednesday afternoon last week, a representative of this journal was much surprised to find it was Miss Lottie Berend and G Brough just arriving from Nottingham. The former had been to take delivery of her new free-engine Brough which our informant characterised as one of the smartest and neatest ladies’ motor cycles he has seen, weighing only 140lb for 3½hp. Miss Berend had wonderful control over the machine, taking G Brough for a ride on the carrier.
THE FIRST V-twin Brough appeared, made by WE Brough but ridden in a Nottingham road trial by his son George, who clearly developed a love of big twins.
“ANYONE who has never tasted the joys of the open road has yet to live—the road with its freedom, freedom from conventionality, freedom from stiffness and starch, freedom from the claims of city fashion and seaside parade; it is indeed the only place where a man feels he is his real self, where he can throw aside all make-believe and appreciate all that is best within him. Go out with a fancied wrong, or sick at heart, and the new surroundings, with the tonic of the air, enable you to forget sorrows, cares, and failures. The railway train for a holiday! Pshaw! It is prison compared with the joys of the open road.”
“THE MANX House of Keys has decided to abolish the speed limit for motor vehicles by a large majority, members denouncing the limit as absurd and useless. This action followed the rejection of a proposal to increase the limit of fourteen miles to twenty.”
MUSIC HALL artiste Ernest Frasetti, became the first ‘sidecarist’ to climb Arthur Street, Edinburgh which, at its steepest, was a precipitous 3½:1. His 7hp two-speed Indian and Mills-Fulford sidecar carried two passengers, a total load of 36 stone. They tied cord round the rear wheel to give increased grip; the stand was left to drag along the ground to act as a sprag in case the engine stopped. Which it didn’t.
“THE BODY which represents the interests of the motor cycle trade rejoices in the title of ‘The Motor Cycle Section of the Cycle and Motor Cycle Manufacturers’ and Traders’ Union, Ltd…The title is strongly reminiscent of the following word we noticed written in a German railway carriage: ‘Der Konigherbayerischerstaalseisenbahngesellschaft’… Perhaps our readers would be in a better position to realise the good work it does were we to refer to it in future, as we propose to do, as ‘The Motor Cycle Manufacturers’ Union’.”
LA REVIEW de l’Automobile summed up the French attitude to motor cycles: “The public, which is not stirred up in the matter, disinterests itself generally from the subject.”
“TEN YEARS hence, if we are to believe all we are told, so extensive will be the improvements in the motor cycle that the conversion to its use of practically every able-bodied person who now rides a push-cycle is inevitable. We shall welcome the recruits, but are we wise in sighing for the time when the motor cycle will be a ‘perfect’ machine? It is not unreasonable to suppose that the attainment of absolute perfection will bring deterioration in the sport, for there will be no call for the exercise of that skill, nerve, and endurance, without which our pastime would be robbed of its chief attractions, and the keenness which is now so robust would slowly, but no less surely, fall into decline.”
“THERE IS a small amount of satisfaction to be gained by knowing that a part of the taxation levied upon motorists is in future to go towards the upkeep of the roads, but no one knows why other users of the King’s highway, such as owners of cycles, horse-drawn vehicles, and horsemen should get off scot free.”
“AN EVENT unique in the annals of motor cycling took place in Halifax last week and attracted a curious throng of spectators. The spectacle was a motor cycle wedding, the contracting parties being Mr Harry Booth and the bride Miss Hetty Nicholl. The bridegroom is an enthusiastic member of the Halifax MCC, the members of which turned out to the number of twenty on their motor cycles, nearly all with sidecars attached and some sort of decoration. The bridal sidecar was decorated with flowers and had a windscreen. The ceremony over, all was laughter and confusion. After a photograph had been obtained, the noise of twenty engines resounded in the air, and bride and bride groom leading the way in a hail of confetti, the procession filed through th main streets of the town. Later the happy couple left for London.”
J HEALEY OF the Dublin &DMCC rode to Belfast and back in six days running to set an Irish record of 1,290 miles. His Rudge Whitworth didn’t miss a beat, averaging 108mpg and 20mph, despite having to deal with seven punctures, four of them in a single day.
MORE THAN 400 enthusiasts gathered in Richmond, Yorks for the fourth meeting of northen motor cyclists. Organisation of the event had passed from the Middlesborough MCC to the Northern League of Motor Cyclists. Among the clubs represented were Leeds, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Bradlord, Hull and East Riding, York County, Ilkley, Ripon, Doncaster, Pontefract, Pocklington, Scarborough, and Hartlepool; 130 clubmen sat down to lunch in Richmond Town Hall. Welcoming them, the Mayor, Cllr A Currie, admitted that he had yet to ride a motor cycle but “after seeing that so many ladies had come to the meet in sidecars and also one on her own motor cycle, he thought that he might do far worse than begin to take lessons”. The mayor then presented various trophies for Northern League events. A member of the Harrogate club was elected chairman of the planned 1912 rally and Mr Bullus of the Bradford MCC spoke about the “respective positions of the Northern League and the ACU”. He hoped that in the near future all differences between them would be amicably settled. On the question of the suspension of riders who competed in Northern League events from entering ACU competitions, he had been hoping that a reconciliation might have been effected before the opening of the present season. He did not think that the ACU was strong enough to deal with the question effectively and could not see that the difficulties would be settled at an early date, concluding: “The League must go on and there is no reason, so long as sufficient support is forthcoming, why it should not grow into a very big organisation…there is no doubt that it is due to the formation of the Northern League that the ACU has brought its prominent trials and hill-climbs into The North, and it is a great pity that there should be a split in the camp.”
THE MCC’s fourth London-Land’s End-London jaunt for the Jarrott Cup, donated by club president Charles Jarrott, used its toughest route to date with more demanding hills, which is probably why it attracted more entrants. The first of 70 riders left Staines at 3.50am. The weather was reasonable but, as well as the usual punctures and minor repairs, many riders were delayed at a level crossing in Lostwithien by a passing fish train; there was also a tailback in St Austell caused by a traction engine hauling four circus wagons. The return run started at 5am. AJ Stevens (yes, that AJ Stevens, on the AJS named after him) had to repair 10 punctures in the first few miles. One of the other Stevens boys retired at Tavistock with terminal tyre troubles. Once the fog cleared up the run back to London was sunny with a following wind; 37 riders made it to the final checkpoint at Hounslow Tram Terminus in the allotted time. AJ Moorhouse (7hp Indian) won the cup; WB Gibb (2¾hp Douglas) won the lightweight prize; Frank Smith (6hp Clyno) won the sidecar cup. Twenty riders won gold medals, 10, including Oily Karslake on the Dreadnought, won silver.
THERE WERE 56 competitors in the 124-mile Marseilles-Nice road race. First heavyweight past the post was a 9hp Rene Gillet in 2hr 59sec; first middleweight was a Magnat-Debon in 3hr 18min 5sec; first lightweight was a Motosacoche in 4hr 11min 24sec.
ANYONE WHO has hopped about trying to pull overtrousers over riding boots at the roadside will be glad to hear it’s not a new problem. Ixion, of course, summed it up beautifully: “Will the motoring tailors and outfitters please engage as their next season’s model somebody who is not ashamed to own an honest boot? I fancy they at present build up the original idea for the creations with which they garb us on a wax dummy with pedalling extremities of the dancing-pump size. I am speaking chiefly of legging overalls, and let me say at once in all honesty the profile of these garments leaves nothing to be desired. I positively swoon with vanity when I see my shapely calf swelling out one of these creations. But I advisedly say ‘when’, for, as a rule, long before I have insinuated my leg down the prettily cut portion designed to fit my calf, my boot has burst the way out at the far end into a streaming mass of rents and ribbons. I am of a destructive nature, and enjoy the sound of ripping fabric as much as most men; but I am also parsimonious and grudge too frequent pressures of this kind when I am asked to pay—where is the bill?—15s 11d a time for it. The tailors ought to allow an extra reef over the instep.” Wise words–108 years later we’re still in need of bigger gussets!
THE SECOND Inter-Team Reliability Trial & Hill-Climb, staged by the motor cycle section of the Herts County Auto Club, attracted 44 enthusiasts on a 400-mile run from Barnet, Herts to Harrogate and back. Individuals competed for silver cups; teams from Herts County, NW London MCC and North Middlesex MCC competed for the Service Cup. For the first time there was a Ladies’ competition (restricted to open-frame ladies’ models)
with a cup presented by The Motor Cycle. Four women took part, arousing a lot of attention, including stories in the national press. The Blue ‘Un reported: “The interest was sustained throughout the event and in Biggleswade [a checkpoint on the return run] several policemen had to keep curious sightseers from swarming round the ladies.” The female riders were Mrs CC Cooke (3½hp free-engine Triumph); Mrs H Wade (3½hp two-speed Scott); Miss Lottie Berend (3½hp free-engine Brough); and Miss Rose Hammett (2¾hp two-speed Douglas). Mrs Cooke won The Motor Cycle cup, the other three were given ‘souvenir medals. The Herts County team won the Service Challenge Cup. Three of the four women completed the course: Adelina Wade, beset by lubrication problems and punctures on the road south, spent the night at the Red Lion in Buckden and reported: “I feel it only right to speak highly of Mr Robison’s garage at Buckden, where all cyclists will find a capable man who is very obliging.” With her Scott fixed she made her way home via Marlborough, Swindon and Gloucster, concluding “…and a more enjoyable ride I never had”. Miss Hammett told the Blue ‘Un: “It was a pleasure to note the sporting spirit displayed by most of the competitors. If anyone was held up by some little derangement, help was forthcoming at once, whilst the ladies were given as much room and as little dust as possible. I very much hope that the fact of the four lady motor cyclists who started all reaching Harrogate, three returning to Hatfield to time, will induce more ladies to take up the pastime.” And cup winner Margaret Cooke said “Personally, I had not been on a machine for over five months, and only received mine from the makers the evening before. Hence, it was rather risky undertaking a long journey, but, thanks to my trusty Triumph, I am back again safe and sound, ready and fit to undertake a similar
journey if necessary. The first day’s run was uneventful, except for a burst inner tube, which was soon remedied by the fitting of a butt-ended Michelin. The second day’s accident was much more lively, for the pillar tube snapped across. This was a more serious matter. However, by the aid of straps I was able to ride the remaining 100 miles to the finishing point.” It was subsequently noticed that a good number of riders completed the 26.5-mile course within a minute of the set time–“and it is a strange fact that some competitors who rode last year with watches were more accurate in their reckoning this year without any assistance at all”.
IXION WROTE: “My weekly postbag continues to bring me denunciations of the Auto Cycle Union, and as some of the letters exhibit a lamentable lack of public spirit, much muddy thinking, and a yearning for impracticable ideals, I desire to comment on some of the commonest criticisms.” Having torn the complainers off a strip he concluded with a withering denunciation: “Certain private owners desire to secure cheap meals, complicated organisation, and a gold medal at a total cost to the ACU of perhaps £5 per entrant, in return for a dollar fee.” [A dollar, as any Londoner of a certain age will know, is five bob.] “Such gentry are cadgers, not sportsmen; and their proper place is in the queue at a pauper soup kitchen rather than in an ACU trial.”
“ON THE occasion of a visit to one of our latest ‘Dreadnoughts’ we saw stowed away above the torpedo flat two Douglas machines and a Triumph.”
“SOME DAY we hope the Legislature will give motorists the credit for possessing ordinary intelligence and abolish speed limits, leaving offenders to be punished in the same manner as other road users, viz, by the ordinary law of the land. At present the poor motorist is liable to both ordinary and special measures, the latter being quite unnecessary.”
ESSEX RIDER Arthur Knight was hauled before the beak at Clacton by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for “cruelly ill-treating a dog by squirting an irritant fluid into its eyes.” Knight was out on his bike when a dog “ran out of a house and followed him for a considerable distance, barking all the time”. He used his trusty water pistol to spray the beast with diluted amonia. After telling the court that he was “constantly troubled by dogs running after him” the rider was dismissed on payment of the vet’s bill and court costs.
VICTOR SURRIDGE rode a 3½hp/499cc Rudge round Brooklands for an hour and covered 60 miles 783 yards. “This machine is fitted with an engine the same in all respects as those supplied to the public, as the Rudge firm makes a particular point in adopting all the improvements which are the result of extended efforts by their staff of test riders at Brooklands.”
“THERE IS no doubt that the lady motor cyclist has arrived, nor has she advanced timidly into the limelight. She is a fact, and nothing less. Let us take a look at her as she stands by her mount. She is clad in a businesslike, dark-coloured divided skirt, with a jacket to match or a woollen ‘golfer’, and her hat is sensibly compact, plain, small, and smart. All about her is a practical air of efficiency which at once gives the impression that she is complete mistress of the machine she rides. And this is true enough. She can wrestle with
a stiff outer cover, argue with a refractory carburetter, or minister to a slipping belt, with the best of that sex to which she has until now been obliged to look for assistance when the wielding of a spanner has been necessary…Manufacturers have begun to build special ladies’ models which the fair riders can start without any preliminary run, can lift and carry about themselves, and which, if anything goes wrong, they can take home with but little more trouble than a push-bicycle. Many, too, are not content with ‘mere’ ladies’ lightweights, but demand ‘men’s’ machines…One well-known lady motor cyclist has a machine of 5hp with which she is as much at home as with a sewing machine.” [Yes, of course this was written by a man, unlike the following letter.] “I am enclosing herewith a photograph of myself and my 2¾hp two-speed Douglas, which I think must be the very best lady’s machine made. I have never ridden a motor cycle before this one, and I find it perfect–no trouble at all. My first run was about 18 miles from Erdington to Stonebridge. My next run was about 20 miles. It was so fascinating that I thought it would be nice to have a run as far as North Wales. It was suggested by my son, who was riding a PMC two-stroke, that we should go as far as Capel Curig, which I think is about 113 miles. I did this very comfortably and felt as fresh when I arrived as if I had only ridden a few miles. My friends were very much surprised at my going such a long run, having had no experience. I only used my low gear once the whole of the way, and that was going through Shrewsbury. This was necessary as the traffic was very heavy, being market day, but I soon got through and went sailing merrily along. All the hills the machine romped up. We went on to Corwen, stopped for lunch, which we enjoyed very much. We were soon on the road again, feeling quite fresh. The only thing that troubled us was the dust. We found the roads very rough, and many dangerous corners from Corwen to Capel Curig. We stayed two days with our friends and returned the third day. I do not think we ever enjoyed a holiday so much before. I was also very much surprised at the low consumption of petrol. I think that if ladies knew how easy it is to manage a motor cycle, and the pleasure it is to ride one, many ladies would go in for motor cycling.”
(Mrs) A Pilkington.
THE WAR OFFICE was considering the formation of “a motor cycle corps of experts” comprising skilled civillian enthusiasts who would receive basic training from territorial units. There were three suggested schemes: “One officer and 17 motor cyclists added to the establishment of each of the thirteen authorised cyclist battalions; two officers and 40 motor cyclists to be attached to each of the 14 territorial divisions; 20 groups of motor cyclists, each consisting of one officer and 20 men armed with Rexer automatic rifles (250 rounds a minute) for coast defence in case of war, and for staff duty on manoeuvres.”
“WE DO NOT think we ever remember the Warwickshire roads worse than they are just now. A ride in the dark from, say, Stratford-on-Avon to Warwick cannot be recommended just now, unless the vehicle used is a road roller. Watling Street too is a pebbly beach in many places.”
“ORKNEY ISLAND motor cyclists now number nearly twenty. The roads are good in Orkney, but the hills are steep, and the greatest discomfort is the wind, as there are no trees or hedges to check the fury of the gale that sweeps across the broad Atlantic.”
SOME AMERICAN enthusiasts were making their own puncture sealant. The recipe was: one part of liquid waterglass (sodium silicate), three parts glycerine and enough concentrated hydrochloric acid to transform the mixture into a thick paste. Three additional parts of glycerine were then added and the mixture was injected through the valve via a syringe. A week after reporting the new product Ixion warned his readers: “A writer, signing himself ‘Chemist’, remarks that this recipe produces a most powerful explosive; should a tyre so filled hit a large stone at high speed the result of the impact would be ‘Sailing, sailing up into the blue. Front wheel and back wheel and motor cycler too.’ I have not had time to verify this remark as yet, but let me hastily ejaculate that I can only be seen at the office by special appointment.”
THE MCC’s 8th inter-club team contest for The Motor Cycle Fifty-guinea Challenge Cup attracted a record entry of 21 clubs: Birmingham MCC, Bristol B&MC, Coventry and Warks MC, Derby &DMCC, Essex MC, Leicester &DMCC, Manchester MCC, The MCC, Norfolk MCC (Great Yarmouth), Northants MCC, North Middx MCC, Norwich &DMCC, Oxford MCC, SE London MCC, NW London MCC, Sheffield & Hallamshire MCC, Streatham &DMCC, Surrey MCC, Sutton Coldfield AC and Walthamstow MC. Four of the seven previous events had been won by the Coventry club with the remaining three going to the MCC. For the first time watches and speedometers were banned. The cup for sticking closest to the 20mph scheduled speed went to the Derby &DMCC with the North-West and South-East London teams finishing second and third. Derby club secretary AB Bennet later revealed how his club prepared for the big day: “Entries were invited from all club members, and the committee selected a dozen as the likely team. The team and reserves finally chosen were all out to win the cup. New plugs, tyres, belts, and nail catchers were compulsory, and the equipment of each machine had to undergo a rigorous inspection by a sub-committee. The Red Lion, Banbury was selected as the headquarters. At the start the sidecar driving wheel tyre was quite flat and a hurried repair was effected. The team had a flying relief column who handed up supplies of refreshment on the run. The success of the team is attributed to careful organisation, thorough overhauling and preparation of machines, and the keenness and determination of each man to win a trophy which we rightly regard as the Blue Riband of the motor cycle world.”
“S THOMAS MRCVS of Chichester, was riding his motor bicycle in Market, Road, Chichester, when a cartrer named Macdonald kicked at front wheel of the motor bicycle. After the motor cyclist dismounted to ask what the man meant by such conduct he was met with abusive language from Macdonald, who attempted to hit him. Mr Thomas summoned the man in the public interest and the court sentenced him to a month’s hard labour.”
“ZENITH MOTORS Ltd, and others” applied for an injunction to prevent Matchless “from infringing a certain patent for a variable gear”. The application was rejected.
INDIANS! TT SHOCK as the colonials took first, second and third places in the Senior. The organisers reckoned bikes were now ready to tackle the 37½-mile Mountain Circuit with its seven-mile slog up Snaefell from Ramsey to the Bungalow which had previously been used as a separate hillclimb. Much of the course comprised dirt tracks with loose, rutted surfaces. When it rained they were slippery and muddy; straying sheep and cattle were a constant problem. Riders also had to hope that somebody had remembered to open Keppell gate on the Mountain. The tougher course suited the Americans’ two-speed gearboxes and all-chain drive. Even so, when Indian ace Jake de Rosier was shown round
the circuit he famously remarked: “This ain’t going to be no tea party.” He was right, too – De Rosier crashed six times while practising and finished well down the field following a further crash having led for the first lap. In place of a single event with classes for singles and twins the TT was split into two races: the five-lap Senior for 500cc singles and 585cc twins; and the four-lap Junior for 300cc singles and 340cc twins. Charlie Collier’s Matchless was leading the Senior when he was disqualified for refuelling outside the pit area. A Scott regained a little British pride with the first 50mph lap. Matchless also lost out in the Junior TT with Percy Evans’ Humber twin beating Harry Collier’s Matchless single into second place. Jack Stevens finished 16th on one of the new AJSs. Victor Surridge, who had recently covered 60 miles in 60 minutes on a Rudge, was killed when he crashed at Glen Helen while practising. For more on the TT see Features.
THERE HAD been a lot of rivalry between the Brits and the Yanks with both sides issuing challenges. So after the TT Charlie Collier and Jake De Rosier went head to head in a three-match Matchless vs Indian shoot-out at Brooklands. Indian won two to one at an average 80.6mph. While he was over here De Rosier also snatched the world record for Indian by reaching 87.38mph, barely scraping ahead of the 87.32mph record set by Henri Cissac at Blackpool on a 12hp Peugeot in 1905, but Jake immediately raised the ante to 88.8mph. Charlie duly snatched it back for Matchless, at 89.8mph. Then, like Jake, he took a second bite of the cherry, raising the record to 91.2mph. For more on the Charlie vs Jake races see Features.
AS SOON as de Rosier got back to the states he fell out with Indian founder George Hendee who fired him. Excelsior snapped him up and Jake rewarded his new employer with a 23.4sec flying kilometer at the Riverview Saucer track, Chicago to set an unofficial world record of 96.3mph. Reflecting his dominance, by year’s end he held every FAM speed record for professional riders.
THE BLUE ‘UN reported: “By the courtesy of Messrs Rudge-Whitworth, Ltd, we had an opportunity last week of examining a new infinitely variable gear which is extremely simple and not particularly costly to manufacture, and which, on account of its efficiency, promises to be very successful. Briefly, the gear consists of an expanding pulley on the engine-shaft with a correspondingly expanding belt rim on the rear wheel. The operating mechanism for contracting and expanding the two pulleys is inter-connected, so that when the engine pulley is expanded the belt rim contracts, thus taking up the slack of the belt, an arrangement of the leverage compensating for any variation in the opening of the flange. It will readily be seen that, owing to the difference in the diameter of the two pulleys, it is necessary to provide a compensating arrangement of this nature, otherwise the tension on the belt would be variable, whereas with the device under review the belt tension remains constant. The gear ratios vary from 3⅓ to 5¾ to 1…At the time of writing several of these gears were being made for use by the private owners of Rudge-Whitworth machines who had entered for the TT Senior Race. We think it worthy of mention that it was only on the morning of June 23rd that the drawing office work on this gear was commenced; the drawings were handed to the works on Monday, June 26th, and the first machine fitted with the gear was on the road on June 28th. By working night and day the firm was able to send complete gears to the Isle of Man by the following Thursday, June 29th, a record in rapid construction which we think would be difficult to emulate and hard to beat.” The Rudge Multis only managed 21st and 22nd in the Senior TT but they were well received by enthusiasts who were fed up with ‘LPA’.
WITHIN MONTHS of the Indian TT 1-2-3 Norton launched a 490cc TT model with a lower frame and shorter wheelbase. It was Norton’s first purpose-built racer but was still a single-speeder with no clutch.
BILL PRATT set out to prove the reliability of the P&M by completing 1,000 miles without opening his toolbox (apart from the almost inevitable punctures). He had covered 600 miles when a runaway horse forced him to swerve into a bank, damaging him and his bike to badly to continue. However, P&M enthusiast TH Walsgrove wrote: “I bought a P&M motor bicycle, 3½hp, three or four months ago, and have since travelled over 2,000 miles without having to use any of the toolbag contents for the bicycle, except once tor sparking plug, punctures not counted (having once to put an ordinary tube in back tyre, having only the sidecar spare with me). Most of the distance has been done with the sidecar and passenger.”
RUDGE’S QUEST for exports extended to producing its catalogue in French, German, and Italian.
A PLUMSTEAD, KENT firm came up with “a preparation for preserving and softening indiarubber”. It claimed: “If the outsides of tyre covers and inner tubes are occasionally treated with the liquid they will never become hard or lose their elasticity.”
THE SERVICE CO of High Holborn came up with what might have been the first range of riding gear designed for female motor cyclists.
“POLICE TRAP: On the Chatham-Canterbury Road, approximately between the first and third mile posts out of Canterbury. It is, as usual, grossly unfair, being on a perfectly safe stretch and the timing is done by cheap watches.”
THE CYCLE and Motor Cycle Manufacturers’ and Traders’ Union (CMCM&TU) appointed a sub-committee to investigate the standardisation of motor cycle wheel rims. The committee consulted with the leading tyre manufacturers including Bates. Clipper, Clincher, Continental, Coventry Rubber Co, Dunlop, East London Rubber Co, BF Goodrich, Gorton Rubbier Co, Kempshall, Macintosh, Palmer, ROM, Avon and Liberty. Standard rim sizes were duly published; the CMCM&TU announced: “Only rims of such sizes and only tyres suitable to such rims will be ordered by the motor cycle manufacturers after September 1st. The importance of this recommendation will be fully recognised by all motor cyclists, and should be of equal service to manufacturers.”
A CASTLEFORD, Yorks rider won £130 damages from his local district council for injuries sustained when he ran into a pile of manure left on the road overnight with no safety lights.
A BRUMMY was prosecuted after a cop spotted him riding with a pillion passenger whose coat obscured his number plate. No penalty was imposed apart from paying court costs. The police prosecutor told the court it was the first prosecution for that class of offence, “but it was becoming a common practice for people to ride on the back of motor cycles, and it was brought more as a warning to other persons”.
The NORTH WEST London MCC went touring in France culminating in a visit to the Motorcycle Club de Lyon which featured a road race and hillclimb followed by a slap-up feed (though on the run south one of the Brits had commented that “petit dejuner to an Englishman is rather a poor apology for breakfast”). FA Rose (3½hp Triumph) won the 111-mile Circuit du Rhone for England, ahead of Escoffier and Yenne (3hp Magnat-
Debons). Rose was 3rd in the hillclimb behind Debeaune (9hp Rene Gillet) and Escoffier. Rose later wrote: “ It is a very sporting course, full of impossible corners, loose stones and hills. It crosses two mountain passes, and has 200. bad corners to the lap…I had a ding-dong race with Valenzano over the narrow twisty roads, but he soon punctured, and I pushed on and passed one or two of the weaklings…the road was in no way closed to the public, and I passed sundry cattle and farm carts…opening out, I got ahead, found an evil corner, skidded in the dust, and rolled over. I had not counted on finding three inches of dust, but no harm was done, and I was soon off, the other man having courteously slowed to ask if I was all right…then into the main road and eight miles back to Lyons with the engine roaring at about 3,000rpm. Would something break? I lay down and waited, and as I was microscopically adjusting the spark advance something went past at about seventy…On the home straight I saw Hill resting. He shouted me to go on. I
thought him rather heartless, for my poor engine was racing as though it could not last another minute…Escoffier and Yenne came in at intervals of five minutes. They had had punctures and sooted plugs, and Escoffier had hit a dog…They congratulated me as though they would have been sorry to beat me. These French motor cyclists are real sportsmen.” Club secretary C Williams reported: “The French took our win in excellent part, and their congratulations were none the less hearty because they never dreamed we should beat their crack cornerists. At a well-attended banquet in the evening we were thoroughly feted, and there is no doubt our visit will do much to promote good relations between the sporting communities of the two countries.” M Schilling, Williams’ opposite number from the Lyons club, offered a French view of the British bikes and their riders: “They are heavier and more powerful than those generally used by French riders, and this is accountable for the fact that the powerful English motor bicycles have never given the same troubles which were inherent in the powerful French machines which appeared ten years before their time…The English competitors were not, like ours, crouched on their machines so as to offer the least resistance to the air, and it was at
once apparent that the engine power was amply sufficient to propel the machine at a great speed…The English machines carried every accessory for serious touring. We even found that one of these machines had a speedometer… Several saddles were provided with backrests, a thing we have never yet seen in France, and to start by means of a clutch the pedals were fitted, which is also unknown in this country…The sidecars which came by road showed to us that this economical means of touring for two people is popular in England…I was particularly pleased with the indescribable enthusiasm with which Rose’s fellow members greeted him when he came into view of the control and showed that the laurels rested with the NWLMCC. What attachment to their colours must these sportsmen have, and how we would like to see in every sporting club in France the esprit dc corps flourishing to such a degree.”
“FROM ALL districts we hear of the growing popularity of the sidecar, and being cognisant of the vast increase in the number of attachments being made and sold, these facts would indicate that 1911 is to be a sidecar year.” Rover, Enfield, James, Premier, Douglas, New Hudson and Singer were among manufacturers working on variably geared models for sidecar use; the successful 2½hp AJS was joined by a 5hp model for sidecar work. Most featured brazed sidecar lugs and four manufacturers were working on water-cooled engines.
THE GLASGOW MCC’s fuel-consumption trial was won by a 3½hp TT Triumph which covered 35 miles at 277mpg. Runner up was an Ariel at 206mpg, ahead of a 2¾hp Douglas at 198mpg.
NEW HUDSONS fitted with Armstrong’s three-speed transmission were picking up an impressive tally of awards in hillclimbs and reliability trials. Having won a gold in the London-Edinburgh trial Roy Walker took his New Hudson on a 1,000-mile tour during which he romped up a 1 in 3½ hill from a standing start. And he didn’t need to open his toolbox once.
STAR OF the Essex MC Gymkhana at High Beech was GL Fletcher (2¾hp Douglas) who won the belt fixing, apple bobbing, needle threading and musical chairs. IA Baddley (5hp Baddley-JAP) won the tilting-at-the-ring and Turk’s head cutting contests. There was also a chicken stealing event which was described as “somewhat novel, the competitors had to circle the track once, the passenger had to steal a chicken from the run, return to the vehicle, which was again driven round the track, and return the annexed biped to its pen”. Events at the North-West London MCC gymkhana included potato, Turk’s head, air balloon, relay, and sidecar punting races, with musical chairs for lady passengers and solo machines. There were also scratch and handicap races.
PLANS WERE afoot to “obtain the silent running and flexibility of the steam-driven car in a light vehicle built on motor cycle lines”. The engine was a three-pot radial running on petrol but its designer admitted: “Everyone to whom I have described the engine have had their doubts that it will work, others have expressed their conservatism by avowing that they would prefer to sit on a barrel of dynamite at a fifth of November celebration. This is probably the view many motor cyclists will take when they learn that the power is derived from vapour made by boiling petrol in a flash-point boiler, and using the gas expansively, instead of by internal combustion…Safety valves are fitted both on engine and boiler, discharging into the exhaust. These valves will be set at 250lb, and should a leak occur within the generator the vapour will burn like an ordinary gas jet, hence danger at this point does not exist.” Evidently these petrol-vapour engines had been used in the USA for some years to drive boats, some of which had been used as yacht tenders in the Solent. Users had included the German Kaiser and President Cleveland, which indicates that even the most powerful Yanks and Jerries had less sense of self-preservation than Brits.
IN CASE boiling petrol wasn’t considered exciting enough…“We hear that the latest development of the explosion motor is the introduction of nitro-glycerine as the expulsive agent. We also understand that a motor bicycle has already been constructed with an engine which employs this chemical as the propelling force, and we know that not only the constructor but several friends of his have actually ridden the machine.”
JOHN WOOLER was to earn a reputation for innovatve design. His first bike was a 344cc two-stroke which featured a double-ended piston to eliminate the need for crankcase compression.
“A GOOD DEAL of dissatisfaction in connection with the Isle of Man races has arisen in certain quarters due to the number of accidents that have occurred in the past, the expense of holding the races, and the fact that the events are not won on standard machines which can be supplied to the public, and in many instances accessories such as tyres and other details are employed which are equally unobtainable by the general body of riders. In all probability, if the ACU is sufficiently influenced to withdraw from the Isle of Man event, the race may be held by another organisation. It is almost certain that sufficient support would be forthcoming from amateur riders to ensure the success of a race, whether it be held in the Isle of Man or at Brooklands. To stop all forms of racing leads to stagnation of design, and the industry would fall to the level of a sordid manufacturing ideal, which could only be likened to the production of sewing machines or some similar article of commerce—a humdrum, wearying output of goods on the Transatlantic principle, which may be money-earning, but is not calculated to keep this country in the forefront of progress. What has placed the British motor industry in its premier position is nothing more or less than first-class reliable workmanship, assisted by competitions such as the TT races, the 1,000 miles trials, and other events.”
NINE TEAMS of six riders (including a combo or three-wheeler) competed in the ACU inter-club championship, based at the Red Lion Hotel, Banbury. Riders aimed to average 20mph over for laps of a 42-mile course that included Edge Hill. The Oxford MCC won the day, ahead of the Coventry and Birmingham teams. However the Derby &DMCC could also claim the top-club title, having beaten 19 other teams in the MCC Team Trial.
THE MCC arranged a week-end run to Clacton but following complaints from a number of members they went to Worthing instead.
A BRITISH ex-pat in Germany recounted the steps to be taken before his new Triumph could take to the road: A hearing/sight/heart check (by the local prison doctor); a vehicle check for safety and the confirm its capacity; fitting a fuel filter “to keep the tank from exploding”; fitting a brass plate to the bike carrying the vehicle details with the name and address of the manufacturer and new owner. And that was it… apart from passing a riding test, producing his birth certificate, paying import duty and letting the local cops have another look at the bike.
FOLLOWING A boardroom row brothers Billy and Harold Williamson were ejected from the Rex company that they had founded in 1901. Billy, who had been the managing director, teamed up with William Douglas of Douglas Motorcycles to produce a 964cc water-cooled flat twin; Harold was brought in as test rider.
FROM A Brooklands race report: “Lieutenant Stewart, the well-known Trump-JAP exponent, was early in trouble. Just after the race had started he attempted to tighten a plug on his carburetter with a spanner while travelling at about 50mph; the spanner somehow tried conclusions with the spokes of the wheel, and Stewart’s recollections of what happened afterwards are by no means clear. Fortunately he was thrown on the grass.”
“EVER TO the front with new ideas, Messrs Brown Bros Ltd forwarded to us by the first UK aerial post an invitation to view their new warehouses in Great Eastern Street, EC, an invitation which is extended to all our readers.”
“FOR THE second time a Douglas machine belonging to Mr WO Oldman, of 77, Brixton Hill, SW, has been stolen. It was taken from the Stadium, Shepherd’s Bush, after the North-West London MCC gymkhana, but the police have again been successful in their efforts to regain possession. On the occasion of its first disappearance the police adopted a novel and clever method of entrapping the thief. It transpired at the police court that a detective inserted an advertisement in the miscellaneous columns of The Motor Cycle as follows: ‘Wanted, a Douglas lightweight’, and the unsuspecting thief answered the advertisement and was promptly arrested.”
THE ISLE of Man dropped its 14mph speed limit, in favour of a law to penalise reckless driving.
THE GRADIOR Machine Co of Stafford went into the motor cycle business. The Gradior came with a 3½hp JAP engine and two-speed gearbox with Renold primary and secondary chains.
COMPETITORS IN the MCC’s speed judging competition were required to complete three laps of a 5¾-mile course near Potter’s Bar: the first at 16mph; the second at 19mph; and the third at any speed up to 20mph—but riders had to declare their speed immediately after finishing the third lap. RB Clark (5hp Indian) won with lap errors of just 7.8sec, 5.6sec and 7.6sec. ‘Oily’ Karslake was third with an aggregate error of 78.7sec and this was the final competitive outing for his famous 4hp special, Dreadnought. [More than a century after its retirement the magnificent Dreadnought is still on the road in the care of the Vintage MCC.]
W STANHOPE SPENCER was also on the record trail. He lapped Brooklands on a 3½hp Rudge to cover 65 miles 803 yards in an hour and 122 miles 210 yards in two hours, well up on the previous two-hour world record of 108 miles 1,367 yards set by Lee Evans on an Indian. Spencer also set a 50-mile record time of 45min 34.2sec and a 100-mile record of 1hr 34min 8sec. FE Pither took to the track, also riding a 3½hp single-speed Rudge, to set a sidecar record of 40 miles 1,660 yards in an hour. Then Spencer put the cherry of Rudge’s cake by covering five miles in 4min 33.6sec, beating the previous record by 2.4sec. Pither went on to try and cover 3,000 miles in three weeks on his Rudge combo; he was beaten by bad weather.
A COUPLE OFweeks later it was Humber’s turn. S Wright lapped Brooklands for two hours on a 2¾hp Humber and snapped up the Class B (lightweight) records at one hour, two hours, 50 miles and 100 miles. ND Slatter went for the even-lighter-weight Class A records on a 2hp Alcyon. A thunderstorm caused the drive belt to slip, cutting his speed to 28mph and at one point the contact breaker came adrift, then an exhaust valve stretched causing a persistent misfire. Nonetheless Slatter did the business with records of 43 miles 850 yards in an hour; 84 miles 1,575 yards in two hours; 163 miles 1,622 yards in fours hours; 100 miles in 2hr 21min 45.2sec and 200 miles in 5hr 5min 12.8sec.
WHEN IT came to record breaking Stanhope Spencer was evidently instatiable. No sooner had Humber taken the lightweight records than he fired up his 3½hp Rudge to break the 150-mile and three-hour Class C records for 500cc. His time of 2hr 38min 1.6sec also beat the Class D (750cc) and Class E (1,000cc) records. While he was at it Spencer covered 200 miles in 3hr 28min 51.6sec to set Class C, D and E records despite a bitterly cold wind blowing at 50mph; when riding into it his speed was cut to 25mph.
“I WONDER…IF there is any other sphere of industry in which British capital, British designs and British labour can show such a sweeping triumph. For every first-class machine of foreign manufacture on the international list, there are at least a dozen Britishers of equal grade.”
NEWS FROM Down Under: “A record ride from Sydney to Melbourne, has been made by JA Farr, riding a 3½hp Kerry-Abingdon, who covered the distance in 48 hours. He was delayed for seven hours by lamp failure near Wangaratta and for four hours at railway gates trying to find someone who could open them.” The Victorian MCC held a 50-mile road race near Melbourne. The winner was Eric Tyler (TT Triumph) was first home in 57min 45sec.
THE KIWIS were also racing: H Kiddle (Humber lightweight) ploughed through soft sand to win a five-mile beach race at an average of g35mph.
THE SPRINGBOKS raced up Jacob’s Ladder in a hillclimb staged by the Natal MCC. Fastest time was recorded by W Mail (3½hp Ariel).
STAR OF the Streatham &DMCC hill-climb on Brastead Hill, near Westerham, Kent, was Freddy Barnes who won five of the seven classes on 2¾hp and 6hp Zenith Graduas.
INSTEAD OF conventional acetylene generators many American bikes were carrying ‘Prest-o-lite’ acetylene tanks. They measured 12x4in and held enough gas for 40 hours of night riding.
TO DEMONSTRATE motor cycle reliabliability DR O’Donovan set out to cover 3,000 miles on his 3½hp Singer without opening his toolox. He did it too, averaging 160 miles a day until he had covered 3,091 miles although the Singer’s exhaust valve snapped soon after.
“H BRANCASTER, who unfortunately lost his first-class certificate in the ACU Quarterly Trial owing to accidentally running off the route, is none other than Mr Vincent Clive, who took the hero’s part as the Earl of Brancaster in the great Drury Lane drama last year, ‘The Whip’.”
THE ITALIAN SIAMT arrived in Britain, fresh from taking the Stampa Sportiva Cup in the Mount Cenis hillclimb where SIAMTs took the first seven places in its class. Its 2¼hp/260cc engine boasted overhead valves in a detachable head which was secured to the cylinder by a large castellated nut round its circumference. In place of a throttle engine speed was controlled by adjusting the inlet valve, which was mounted on an eccentric. The frame featured tidy sprung forks and a sturdy stand, leading one pundit to comment: “Considering that the machine is not specially designed for the English market, it conforms excellently to English ideas.”
“A YEAR OR two ago footpath supply stations for petrol, air and water, were referred to in Christmas stories in these pages as possibilities of the distant future. They are realities in the USA, as the Geyser Company, of Indiana, is prepared to fit a stand-pipe for a combined petrol, air, and water supply in front of any garage, hotel, etc. The company particularly points out that air for the tyres and water for the radiator are big inducements for motorists to stop.”
“THE DERBYSHIRE police are investigating an attempt at highway robbery which, it is reported, was only frustrated by the timely arrival of Sir Herbert H Raphael, MP. It appears that Mr E Innes, of Derby, while returning home from Burton-on-Trent on a motor cycle at night, was set upon by two men who knocked him into the hedge and attempted to rifle his pockets. He called out for help to a motor car, in which Sir Herbert Raphael was passing, and the men ran away as Sir Herbert went to Mr Innes’s rescue. Mr Innes’s knee had been badly cut and his clothing torn in the struggle.”
SINGER’S 3½HP COMBO came with a two-speed countershaft gearbox incorporating a multi-plate clutch and a form of kickstart. The Blue ‘Un reported: “We were recently allowed a short trial of the machine, and accompanied by the head draughtsman decided to visit that well-known Midland acclivity Edge Hill…The way it took the last section of gradient was excellent, the engine doing about 2,000rpm, and the machine travelling at about 18mph…the engine starts remarkably easily with gear lever in neutral; the clutch manipulation by inverted lever on handle-bar is a charm, the whole combination starts readily on low gear by steadily releasing the lever and there is no jerk. Changing gear is rapid and reliable, no grinding takes place, and the clutch picks up the load without it being necessary to manipulate the levers gingerly.”
IF A TWO-SPEED 3½hp sidecar outfit could climb Edge Hill, why not a conventional single-speeder? Local rider W Brandish took up the challenge on his 3½hp Triumph; only fitting as the hill was close to Triumph’s Coventry HQ. WH Fulford rode in the Milford sidecar his company made and The Motor Cycle gushed: “…we must give Mr Brandish credit for having kept his machine in the finest possible riding tune. It is the first 3½hp sidecar machine on which we have reached forty to forty-five miles an hour on the road by speedometer, and the only alteration in it from the standard was the fitting of a No 38 jet…The Millford sidecar was not a light wicker affair, but from a rough calculation must have weighed 120lb. There was, naturally, great jubilation in the party present, which included Mrs and the Misses Schulte…Miss Lena Schulte, who is only fifteen years ot age and had followed the performances with keen interest, could no longer suppress her
sporting instincts, and begged permission to ride Newsome’s free-engine Triumph up Edge Hill. The machine made such light work of the gradient that her younger sister Muriel’s demand for a ride on the back carrier was acceded to, and again Miss Lena dexterously drove the machine to the summit, no mean performance for a young lady.” WG Bower, MD of Zenith Motors, could not resist putting his oar in: “It is very entertaining to read that whilst the engine was cooling down the gear was reduced to 6½ to 1. It first gives one the impression that, owing to the machine being single geared, it was necessary to cool the engine down, and secondly, it shows that a variable gear is really necessary, as the low gear had to be put in before trying to climb the hill. And what a very laborious method of putting in the low gear. Fancy, in these days of variable gears, adjustable from the saddle, a rider having to alter his pulley by hand and shorten his belt in order to climb a hill, and then to have to reverse the operation before starting for home. I think that few sidecar passengers would stand being held up for such archaic methods. But that by the way. My point is (and the variable gear man will have grasped it in a flash) that, though the article is supposed to be on a single geared machine, it was to all intents and purposes a ‘two-speeder’.”
A YOUNG enthusiast from Kirkby Stephen in the Dales was in the habbit of carrying his dog, a large collie, which stood on the carrier with its fore feet on his shoulders.
“WE HEAR, BUT it sounds too good to be true, that a new motive power has been discovered by a Scotsman which will drive a motor for 5½d as far as can be done on 5s worth of petrol. This is said to be derived from the smoke of coal, which, when refined, leaves a pure nitroen gas; it is non-explosive, but more powerful than steam.”
PUCH, WHICH HAD been active in Austria since 1903, gained a British agent. The range comprised a 254cc, 2hp single-speed lightweight; a 453cc, 3½hp single with the option of a two-speed transmission; and a two-speed, 7hp twin which came with a sidecar, chain drive, fan cooling and obsolete automatic inlet valves. They all came with spring forks and, apart from the 2hp tiddler, rear suspension.
TIMKEN TAPER roller bearings were replacing ball bearings in car wheel bearings; most motor cycle manufacturers were waiting to see if the advantages offered by rollers would justify the extra cost.
FOLLOWING A campaign by the Coventry and Warwickshire MC Warwickshire County Council resolved “to make a new byelaw as to the lighting of vehicles, requiring all such to be provided with a red rear light or a reflector so constructed as to reflect a red light from the lights carried by vehicles approaching from behind.” The council also reported: “We have had before us a letter from the Kenilworth Urban District Council complaining of the fast driving of motor cycles through the town, and the nuisance caused by the ear splitting and rest disturbing noise emitted from such machines, and urging that steps should be taken for reducing the speed limit of such machines. We have drawn the attention of the chief constable to the complaint.”
NOISE WAS ALSO on the agenda further south. Brooklands Automobile Racing Club gave notice to all motor cycle manufacturers and riders that “no motor cycle would be allowed on the track without an efficient silencer, and that cut-outs will not be permitted. This regulation has been brought about by residents of Weybridge, who have gone so far as to apply for an injunction against the BARC unless steps are taken to reduce the noise of motor cycles.” The Motor Cycle commented: “In the long run, the regulation, if upheld, will prove beneficial to the pastime, because it will cause makers to turn their attention to silencing the exhaust…Silent machines are said to be dangerous, but we cannot trace any accidents to this cause, whilst there have been more than one due to noise.”
YORKSHIREMAN HARRY Long had a reputation as a long-distance rider. In 1908, 1909 amd 1910 he set world pedal cycle records of 12,940 miles, 23,241 mile, and 25,376 respectively. In 1911 he turned his attention to motor cycling and bought a 3½hp Triumph. Long later recounted: “I was only ten minutes learning to ride the Triumph. Mr WF Newsome put me through, and after ten minutes we started on a twenty miles run, and to-day we have done fifty miles. To-morrow I drive it to Southport, 140 miles, alone.” Over the next 10 months he covered 40,000 miles. A correspondent reported: “One of his worst experiences was when he travelled from London to Doncaster in a blizzard of snow all day, and almost perished with the intense cold; at least a dozen times the rider had to dismount and dance about to restore circulation. The whole of the winter riding was, in fact, simply mud plugging, and on many occasions he wrote to me almost throwing up the ride in disgust.”
THE SHAPE OF things to come, from the preamble to the Olympia show: “Visitors to Olympia should pay particular attention to the variable gears; more of these devices will be in evidence than in previous years. A few methods of springing the rear wheel will be on view; these should be carefully examined as a development of the future. One or two examples of a laudable desire to throw off the trammels of the usual splash method of lubrication will be in evidence as a sign of what may be eventually standardised. The growing tendency towards the single pedal or kick starting mechanism, particularly in connection with variably geared machines, will be very noticeable. Among accessories the all-round improvement in adjustability of carburetters with regard to the regulation of air and petrol and the further protection of magnetos should be especially noted.” For possibly the first time the starting mechanism was described as ‘a ‘kick’ starter’. The lessons of the TT had clearly been learned–Olympia was remembered as the ‘variable-gear show’ with more than 80% of the 275 bikes on show boasting more than one gear. There were 552 motor cycles at Olympia, up from 393 the previous year.
SHOW DEBUTANTES included OK Supreme; sturdy two-strokes from Sun and Levis; and the JAP-engined NUT, proudly bearing the initials of its Geordie home (since 1906 motor cycles had born the initials HM for Hugh Mason, who ran the firm with Jock Hall). “Special trips to Olympia from all parts of the country have been arranged. On Saturday there will be a big infux of visitors from the provinces. The Wolverhampton MCC has arranged for a saloon to be attached to the L&NW 5.50am train, and other organised outings will start from Birmingham and Coventry.” Motor cycle clubs were offered a 50% discount on show tickets; here are a few of the goodies they found there…
“A CERTAIN CLASS of speed merchant who goes tearing about the country with both ends of him at about the same level is apparently under the impression that noise means speed…It does not appear to be generally known that with a properly designed silencer an engine will produce more power than when exhausting direct into the air. This fact was established at the one and only real silencer trial in Paris in 1907, and proves that a user of an exceptionally noisy machine is very inconsiderate, for he is gaining nothing.”
IXION ASKED: “How much longer are we to wait for the ideal rear springing device? Completely sprung frames seem to hang fire, weight being the chief drawback, with the fear of rattles and lost rigidity in the background.” His prayers were soon answered: “Dismounting from a rigid framed machine we were riding the other day, we were attracted by a smart-looking spring frame motor bicycle leaning against the pavement, and the owner, by some means learning our identity, pressed us to try thie machine. We did, and never remember a more convincing testimony to the luxury of a spring framed mount. Instead of the jolting we had experienced on the single-cylinder rigid framed mount, every time a pothole in the road lay in our path, the spring framed mount glided over the roads, no matter whether they were rough or smooth, absorbing the road shocks in a truly surprisng manner. That machine was the PV, a comparatively little known make…It will be obvious at a glance that the PV does not possess the disadvantage of many spring framed machines, viz, unsightliness. The suspension of the front portion of the machine can well be left to the Druid forks; the springing of the rear wheel is the novel point. Around the seat tube long spiral springs are mounted. These springs control the movement of a pair of stays, at the opposite end of which the rear axle is supported. The stays are hinged at the point at which the ordinary rear stays meet. This design
cannot be compared with a spring seat pillar. With a spring frame the rider remains practically motionless, whereas in the case of a spring seat pillar—which admittedly is a step in the right direction—the rider is constantly moving up and down. The engine fitted to the PV is the new 3½hp MOIV twin JAP, with cylinders 60x76mm [430cc], and this little store of compressed energy largely conduces to the extreme comfort of the machine. By that we mean that the engine is beautifully balanced, besides which the machine is a hill-climber of exceptional merit, and speedy at that. Altogether we were very much impressed with the running of the PV…Though the rider is unaware of it, since none of the jolts and jars occasioned by road inequalities are transmitted to his spine, the springs are never still a moment. The member of our staff who rode this machine has no hesitation in saying that it is the most comfortable of the 46 different motor cycles he has sampled this year. Other features of the PV include a dropped top tube giving a low saddle position, handle-bar controlled magneto and rubber-covered footboards. The silencing arrangement is most effective. The exhaust first enters the large-sized box under the right footrest, and the burnt gas is afterwards conducted rearwards along a short spout-ended pipe. At low speeds the exhaust is practically inaudible, yet the engine remains comparatively cool on long non-stop runs, and seldom, if ever, knocks.”
THE MOTOR CYCLE Buyers’ Guide revealed that there were exactly 323 models on the market: 215 one-lungers, 62 twins, 12 passenger machines, 12 ladies’ machines and 22 combos. Active marques on the British market at the end of the year were: AC, AJS, Alcyon, Allday, Anglian, Ariel, Arno, ASL, B&A, Bat, Bradbury, Brough, Brown, BSA, Buck, Calcott, Calthorpe, Campion, CCR, Centaur, Chater-Lea, Clyno, CMC, Corah, Dene, Dot, Douglas, Ebo, Edmund, ELI, Elswick, Enfield, Excelsior, FN, Forward, Gamage, Grandex, Hazel, Hazelwood, Hobart, Humber, Indian, Ivy-Precision, Ixion, James, Kerry-Abingdon, Kynoch, Levis, Lincoln Elk, LMC, Macbeth, Martin, Matchless, Midget Bicar, MM, Morgan, Motosacoche, New Comet, New Hudson, New Imperial, NLG, Norton, NSU, NYE, OK, Osmond, P&M, Pierce, Pilot, Portland, Premier, Puch, PV, Quadrant, Rex, Roc, Rover, Rudge, Samson, Scott, Service, SIAMT, Singer, Steelhouse, Stuart, Swan, Swift, Torpedo, Triumph, Trump, Unocar, Victoria and VMC, WD, Win Precision, Wulfrana and Zenith. The burgeoning sidecar sector included: Canolet, Chater-Lea, Clyno, Comfy, Coronet, Dunkley, Farrar, Gloria, Grandex, Griffin and Kerry.
A TYRE manufacturer attempted to force its stockists into an exclusive contract, prohibiting them from dealing in any other make of tyre. The AA and Manufacturers’ Union issued a joint statement criticising “an attempt to create tied houses in the tyre trade” which would be “inimical to the interests of its members”.
AUSTRALIA held its first motor show which concluded with a motor cycle gymkhana. Events included a novice race, obstacle race, speed race, lifebelt race, potato race and ’tilting at the ring’.
THE ACU decided that for 1912 the capacity limit for the Senior TT would be 500cc (Class C) “for any type of engine; that is to say, for single and multi-cylinders or two-strokes”. The Junior TT limit would be 350cc (Class B) for any type of engine.
AN ENTHUSIAST returned from a trip to New York with a vivid description of motor cycling in the States (where he noted bikes were notably thin on the ground): “A fairly large party were going out to see some flying at the Wright Bros’ ground, about eight miles from the city, and as I was travelling in a car I was able to appreciate the sensations of half a dozen Indian riders who ‘hung on’ for most of the way. At speeds above 20mph they appeared never to touch their saddles at all, and in order to avoid ruts, the steering consisted of a series of plunges from side to side of the road. Several times they dismounted to negotiate a particularly deep patch of loose sand, and often in rising over a hump in the road the whole machine would leave the ground for a foot or two coming down with a ‘whack’ which made one wonder how the frames could stand the continual strain.”
“THE BOOM in motor cycles which set in in England two years ago has now reached Ceylon. All the motor cycles imported are bought up at once, and many more could be sold if they could be delivered…A Ceylon MCC has now been formed, and the members already number sixty. One of the leading newspapers in Ceylon has recently started a column of motor cycling notes. The writer who adopts the pseudonym of ‘The Spark’ deals first with the cost of running a motor cycle.”
ITEMS OFFERED in exhange for motorcycles in a single issue of the Blue ‘Un included gramaphones and records; a grey parrot and folding camera; a grand piano; an ‘automatic lung tester’; a knife cleaner; gas fittings; and a diamond ring.
ARCHIBALD C GRAY, a Leeds commercial traveller, was riding towards Askham Bryan when his machine skidded on the tarred main street of Tadcaster. Gray sued the local authority for damages. Judge Templer rejected the claim and concluded: “If you go on a tarred road you go at your own risk. The roads are not made for either motor cycles or motor traffic. They are made for ordinary people. Motorists seem to think the roads are made entirely for themselves, and for their own purpose. They are the greatest nuisance which ever came, and the sooner they are swept off the face of the earth the better.”
MAGISTRATE W EMBLETON Fox had a firmer grasp on reality. Fining a motor cyclist £3 for ‘driving to the public danger’ in Gainsborough, Lincs, Fox said he did not punish motorists for exceeding the legal limit “for limits were simply artificial restrictions” but he warned: “Furious driving must be taken seriously.”
THE BLUE ‘UN was the victim of trans-Atlantic plagarism and responded with a pen dipped in vitriol. “Yankee journalistic Methods: There is an American paper named Motor Cycling which makes a practice of reproducing sketches from The Motor Cycle, and paraphrasing the matter accompanying them without the slightest acknowledgment ot the source from which the drawings or matter were obtained. Even if it were our policy to do so we could not return the compliment by copying American drawings, as those of the paper in question are much too poor to ever find a place in these columns.” And, a few months later: “The Bicycling World and Motor Cycle Review (America) has published four whole pages of sketches lifted bodily from this journal. In some instances the illustrations bear our artist’s initials, but not the slightest acknowledgment is made. We can only say that it must be a welcome change for the readers of the American paper referred to, to see a selection of really first-class practical sketches in a native journal, and doubtless the Yankee editor recognises this fact.”
THE DUTCH MCC (or, more correctly, the Nederlandsche Motorwielrijders Vereeniging) sent a message to The Motor Cycle: “The members of the Dutch MC Club who, last summer, paid a visit to the Isle of Man, wish all their English motorfriends a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year and sincerely hope to meet them again in August 1912, on occasion of the English-Dutch Reliability Trial.” The Dutch lads planned a reliability trial with teams of 12 from each country and, in return for the hospitality they had received during their TT visit, promised escorts from the Hook, accommodation and a full programme of entertainments.
PUBLISHING THE regulations for its second overnight Boxing Day trial from Hounslow to Exeter and back, the MCC emphasised its rule about noise, adding: “The MCC committee feels very strongly that if motor cyclists do not mend their ways themselves, irksome regulations enforced by the police are inevitable.” Despite heavy rain covering the whole route the first of exactly 100 competitors left the Bulstrode hotel at 7pm; “inside the first twenty miles nearly every motor cyclist was literally smothered from head to foot, back and front, with a thick plaster of mud splashes…The condition in which many of the competitors entered hotels at the feeding places en route was direful…
The arrangements for marking the route at awkward corners and turns were admirable,large arrows fixed to boards being illuminated by shielded lanterns, so that the light fell only upon the arrow and did not throw a glare into the eyes of the approaching driver…The organisation was perfect, and we must accord praise to the County Hotel at Salisbury, where the hot supper overnight and the luncheon on the return journey were meals served quickly under conditions that invited appetite to those who were tired after the long journey…Up on the high downs between Andover and
Salisbury a keen north wind cut straight across the open road and discovered the weak places in clothing equipment, and the compulsory stop at the cathedral town was welcomed by everyone. Occasionally, the noise of an approacliing engine could be heard more than a quarter of a mile away, and when entering the [Salisbury] street the reverberations thrown backwards and forwards from the houses resembled the filing of a Gatling gun. After one or two machines had passed by, it was evident many of the inhabitants were awakened from sleep, as windows were opened and heads thrust out…We stayed on top of Chard Hill for about forty minutes and about three-quarters of those who passed either ran beside their machines or had to be ignominiously assisted. A party of local good Samaritans who had ridden out from Martock to see the fun saved many a weary rider from the hard work of pushing his machine to the summit…The remainder of the journey was uneventful, save for the fearsome six miles of greasy mess, misnamed a road, from Sunningdale to Egham, over which steering was so unstable that it was wonderful how the single-trackers managed to keep upright. At the finish a big crowd of enthusiast had come down from town to welcome their friends, and here assistance from the police was welcomed by the staff of officials in order quickly to check the arriving competitors.” Not everyone made it back (one unfortunate ran into a stray pony) but 77 riders won gold medals for finishing within the time limit. The passenger in an outfit that failed to finish penned a poem on his woes which you can find in the poetry page.
BY YEAR’S END a total of 36,242 new bikes had been registered in Britain and 7,357 had been exported (up from 3,341 in 1910 and 1,884 in 1909). At the same time imports fell from 1,442 in 1909 and 1,387 in 1910 to 1,351 in 1911. The Blue ‘Un commented: “The motor cycle industry is rapidly becoming an important factor in British trade, and from the Board of Trade returns one cannot doubt the fact that British motor cycles have a firm grip of the market abroad and in the colonies.” It estimated that there were 56,000 motor cycles in use on British roads; in France the total motor cycle parc was only 27,000: “These figures, in addition to being small in comparison with our own, are meagre for a country the size of France. If the pastime were anything like as popular as it is in Great Britain the number should be at least six times 27,000.”
IXION PENNED a Christmas story reflecting increasing concern about the threat of war: it centred on the hunt for a German spy.
AND TO CLOSE this review of the year, here’s a selection of adverts…