TRIUMPH’S RACE PROVEN 499c sv single, the ‘Trusty’, introduced many servicemen to motorcycling; more than 20,000 were supplied to the British armed forced with another 10,000 going to our allies. It started the war as a single-speeder but soon gained a three-speed Sturmey Archer box and kickstart. About 25,000 flat-twin Douglases were also supplied to the military. Most were two-speed 350s but a number of 594cc models were also supplied for sidecar work. The Bristol factory also produced generator engines. The RFC opted for P&Ms; Scott, Clyno and Royal Enfield combos equipped the Machine Gun Battalions and were also pressed into use as ambulances. Military contracts were also issued to AJS, New Imperial, Matchless, Premier, Rover, Rudge, Sunbeam and Zenith.
DOUGLAS FOLLOWED THE trend towards more cc and more power with a 594cc 4hp twin. I bought my machine for solo work,” Ixion reported, “and have been charmed by the ease with which it responds to its kick-starter, in which respect it easily excels and single-cylinder I have owned.” He was also impressed by the uprated lubrication system: “The oil is carried in a sump which is an extension of the crank case, no oil being carried in the tank, which is reserved for petrol only…The method of lubrication is very simple and effective, as well as being practically foolproof. When the oil is placed in the sump beneath the crank case the rider can dismiss the question of lubrication from his mind until he has travelled 500 miles or so, but it is better to add a little oil at more frequent intervals…The oil is raised from the sump by an elevator on the Archimedean screw principle to troughs into which the big ends dip. These throw the oil into the cylinders, whence channels convey it to the other bearings. The surplus drains back through a filter composed of two gauzes into the reservoir for future use…Acceleration is quite a unique feature; the engine is much better silenced than the 2¾hp of the same make, whilst retaining its balance—in fact, I think its balance is better, and, excluding very low rates of revolution, for which I have not yet tuned it up to my satisfaction, the running is more reminiscent of a steam turbine than any motor cycle engine I have yet handled. Increasing wind pressure on the cheeks is the most pronounced sensation as the throttle is opened…”
THE TT WAS SUSPENDED FOR THE DURATION but in August the BMRC staged an All Khaki meeting at Brooklands. “Everything went off without a hitch; even the weather, which lad been unpropitious in the morning, cleared up after noon, and the sun shone brightly after lunch. The difficulties of organisation were great. The only available portion of the track was the railway straight, and so there was no proper enclosure for the spectators. Experienced officials, owing to many of them having received their
country’s call, were few and far between, so the marshalling of the competitors and the keeping of the spectators off the track was by no means an easy matter. However, all the events were most successfully run off. The half-mile sprint races were started from one of the telephone boxes near the flying ground, and the I’aces were run towards the members’ bridge. The finish was marked by the timing box on wheels known as the ” bathing machine, ‘ which is so familiar a feature at BMCRC meetings…no less than 190 being received. Thanks to Mr. Houghton, six stalwart sergeants of the 25th Div Cyclist Company carried out the marshalling in a most efficient manner, while the spectators, being mostly soldier men, obeyed with alacrity…The spectators were an interesting crowd, and consisted mostly of members of the British Army of all grades, ranks, and branches, men of the Royal Naval Air Service—the armoured car section—and other branches of the Senior Service, while the drab but businesslike khaki was relieved by the light blue uniforms of interested convalescents from the St. George’s Hill Hospital, Weybridge…In the lightweight sprint (two-strokes not exceeding 270cc) Cpl Ward RF (New Hudson) romped home an easy winner…Then came a ‘one-design’ affair open to 2¾hp (349cc) Douglas motor cycles. It was won quite easily by Lt LA Fedden ASC at 41.47mph…An excellent entry was received for the medium-weight half-mile sprint
(up to 550cc), won by 2nd Lt G Barnard RE (499cc Sunbeam) whose Sunbeam was a perfect mount superbly handled which carried its owner to victory on more than one occasion…For the quick-change plug race spare plugs in envelopes with the competitor’s numbers on them were laid at intervals on the finishing line. Competitors raced from the start, changed plugs, and sprinted back to the starting point. It was an exciting and amusing affair. Most peoijle badly over-shot the mark, while one or two seized the wrong plug…the unlimited half-mile sprint for motor cycles not exceeding 1,000cc was won by A McColl (motor cyclist, RE) on the twin Matchless which formerly belonged to Charlie Collier…Everyone quickly evacuated the railway straight and made for the test hill [for] the junior hill-climb for motorcycles not exceeding 350cc…25 yards start was allowed. First was Cpl FE Barker, ASC, one hos 349cc Zenith twin [who beat an Army Cyclist Corps captain and two ASC lieutenants, all on 349cc Douglases]…the Serpentine Slow Race was an interesting and amusing affair. The competitors had to ride as slowly as possible in and out of the natural obstacles provided by the sheds of the paddock. The test of skill was rendered the more difficult owing to the fact that that part of the paddock leading to
the flying ground was in a bad condition, and the places where the cement had given way had been filled in with loose gravel. Any competitor who put foot to the ground was disqualified. Barnard, the winner, used his clutch magnificently, and made extraordinarily slow time, which is all the more to his credit, as he won the medium-weight sprint on the same machine…1, G Barnard (2nd Lt RE, 499cc Sunbeam) 3min 6.4sec; 2, OJS Scholte (2nd Lt 3rd Bedfords,Harley Davidson twin) 2min 34.8sec; 3, H Walker (2nd Lt, 25th Div Cyclist Co, Enfield twin) 1min 53sec. A great success! That was the consensus of opinion of those who witnessed the first Brooklands meeting for not only khaki-clad men but ‘sons of the sea’—but British all of them…Many of the competitors had never ridden in a race before, some had never seen Brooklands, and up and down the track they careered like boys let loose. They bobbed up from everywhere. What an anxious time the officials had!…Just before the start one competitor, recognising a well known official of a leading company, enquired how to tune his
machine up for speed. He was recommended to remove the mudguards, which he did in quick time…There were some cunning men in the plug changing or ‘finger burning’ contest. Several never used a spanner at all; they had fitted the plug loosely in the cylinder, and after riding the course exchanged it with the fingers. Quite simple; the times as a result were wonderfully quick…Those who tried the whole of the track were amazed at the size and depth of the holes caused by the passage of motor lorries to and from the flying sheds. It will take weeks and the outlay of much money to put it into order again…Both naval and military men figured among the prize winners…A jollier and more healthy-looking lot of competitors never gathered together. When Mr Loughborough called for a naval winner to come and take his prize from Mrs Nicholl, ‘Aye aye, sir,’ was the ready response…Anyone in civilian attire felt quite ‘out of it’ at Brooklands on Saturday…Among competitors and spectators one recognised many old Brooklands habitues and Six Days Trials riders, but in very different attire from those good days.”
WITHIN WEEKS OF THE ALL-KHAKI bash Brooklands hosted a follow-up event, The United Services Motor Cycle Race Meeting: “The paddock was packed with motor cycles, cycle cars, and cars, of all makes, sizes, types, and dates. Viewed from afar, the crowd assumed that drab neutral tint which showed that it consisted mainly of the soldier element. Nevertheless, the dull, businesslike colour was relieved by the bright dresses of the ladies, the blue of the brave wounded from St George’s Hill, the uniform of a Royal Naval officer, and the light blue-grey of a Flying Corps man of the French Army…The Serpentine Fast Race, open to solo motor cycles of any description, was a most interesting affair, and called for an excessive amount of skill. Barriers six feet apart were placed in sets of four at two intervals on the half-mile available, and competitors had to ride between them. Touching the ground with the foot was forbidden. Lieut Boston, GHQ Staff (AJS), stopped and dropped his machine. Lce-Corpl Thompson, RE (Douglas), rode with
consummate skill and was heartily cheered. His performance was quite the neatest, and he was only beaten by engine power. Sergt Milner, RE (Diamond), touched a barrier. Corpl Hodgson, RE (ABC), also failed. PO Kingdon, RNAS (Douglas), stopped his engine. Corpl Wright, ASC (Triumph), made quite a good performance. Art Mech CF Mossman (Zenith) touched a barrier. 2nd Lieut FMC Houghton, 25th Div Cyclist Co (Rudge), rode well, scraping the ground at intervals with his footrests. Assistant-Paymaster CP Marcel, RNR (Indian), rode with considerable skill. Pte Charlesworth, N London OTC (Zenith), fell. 2nd Lieut 0JF Scholte, 3rd Beds. (Indian), made an excellent performance, which was heartily applauded. Of the two remaining competitors, one touched the ground with his feet, and the other stopped his engine. Results: 1, OJF Scholte, 2nd Lt 3rd Beds (994cc Indian twin). 2, T Thompson, Lance-Corpl RE (349cc Douglas twin). 3, CP Marcel, Asst Paymaster RM (994cc Indian twin)…The variety of makes in the paddock was extraordinary, [including an] American newcomer, the Yale, ridden by an RFC man. It had most peculiar handle-bars, and plated radiating fins cast horizontally like the Motosacoche. The overhead inlet valve was neatly enclosed…The best known member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve was our old friend Lieut FA McNab. He has a real taste for the sea, and looks a real sailor. He was riding poor Jake de Rosier’s twin-cylinder Indian.the meeting was organised chiefly for the competitors, who were all of the fighting forces (on this occasion the Royal Navy was well represented), and they really enjoyed themselves. The weather, too, was kind, and glorious sunshine favoured the whole of the meeting…
EDWARD TURNER, LATER to become a leading light in the industry, started his motorcycling career aboard a New Imperial Light Tourist.
BSA BUILT A FOUR-STOREY factory to accommodate huge production increases during the war. True to its small-arms roots BSA (let’s not forget that crossed-rifles logo) was soon busy making guns; particularly lightweight Lewis machine guns.
THE FIRST STOP LIGHTS were fitted to American cars.
AS THE MAJOR PLAYERS switched to military work a clutch of small firms leapt into the breach, meeting the demand for utility civilian transport with a range of lightweights. Many of these bikes were rushed to the market with proprietary engines: two strokes from the likes of Villiers, Liberty, Dalm, Metro and Peco or four strokes from JAP, Precision and Blackburne. The newcomers were happy to cash in on wartime patriotism – one little 210cc two-stroke was named the Dispatch Rider, complete with a transfer depicting the real thing in action. Other short-lived marques included Kumfurt (1914-16), Aeolus (1914-16 but no connection with the pioneer Aeolus that survived from 1903-5, clearly an unlucky name), Hockley (1914-16), Gaby (1914-15) and Burford (1914-15). They all collapsed when production of civilian motorcycles ceased, by order of the War Office. But Raynal, founded in 1914, was still in business in 1953, selling 98cc Villiers-powered tiddlers.
PLENTY OF ADVANCED designs had to be left on the drawing board. They included Rudge’s revamped 500c Multi and a 7hp twin; Quadrant’s two-stroke with a poppet-style side-vave in its exhaust port; Premier’s three-speed 322cc in-line twin two-stroke with unit-construction in a duplex frame; and Allon’s 584cc parallel-twin two-stroke. Levis’s 422cc flat-twin two-stroke was pressed into service, but rather than motorcycles it drove ships’ ventilation fans.
“CALIFORNIAN MOTOR CYCLISTS have recently held a 640 miles reliability trial of a most gruelling nature, mainly through the burning, shifting sands of Southern California. Twelve competitors faced the starter at Los Angeles, and seven finished to schedule time on the following day. The temperature throughout the run was in the neighbourhood of 120°. The seven riders who made perfect scores were mounted on the following makes: Harley-Davidson (1), American Excelsior (3), Henderson (1), Indian (1), and Thor (1).”
“AN APPEAL FOR ARMY MOTOR CYCLISTS: Recruiting for the Motor Machine Gun Service is now re-opened. Motor cyclists who wish to join the Army—and every able-bodied rider should respond to the call—will find all details in the Recruiting Section.”
“PILLION RIDING: WE HAVE repeatedly drawn attention to the danger of pillion riding, and only last week we read of a fatal accident from this cause. There may be but little risk on dry roads with careful driving, so long as nothing unforeseen takes place. But in a sudden emergency, which may occur at any time, the extra weight of a passenger on the carrier may make all the difference between success in getting out of a tight corner and failure to do so. Certain of our readers will, we suppose, continue the practice in spite of all warnings. We only hope that they may not have cause to regret it.”
THE COVENTRY CHAIN CO designed an all-chain gearbox with three chains and sprockets replacing the shafts and pinions of a conventional counter-shaft gearbox. It was inspired by the ’noiseless’ chain gearboxes used in London buses and taxis.
THE MOTOR CYCLE HAD RECRUITED more than 2,000 readers for the Motor Machine Gun Service, though many found themselves snapped up by the infantry. “So keen are some men to join the MMGS that the Editor has received applications from four men already on service in France to be transferred. This, however, is impossible…Among the last list of recruits the name of LA Bees may have been noticed. Bees was the competition rider and tester for the LMC Co, and now joins other well-known mechanic-riders in the MMGS, such as FH Brown (Rex), Fielder (New Hudson), Cocker (Triumph), Pountney (Rover), and Davenport (Lea-Francis). Bees brought two friends from Birmingham with him and all went home again on the single-geared twin LMC—one astride the tank, Bees driving, and the third on the carrier. Naturally, it made the countryside stare in amazement.”
THE MOTORING MOVEMENT was happy to put its money where its patriotic mouth was. Shell moved a cool £500,00 (equivalent to £36,000,000) into the government bonds known as the War Loan and many motor cycle manufacturers followed suit. The ACU led the clubs by transferring £1,000 of its funds, encouraging affiliated clubs and riders to do likewise: “We have already mentioned several clubs whose committees have invested money in the War Loan. Mention must also be made of the Bradford MCC which has put £200 in the Loan. The Bradford Club, by the way, has a quarter of its members serving in various capacities in HM Forces, and of the remainder a large number have joined the local volunteer corps. Quite a good record!” As well as running weekly recruitment pages The Motor Cycle was publishing letters from clubs competing to report the highest proportion of their members at the front, as well as lists of riders who had joined up.
“IT MAY, OR MAY NOT, BE TRUE,” Ixion remarked, “that a satisfactory locking washer has yet to be invented; but the fact remains that the trade consistently warns us against its own shortcomings. Every instruction manual advises the purchaser to ‘go carefully over all nuts with a spanner every week’…That our machines shed nuts is hardly surprising, if we realise that plated nuts are fitted to plated bolts, that no spring or locking washers, or
castellated nuts and split pins are employed on a number of machines…”
ANOTHER MEMORABLE TURN OF PHRASE from Ixion, this time describing the ease with which he had decoked his Levis: “I was astounded at the exiguity of the carbon deposits. There were a few flakes barely jutting into the exhaust port, the cylinder head was practically clean, the deflector on the piston carried perceptible deposits on its steeper slope, but its gentler slope was merely stained. Cleaning these two-stroke engines is child’s play; they can be carried in one hand, and are readily made to look like new by brushing in a small basin of paraffin…”
AND THERE’S MORE: “The other day I met a rara avis in the shape of a motor cyclist who uses a motor attachment clipped inside the diamond frame of a pedal cycle. I had fancied that this species was practically extinct. His particular mount took the form of a JES attachment, and he thinks nothing of doing 120 miles in a day, of averaging 20mph in the level Midlands, and of covering upwards of 150 miles on a gallon of petrol.”
“NO DOUBT INFLUENCED by the progress in England, America is now turning her attention to the lightweight motor cycle. The bad roads in the States have delayed the production of the smallest and lightest power propelled two-wheeler.” The 222cc two-stroke Cleveland featured a two-speed transmission with a multi-plate clutch and shaft drive. Claimed top speed was 35mph with a consumption of 120mpg. As the Blue ‘Un noted: “…in certain parts [it] bears a strong resemblance to a famous English machine.”
“SINCE MOBILISATION THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT has bought up practically all the motor cycles over 3 h.p. . considered suitable for war service. The four most prevalent types are British-made machines, viz.. Triumph, Rudge, Sunbeam, and Lea-Francis. Among the sidecars which are used for the transport of officers, the Motosacoche and 7hp FN are pre-eminent. The purchases included private owners’ machines, and the price in each case was fixed by a Commission of motor cycle experts and officers…With the big demands for motor cycles made by the Italian Government, it will occasion no surprise to learn that there is a scarcity of motor cycles at present, and it is unfortunate that British manufacturers are not in a position to take advaiitaire of it.”
UNDER THE HEADING “Sauce for the Gander” the Blue ‘Un gleefully reported: “A superintendent of police appeared last week at the Stroud Police Court charged with having driven a motor cycle in a dangerous manner…The prosecution alleged that the motor cycle had been driven ‘very fast’, while the defence estimated the speed at from 2-4mph. From what we know of police estimates of pace, we should therefore be inclined to divide by the usual factor and to place the speed at ½mph. The defendant said that he rode out of George Street at a speed slower than a man could walk! A fine of 10s was imposed.”
THERE WERE 35 STARTERS in the Dublin &DMCC’s Irish Open 24-Hours Trial; 29 of them finished within the time limit. As usual the trial followed a 400-mile route from Dublin to Donegal and back including Glenesh Pass, the steepest main-road hill in Ireland. It had never been climbed by a 3½hp outfit; 25 riders made it to the top but only eight of them made non-stop climbs. Toolbags were sealed at the start; repairs and adjustments en route were penalised. WH Freeman (9hp Indian) and T Toole (4hp BSA) were both withing 59sec of the scheduled time and shared the Rudge-Whitworth Cup, ahead of J Doleman (3½hp Rover) at 79sec and R Walshe (4hp BSA) at 107sec.
“THERE ARE INDICATIONS that the magneto may be forced from its pre-eminent position as a spark producer in favour of the dynamo, which, combined with an efficient accumulator, is becoming increasingly popular owing to the powerful and steady light produced by these means…accumulators have been immensely improved in recent years until they are capable of withstanding a heavy discharge…It really should not be necessary to carry two electrical machines on the same mount.”
“WITH THREE-QUARTERS OF EUROPE engaged in the bloodiest struggle in history, and motor contests consequently things of the past, it is quite a relief to hear of a road race for motor cycles held recently in Spain. Until within a couple of months ago our Italian friends ran some occasional trials, but now that they have joined the Allies, competitions with them are out of the question…This Spanish race was organised by the Motor Club of Madrid, and, compared with previous events, it appears to have been indeed a severe test. The total distance was 206 kilo- metres, or 130 miles, and there were many hairpin corners, besides the crossing of two mountain ranges…The winner, M Lliviria, rode a Scott, and covered the total distance in 2hr 52min 1sec (=45.25mph). The first dozen finishers arrived in the following order : Lliviria (Scott), Landa (Indian), Landa (Rudge), Cardenal (Indian), Adariaga (Scott), Santoyo (Scott), Rippolez (Scott), Manzarraga (Indian), Pidal (Indian), Rudernos (Indian), Rivera (Indian), Azqueta (Indian).”
THE ANNUAL RUSSIAN SPEED TRIALS, held at Petrograd, were dominated by British bikes. Fast time of the day over the flying verst (0.66 mile) was 37sec (64.9mph) set by an 8hp Matchless-JAP twin. The top five bikes in the 500cc class were two Rudges, followed by three Triumphs. And first three in the sidecar class were an Enfield, and Premier and a Sunbeam.
THE TOUGHEST ‘ROAD’ RACE in the US was the 421-mile cross-country trek from San Diego to Phoenix. It started in 1913; riders were ready and willing to face rockslides, loose sand, sunstroke and renegade Apaches. But the 1915 race was called off because of raids along the route by Pancho Villa’s guerillas.
INDIAN RIDER JIM DAVIS set a 100-mile dirt track record of 88min 6.4sec (68.1mph), ahead of a brace of Harleys.
HEADLIGHTS WHICH COULD BE swivelled on their mountings were prohibited under the Defence of the Realm Act in case spies used them to send signals. Riders who didn’t get the message had their headlamps seized and were fined. However, only a few weeks after the first dire warning, the Blue ‘Un went into reassurance mode: ““There has been a lot of unnecessary fuss made concerning swivelling lamps on motor cycles. As we recorded last week, one magistrate advised the police to withdraw a summons. In any case, all that is needed is simply to solder the swivelling device, or to fit a pin right through.”
“A MOTOR CYCLIST WAS RECENTLY STOPPED on the London-Birmingham road, near Woburn, by four policemen, who proceeded to remove his head light, which he was not using at the time, at the same time threatening him with a summons. The head light was of a type recently declared to be perfectly legal by a magistrate. It seems to us that the police acted in a very high-handed manner, and exceeded their duty.”
“WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM AUCKLAND, NZ, a letter from Mr JW Sparke, who is making a tour overseas on behalf of his firm, the Lloyd Motor Engineering Co, of Birmingham. The joint enterprise of Mr Sparke and his company is meeting its just reward, for a large number of orders have been handed to him. Mr Sparke had already been in India when he wrote us, and will return to Australia. His next trip was to have been to Japan, but matters looked very serious between Japan and China, and the Yokohama agents for the LMC cabled M. Sparke to postpone his trip. We have always been strong advocates of the practice of personally seeking business in the British Empire overseas. American competition is very keen in our self-governing dominions and colonies, and to take adequate steps to meet it it is necessary for British manufacturers to send out representatives to study local conditions and look after agents.”
THE OSAKA MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION marked the biorth of the bike club scene in Japan.
THE OFFICIAL TOURING GUIDE of the Auto Cycle Union…gives some particulars as to how the Union has been of international service up to March last, and since that date the work in connection with recruiting, supplies, and assistance to the various Government departments has continued…A number of favourite tours have been drawn up, and particulars can be instantly sent to members on application. A circular and comprehensive tour in England, Wales, and Scotland has been compiled, covering a total distance of 3,212 miles…Further useful information is a list of notable lest hills, giving their approxim-ite gradient and length. The list of ferries lias been revised and brought up to date, and is of great use to the tourist, including, as it does, not only those in England and Wales, but in Scotland also. The list of officially appointed hotels and repairers has been completely modernised and rearranged in a clear and lucid manner.”
FAR FROM THE FIGHTING, a speed trial was held in Argentina. Fastest lightweight over the 1km Buenos Ayres straight was an NUT at 50mpg, followed by a Singer (48mph). A Matchless won the 3½hp class at 62mph, ahead of a Bat (55.5mph). And a Matchless also won the sidecar class (60mph) ahead of a Pope (53mph). And indian won the unlimited class at 75.5mph, ahead of yet another Matchless (53mph).
“DO NOT BELIEVE THE TALES told in garage yards and roadside inns any more than you are forced to by etiquette. Many people are very fond of adding a few artistic flourishes to their performances. The man who blinds into the yard and announces that he has just done twenty-five miles in thirty-four and a half minutes should be encouraged, and after a little time will inform you that perhaps his best show was when he climbed Sludgeside’ (average gradient 1 in 3½—1 in 1½ for ten yards) on a wet night on one cylinder with the petrol turned off. No; a man who does anything over thirty-five miles in the hour for any distance is ‘some’ rider, and, except by fools who take terrible risks, over forty in the hour is well nigh impossible. If a hundred miles of give and take roads are covered in three hours, the rider can feel quite pleased with himself. With regard to personal comfort, wear plenty of clothes and a good water and dustproof outside covering. Breeches and leggings are distinctly comfortable, and look smarter than a pair of bagging overalls.”
“AMONG THOSE PRESENTED to His Majesty during his flying visit last Thursday to some of the Coventry factories engaged on Government work were Mr AH Niblett (Humber), Mr CW Hathaway (Triumph), and Mr Alfred Bednell (secictary Motor Cycle Traders’ Union), as members of the Armaments Output Committee. In the course of his rapid tour through the Rover works His Majesty the King saw motor cycles in course of construction, though at the present moment the greater part of the Rover Co’s energies are concentrated upon work of a more important and pressing nature. During his tour of the Birmingham factories His Majesty visited the BSA works, and among those presented to him was Mr CA Hyde, general manager of the cycle and motor cycle departments.”
“SIR, I THINK IT IS ABOUT TIME someone entered a mild protest against the childish futility of the Motor Cycle Volunteer movement. At a recent hill-climb we had a beautiful picture of exquisitely garbed, athletic, young men playing themselves on their motor cycles the whole afternoon. A glance at a contemporary of yours shows some of this redoubtable force advancing to the attack. The picture bears far more resemblance to a party of exuberant Bank-holidayers on Hampstead Heath. Doubtless it was all very exciting, recalling as it would do memories of their not far distant days of hide and seek. They will learn considerably more of matters military by responding to Lord Kitchener’s last appeal, and, in addition, will have opportunities for enjoying the finest of sports. One small group of irresponsibles took a great delight in exploding some toy pistol every time a certain competitor passed. Such conduct might have been the cause of an accident, by misleading the driver into thinking something had gone wrong with his machine. Their conduct struck me as being just on a level with the whole organisation—to wit, childish.
[As so many criticisms of others have appeared in the press from writers who themselves are not in the Service, we think it only fair to state that ‘MB’ writes from Aldershot, and holds a commission in the Army—Ed.]
“I HAVE SEEN LITTLE of this movement myself—I only returned home from duty two weeks ago from the Front…will you allow me to take my stand in your columns beside your correspondent ‘MB’ and say to the hale healthy men who are playing at this childish travesty of war, ‘For God’s sake give up this fooling now, and take a hand in the sterner game. If you can’t or won’t do that, at least give up your fooling just the same, for to those who have seen even a little of the great grim tragedy that is being enacted little over 50 miles from these shores, your doings seem like a child’s burlesque of death.
AGM, Captain ASC.”
“’WARE POLICE WITH REVOLVERS: The absolute necessity of immediately stopping when called upon by either soldier or police constable was emphasised a few days ago when a Richmond (Yorks) medical man was fined £2 for not stopping. Defendant, who stated that he was hurrying to an urgent case, was motor cycling past Scotch Corner on the Great North Road at midnight when the police constable raised his red lamp and called upon him to stop. He did not do so and the constable fired his revolver at the motor cycle and missed.”
“HIGH SPEEDS IN THE USA: At the Dodge City Speedway, Kansas, USA some of the most prominent American crack riders contested a 300 mile race for the International Grand Prize Cup. Otto Walker, on a Harley Davidson, came in first at an average speed of 76mph.” There were 27 starters; Harleys finished 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th with an Excelsior 3rd.
IN THE NEDERLANDS the Noord Nederlandsche MC, the Nederlandsche Motorwielryders and the Friesche MC got together for the Three Provinces Trip, based on Groningen. Top three in the lightweights were a James and two Douglases; a Wanderer twin and an FN four tied for the heavyweight lead, ahead of a four-pot Simplex, a Pope Twin, a Rudge Single and another FN four.
“SIR, PERHAPS, IN COMPANY with many of your readers, you may have observed that, at dusk and thereabout, motors and motor cycles appear to gain in speed and power, although the setting of the throttle and spark remains the same as previously. An explanation of this might be forthcoming due to the fact that plants, flowers, etc, give out at dusk a considerable quantity of carbonic acid gas, this being sufficient to augment the speed and power of the motor referred to.
“SIR, I SHOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST to ‘GPGK’ that the real reason for this well-known phenomenon is the rotation of the earth on its axis. Owing to this a road, which at noon lies quite level, will at dusk slope downwards at an angle of about 45°. This enables the machine to travel at a tremendous speed. At daybreak, on the contrary, the slope will be upwards, and it is this that makes it so hard to get up in the morning. Of course I may be wrong. It may be CO2, after all. If so, let us plug up our exhaust pipes to prevent the escape of any burnt gas, thus keeping the cylinder constantly full of undiluted carbonic acid gas. It will be found that the engine will then pull as well uphill as on the level. By the way, talking about woodchucks, can anyone say: While the ‘Two-stroke’ versus ‘Four-stroke’ controversy’s to the fore, When a ‘two-stroke’ engine ‘four strokes’ too, what does it ‘four-stroke’ for?
“WE HAVE RECEIVED the following letter from the Front: Just a line or two from three of the boys to let you know that we are still going strong, and being now in our eighth month out here, during which time we have managed to stick together, with the exception of such times when we were sent out to the divisions or corps for a day or two. Although it is ride, ride, ride, from morn till night, we are still anticipating taking part in the next TT with as much enthusiasm as ever, provided we do not ‘konk’ out before, which we sincerely hope we shall not do.
Howard R Davies (Sunbeam), Godfrey Boyton (Triumph), and DM Brown (Rover).”
“A MONSTER RACER: Sir, I enclose herewith photograph of myself and a French Peugeot racing machine. Perhaps the machine may be of interest to the readers of The Motor Cycle. The motor is a four-cylinder V type; Longuemare carburetter and Le Febre oiling device are also fitted Ignition is by six dry cells, contained in the triangular box mounted at the head of frame, and two sparking coils, one on each side top frame tube. No brake nor pedalling gear is fitted, and the motor when ‘opened’ up has a wonderful turn of speed. No one here has the pluck to leave the motor opened for any length of time. I hope next spring to bring my touring model, a 7hp Indian, to England to tour. If I cannot get passports I will try to join some department of the Government that will enable me to come over. As I own machine and sidecar I believe I should have no trouble in enlisting in the hospital or some other service. There are lots of German residents here, but they are little liked, and I threw away a tyre pump stamped ‘Blumel made in Germany’ and bought another made in USA. The only thing left on my machine that is German is the Bosch magneto, and that in name only; the magneto was manufactured in Springfield, Mass.
Samuel Eagan, Junr
Vicksburg, Miss, USA”
“NOTHING APPARENTLY HAS COME of the suggestion which was ventilated in these columns some time ago to release a certain proportion of the motor cycles produced in this country for the use of the Army and replace them with machines of American manufacture. Such a scheme, it will be obvious, would enable our firms to keep up their business connections and so more easily pick up the threads of trade when they are in the happy position of being able to cope with all demands.”
“‘WARE WALSALL: MOTOR CYCLISTS who have to pass through Walsall (for their sins) are advised to exercise extreme caution. Summonses have been issued for driving at a speed dangerous to the public, and an unfortunate rider was recently fined 40s for an alleged speed of 21mph (his own estimate was 10-11mph) The police ap-
parently used separate watches, which they compared at intervals, so it is plain that the possibilities of error in the timing are considerable.”
“IT APPEARS THAT THE ONLY Overseas Dominion which possesses a ruling body is South Africa, and in this country the pastime is looked after by the Motor Cycle Union of South Africa. Australia has no such organisation, and as motor cycling is going ahead by leaps and bounds in the Commonwealth, it would appear that both from the point of view of sport and touring, and to help the movement generally, a parental body of some sort is very desirable. The various States have their clubs, also the principal towns in each State, but the huge size of the country has something to do with the non-formation of a controlling body for the whole of the continent. The English Auto Cycle Union would be glad to advise interested Overseas readers who feel that such an institution is needed in the country in which they reside.”
“MOTOR CYCLISTS IN SOUTH AFRICA, or, to be more correct, those SA motor cyclists not fighting in the great war, continue to hold occasional trials which, although naturally not so well supported as in the pre-war days, help to keep those who remain at home enthusiastic, and so prevent club affairs from becoming moribund. These remarks apply also to motor cycling in New Zealand and Australia, and, with home competitions practically suspended, the doings of our Colonial friends are of more than usual interest. The Eastern Province MCC whose headquarters are at Port Elizabeth, held a 20 miles road race which resulted in some good sport. As a result of recent heavy rain, the road wa.s ill a shocking state, and there were one or two falls. Some of the competitors were in a state of exhaustion at the end of the 20 miles over such bad roads.” First three home in the solo class were a 2¾hp Douglas, a 3½hp Rudge and a 5hp Indian. The top three outfits were a 5hp New Hudson, a 3½hp Alldays and a 4hp Triumph. “The Cape Club recently held a flexibility hill-climb for novices. A slow and fast climb, each about half a mile in length, was the. order of the day, with one class for solo riders and one for sidecarists. The same gear was to be used in both attempts, while braking or clutch slipping or touching the ground entailed disqualifications. Solo class winner J Wylie (AJS), variation in time 1min 59.6sec; sidecar class winner, E Binns (Premier), variation 1min 51.6sec.
FOR SOME MONTHS PAST a section of the daily press has been urging the government to adopt compulsory service forthwith, and without necessarily expressing a diverse or favourable view of this national movement, we should like to make it known far and wide that, so far as motor cyclists are concerned, to urge compulsion at present is rather beside the point. There is no dearth of applicants so far as this patriotic section is concerned. For months past our efforts have been taxed to the utmost in coping with the applications we have received from prospective recruits, and we go so far as to say that were motor cyclists treated in a businesslike manner, and in a manner they expect to be treated, the numbers would be increased threefold. We refer mainly to anomalies in the matter of payment. We have dealt with the subject before, and, as our readers know, it is not a question of the low rates of pay—for that matter the British Army is, as a rule, very well paid—but the inconsistencies of paying different rates to motor cyclists performing exactly the same kind of work. The rates for motor cyclists vary from 1s 2½d to 6s per day, depending upon the section, which every reasonable man will agree is absurd; all car drivers get 6s per day, and frequently a man whose experience is just insufficient to pass him as a car driver has to accept pay but one-fifth of the amount. Before there is compulsion we contend that the first move is to equalise the rates of pay.
MOTOR CYCLES ARE POPULAR with the chiefs of Uganda, and at Kampala there are abont twenty natives who ride them. The majority of the machines are Triumphs, both four and two-stroke models being in evidence.
“A NEAT NEWCOMER TO THE RANKS of lightweights is the Scarlet, manufactured by Messrs Scarlett & Hodkin of Manchester. The Scarlet is made in three models—single-speed, two-speed, and ladies’ model. The engine is the same in all three, viz, a two-stroke Metro, 70x70mm, giving a cubic capacity of 269cc. It is fitted with an outside flywheel, EIC waterproof magneto, and a Senspray carburetter. In the case of the two-speed model a countershaft gear box is fitted, with combined chain and belt drive. The lady’s model is identical with the exception of the top tube, which in the former case is dropped sufficiently to give freedom for the rider’s skirt. The machines are enamelled in scarlet, while the tank is of a rather darker shade of red with black lining.”
“THE LATEST AMERICAN MACHINE to be placed on the British Market: The 1916 8hp 976cc twin-cylinder Thor, which hails from Chicago, follows generally American practice. It has a pleasing appearance, being enamelled in two shades,of blue, with paneling around tank and toolbox. The machine is fitted with a Schebler carburetter. A typically American feature is the combined Splitdorf magneto and dynamo, mounted on an extension of the crank case between the down front tube and cylinders. The accumu- lators are carried below the saddle-pillar. Twist handle-bar control is adopted, the left-hand operating the spark and the right-hand the throttle. The exhaust lifter is controlled by a lever on the right-hand side, operating by means of Bowden wire. Chain drive is employed, and the transmission is direct from the motor sprocket…The springing consists of spring forks on the rigid truss principle, the springs being housed in the fork tubes and a spring saddle pillar. The toolbox is on the top tube over the tank, where also the speedometer (driven from the back wheel) is fixed. The main tank will hold two and a half gallons of petrol, and an oil tank holding three quarts is situated below the saddle…The Thor motor cycle is the latest American arrival, and all the time the motor cycle press across the Atlantic is urging Yankee manufacturers to seize the opportunity for business while the British manufacturers are unable to supply. They quote the following figures in support : British imports from United States during the first six months of 1915 equalled $620,000,000, compared with S350,000,000 in the corresponding period of 1914, and $345,000,000 in 1913.”
The ‘Despatch Rider’, made by Dreng & Co of Erdington, was powered by a 2¼hp 211cc two stroke with a single-speed transmission “the idea being to keep the machine as simple and light as possible”. The ladies’ version, pictures, had the same spec as the gent’s model, with Druid, Saxon or Brampton forks; it was finished in khaki enamel. The Blue ‘Un reported: “During a short trial run on the Despatch Rider we were struck by its handiness, ease of starting, and absence of vibration. The little engine also had a good turn of speed. It is a suitable mount for those requiring a light and simple macliine.”
WHEN IXION WAXED LYRICAL he did it in style…”The Evening Promenade: A year or two ago I called the attention of motor cycling tailors to the fact that nine motor cyclists out of ten, after a speedy day in the saddle, like to stroll round their sleeping town, and to turn their radiant smiles on the damosels of the vicinity; a practice as natural as it is doubtless reprehensible. If they wear their dusty overalls, Phyllis is not kind; if they emerge in their house clothes, they catch cold when they lean against a gate in some rural lane, and whisper sweet nothings into Phyllis’s rosy ear. The only solution I then attained was a patent coat, about which the worst thing was its name, the ‘Legstenshun’, or words to that effect. It was a good coat, and I still have it; it is more than a coat, for it has disappearing leggings buttoned Inside its skirt; it has served me well, but the Phyllises of my touring routes have never seen it, for it is designed to be worn in the saddle, and the dust from it ruined, the chiffons of the first Phyllis who came under its proximity. (We live and learn.) But the other week I found something better suited to the reprehensible brigade. I was smiting the nimble gutty in company with a well-known trade magnate, when a terrific cloud burst caught us just as he was playing his third in a bunker. What time I was burrowing for shelter in a gorse bush, and shouting to my cowering caddie to fetch my oilies from the clubhouse garage, his caddie produced a small satchel measuring about 10inx4in from his golf bag, and shook out of it a featherweight waterproof of smart cut, scaling a couple of pounds or so; and, oddly enough, it turned out to hail from the very firm which makes my oilies, to wit, Barbour, of South Shields. A similar vanity bag now graces the top of my carrier on all long runs, and after a gruelling day in the saddle I turn on to the local boulevards as smart as if I had stepped out of a band box; and I catch no more of those awful ‘gate-colds’.” It also sounds like the parent of the lightweight oversuit that caught on in the 1970s.
“THE VAN ZILE AIR DEFLECTOR is a device intended to shield the motor cyclist from wind and dust, and is attached to the handle-bar by means of a metal bracket, which has a vertical adjustment of three inches. It is constructed of curved metal vanes, which are secured to side plates, and the wind entering the front of the apparatus is deflected upwards away from the rider at an angle of 45°. Consequently, air currents coming along above the deflector are forced in an inclined direction over the rider’s head. Dust, it is claimed, is treated in the same manner, goggles thereby being dispensed with. The Van Zile deflector may also be fitted to a sidecar in the place of a wind screen. It is stated that a pipe or cigarette may be lighted in the sidecar quite easily while travelling at fairly high speeds. The weight is nine pounds. Although few English riders would care to have this weight on the handle-bars, it would not be objected to in the United States, where machines are much heavier.”
THE MOTOR CYCLE WAS not averse to a spot of self-parody. Witness these excerpts from a pastiche of its regular ‘hints and tips’ feature…”STANDS: These are made in two types—the kick-up and the fall-down, the latter being most popular. They are chiefly used for spoiling the engine. A front wheel stand makes a somewhat inefficient substitute for a brick under the crank case. KICK STARTERS: It has been frequently urged against motor cycling that it provides the rider with no exercise, and to remedy this defect the kick starter has been introduced. When the kicker has got comfortably warm, the engine may be started by pushing on the low gear in the usual way. GENERATORS: The simple drip generator being generally satisfactory and reliable, manufacturers are now turning their attention to the production of complicated automatic regulating devices; the automatic generator furnishes much entertainment through its pleasing habit of watering the road, wasting the gas, and allowing the light to go out suddenly. It should be added that automatic generators burn beautifully in the maker’s showroom. PETROL: Alleged to be distilled from petroleum; it is treated in process of manufacture by the addition of paraffin and dirt, and sold at enormous prices. In the old days it was highly volatile and inflammable, but of late has not shown so much propensity to burn or explode rapidly, especially in an engine. MAGNETOS: It having recently occurred to magneto manufacturers that water is apt to cause trouble on an unprotected machine, various types of water-tight magnetos have been introduced. As a means of carrying a spare supply, however, they are not very satisfactory, and it is better to put if straight into the generator. UNIONS: Fitted to a pipe which would otherwise be petrol-tight, these serve to indicate whether any petrol is actually passing. On the carburetter inlet pipe, they act as additional air ports to keep the engine cool… ENGINES: Anything that revolves with a stuttering sound. An apparatus for burning trouser-legs. An oil-slinger…An engine will climb anything except when a dispassionate onlooker is present, and travel at any speed up to sixty when no stop-watch is available. More remarkable stories are extant about engines than about fish… THE SPEEDOMETER: An instrument for encouraging the terminological inexactitude industry. A common fallacy is to suppose that the rider fits one in order to discover the speed at which he travels; the reverse is the case. The most accurate speedo-meters are those in which the hand waggles over a space of five miles an hour either way, as this leaves a sporting chanco that it may sometimes touch the correct figure. When telling your friends about it, take the highest figure; in a police court, the lowest. HEAD LAMPS: Manufacturers, recognising the desirability of making their accessories universally adaptable, take great pains to ensure that no lamp shall fit any other maker’s bracket. Brackets are supplied with 7/8in fittings for a 1in bar, and vice versa. CLUTCHES: A clutch can be relied upon to grip when it is desired to effect a hurried disengagement in traffic; and to free itself easily when climbing a stiff hill in a non-stop trial. As a form of humorous entertainment, the spectacle of a clutch start by a novice takes a lot of beating.”
“A WEEK OR TWO AGO the two firms which have been supplying all the despatch riders’ motor cycles for the Government (which, be it understood, has never quite represented their maximum output) received notice of a reduction in the War Office requirements, which means that larger number of motor cycles have been released for other channels. We believe we are right in stating that the surplus is enabling these firms partly to satisy urgent Overseas orders…The Clyno and P&M companies are apparently the only firms whose entire output of motor cycles is absorbed by the British Government, and it would appear that there is little prospect of change for some time to come.”
“USEFUL SPECIAL CONSTABLES: Two Berkshire special constables who had had warning that a German was travelling by motor cycle from Gloucester to London, successfully waited and arrested him. He is now, we understand, interned.”
“JOHN R ASHWORTH, OF ROSSENDALE, was summoned at Reedley Police Court…for driving a motor cycle without rear light. Defendant said he had been to Glasgow for a week’s holiday, and when returning had an accident. He could not get anyone to repair his machine, and he had to sit up all night doing the work himself. When he looked to the rear light he found he had lost the generator. He purchased an electric light, and it answered for a time, but when he got to Kirkby Lonsdale it would not act. He then purchased a cycle oil lamp, and this acted until he got to Gisburn. It then went out, and it took him four hours to come from Gisburn to where he was reported. He used two boxes of matches in trying to get a light and spent 15s 6d. He had to be at his work at six o’clock in the morning, but on account of the regulations he had to stay until it was light. Defendant pointed out he had lost two nights’ sleep, and he was compelled to be at his work, for the firm were on Government work. Supt Thompson: ‘I wish to withdraw the case. Defendant seems to have been punished enough.’ The case was, accordingly withdrawn.”
“ACU REPAIRER IN DARKEST AFRICA: We do not suppose that many people make motor cycle tours in Uganda, but it is interesting to know that a repairer in that far off country has applied to the ACU for official appointment.”
“FROM EVIDENCE WHICH HAS reached us, it would appear that some private owners of motor cycles are inconsiderate enough to imagine that they should receive the same prompt attention to repairs as they have been in the habit of receiving in pre-war days…The difficulties these firms have to contend with owing to the shortage of men and material are enormous and almost beyond comprehension unless one has a knowledge of the actual situation. Every branch of the business is affected. Letters cannot be replied to promptly, as so many of the clerical staff have answered their country’s call, whilst, of course, the engineering side is even more seriously affected, owing to many firms devoting practically all their energies to the production of munitions of war.” A sentiment that, 25 years later, would be expressed rather more succinctly as, “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”
“AS FAR BACK AS THE YEAR 1906, The Motor Cycle was, as now, advocating the use of rear springing for motor cycles, and some very interesting designs came to light during a competition known as The Motor Cycle Improvement Competition organised by this journal in that year. The designs gaining first, second, and third positions all incorporated a rear springing device of some kind. The winning design, submitted by Lord Tollemache, which is illustrated from the original drawing, contains some very novel ideas. The rear springing is carried out by means of two half-elliptic springs supported at their farthest extremity by a substantial extension of the bicycle frame. This
design would hardly conform to modern ideas so well as that gaining third place, also illustrated from the original drawing. It is very interesting to note that this design was submitted by Mr Alfred Scott, the well-known designer of the famous Scott motor cycle. It is curious that in his letter accompanying the design, Mr. Scott mentions that he does not favour an open frame. Of course, as everyone knows, the present-day Scott is one of the very few machines which are turned out with an open frame as standard. The rear springing device in this design is very simple, the drawing being practically self-explanatory, the rear portion of the frame working on a pivot and supported by two spiral springs beneath the saddle. The second prize design, submitted by Mr Pilkington, incorporates the cantilever seat pillar, which was shortly afterwards adopted by the Rex Manufacturing Co.”
SPRING FRAMES IN 1906: Sir,— I noticed in last week’s issue a reproduction of the
design of spring frame for which you awarded a prize to Mr Alfred Scott, of Leeds, in 1906, with remarks attributing the same to me, and commenting upon my curious change of opinion. Upon its first appearance in your paper I foresaw possible confusion later on; but, whilst complimenting the designer upon his award, permit me to affirm the constancy of my views on frame design, and although I rejoice in the same name, and appreciate the charms of the same district, ‘I deny with both hands’ any complicity in the affair.
ALFRED A SCOTT, of Bradford.
[We offer our apology for the incorrect assumption that the two Yorkshire motor cycle designers of the same name were one and the same person–Ed.]
FOUR RIDERS WERE FINED £1 apiece for not having two independent brakes on their bikes. The Blue ‘Un commented: “It is up to manufacturers and agents to see that their machines are properly equipped to comply with legal requirements before sending them out.”
“IT WAS A CURIOUS SIGHT the other night, when the Zeppelins were over the London district, to see motor cycles and sidecar combinations proceeding without lights.”
“THE CORK &DMCC MAY WELL be proud of its record in connection with the war. The proportion of its membership that has joined the Forces is quite as high as, if indeed it is not higher than, any similar organisation in the United Kingdom. All the motor cyclists attached to the 10th Division Signal Company were members of the club.”
“THE AMERICAN MOTOR CYCLE INDUSTRY is awake to the opportunities with which the war has pro- vided it. On August 19th last the Motor Cycle Ilustrated of New York published a leader emphasising the fact that Germany, France, and England will do about £2,400,000 less trade in motor cycles, ordinary bicycles, and parts with foreign countries than they did in 1914…The American Government departments inform our contemporary that the fall in British motor cycle and cycle exports alone will be more than 50% as compared with 1914, a fall which probably represents an actual shrinkage of at least 75% on the sum which would have been realised in times of peace…Against this The Motor Cycle has ascertained definitely from the Board of Trade that machines bought by the Government and transported in Government ships do not figure in the Board of Trade returns.”
“A COURSE OF BABY TWO-STROKES has made a milksop of me,” Ixion confessed, “and, incidentally, it has spoilt the quondam refinement of my driving. It accustomed me to slamming the throttle recklessly open whenever I wanted an acceleration, however mild, for the babies do not get away with it like a TT racer. When summer arrived, I transferred my person to a 4hp Douglas and a 6hp Motosacoche, and applied the same throttle-slamming methods to them. Gee whizz the bicycle went ahead all right in each case, but it was very nearly a case of ‘also ran’ with poor me. My sorrowing wife has been instructed to have the following legend inscribed on my tombstone, ‘Unseated by acceleration’. Joking apart, the way in which the modern twin jumps if its throttle is banged open is a positive revelation. I should much like to know how its capacity in this respect compares with a racing car. Both my twins are fitted with sidecar gears, and the leap they make under my crude driving methods is literally colossal. The difference between sidecar work with a 3½hp and a 600cc or 750cc twin is indescribable.”
“I HAVE JUST HAD ANOTHER SPIN on the new 7-9hp Harley-Davidson, and a jolly good mount it is,” wrote Ixion. “It is not every leviathan which can do 4mph on top gear, and accelerate to a speed which only lunatics and experts consider safe on the public roads. Out of its general excellences I select a single item for commendation to the British trade. My sample was finished in a neat and workmanlike grey, and the enamel extended to the hooter and lamps…Some British accessory dealers have got as far as blacking the bodies of their lamps and horns, but they usually cancel the good work by adding a plated rim or knob or two, just to relieve the monotony, so that the inevitable selvyt and metal polish cannot be given away after all. When will the trade understand that nobody but the very green novice really enjoys the daily furbishing of a multitude of plated twiddlies?…let us howl and rage till the nickel-plating shops find their occupation gone, and some genius comes along with an oxidising process which cannot tarnish, and yet will not wear brown or shiny, as some of the earlier black platings are known to do.”
“TWO PRIVATES OF THE West Riding Regiment, Henry Columbine and J Hawcroft, were recently sentenced at Mansfield to two months’ hard labour for stealing a motor cycle. They took the machine from outside the Grand Theatre, Mansfield, and rode it to Yorkshire, getting free supplies of petrol on the way by stating that they were despatch riders.”
“HERE IS A STRIKING STORY from The Motor in Australia. Henri Meyer was a racing- cyclist. He was a German, but had spent twenty years of his life in France, and could speak French like a native. Also, he had begun to look more like a Frenchman than a German, and disguised as a French sergeant-major he seems to have had a successful career as a spy. His method was to enter the lines, and represent himself as an officer belonging to some other division (the one whose whereabouts he wanted to discover for his officers); and enquire how to reach this corps. All went well until he ran into a party of Australian motor cycle despatch riders, some of whom had raced with him on the track. Someone called out, ‘Hello, Meyer, what are you doing here?’ His yarn was unconvincing to men who personally knew him. He was then found to have incriminating German passes concealed in his clothes. He was shot as a spy.”
“IT HAS BEEN OBSERVED, and those who have ridden machines of early pattern will not dispute the statement, that the single-cylinder petrol engine imparts its power in a series of short, sharp jerks. This irregular motion is not, of course, so great in the properly balanced engines of to-day as it was in the engines of ten years ago, but, nevertheless, it is sufficiently pronounced at low speeds to upset the comfort of the rider unless the transmission be elastic enough to absorb the shock of the explosion strokes…It became obvious that if the chain drive were to come to anything the power must be conveyed through some device that would absorb the sudden kick of the power stroke, and impart a smooth, steady torque to the rear wheel…The efficiency of the various devices that have since been produced is amply proved by the sweet running of the present day chain-driven single, for every touring machine of this type is fitted with a transmission shock absorber of some kind…Considering that the transmission shock absorber is of such vital importance that it has brought about the complete success of the chain- driven ‘big single’, it is somewhat surprising that many riders are not even aware that such a device is incorporated in the driving mechanism of their machines…It is interesting to note the different lines on which manufacturers have worked with regard to transmission shock absorbers…”
ABC SUSPENDED MOTOR CYCLE production to concentrate on war work, including a 248cc flat twin starter motor for seaplanes, airships and motorboats. It revved to over 4,000rpm, weighed just over 23lb (without the magneto, carb or cooling fan the bare engine was exactly 14lb) and produced over 4hp. The Motor Cycle commented: “What a fascinating baby bicycle could be rigged up with this delicious little engine, the workmanship of which is absolutely superb…The crankshaft is fitted with ABC roller bearings, and weighs 15oz, a complete connecting rod weighing 2oz…The absence of vibration is so extraordinary that if a finger is pressed on the magneto at high rates of rpm it is difficult to determine by touch alone whether the engine is running or not…As an experiment, the engine has been run on full throttle without any load, and has attained the remarkable speed of 8,000rpm. This is probably a world’s record for a reciprocating engine.”
“WE HAVE RECEIVED A VERY cheery letter from Southcomb May, hon sec of the Motor Cycling Club, who joined the Motor Machine Gun Service some weeks ago. May has just received his second stripe, and speaks very highly of the Service and how much he is enjoying it. So far the new batteries have done little motor cycling, but the Scotts formerly used by a disbanded section are being pressed into the service of the MMGS for training purposes.”
“THE OPINION OF THE INDIAN tester who gave the new 7hp, side by side valve model an exhaustive test (covering 1,655½ miles in 3 days 9 hours 15 minutes) is interesting and amusing. He writes ‘Take it from me that you have made a motor that is a world beater on all kinds of roads. I’ll stack it against all creation to bring home the bacon anywhere, any time. It’s a bear, a big, husky, lick-all-comers machine—that 1916 Indian. It hits me where I live.”
“A 300 MILES TRACK RACE was held at Chicago and some big speeds were put up. Most of the American crack riders competed, and competition was very keen. The first three were Goudy (Excelsior), Carroll (Indian) and Weishaar (Harley-Davidson). Goudy’s average speed was 85.71mph, and it is claimed to be a world record. He covered the 200 miles at a speed of 86.76mph. The time for the 100 miles was higher still, ie, 89.11mph, this being made by Otto Walker on a Harley-Davidson, Both these times are records.” Walker’s Harley featured an eight-valve layout pioneered by Indian in 1910. When designer Bill Ottaway ran into technical problems he couldn’t handle he persuaded Walter Davidson to hire British maestro Harry Ricardo and all was well.
“THE ATHLETES’ VOLUNTEER Force, now known as the lOth Essex Volunteer Battalion, is forming a motor cycle section.”
“THE NEW IMPORT DUTY of 33½% on foreign-made cars, motor cycles and parts (including tyres and accessories) has come into effect. Motorists want to know why the petrol distributors saw fit to add another two-pence to petrol, making fivepence a gallon increase…The Motor Cycle opines that one good effect of the Budget will be to induce American manufacturers to send their machines over to this country minus mudguards, chains, tanks, rims, and tyres, and arrange for these to be fitted on arrival in this country. In this way the tariff would largely be avoided and the British accessory maker would benefit to a considerable extent. Generally speaking, the new import duty has been favourably received by motorists. It was clear that something must be done to protect the important British industry, whose hands were tied, so to speak, manufacturing the all-important munitions. No Britisher objects to healthy competition in normal times.”
“OUR READERS NEED NO REMINDER of our firm belief that the motor cycle of the future will have a spring frame; for years past we have encouraged this by every possible means. More than usual attention has been focussed on this problem this year, and this may be put down to several causes, among them the ever increasing demand for spring framed machines from Overseas and the deterioration of roads throughout Great Britain due to the excessive military transport occasioned by the war. A casual glance through issues of The Motor Cycle during the past few months will show the activity being displayed in this direction by designers and makers, and it has been considered an opportune moment to place before our readers a collection of drawings showing some well known rear springing systems and other designs which have followed our campaign in favour of rear sprung motor cycles. The sketches are practically self-explanatory, but it should be added that the problem of satisfactorily springing the rear portion of a motor cycle is by no means an easy one ; the difficulties to be overcome are more numerous than would appear at first sight.”
TWO MORE DESIGNS WERE REVIEWED in the same issue of The Motor Cycle.“A simple, though not very novel, method of rear springing has been sent to us by FL (Sheerness). The rear forks terminate in a specially formed lug containing a curved slot (this curve must be part of the circle of which the hinged chain stays form the radius, this stay being pivoted at the forward end). Through this slot passes a pin P which fits into a square in the chain stay A, flattened at this point for the purpose. A washer and nut are then placed over the pin and tightened sufficiently to allow of easy movement in the slot; the end of the bolt C is now put into position and secured with a nut and split pin. The chain stays carrying the pin and bolt are now free to rise and fall in the slot L against the pressure of the spring S, rubber blocks R being placed at the top of the lugs to check the rebound… another system of springing the rear portion of a motor cycle frame has been broug>.; to our notice by Mr EF de Burgh Greenwood, of Lower Bebington, Cheshire. This system is illustrated in the accompanying drawing, and it will be seen that it works on the principle of a parallel rule, the two radius forks being so pivoted that the driving centre and driven centre are always nearly equidistant, thus avoiding binding of the transmission. Leaf springs are provided to govern the action ofthe vertical member, and these, together with the carrier, are anchored to brackets cast integral with the top lug and extended to a rear vertical member which carries the back wheel. Built into the countershaft of this machine is a machined casing, designed to accommodate the gear box. Integral with this casting are two housings for the bearings of the radius forks, and so arranged that one is above and the other below the driving centre in a vertical plane.”
“A YEAR OR TWO AGO English people were accustomed, and with a good deal of justifiable pride, to consider that the few makes of American motor cycles were a good deal behind the British in point of design and construction, and, with a few exceptions, that the Yankee machine was not worth serious consideration. A little later devotees to English machines began to notice that the American two-wheelers were being built on more scientific lines, the engines were more like English power units, frames were more logical, saddles more comfortable; in short, the Yankees were complimenting us by the adoption of our own ideas and inventions…The makers of the latest Excelsior are pronouncedly pro-English in designing their new model, for in quite few details does it show anything of the Yankee touch, excepting perhaps the twist-grip handle-bar controls, and it is evident from the closest inspection that the machine has been built with an idea to durability and good service, instead of the flash ‘one-year ‘bus’ that so often hails from the American factories…The first impression when riding an Excelsior (solo) is that it is a very comfortable machine to ride…This is primarily due to the 3in tyres, excellent spring forks and saddle, and it is further added to by the handle-bar grips, saddle, and footboards being in their correct position. The next point is that the engine possesses as much flexibility as power, which further adds to comfort in driving, and it is remarkably silent in running at all speeds, a peculiarity and a virtue of many American engines, which may largely be due, in this case, to the enclosed valve springs…We noticed no sign of vibration with the engine unless travelling at well over 40mph, and then it so little obtruded itself that it excited no worry…The operation of the gears is through a substantial car type lever and quadrant on the right-hand side of the tank, in the right position for comfortable handling. The clutch is inter-controllable with the hand and foot, which reduces immensely the labour of dodging in and out of traffic, the control by hand being by the left twist grip, and with the left pedal for the foot. The arrangements of the controls and the comfortable position in which one sits on the machine make it more like driving a car than a cycle, particularly in regard to the absence of small control levers…we noticed no roll with the large tyres, and the steering could often be taken for considerable distances with ‘hands off’. A very excellent device, adding to the all-round comfortable riding of this machine, is adopted in spring-loading the saddle pillar in the frame, which, although an old ‘gadget’ in England, does not seem to be as popular as it should be…A feature which again shows that this machine is up to date in design is revealed in the ‘knock-out’ axles, thus allowing both wheels to be quickly removed whilst on the road…As with other American types of machines, electric lighting is regarded as more or less standard equipment with the Excelsior, and it is carried out in a very neat manner as regards the wiring and attachment of lamps and horn, etc. The accumulator is carried in a metal case beneath the saddle and is kept charged by a combined Splitdorf magneto and dynamo, which take up a very small amount of space immediately in front of the engine, and is, at the same time, most accessible. The head light has two bulbs, for either town or country work, and the whole of the wiring is carried in flexible metal sheathing, held by neat little clips to the various parts of the machine. The charging of the accumulator by the mag-dynamo is entirely automatic, and it is only necessary to inspect occasionally the acid in the accumulator…Finally, we should say that the machine, although fairly heavy, is most docile for traffic work, and the throttle can be slammed open without any stuttering of the engine or hesitation. The kick-starter is on the left-hand side of the machine, and the heel arm folds away when the machine is running.”
“THE PHELON AND MOORE WORKS are now under Government control, and the Union Jack proudly flies over the company’s busy workshops. The P&M programme for 1916 can for this reason be summed up in the phrase ‘No Change’—a remark which applies to quite a number of leading motor cycle manufacturers.”
“THE AMERICANS HAVE AT LAST followed the example of British manufacturers and given some attention to lightweights, both two-stroke and four-stroke, and several machines of this type were seen at the Chicago show. In some cases they seem to have paid us the compliment of following our designs rather closely.” Ixion, under the heading ‘Those Yankees!’, remarked: “It is interesting to notice that the American manufacturers, from the Hendee Co downwards, are nibbling at the lightweight. For a long time past the Schickel has been almost the only home-made two- stroke on their market, but there are a lot of debutantes in that field this autumn—beg pardon, ‘this fall’, I should say; and precious ugly little beasts some of them are. The big Yankee twin conceals its native ugliness because all the odd corners are filled up with gear of one sort or another, but when they come to house a baby engine in a lonely corner of a half-empty frame, the American’s lack of an eye for beauty is sadly obvious.”
“THE NEW LIGHTWEIGHT INDIAN: This machine is quite a new departure for the Hendee Manufacturing Co. It is by no means a baby, as the engine dimensions are 64x70mm (255cc), and it is rated at 2½hp…the sheltered position of the magneto, carried, as it is, on a neat platform forming a portion of the crank case casting, is a most excellent feature. This engine should give plenty of power for its size, and render the machine capable of going anywhere. The petroil system of lubrication, which first saw the light in America, a country in which the two-stroke has received considerably more attention than it has in England, has been adopted…An excellently designed three-speed gear box, which is to be the new Indian pattern, is bolted to the bottom bracket. This contains a kick-starting device and three-plate clutch, the clutch being of the well-known Indian Raybestos and steel plate type…The clutch control is either by hand or foot…the front forks are the same as those found on the original Indian when it was first introduced into this country in 1909.
“THE CASE OF THE RIDER of a 6hp Bat who had used unwittingly carbolic disinfectant for four months for lubricating his engine naturally caused a certain amount of amusement. The remarkable thing was that beyond poor running the engine received no damage.”
“WHILST A CONTINUOUS OUTCRY is raised in England against the carrying of passengers on the carriers of motor bicycles, it is interesting to note that a trial has recently been held in Holland for pillion seats, prizes being awarded to the best designs. There was a good entry list, and various types of carrier seats were represented, from the simple cushion to the canework seat complete with upholstery…The course was 70 miles in length, and had to be covered at a scheduled speed of just under 20mph…The first prize was awarded In tho FN ridden by MPBL Maas. The pillion consisted of an upholstered seat with low back and side, supported on four spiral springs attached to a flat metal frame which was clipped to the cycle carrier by four clips, and carried the platform for the passenger’s feet. The second place was gained by Mr Wyngaarder, whose pillion consisted of a round cushion with back rest, while a sprung footboard was provided for the passenger’s feet. Provision for the passenger’s feet was made in most of the designs, and was a point where they scored over those usually used in England. Some of the machines were English; some of the seats were also of British origin.”
“ONE REASON FOR THE comparative unpopularity of the 7-9hp twin in England as contrasted with the United States is that the American rider seldom takes the road in winter, whereas most of us ride throughout the year, so long as it is moderately dry overhead and not too cold. When the temperature is low and the roads are filthy only the daring owner cares for speed; and as these conditions rule four months of every year, and are not unknown during the remaining eight months, there are many, many days in a twelvemonth when the reserve capacities of a big twin are largely wasted.”
“AS SHOWING THE INFLUENCE of motoring, the latest in baby perambulators have disc wheels. Everything must be speedy nowadays! It has been suggested that Autowheels might be attached to perambulators, and, with suitable controls for the occupants, nurses could be dispensed with!”
“HB ELLIOTT, OF THE business staff of The Motor Cycle, has been granted a commission in the Motor Machine Gun Service. He is the fifth member of The Motor Cycle staft to answer his country’s call. The number of employees of Messrs Illiffe and Sonds Ltd, proprietors of The Motor Cycle and allied papers, who have joined the Colours now amounts to 128…Battery Sergt-Major Palmer, of the Motor Machine Gun Service, who, after serving for several months in France with the No5 Battery, is now back at the training centre as an instructor. Sergt-Major Palmer had formerly seen service overseas in the Royal Navy, and was assistant cashier to The Motor Cycle prior to joining the MMGS.”
“IN COMMON WITH OTHER members of the staff I have been sampling the paces of the four-cylinder Henderson, which has provided me with quite a new sensation,” Ixion reported. “True, I had ridden many miles on a four-cylinder FN, but it was disfigured at that date by automatic inlet valves, and by a transmission (the shaft drive) which impressed one overmuch with its rigidity whenever the four little valves chose to function irregularly. By contrast, the Henderson has mechanical inlets and a chain drive, with a fine clutch interposed between itself and the engine. In brief, I can only compare the experience with that of handling a leviathan Grand Prix racing car, for the powerful engine never asks for its emergency gear, and accelerates from an inaudible crawl to a thunderous roar in response to the movements of the single carburetter lever. Also, it can behave like a docile baby two-stroke in thick traffic, for it can be throttled down to seven or eight miles an hour on top gear, and to three or four miles an hour on bottom, and will accept its clutch on either gear without further throttle opening, so sweet is the pick-up of its clutch…The acceleration is absolutely terrific—there is no other word for it; and the gamut of the engine is surprising, for whether you elect to drive at 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50mph, the engine responds cheerfully…I believe that the four-cylinder engine will have a big future on two-wheelers. A few weeks later one of Ixion’s fellow staffers had his say: “Years ago in the dim and dark ages of motor cycle history, when change-speed gears were non-existent and 3½hp’s were considered too powerful to be safe, the Editor of The Autocar, at an Auto Cycle Club (now the Auto Cycle Union) annual dinner, ventured to prophesy that the four-cylinder motor bicycle would have a great future…in the Henderson we have actually on the market-a four-cylinder motor cycle which is one of the most perfect two-wheelers we have ever had the good fortune to drive…The chief departure from standard was the fitting of wide handle-bars provided with Pedley rubber grips, which, by the way, are most comfortable, while ordinary British Bowden handle-bar control was supplied to actuate the magneto advance and the Schebler carburetter. This to one who had never before driven the machine was a veritable godsend, although those who are accustomed to it prefer the American style twist handle control to any other, but experience is necessary before this method can really be appreciated…The four-cylinder engine, air-cooled and with
passages between the valve chambers and the cylinder to aid cooling, with its overhead valves, follows car practice pretty closely. Its design comprises commendable originality, and is yet totally devoid of freakishness…the engine is set in motion by a handle, which is pulled up, and alter starting, which is quite easily effected even from cold, folds neatly away. We rapidly gained confidence and in a few yards we were revelling in the glorious smooth running, extreme controllability and superb acceleration of the engine…within limits, the faster we travelled the greater was the comfort we experienced…Our drive was in the country south of London. Here we had plenty of hills to try, the first I if which was the one which leads from the main Eastbourne road to Upper Warlingham. To say that the Henderson treated this as level ground appears to be but making use of a somewhat hackneyed expression, but its behaviour can be described in no other way. The hill, which is quite a good pull and will bring a good four-speed car down to second, was absolutely ignored. Titsey Hill, despite an obstruction on the steepest portion, was equally well climbed, while on Westerham, which we took in the evening, the machine was simply a revelation…Such sensations of power cannot be enjoyed on any other vehicle than a powerful car, and yet the Henderson is as docile as a lamb in thick traffic or on greasy roads. It is heavy, it is true, but it is 25lb lighter than several American twins. It is also economical in petrol (70 to 80mpg we are assured). Tariff or no tariff, the Henderson will sell among that section who like luxurious riding and ignore weight, as it is in its class quite without rival on the British market.”
BROUGH’S 3½HP OHV FLAT TWIN was joined by launched a 692cc 6hp sidevalve with a three-speed Sturmey-Archer countershaft gearbox: “This new engine, though designed as a double purpose mount, is primarily intended to appeal to that section desiring a motor bicycle for passenger work which shall be of moderate weight, and consequently not too cumbrous for occasional solo work. Silence and flexibility are its chief characteristics…What impressed us more than anything else during our road test was the absence of effort so noticeable about this wonderfully smooth running, engine. We sped along at all speeds with the same comfort and smoothness that one would associate with a high-class car, whilst the handle-bars are noticeably free from vibration, no matter whether it was 20 or 40mph at wliich we travelled…Acceleration! Well, anyone who knows what a well-tuned engine can do in the hands of George Brough will get some idea of this characteristic…”
DECADES BEFORE UNIT CONSTRUCTION became ubiquitous a monobloc engine was used on British roads: “The down tube and seat pillar are brazed to lugs cast as part of the crank case; the latter has two extensions, one at the front housing the magneto, and one at the rear containing the gear. Thus the crank case serves three purposes, as its forward compartment conceals and protects the magneto entirely, while the gear box is in the one unit. To make the interior mechanism accessible for adjustment or repair, two large aluminium plates are bolted to either side of the crank case, and by undoing the securing screws, the whole of the engine and gear box mechanism is exposed…As at present constructed the machine is heavy, but a few alterations should bring it into competition with the more normal design, and the result might be a machine very much more easy to clean—a good point to aim at, and one that would be appreciated by all riders.”
“ONE OF THE STURDIEST BUILT high-powered machines which we have yet inspected is the new 1916 model 8hp four-speed Campion-Jap. This mount is obviously intended as a go-anywhere passenger outfit, but, nevertheless, it is not an impossible solo mount, for we have ridden a machine of exactly similar type, but with combined belt and chain drive, as a solo mount, and its flexibility, was remarkable.” The big twin was finished, with questionable taste, in Khaki but its equipment was certainly up to the minute: a “new pattern” Jardine four-speed box, fully enclosed, all-chain transmission, “internal expanding” (drum) rear brake, “the latest Druid spring fork, with auxiliary damping springs above the fork crown”, large ally footplates turned up at the front with heel rests and a QD carrier/rear mudguard section to facilitate wheel removal. “The reserve power provided by such a big twin is most attractive. The slightent touch of the throttle lever and the machine bounds away like a thoroughbred, whilst as to hills one never notices them, as with the four gears, even with the high top ratio that is provided, one can toy with single-figure gradients. The Coventry neighbourhood does not abound in steep hills, Stoneleigh being the only gradient of note in the district, so we wended our way thither, and, despite the fact that one cannot rush at this hill, owing to a right angle bend almost at the foot, it was possible to effect most of the climb on the top gear.” At the insistence of a Campion sales rep the man from The Motor Cycle started from a standstil on the steepest section of Stoneleigh in third: “Even this latter perfomance we carried out with comparative ease, the demonstration providing a most agreeable proof of the efficiency combined with ease of handling of the cork clutch. There was no snatch or jerk, and no tendency to seize instead, it took up the load gently but surely, gradually increasing its speed…Certainly, we have never handled a clutch, whether on a car or a motor cycle, with which such liberties could be taken, and at the end of the trip the clutch took up the drive as sweetly as ever.”
“THERE ARE TWO V TYPE twin-cylinder two-stroke engines on test in the Midlands, but neither has yet passed the experimental stage, so each designer reports. Newcomers to the pastime do not appear to know that the Rex Co six or seven years ago produced a V type twin two-stroke engine.”
“A LETTER HAS BEEN BROUGHT to our notice, the heading of which denotes that the writer not only sells motor cycles, but lends money with which to run them. Presumably the idea is to sell a motor cycle to a man, cause him to spend more money than he ought to, and consequently return with the object of borrowing more money with which to run it. The idea strikes us as being distinctly novel. Caveat emptor!”
“MOSKOVSKOYE OBSCHESTVO MOTORISTOFF: The Moscow Motor Cyclists Club has lately been reformed and its sphere extended, and its title is now as above. The MOM will be the recognised headquarters of the sport throughout Russia. It will organise competitions, trials, lectures, etc and open repair shops and depots. Correspondence is invited from kindred associations in England.”
“WE HAVE RECEIVED A LETTER from the secretary of the Roads Improvement Association in which he points out that, in spite of the Government’s action in curtailing the activities of the Road Board, there need be but little deterioration in the road surfaces if the local authorities will face the problem of judicious and skilful patching with proper material on the ‘stitch in time’ principle.”
“OUR CAMPAIGN IN FAVOUR of spring frames has produced such remarkable results that other journals who remained silent while The Motor Cycle performed the spade work are having to follow on.”
“JOHN ARTHUR CECIL SCOTT, described as an engineer of Hampstead, had ridden his motor bicycle without lights along Rosslyn Hill after dark at a speed of 20mph, and a mounted constable had galloped after him for a distance of 600 yards before he overtook him. He gave his name as Lieut Scott of the Royal Navy and refused to give further particulars, and then, lighting up, went off at a fast pace. The police at Hampstead said that Scott had no right to wear the Naval uniform, and had already been dealt with at Marylebone for this offence. On the present summons he was fined £5 or one month’s imprisonment.”
THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT ordered a batch of Wolf motor cycles from Wolfruna of Wolverhampton; the Egyptians opted for ABCs.
WOOLER UPGRADED ITS ENGINE with a tubular gauze oil filter and a chamber in the transfer pipe designed to “assist thye missing of the charge [and] reduce the pressure behind the automatic inlet valve…It may be remembered that the Wooler has a double-ended piston working in a double-ended cylinder, and the illustration shows how the gudgeon pin and forked connecting rods are designed to work though slots which are always covered by the piston, so that no compression can, escape either from the
cylinder or the displacer.”
“CONSIDERABLE PROMINENCE HAS BEEN given recently, in the motor cycle press, to the subject of motor cyclists of the fair sex and the machines they ride. It must be obvious from some of the photographs published that there exists some difficulty in obtaining, or disinclination to use, machines which are especially constructed for ladies’ use. Presuming this to be correct, I think all who have an interest in the sport and pastime must view this state of affairs with some alarm. I plead ‘not guilty’ to being a prude, but do consider a woman loses her self-respect and the respect of all right-thinking people by some of the exhibitions which of recent years, and more especially recent months, have been thrust before the gaze of the public. I daresay no one of the male sex, has taken more interest in motor cycling for ladies than I have, and some of my happiest hours, during many years’ experience of the pastime, have been spent with clubs which encouraged lady riders who rode ladies’ machines.
THE DREADNOUGHT, BEF.”
OF LATE WE HAVE SEEN some frightful illustrations of ladies in the press (thanks not in The Motor Cycle), some of them wearing riding breeches, other times they hold themselves up to the public ridicule wearing a suit of gentlemen’s overalls, whilst one lady was actually standing on a gentleman’s machine performing acrobatic tricks with her feet in the air—almost standing on her head—and to have this sort of thing thrust before the public gaze is most degrading and certainly does injury to the pastime. If a lady is to lose her self-respect in this way she should not make a public exhibition of herself, and if she cannot do the pastime any good, well, she should not do it any harm, for it is just this sort of thing that causes many who hitherto were contemplating joining our ranks to give up the idea in horror and disgust…I appeal to the press to reject any photographs in future of ‘the lamb in wolf’s clothing’, and once this nonsense has died a natural death, aided by public ridicule, then the pastime will be largely taken up, and our friends will look forward to an outing with us just as in the days of the push cycle…I have always advocated an open frame, so that I could sit my steed with gracefulness and always look womanish.
IT IS MOST INTERESTING to watch the development of the motor cycling habit in the beginner. The way in which the sport captures the enthusiasms of everyone who tries a venture is surprising to those people who have yet to try their hand on the driving and management of a motor cycle of their own. Passing my window several times each week, probably on her way to town, is a rider who has recently acquired a new lady’s Douglas. Some three years ago this same rider piloted an old tricar, with no passenger, up and down the same highway. Her experiences with this machine of uncertain date must sometimes have been the reverse of pleasant. How often had I seen her pedalling vigorously to assist an engine which spluttered and misfired as it faced the rising road. One day, however, the old tricar was ‘no more’, and the rider was astride a small-powered solo machine, about a 2hp, that the Singer Co placed upon the market some four or five years ago. This, doubtless, was a great improvement, but now, in turn, this has been discarded for the new Douglas. This rider’s experiences would make interesting reading. I imagine few wayside repairs can be unfamiliar to her, but the joy of a well-designed new mount must be intensified by the memories of the vicissitudes met by venturing abroad on an ancient crock. I can speak, perhaps, feelingly on this score. Well I remember my own first mount, an old open-framed Phoenix-Minerva, for which I—like many another novice—paid a great deal more than its value. Fitted with accumulator and coil and other devices now obsolete, it generally carried me beyond the ken of motor repair shops and then refused to budge. How many times during my first summer’s riding did I leave the refractory object in the care of a friendly cottager and trudge home! No sooner did I master one of its failings than another cropped up. It is many years since a discerning poet said, ‘There are tears in the affairs of this life’. Maybe he was the owner of some contrivance whereby he was carried a distance from his ‘ain fireside’ and then ‘let down’.”
“AN INTERESTING ITALIAN MACHINE Reminiscent of Several British Makes: We have on more than one occasion commented favourably on the clean lines and attractive appearance of the motor cycles lately produced in Italy, and noted a growing resemblance to British motor cycle design. The Borgo machine is no exception…The engine, which strongly resembles the Rudge, has a bore and stroke of 85x88mm (499cc), the popular British size; the inlet valve is overhead, and, of course, mechanically operated; the Bosch magneto is carried in front on a platform cast with the crank case, is handle-bar controlled, and provided with a cut-out. The variable gear consists of an expanding pulley such as is fitted to several British machines, and a method of maintaining correct belt tension by moving the rear wheel in the manner of the Zenith. However, in this case, not the rear wheel only, but the whole of the rear part of the frame moves backwards and forwards. This rear portion is pivoted below the saddle, and the front ends of the chain stays are carried by the extremities of a long lever, which extends upwards on the left side of the tank and has its fulcrum on the engine bracket. When this lever is puslied forward it forces the wheel backwards and tightens the belt, at the same time opening the pulley. The pulley can be further controlled by rotating the lever; thus, a free engine and cutch can be brought into use at. the requirements of the rider…The cantilever arrangement upon which the saddle is mounted is reminiscent of the Rex. A second seat, together with hand grips and footrests, is mounted in the rear. This method of carrying a passenger is very popular in Italy, being much cheaper than a sidecar and more comfortable than the padded pillion-seat…”
AUSSIE NUMBER EIGHT HAT Saville Whiting designed and built a rolling chassis with leafsprings at both ends. He inserted a Douglas engine and took it ot the UK to try and get it into production, arriving just as the country was plunged into war. Nevertheless it was well received so he built another, this time with a 5hp JAP twin and four-speed Jardine gearbox. The front suspension incorporated a dashpot arrangement, consisting of a phosphor-bronze piston working in a brass cylinder, which has a compression tap screwed into its top so that oil may be introduced from time to time. This device acts as an excellent shock absorber. The Motor Cycle reported: “The whole frame is ingenious, affords an excellent system of springing, aud is not unsightly. The frame also lends itself readily to the attachment of a sidecar…all road shocks were most efficiently absorbed, though when going over one very bad hole the front fork bumped to its limit, owing to either the springs being a trifle light for our weight, or to the dash-pot not doing its duty. If the latter were the case, the matter can be easily remedied…Altogether we were most satisfied with the Whiting spring frame, which certainly appears to fulfill the claims made for it by its inventor.”
“WE WONDER IF THE rumour is true that the War Office recently ordered a large consignment of spare valves for two-stroke Scott motor bicycles.”
“OWING TO THE FACT that practically every member of the Coventry and Warwickshire MC is either on military service or munition work, the committee has decided to suspend the club temporarily.”
“WE HAVE RECEIVED AN APPEAL from a medical officer for 120 two-gallon petrol cans, to enable the men of his unit in the trenches to be supplied with drinking water. Empty tins should be sent by parcel post addressed to the Medical Officer, 2nd Black Watch, Bareilly Brigade, Meerut Division, Indian Expeditionary Force, A.”
“A FATAL MOTOR CYCLE ACCIDENT occurred at Leek Wootton, between Kenilworth and Warwick one evening last week which was directly due to a dog. A sidecar outfit was passing through the village in question when a dog rushed across the road, colliding with the outfit with such force as to overturn it. The lady passenger suffered a fractured skull.”
“OF THE MOTOR CYCLISTS who are enrolled as special constables, under the aegis of the Automobile Association, a squad of 15 are on duty each night at Fanum House. The Wednesday night squad is in charge of Sergt FA Hardy (of the Motor Cycling Club), and so popular has he become with his men that they have presented him with a silver cigarette case.”
“WE HAVE ON MORE THAN one occasion illustrated trick riding ‘stunts’ on motor cycles, so that the accompanying pictures will not come altogether as a surprise. They show GA Roberts, a young Leeds motor cyclist, who appears to be able to do anything he likes with his mount, which, by the way, is not a modern one. Whether motor cyclists do things of this sort merely for amusement or as a preliminary training to despatch riding, we are not in a position definitely to say. No doubt they assist in making a man part and parcel of his machine, so to speak, and so able to act quickly in emergencies, though if trick riding were a necessary preliminary to fit one for a motor cycle under all conditions, the circulation of The Motor Cycle would not be what it is. At any rate, the pictures go to prove that rational riding cannot be so difficult anyway. We should not advise readers to attempt to emulate the tricks illustrated unless it is done on a borrowed machine and on a deserted stretch of road.”
“MAY I DRAW YOUR ATTENTION to the menace to night riding caused by the use of red lamps for indicating street repairs? When riding I have had several narrow escapes by mistaking these lights for the rear lights of cycles. If lights of another colour, say purple or green, could be instituted universally to indicate street repairs, I think this danger would be obviated.
“CLYNO MOTOR CYCLES ARE USED in increasingly large numbers by the War Office, their main sphere of action being in the Motor Machine Gun Section. In this and other work we have good reason to know that the Clyno is giving remarkably good results…there is practically no prospect of them catering for the general public for a considerable time, unless the war ends sooner than at present appears probable…motor traction, from the despatch rider’s motor cycle to the big internal combustion engined tractor used for gun haulage, is undergoing a gigantic trial in the various theatres of war, and every motor manufacturer making war machines will benefit greatly by the lessons learnt, and the good derived therefrom will be reflected in ‘after the war’ models.”
“THOUGH THE USE OF ALUMINIUM alloy for pistons is at the moment confined to car and aeroplane engines, it is very clear from the facts enumerated by using lamps which are considered powerful in our contributor that before I’ong the aluminium the official eye. The curious part is that lights piston will figure largely in motor cycle engines—possessing, as it seems to do, just those peculiarities which commend themselves to the notice of air-cooled engine makers. The fact that an aluminium piston has no tendency to seize, even if on the tight side, but instead conveniently laps itself in, is a particularly attractive point in the case of an air-cooled engine running at high temperature…after careful study of the subject we are of opinion that aluminium pistons will figure largely in motor cycle engines.”
“OVER A SCORE OF MUNITION workers, mostly on two-strokes, took part in the very successful two-hour 40-mile tour of the Kenlish hils the l4th inst. Several competiors had been working all night at Woolwich. The two-strokes included Baby Triumphs, Allons, Clynp, Ixion, and PV, and Scott and sidecar, and the four-strokes included Douglas, JAP, and Enfields. A Grand Prix Morgan and a two-seater Straker-Squire joined in part of the tour. The leader, TJ Ross, captain of the Wolwich &DMCC, rode a newly acquired Junior Triumph. Owing to the bad state of Salt Box and the ‘new and secret hill’ both were avoided, but the course included both Cudham hills. Chalk Pit, Polsteeple, and Titsey.”
ERNEST B HOLTON OF THE FEDERATION of American Motor Cyclists wrote to The Motor Cycle: “…Another thing that interests me is the difference in the slang in the two countries. Motor cycling is a sport that is essentially the same both in England and America; still the language is altogether different in many cases. For instance, your riders ‘konk out, we ‘stall’; you use ‘petrol’, we ‘gas’; you are ‘all out’, we ‘open wide’, etc…e ‘gas’; you are ‘all out’, we ‘open wide’, etc. We have a growing coterie of lightweight manufacturers, but with the roads of the States none too good I cannot see where the market will be very large. A lightweight will haye the touring radius of a bicycle, for the real lightweights have not enough speeds to negotiate steep hills as found in many States…I have just been at work on an article regarding sidecar accessories. We are without many of the refinements that make the sport attractive in wet or cold weather, but have hopes that some keen manufacturer will see the chance and grasp it. We need waders, good ponchos, oil skins, trunk and tyre racks such as the English motor cyclist has…At one time I marvelled at the English TT handle-bar, but since riding a Harley equipment with a semi-racing bar I agree with ‘Ixion’ when he favours a bar that causes one to throw some weight on the front wheel. The added sense of securitv in loose stuff is great.”
“SUMMER IS NOW IN FULL SWING on the other side of the Equator, and the last communication from our Auckland (NZ) correspondent, shows that the various clubs in that part of the world are recommencing outdoor activities. We do not think that some New Zealanders can realise the effective manner in which the British Navy has stopped the so-called submarine blockade of the Germans—our Christchurch correspondent goes to the trouble of sending duplicate reports by following mail boats in case the first one should be torpedoed. Napier MCC: For the opening run of this club a large number of members journeyed to Hastings, where they were entertained at afternoon tea by the club captain, Mr J Taylor. Pioneer Club, Christchurch: During the winter months the Pioneer Club has held no competitions, but the racing season was to be opened a month ago with beach races. An opening run was held to Waihora Park when many members had an enjoyable outing. Wellington MCC: The club held a fast hill-climb at Wellington, the entries being fair. The hill selected was 500 yards long, steep, and rejoiced in four sharp corners. The climb was won by R Keene (3½hp Triumph). Otago MC: The annual meeting of the Otago MC was held at Dunedin when there was a large attendance. Many important affairs were discussed, and it was decided to continue putting before local bodies the question of better roads. It was stated that the club had collected sums of money for the different patriotic funds, and had paid over £300 towards providing motor ambulances for the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces.”
TEAMS OF TRAINEE DESPATCH RIDERS representing the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry, the Lancashire Hussars and the Cumberland Yeomanry competed for regimental honours over a snowbound northern course. “All were as keen as the early morning air which swept down the Valley of the Kent and from the fog-hidden Pennine heights…The machines were mostly Douglases and BSAs, but it was noticed that Trooper J Kendall rode the Norton on which he recently performed so successfully at Brooklands…The route lay over the Greyhound Hill to Sedbergh, thence to Dent and up the long Dent Valley to Dent Head Hill, by which Newby Head and Hawes would be reached. Buttertubs Pass gave access to Keld, Tan Hill, and Bowes, whence the homeward way was planned by Tebay. Probably no finer test could be proposed, but alas! man proposes and the weather disposes…The superiority of the chain-driven machines on this class of work was very noticeable. The BSAs were specially successful. Eventually seven machines reached the top of Dent Head Hill, but only one entirely under its own power. The last of them arrived minus the tread of the rear cover, and with the engine hot enough to burn a large hole in the rider’s overcoat. It was amusing to stand upon the snowy crest and note that the first sign of an up-coming machine was the smell, and this long before sight or sound revealed any living thing…It was the sight of this snowy scarp, with the alabaster crest of Whernside towering two thousand feel aloft, that first roaised serious misgivings regarding the possibility of the day’s run. Moreover, as our road climbed gradually up into the narrow dale between Longshaw Pike and Wold Fell, the splendid dry road-surface changed gradually to an icy slope and eventually we were ploughing through the thickening snow on middle gear. The slower progress did,
however, allow time to note the prettiness of the rocky glen alongside, where the turbulent Dee leapt down from ledge to ledge with scarce a boulder to break its dash over the curious limestone slabs…All ideas of competitive riding had long ago vanished all efforts were concentrated on helping each other through and over the difficulties. Sometimes there were spaces between the drifts where the storm had swept the road surface comparatively clear. From these vantage points the despatch riders dashed wildly at the opposing drifts, gradually forcing a way through or over. One solid mass about five feet high was surmounted by placing an old gate over it and thus steadying the snowy mass sufficiently to carry the weight of the machine. The [observer’s 6hp AJS twin] sidecar was used on certain occasions as a snow plough…In the expressive official words of the despatch service, the competition was pronounced a ‘wash-out’, and certainly the snowy Pennines had wiped us out completely. They had had the best of the argument that day. Yet ere long we hope to renew the battle and ride to victory with the despatch riders of the North, than whom no finer sportsmen can be found, though one wander the wide world o’er.”
“TO KEEP PACE WITH THE requirements of the Motor Machine Gun Service, the Clyno works of Wolverhampton (the capacity of which has been doubled during the last few months) are kept at full pressure day and night. Men in khaki, who have seen service in the trenches, have been fetched home again to handle the lathes. ” The success of the motor machine gun sidecar outfit is now common knowledge. Since Mr Winston Churchill inspected at the Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, at the end of last summer, the first unit of the kind produced by Mr Alfred A Scott, and adapted for warlike uses by Messrs Vickers, Ltd, developments in design have been rapid, and the Vickers-Clyno machines which are now used are very different in construction from the original machine gun sidecars. We wish we could tell our readers all about them and their capabilities, but we must bow to the decision of the Censor who forbids. At regular intervals a long procession of machines moves from the Wolverhampton works of the Clyno Engineering Company to the Government base near London…It is seldom that any trouble is experienced on the road, the regular line being maintained from stare to finish, for absolute reliability, after all, is a sine qua non in the case of every motor vehicle intended for warlike purposes, and, indeed, the name Clyno was one to conjure with for reliability before anybody in this country thought about a war…In this connection one can only now fully appreciate the good effect which was caused by the ACU Six Days Trials routes being arranged over the most difficult road surfaces in the country, usually off the beaten track. In the Lake District and Peak District trials of 1913 and 1914 there were many manufacturers and competitors who considered that the ACU had acted most unwisely in selecting such impossible surfaces, and it will be remembered that some even of the more assertive called protest meetings and tried to organise a strike. But after all, as we pointed out at the time, motor cycles had reached such a stage of excellence that abnormal surfaces were imperative to weed out the weaklings…Now, moreover, British manufacturers are reaping the benefit, for, instead of having to evolve a machine which shall be suitable for abnormal uses in Flanders and other countries where roads are not so perfect as in England,our machines are so staunchly constructed as a result of abnormal trials that they are well able to with-stand the roughest usage to which they may be put.”
“MAN AND WOMAN ARE DESIGNED almost alike in general outline; woman is now taking her place beside man in work and play as an equal, and as she becomes more practical in her ideas she will very soon see that it is silly to handicap herself by clothing which immensely restricts her movements. The days of the simpering maid have gone with the crinoline, and the sooner the woman discards the skirt, the high heel, and the stays, the quicker will be her progress.
WITH BRITISH MOTOR CYCLES in short supply for obvious reasons the Americans were happy to cover the shortfall leading one pundit to note: “Almost without exception, the motor cycles which come from the United States are provided with filler caps of a size which was heartily condemned on all sides over here four or five years ago…The hand-controlled clutch is satisfactory as far as it goes, but surely it would be very much better to control the clutch by means of a Bowden lever on the handle-bar, a method which does not necessitate the driver removing his hand from one of the handle-bar grips…The handle-bar twist control is exceedingly fascinating to those who are accustomed to it, but we are quite sure that the English rider, if given the choice, would infinitely prefer the handle-bar lever…”
WW DOUGLAS VISITED THE WAR ZONE in France to see how well Douglas motor cycles were performing. He said: “To see the riders dodging in and out long lines of transport trains for mile after mile, on shell plastered roads, furrowed twelve and eighteen inches deep by the overloaded lorries to watch them sliding on the slimy mud, first here, then there, mastering just by an hairsbreadth an otherwise fatal skid that would leave them a crushed muddle of man and machine, not once, but time after time, until it almost becomes a monotonous series of thrills, makes one wonder how on earth any of the older hands exist to-day.”
A SHORTAGE OF PROFESSIONAL drivers led The RAC and the Commercial Motor Users’ Association to suggest a reduction in the minimum age limit for car drivers from 17 to 16 or 15.
IN NOVEMBER BRITAIN imported 10,254,496 gallons of petrol; up from 10,614,143 in 1914 and 8,629,174 in 1913.
THE MOTOR CYCLE WASN’T GOING TO LET A GLOBAL WAR get in the way of its traditional Christmas yarn as usual it published two. One was a predictable tale of derring do involving a dastardly German count, spies, zepplins, a secret formula for high explosive and a plucky chap of a motor cycle (with an even pluckier girlfriend). Germans… explosives…that must have taken Tommy’s mind off the war. But t’other yarn was a gem. And it begins, as all good stories should…
“IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT. Overhead the chill moon was casting down its yellow rays. Far away in the dim west a purple cloud heralded the coming dawn. In the bushes by the roadside a branch snapped. Lady Araminta MacHaggis, only daughter of the proud Earl of Ettrick, stepped out to the moonlight. Clad daintily in a chiffon veil, a purple parasol to match the sunrise, and a pair of high-heeled shoes, she might have sat for a cubist painting. Her golden hair and blue eyes gleamed brilliantly, and a fledgling sparrow fell from its nest. The horn of a motor cycle sounded far down the road. With a roar and a whirr of dancing wheels a vast two-stroke racing motor bicycle sprang along the road like a giant untamed, and stopped dead as the rider applied the brakes. Roland St Clair leapt from the saddle and sped to meet the waiting maiden. He took no notice of her unusual attire, but cried, “My darling! You are here omeet me! Does your father know you are gone?” “No, Roland, all is well.” “The parson is waiting at Aberdeen, a hundred miles away. Come, my darling, our mount is ready.” He caressed the engine of
his beloved Minerva. It burnt his fingers, but he made no sign. A trailer had been attached by the side, and into this Araminta climbed. Roland touched a lever, and the great two-stroke sprang into life, its valves racing up and down as if they knew what a duty was theirs that day. He advanced the ignition of the magneto, and they moved off down the road, gathering speed. Soon he changed the gear and let out the clutch, and in a sudden dash the bicycle nearly went through the hedge. With a magnificent effort of driving Roland turned the corner (he had once taken the first prize at Brooklands), and they sped off down the broad high road at nearly sixty miles an hour. Lady Araminta looked back. “Oh, Roland!” she gasped, “there is father on his new twin Levis just behind!” Roland looked back, and just missed the hedge. “You are right,” he said,” but my old Minerva holds the world’s record for speed, and we will beat him yet.” With set teeth he bent again to his task. He turned on more petrol, and did something to the accumulator with a penknife. Slowly they drew ahead. At the end of half-an-hour the Levis was several miles behind, in spite of its two engines. The path of love is never smooth. Roland suddenly felt a great bump below him, which he put down to the uneven road. In a few seconds, however, he realised that something was terribly wrong, and, glancing down, he saw his suspicion confirmed. The back wheel had fallen off, and was lying some distance down the road. He ran back and fetched it; but time had been
wasted, and as they started off again the panting of the Levis could be heard drawing nearer in the distance. But scarcely had the lovers got up full speed again, when, in turning a sharp hairpin comer, the indiarubber belt broke in two. Roland did not waste a moment. He seized the chiffon veil and tied it tightly round the wheels. “I would rather be drawn by a veil of yours, darling,” he panted, “than the best John Bull deep drive that was ever made.” The Levis was now only a few yards away, and they could hear the Earl of Ettrick bawling loudly that he would have the law on them. “How I wish it would break down!” sighed Lady Araminta. Roland shook his head. “It cannot,” he said. “There are two engines, and when one gives out he can use the other.” It was a neck and neck race. But aided by Roland’s marvellous skill in driving, the Minerva drew ahead, in spite of the load of the trailer. Several times the Earl of Ettrick was seen to run into the wall at corners, and his curses drifted faintly down the breeze. “He drives very badly,” said Araminta, looking back. “It is the first time he has been on a motor bicycle, and he is riding it like a horse. Look at him digging his heels into the engine!” Roland looked, and very nearly ran into a gatepost. “Really, darling Araminta,” he said firmly, “the next time you make me look round it will mean a funeral.” He accelerated violently, and the cylinder blew off, just missing Lady Araminta. This is one of the worst misfortunes that can happen to a motor bicycle, and nine riders out of ten would have given up hope. Not so Roland St Clair. As the engine raced on erratically, staggering under the faulty compression, he leant over and snatched his loved one from the trailer into his arms. “My angel,” he breathed, gazing into her clear blue eyes, ” for thee I will dare anything!” Swiftly the Levis drew abreast with the tottering two-stroke, and the Earl of Ettrick grinned spitefully, and attempted to hiss through his clenched teeth. But he failed, owing to lack of practice. As the two machines were running side by side, Roland gave one strong push with his spare hand on the Earl’s waistcoat. The nobleman fell off at once from his rather uncertain seat, and, head downwards, found a soft resting-place in the ditch. His spurred and booted heels stuck up stiffly in the air. Roland had grasped the steering wheel of the Levis motor cycle, and now he made a magnificent leap and landed with his living burden safely on the pot-seat saddle. With his Araminta in his arms he touched the levers, and the swift steed sped obediently away to distant Aberdeen. But the deserted Minerva pursued its erratic course with no hand to guide it. Whirring and clanking, it reeled for hours along the lonely roads, until at last the petrol gave out, and all was still.”
No doubt you spotted the deliberate mistales. The other Xmas yarn took itself more seriously but the closing paragraph and illustrations are worth preserving…
“…BY JOVE!” BROKE IN MAJOR WORSDELL,” I never introduced you. This is Sir Edward, who is the Chief Officer of the Secret Service Police of Great Britain.” Sir Edward put his hands on Russell’s shoulders. “I have recently been looking,” he said, “for a live young man with some brains, plenty of muscle, and a whole lot of nerve. I think I have found him this time. There will be plenty of work for you in the service of your country now, and I may mention that His Majesty never fails to recognise distinguished conduct such as vou have shown to-day.”
And to close this survey of 1915, here’s a selection of adverts from The Motor Cycle…
And, simply because it’s smashing artwork, here’s the cover of Motor Cycle Illustrated’s Chicago Show number…