1919

There were 112 marques at the Olympia show. The Matchless Victory’s khaki livery must have been the last thing veterans wanted to see. Clyno’s 8hp twin appeared with an enclosed rear chain and spring frame; this stalwart of the machine-gun batallions was sold as the Peace model.

More radical designs included the three-cylinder Redrup Radial. There was even a six-pot prototype but the marqur had faded away within three years.

The first big post-war open event was the Birmingham MCC’s Victory Trial.

Imports from the likes of ABC, FN, Sarolea, Scott and Cleveland all but killed the struggling Japanese home industry.

Robert Abuthnot, who was 3rd in the 1908 TT, died at Jutland. The Arbuthnot Trophy Trial was launched in his memory (for RN officers only).

Many of the new manufacturers were churning out very average bikes to meet surging demand but Dunelt came up with an advanced 497cc two-stroke single featuring a double-diameter piston which created forced-induction.

Part of the huge, Sopwith empire, left idle as demand for fighter-plane engines plummeted, made the Granville Bradshaw-designed ABC – a 398cc ohv transverse flat twin with four-speed box, kickstarter, all-chain drive, spring frame and automatic lubrication. It weighed in at just 175lb. But, rushed into production, the ABC had teething problems. Materials shortages doubled the price within two years. This, and a flood of warranty claims, led Sopwith to stop production despite some record-breaking runs at Brooklands.

Other aviation specialists to try their hand at motorcycles included Hawker, Martynside and, over the Channel, Bleriot and Gnome-et-Rhone who made a 500cc version of the ABC under licence with notable racing success.

Major German arms firms to beat their swords into motorcycles rather than ploughshares included Krupps, Mauser and Spandau.

The US Autoped, designed during the war as cut-price ‘austerity’ urban transport, led a short-lived fashion for scooters. Like many of its followers the Autoped lacked a saddle, looking more like a powered skateboard with handlebars than a motorcycle. Major users included theUS Post Office – and teenage tearaways who became adept at riding their Autopeds down narrow alleyways to escape pursuing police cars.

Huge demand for motorcycles, not least from returning servicemen, combined with shortages of materials and delays in switching from wartime production left bikes in short supply. Raleigh’s ad was typical: “It is coming – the perfect motorcycle – worth waiting for.” But enthusiasts had to wait a long time, even though more than 50 new marques sprang up in 1919 alone, most assembling proprietary components. Few of them lasted long. The promising 496cc ohv Duzmo, for example, was gone by 1923, despite an engine developed by record breaking speedster Bert le Vack and a TT entry (it failed to finish).

Those pioneer scooters were cheap, and many were nasty but there were some honourable exceptions. The most succesful of these was the 125cc ohv Scootamota from ABC designer Granville Bradshaw. Other notable examples were the Stafford, from the Alvis car company; the Whippet, with a light alloy 180cc engine and 16in wheels; and the Jackson Car Manufacturing Co’s Reynolds Runabout which survived until 1924 – longer than most of its competitiors.

In the USA the ACE debuted with 1,168 and 1,229cc in-line four designed by Bill Henderson in competition with Excelsior who’d bought his design two years earlier.

A Dane, Joerge Ramussen, set up DKW at Zschoppau in Germany to make lightweight two-strokes including the ‘feet forward’ Golem. The firm also supplied engines, notably the hugely successful Hugo Ruppe-designed 120cc two-stroke ‘Das kleine Wunder’ (The Little Marvel) to marques including Aeroplan, AWD, Bamar, Defa, Feital, Elfa, Hulla Eichlker and Maco. Zschoppau would remain a bastion of two-stroke technology as the Z in MZ.

Two marques were launched in the Isle of Man. The Peters sported cantilever rear suspension and an in-house 347cc ‘square’ engine forming part of the frame. Production was transferred to London, where it survived until 1927. The Aurora, with its proprietary 318cc Dalm two-stroke, lasted barely two years and only a few were made. But its builder, Graham Oates, rode in the ISDT and TT and made the first coast-to-coast run across Canada.

The Italian army staged a major ‘raid’ (reliability trial) from Genoa via Trieste to Verona and back; it was won by a new all-chain two-stroke designed by Aldaberto Garelli. A Garelli went on to win the Raid Nord-Sud from Milan to Naples, ahead of two Sunbeams.

Norton launched the 490cc sidevalve 16H (H for Home, there was also a 16C for Colonial) with all-chain drive. The 16H had some TT success until superseded by ohv and ohc models, it survived till 1954.

Japan introduced legislation to license and regulate motor vehicles. Japanese brands weren’t popular, foreign bikes were. ABC, FN, Sarolea, Scott, Cleveland flooded Japan and all but killed the nascent Japanese home industry.

Garelli started to produce twostroke 350cc motorcycles in Milan. Ettore Girandi rode one to victory in the first major road race from Milan to Naples, completing the run in 22 hours to average 24mph.