1919 Planning for peacetime

How would motor cycling evolve in the post-war world? The Motor Cycle went to the horse’s mouth to compile “Notes on The Past, The Present, and The Future. By Prominent Men in the Motor Cycle Movement.” The series opened with “Comments of the Captains of the Motor Cycle Industry.” It offers a unique insight into the birth of the modern industry.

1919 AW

From Mr CA Hyde of the BSA Co, President of the Cycle and Motor Cycle Manufacturers’ and Traders’ Union.
“IT IS DIFFICULT AT THIS STAGE TO FORECAST with any accuracy what trend the post-war demand for motor bicycles will take, but judging from Government specifications during the war, and reports from the various Fronts, the single-cylinder type has found added favour as a ‘no trouble’ mount—easy to tune up, to adjust, and to drive, almost immune from minor ailments, and with plenty of power for all general purposes. This favourable bias on the part of military motor cyclists cannot fail to have its effect on the post-war demand. At the same time, however, it is anticipated that there will be a brisk demand among those desiring a higher powered mount for a V-type twin-cylinder machine of, say, about 6hp—and a good deal of experimenting is going on among manufacturers with a view to perfecting this class of motor cycle. Everything points to a large increase in the number of those interested in motor cycling, and manufacturers as a whole will have well learned the lessons of the war in regard to quantity production. It is doubtful, however, if any appreciable fall in prices can be expected for some time to come, since production costs will continue to rule very heavily, due to increased price of raw materials and the fact that, while wages are higher than ever they were before the war—and are likely to remain high—hours of labour are to be fewer.”

1919 BSA MOD H 557CC

From HA Collier (H Collier and Sons, Makers of the Matchless Motor Cycle).
“ONE OF THE GREATEST LESSONS OF THE WAR has been the value of co-operation. In the automobile industry the conditions prevailing during the war have resulted in intercourse between staffs of firms hitherto regarded as rivals, which would have been impossible under normal conditions. If this intercourse and co-operation within the industry can become permanent, it can only have a beneficial influence to the interests of manufacturers and consumers alike. It would also greatly help the industry to meet international competition in Overseas markets…As in the industry, so in the pastime, should all co-operate for the advancement of the movement, and I look upon it as the duty of every motor cyclist to join the ACU, and so give that body added power to promote the interests of motor cyclists. Personally, I am looking forward to the resumption of motor cycling and the meeting of old friends with the liveliest anticipations, and shall appreciate its pleasures all the more for the forced abandonment of them during the last four years.”


From Mr Frank E Baker, of Precision Engine Fame.
“THERE WAS A PERIOD IN THE HISTORY of the motor cycling movement and trade…I think it would be about 1904 and 1905 when most people had given up the struggle of producing a commercial machine. It will always redound to the credit of the proprietors of The Motor Cycle, the Triumph Co, and of my friend Mr Prestwich, that they held on to their belief in the ultimate success of the motor cycle. I am looking forward to a revival of this faith in the motor bicycle, by which I mean a solo machine which affords its owner the speed and distance capacity of the automobile with the handiness, individuality, and sporting character of the bicycle. Many machines met these requirements even before the war, and their utility has been further demonstrated by our despatch riders with the various armies. I do not at this juncture attach any importance or magic to the word ‘standardisation’. The motor bicycle is not yet a stereotyped production…The progress of the motor cycle, as of other branches of the engineering trade, is largely due to the initiative of pioneers and small concerns…The future is full of hope, and competition will be keen and interesting. In the motor cycle trade, such competition, as in the past, will, I believe, be relieved of much of its dull and sordid side by the sporting spirit of the men engaged in the industry.”

1919 PRECISION 350

From Mr Wm Hughes Butterfield, AMIAE, of Butterfields, Makers of the Levis Motor Cycle.
“RECONSTRUCTION—IT SOUNDS RATHER LIKE ADMITTING that we were reduced to a state far worse than is really the case. There is no doubt that the past four years have shown us how necessary it is to ‘put our house in order’, and I am of the opinion that the cessation of hostilities has found some of the motor cycle manufacturers in a state of unpreparedness. Let us appreciate the task we have before us, and let us appreciate the huge possibilities open to the motor cycle both at home and abroad. Let us ‘open the throttle’ and get ‘all out’ on Production.


From Mr W Douglas, Head of the Firm of Douglas Motors.
“THE DEMAND FOR MOTOR CYCLES even at the present unsettled moment is enormous. What it will be when we have fully realised that victory is ours and the peace for which our fine fellows have bravely fought is an established fact, when the creation of a new working class is recognised, when the longer hours of recreation that this new life will give them are appreciated, when we are freed from the fetters of war-time legislation, what the demand will then be few of us realise. Much has been said during the past about the production of a low-priced motor cycle, and we fear many believed that with the advent of peace such a machine would be available…Today we have peace with us, but what do we find? Prices greatly increasing and the entire absence of a cheap machine. High wages—100% to 300% increase over 1914—are the order of the day, and similarly materials have increased in price from 100% to 600%. Now, even with what we may have learned in shop methods during the war, the resultant higher production cannot counterbalance these increases. No concern could be more anxious than we are to give the public a cheaper machine, but no firm is more determined than we are to see that we only make an honest machine—a machine which, though perhaps slightly higher in price, is considerably better value than any model we have previously produced.”


From Mr EH Humphries, Director of Humphries and Dawes, Makers of the OK Motor Cycle.
“THE FIRST AND FOREMOST FEATURE that interests a British manufacturer today is what protection the British industry is going to receive at the hands of the Government. Certain it is that, as in the instance of America, whose manufacturers have not broken down on the manufacture of their ordinary lines, and whose stocks, though low, must be considerable when taken into account with the amount of stock held by British manufacturers, protection must be afforded…such protection should be in exactly the same ratio as the American tariff wall against ourselves…My idea of the utility motor cycle for the future will be a handy lightweight with a three-speed gear, kick starter, electrically equipped, and, provided engine ground clearance can be kept at 7in or above, 26in wheels will form a far more comfortable vehicle than one with 28in wheels…and undoubtedly spring frames will be a very attractive proposition. It will be the policy of my house in future to make everything possible within its own four walls, and we are rapidly organising to this end.”

1919 OK

From RW Smith, Managing Director of the Enfield Cycle Co.
“I THINK THE IMMEDIATE DUTY OF THE MOTOR CYCLE manufacturers is to meet the existing great demand for motor cycles…this will be best met by producing existing models for the immediate future so that there will be the least possible delay in delivery; and this is the policy the Enfield Co will rigidly follow. What we shall have to offer the motor cycling world in the future will arouse the keenest interest.”


From Mr Harold Bowden, Managing Director of the Raleigh Cycle Co.
“ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER from the British motor cycle manufacturers’ point of view is the conserving of our home and colonial markets for the British motor cycle, which today is still superior to foreign productions. The duty of at least 33% should continue on all imported motor cycles and parts, otherwise the country will be swamped with the surplus outputs of foreign makers, and, through fierce competition, we should be unable to continue payment of high wages to our workpeople which, I think, we are all most anxious to do in order to avoid labour troubles. The motor and motor cycle industries have rendered great service to the nation in the great war, and thereby deserve protection in some recognition of their services. I hope an attempt will be made by British manufacturers to standardise their productions more and thus increase output. Most English firms produce far too many models, and give their customers too many options, which is fatal from a production point of view. With the experience gained through the terrific ‘gruelling’ experienced by despatch riders’ machines during the four years of war, British motor cycle manufacturers should be in a position to produce post-war models as near perfection as possible, and all former weak points eliminated.”


From Mr PF Bennett, Chairman British Ignition Apparatus Association and
Managing Director Thomson-Bennett Magnetos.
“THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN PURCHASING MAGNETOS in enormous quantities for all classes of work. The result is that…there is available an ample supply of magnetos for the British motor industry. The quantities produced by the British magneto firms are greatly in excess of the quantity that was imported from Germany before the war. The demand upon the efficiency of the magneto has been largely increased in severity to meet the needs of aero, tank, and other special work. It is not too much to say that the safety of the Empire has been in the hands of the British magneto manufacturers, as without our Air Service and Tank Corps, Mechanical Transport, etc, we should never have won through. All these mechanical services have been dependent upon British magnetos. The demands of the Services have necessitated improvement in design, so that when the magneto factories are able to change over to magnetos designed in accordance with their war experience, the motoring public will have machines far in advance of anything they have previously known.”


From JW Stocks, Pioneer Motorist and General Manager, Ariel Works.
“WHEN IT IS APPRECIATED THAT UNDER EXISTING conditions we cannot compete in the world’s markets foreign competition will straighten out matters in new course. What we require, without doubt, is a reciprocal tariff. I see no reason why my next door neighbour should be more offended because I charge him half a crown for coming into my house than I should be because he charged me the same amount to go into his. From a business point of view most of us will have to look upon the last four years as a nightmare, particularly those firms who have had to devote practically the whole of their works to munitions of a kind quite different from their peace time productions, and start where they left off in 1914…Even those firms who are supposed to be ready with new models, in spite of the numerous extensions and facilities for increased output which have been made in nearly every works, will find the question of supplies of material a serious handicap…Supplies will gradually overtake the demand, and by next November, when the cycle and motor exhibitions will again be welcomed, I think more normal conditions will prevail, though I do not for one moment anticipate that we shall be anywhere near normal prices.”

1919 ARIEL

From Mr Norman T Downs, Managing Director of New Imperial Cycles.
“WE HAVE DESIGNED, AND, IN FACT, have been experimenting for some time with new models which embody improvements of considerable scope, but, owing to the suddenness of the close of the war, we have decided to defer the introduction of our newest models until the Olympia Show of 1919, and turn our attention to the production (with improved details) of our war models, as made for the Allied Armies. We shall specialise on two models only—a 2¾hp light tourist and the New Imperial 8hp combination. By devoting ourselves to these two models we hope to obtain larger output.

1919 NEW IMP

From Mr Geo Stevens, of AJS Fame.
“IF THE MOTOR CYCLING PUBLIC WILL ONLY BE PATIENT, now is the time for the motor cycle trade to put its house in order and determine that out of the anxieties and problems brought about by the war only good shall result…I cannot say that the experience gained during the war has helped manufacturers in the matter of improved general design, but it will undoubtedly result in better and improved methods of production, which will ultimately result in not only reducing production costs, but will provide the rider with a more dependable and efficient machine. During the war manufacturers have certainly seen the advantage of concentration on one model; quantity production; and the necessity for a more scientific knowledge of metals, their treatment, and their scientific distribution in design. Other than these advantages, I suggest that the public will see very little change, either in general or detail design. That will come later when things become, more normal.”

1919 AJS

Mr Geo E Rigby, of the Royal Ruby Cycle Co.
“I AM CERTAIN THERE IS A SPLENDID ERA OF PROSPERITY before motor cycle manufacturers, and a tremendous output will be required to fulfil the demands both here and in our Colonies. I am convinced the motor cycle buyers will demand up-to-date machines with the very latest improvements, and, therefore, the manufacturers who put on the market their ordinary pre-war machines will not be satisfied with the results. I am a very great believer in the future of the spring-frame motor cycle, and when it is perfected I cannot see anyone buying the old rigid type, any more than anyone would think of now buying a motor cycle with a rigid fork…I have, therefore, spent a tremendous lot of time and money inventing, experimenting and testing spring-frame models, and, profiting by the experience gained during the war, I am placing a small number of models on the market in order to produce them in larger quantities.”


From Mr F Hulbert, Works Manager, the Triumph Cycle Co.
“THE SINGLE-CYLINDER MOTOR CYCLE has been my ideal machine since 1903, when I won the 200 miles reliability trial for the Edge Trophy on a Hulbert-Bramley fitted with a 2¾hp Minerva engine. The most successful machine of the future, I consider, will be the one which will claim simplicity, efficiency, reliability, lightness, speed, power, and comfort, and I believe the single-cylinder can be built to these requirements. Unfortunately, the good old days are past when Hart-Davies (who, alas is no more!), Lister-Cooper and I used to make yearly tours to Birdlip and Sutton Bank to test our new machines, and the excitement in climbing these hills, when two and three-speed gears were unknown, was most enjoyable. The advent of the three-speed gear has, of course, killed this sport, and even with a heavy sidecar attached a good single-cylinder machine will climb any hill on low gear, no matter how steep, so long as the back wheel will grip, the surface. This is why the ACU, in the Six Days Trials in 1914, went out of its way to find freak hills, which, to my mind, was most unfair to the manufacturers.”


From Mr WJ Lloyd, of the Lloyd Motor Engineering Co, Pioneer Designer and Maker of the LMC Motor Cycle.
“I THINK IT IS HIGHLY PROBABLE that my ideas on reconstruction will run very much in the same groove as the majority of manufacturers and designers in the industry. In any case, so far as my firm is concerned, we are standardising and simplifying construction with the idea of giving the public the best possible value for money…I am specialising on a spring-frame Colonial model, particulars of which will be available shortly when patent formalities are completed. Meanwhile, I use the the term ‘spring frame’ for convenience. Strictly speaking, it is more on the lines of a suspension frame, being an evolution of various ideas I have worked upon for the last twenty-five years.”

1919 LMC

From Mr WH Carson, of the Excelsior Motor Co.
“NOW THAT THE TIME HAS COME for us to return to our staple industry, the question of reconstruction is one of great importance, especially to those firms who have been engaged on other than motor cycle manufacture. Many of the employees accustomed to motor cycle building have been claimed by the Army, and doubtless it will be some time before they are permitted to return to their civilian occupation. During the past four years the conditions under which motor cycles have been used have brought about many important developments, such as stronger frames, larger diameter wheel spindles, more ground clearance, heavier gauge spokes, better mudguarding, etc. Those of us who have been employed in other directions must not be satisfied to recommence where we left off in 1914, but must give riders the benefit of all developments which circumstances have made it clear must be adopted. To market new models embodying these features will be a matter of time, especially as many firms will be engaged on completion of Government contracts.”


From Mr Granville E Bradshaw, Designer of the ABC Motor Cycle.
“THE QUESTION OF RECONSTRUCTION is one of vital importance to the motor cyclist, the production departments, and the designer; and, in my opinion, the motor cyclist should come first. There is an enormous gap, stored with knowledge, between the years 1914 and 1919, and, I think, the motor cyclist should benefit by it. The production man’s idea of carrying on with improved 1914 designs for 1919 is surely a fallacy, as is also the old idea of a machine built up of additions, year by year. To sit down for a few weeks and thoroughly thrash out the matter, using all the knowledge now available, will, I think, result in better machines, and comparatively cheaper production. Personally, I do not intend to let the public have anything but a complete job, well balanced in all details of efficiency, design, and manufacture, a machine thoroughly tested in every way, and produced by methods that wiU give the rider all the value for his money that he ought to have—and I am pleased to say that this is now practically achieved.”

1919 ABC

From Mr Duncan Watson, Managing Director of the Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
“CONSTRUCTION IS PARAMOUNT AT THE MOMENT; it dominates political propaganda and embodies social, industrial, and commercial promise and prospect; it fills the air with speculation and foreshadows evolution that will carry us into purer elements, and breathe into our national being a spirit of more profound and generous emotion for the amelioration and up-lifting of society. We have passed from dreams to active reality. Dawn has awakened us with dramatic suddenness, and we are rubbing our eyes and asking whether it can all be true; is it fact or mere phantasy? Everything whispers, ‘What of the future?’ The tides echo the answer, ‘What you choose to make it, and you must seize opportunity while it serves.’ Whether rider, agent, or manufacturer, all must contribute their respective quota towards shaping its course, and as I pen these lines the future is already taking form. Standardisation and increased production will depend largely on popularity and demand for respective models. If either of these dominating factors be eliminated or abrogated, popular prices as an inducement for recruits to motor cycling will be delayed indefinitely. The survival of the fittest will be demonstrated with relentless exactitude, and efficient service will count even more than design. To that end the industry must organise to progress as it should. There are indications that the motor cycle industry for the next few years will undoubtedly boom, and manufacturers must remember that success is even more difficult to carry than adversity, and peace hath her defeats no less than war. There is no finality in the manufacture and design of a motor cycle; nothing is now done so well as it can be done. These facts must remain uppermost in the policy and mind of all manufacturers. The lessons of the war, unless applied, or even misapplied, may bring disasters in peace. Let us with one accord lay these warnings to heart, and, with persistent reiteration and stimulation of our trade journals, have them constantly brought to mind—‘Lest we forget’.”



From Mr TW Blumfield, Managing Director of Abingdon Ecco.
“I BELIEVE THAT MACHINES WHICH GIVE SATISFACTION in this country may not be satisfactory under the more exacting conditions abroad which must at times be appalling, and make one marvel that any machine can stand up very long…all (or some) of the following points in design must be embodied in machines for use in our Colonies: 1. Increased ground clearance. We have frequently been asked for a minimum of 7in, and one customer recently asked for a machine with a 9in clearance. 2. Increased diameter of wheels and larger section tyres—3in appears to be regarded as a minimum. 3. Stronger rims and spokes. 4. Improved mudguarding, with greatly increased clearances for tyres. 5. Frames must be sprung at the rear. 6. Longer steering heads with larger fork stems, having increased bearings, and provided with dirt-excluding devices and screwed-down grease caps for lubrication. 7. Larger twin-cylinder engines. Probably up to 1,100 or 1,200cc capacity, with relatively low compression, and increased bearing surfaces everywhere. 8. Automatic lubricating system to the engine. 9. Detachable hubs may be regarded as desirable, perhaps, but not essential. 10. Abolition of the front rim brake. 11. Some form of positively locking the handle-bars as a preventive against twisting. All the foregoing features tend to increase weight and cost.”


From Mr Osborne de Lissa, of the MAG Engine Co.
“THERE IS, IN MY OPINION, A FINE FUTURE before the motor cycle industry, but the best machines will be more in demand, due to the increased knowledge gained by all who have had to use motor cycles on Active Service, and who have learnt that only the very best will stand up to the severe conditions imposed. Frames and forks have caused manufacturers to put on their thinking caps, they having learnt by experience—bitter in many cases—what a machine is asked to stand under Colonial conditions when previously no amount of talking had much, if any, effect. As with others, the MAG engine has been still further improved, and I am hoping we shall soon be permitted to supply engines which have given excellent results in France, Italy and Russia, where they have been used by the military authorities of those countries…I look forward to the reopening of Brooklands, when the future performances of the various makes may be compared with their past records.”

1919 MAG

From Mr Jas L Norton, of Long Stroke Fame.
“APART FROM A FEW FREAK DESIGNS, I do not anticipate any serious or startling innovation in post-war motor cycle engines due to the influence of aero practice or design, the mysterious elements of which we have been hearing so much about, and the efficiency of the aero engine being purely due to the more general recognition and application of certain fundamental laws or principles, which previously the majority of designers ignored. This latter, and the wider knowledge of metals and their treatment, with the value and necessity of accurate workmanship being more fully realised, will have the effect of raising the general efficiency average of motor cycle engines. The extreme methods of aero engine production can never apply profitably to a commercial motor cycle proposition, although the intensive and scientific methods of production necessarily enforced upon those firms previously ignorant of such cannot but have a beneficial effect upon the industry as a whole. This will be felt in the marketing of machines of greater capacity, power and economy at a smaller (proportionate) cost. The demand for motor cycles for two or three seasons will be scarcely more than met, after which competition will undoubtedly become severe. The prosperity of the motor cycle industry will depend largely upon its workers…At no time in our nation’s history has the need for commonsense and sane thinking among the workers been greater than to-day (thank goodness for some thinkers among them), when so many appear to be blindly following the criminal butchers who are out to kill the goose that lays the golden egg: productiveness, which means prosperity.”


From Capt Geoffrey Smith, MBE, RAF, who will shortly resume Editorship of The Motor Cycle.
“THOUSANDS OF ENTHUSIASTIC MOTOR CYCLISTS, expectant of realising their ideal of a roadworthy machine at a reasonably low figure, impatiently watch the announcements of new models. This transition stage, during which manufacturers are hurrying to effect a change over from war work to peace time productions, is easily the most exciting period known in the history of the motor industry. Happily the outlook is of the rosiest kind. Apart from those keen riders who have tested the joys of the open road and long to renew their pleasures awheel, there is the vast army of converts, who, having earned fame and glory Overseas, and with a little bank balance to their credit, are ready to speculate in the most economical form of motor vehicle extant. Whatever their opinion of the reliability and usefulness of a motor cycle before going Overseas, no doubt on those scores now exists, for, under their very eyes, day in, day out, they have witnessed the ability of a motor cycle ready to go anywhere and to do anything. Our despatch riders—all credit to them—have proved missionaries in disguise. Unfortunately, cheap motor cycles are not to be—yet awhile…Properly designed, with more efficient lubrication systems, and the selection of metals scientifically studied, twins (type no matter) will be the rule in the peace that is coming. But—and it is a big but—we do henceforth expect silent and durable valve gear. It is not nice to instance importations in talking of desirable improvements, but American—and Swiss—twin-cylinder engines must take the palm for the silence of their valve operating mechanism. That state of affairs should not be allowed to continue…Unfortunately, questions of cost stand in the way, or we might see more aluminium jacketed cylinders, or steel cylinders with copper depositing, on standard touring machines. Carbon still forms much too readily on most types of air-cooled engines and leads to the objectionable habit of knocking. Correct piston design can mitigate this failing. Of the more general aspects, however, we do expect—nay demand, to see perfect interchangeability of parts when replacements become necessary, rust-proof finishes wherever possible, better design and material for valves (breakages of which should be unknown after aero engine experience), better weatherproofing, improved accessibility of parts that matter, sales and distribution methods improved, and a continued interest in a machine after it has left the factory.”

1919 BLUE UN

From Mr WH Wells, of the Hendee Manufacturing Co.
“HAVING BEEN IDENTIFIED WITH MOTOR CYCLES since their very inception, I have come to the conclusion that motor cycles will eventually resolve into two types only. Passenger Machines—The first and most popular type will be a high-power three-speed-gear sidecar machine…The rider’s comfort should be studied in the matter of large tyres, ample mudguards, and a reliable electric lighting system. Very few who have ever driven a sidecar combination would care to go back to the solo mount; and this applies particularly to those fairly well advanced in years. Solo Machines—There will always be a demand for a solo machine amongst the young and more sporty class of riders; and this machine should be so designed that it can easily be handled, light in weight, and low to medium in power. The rider’s comfort need not be studied to such a great extent as with the passenger machine, particularly as gadgets add weight, which is undesirable for the solo rider. I would not recommend dynamo and battery electric lighting for the solo machine; it all adds weight, which is undesirable, and tends to make the solo machine unwieldy. I should be glad, however, to see a light, practical friction-driven generator, which would weigh less than a gas-lighting outfit, perfected for motor cycle use. A few crude types, but fairly efficient, were produced just before the war started. Many manufacturers are too inclined to listen to more or less unpractical ideas emanating from the riding public, with the result that they find themselves loaded up with so many models that economical manufacturing becomes almost an impossibility. I think the time has now arrived when the older established manufacturers have gained enough experience to know what the public want and what is suitable for them; and by eliminating all superfluous models, and getting down to a sound, economical manufacturing basis, they can give the public better value than when they manufacture a multiplicity of models.”


From Major TW Loughborough, Secretary of the ACU and the British Motor Cycle Racing Club.
“THE FASCINATION OF MOTOR CYCLING, compared with any other form of locomotion—yes, flying included—has been explained, but the explanation, whatever it is, does not interest me so much as the fact that, unlike most of those pleasures which we, as a nation, are credited with taking so sadly, it does not lessen with use. Having been debarred from the said road for so long, or, at least, being strictly limited to that portion terminated by home and the railway station or place of business, the fascination of motor cycling—free as the air—will, to us old-stagers, be redoubled. And for every pre-war motor cyclist reviving his old interests there will be more than one new recruit: men who have noted, during their service abroad, the marvellous efficiency of the DR’s mount, and others at home, men and women too, who have saved up their war wages with a wise eye for the future. Given anything like reasonable conditions as to fuel supplies and the prompt removal of war restrictions, and I foresee a demand for new machines that will severely tax our manufacturing resources. Indeed, there is a danger that, in striving to meet this demand, the trade may so concentrate on production pure and simple that it will lose sight of the fact that, of all classes of motor vehicles, the motor cycle is perhaps the most capable of improvement…The power unit and transmission as such would not worry me. I should approach the task from the owner’s, and not the engineer’s, point of view. I should keep before me a mental picture of the two machines I own at present. I should try and incorporate in my design everything that the rational driver requires, and not leave it to him to find room to attach anything more or less permanently afterwards. I should be ashamed if I could not hose down and polish up my completed product in less time than it takes my neighbour to clean his car.”

1919 ACU


From Mr Tom Silver, Pioneer Rider at Home and Abroad.
“IN PRE-WAR DAYS, BEFORE THE USE OF THE MOTOR CYCLE became as prevalent as it is to-day, manufacturers had not considered the possibilities of pressed steel and die castings in construction. However, these will play an important part, and the trouble will not be in the disposal of the product, but in the production, where cheaper and quicker methods should be looked for, especially in making a medium or low-priced outfit. In 1919 it should be possible to purchase a better outfit at the same cost as in 1914. It is plainly evident to all that the experience gained during the war can be adapted to replace the conventional construction of a motor cycle, and so enable manufacturers to make their product of the design required, viz, a foolproof, weatherproof, sprung frame.”


From Mr AJ Wilson, an Early Motor Cyclist.
“AT THE END OF TWENTY YEARS OF MOTOR CYCLING I am still hankering after a really lightweight runabout motor cycle upon which to do short rides for which it is not worth while to get out the car—a machine to be carried inside an office door and forgotten until wanted for an immediate journey, but then dependable to start without trouble; to require little more attention than the push bicycle, so long as it be not over-driven.”


From Mr JE Greenwood, Chief Engineer, John Marston Ltd, Sunbeamland.
“THERE IS ONE FEATURE OF THE POST-WAR TRADE that has struck me very forcibly. It is the absence of anything indicating which is likely to be the most popular post-war model. In pre-war days there is no doubt whatever that the 3½hp single-cylinder machine was far the most popular machine on the road. The chief reasons for this were that it was the most highly developed type, and the type that was being turned out in the largest numbers, by the largest number of makers. Another strong argument in its favour was its unassailable position as the double-purpose mount pre-eminent. If past experience is any guide to the future the most popular post-war model will be the double purpose machine. Assuming that this is so, we are faced with the question of what type of machine it will be. There will be the ever-popular single, the V-twin, and the horizontally opposed twin all fighting for premier place. For solo work both the V-twin and the horizontal twin are delightful to ride, and certainly more sweet and vibrationless than the single; but when the machine has to tug a heavy sidecar about there is, to my mind, nothing to compare with a good single. I am, of course, speaking of machines of about 500 to 600cc. I have ridden a good many twins of about 600 to 650cc, and although they are very nice to ride, they seem to lack the pulling powers of a good 500cc single. The chief reasons why the single is the ideal double-purpose machine are: it is very easy to keep in good order, it will (if reasonably handled) run a very long time without requiring any adjustments or repairs, and it is probably the most durable engine made. Regarding the most popular size of engine for the double-purpose machine, some people think that the 3½hp is not quite powerful enough; but when one considers the really wonderful performances put up by standard 3½hp sidecar combinations in open competitions there does not appear to be any necessity to go to a larger size engine. The consideration of engine sizes brings to mind another matter about which there has been much controversy. I refer to the merits (or otherwise) of the long-stroke engine. Personally, I do not think there is much to choose between a so-called long-stroke engine and an engine having equal bore and stroke. Although theoretically there is an increase of efficiency with a long stroke, the real practical gain is so small that it is not worth arguing about.”


From Mr Leonard B Henderson, AMIAE, Managing Director of Henderson Sidecars.
“BRITAIN FOR THE BRITISH, AND BRITISH MARKETS for British industries, should be an outstanding feature in future, this being the biggest question in the reconstruction of industry. In the past the British markets have been flooded with motor cycle fittings, accessories, and other goods exported by Germany and her allies, most of which had been manufactured with the express purpose of deceiving the buying public. The unwary have purchased the ‘goods’, no doubt under the impression that they were British (owing to the inefficiency of the Merchandise Marks Act), only to find after short use that their purchases were worthless and unfitted for the purpose intended. Can anyone say that that the British standard of quality has ever been equalled? Impossible. Therefore, it is the business of the new Government to instil into the public at home and Overseas the sterling qualities of British goods. I feel that the motor cyclist should really be protected against the allurements of cheap and shoddy articles, whether produced in a foreign country or here in England. In the period to come I am convinced that all such shoddy, badly designed, horribly made motor cycle goods will be eliminated, owing to the fact that the motor cycling public are getting more educated to the belief than ever that a good sound article is always worth a little extra. After-war motor cycles, sidecars, accessories, etc, will differ greatly from the old. Brains have been far from stagnant, and each day we hear of great inventions which show much promise, and which no doubt will, more or less, cause a revelation in statistics…unbreakable steel of a special alloy settles at once all valve troubles of the past. Steel of remarkable tensile strength will give double strength for half the weight compared with the old type used. Problems such as rust, corrosion, weather effects, etc, will be bogies of bygone days. In conclusion, I do not think there is any further need for us to sing ‘Wake up, England!’ in matters pertaining to motor cycling.”


From Mr Hugh Gibson, of the Clyno Engineering Co.
“CHEAPER MACHINES, MORE WEATHERPROOF MACHINES, and an adequate supply of fuel, are three of the main essentials necessary to increase the popularity of motor cycling. If British manufacturers are going to utilise to the full the increased facilities for quantity production, then, once we get over the reconstruction period, the output of motor cycles will be enormous, probably exceeding 15O,OO0 per annum. Fewer models and increased 9production mean cheaper machines for the public (and, incidentally, higher wages for the worker), and a policy of ‘one firm one model’ will no doubt be adopted in the future by all the most progressive concerns in this country. By standardisation and concentration on one model, and by production in large quantities, motor cycles will be produced very much cheaper than ever they were in pre-war days; but until the cost of material comes down to a more normal level the full benefit of up-to-date quantity production methods will not be realised. Before long we may probably witness the amalgamation of a number of firms making a similar type of machine. Suppose, for example, that the Triumph, BSA, Rover, Sunbeam, Norton, and Singer companies joined forces and concentrated on the production of one model, each firm making component parts for, say, 50,000 machines. An attractive model could be produced to sell at 30 to 35 guineas, and the price would create the demand and enable these firms to dispose of a much larger number of machines collectively than ever they could hope to do individually…by these methods American competition could be met and defeated in most markets; and instead of our Colonies taking 90% of American-built machines, they would be glad to take 90% British.” Archie G Cocks, Clyno salesman and high-profile competition rider also had his say: “During my travels up and down the country in the past few months I have heard many motor cyclists voice their views on the type of machine which will be most popular in 1919. The majority of these riders are more or less of the same opinion as myself that is, that the only motor cycle worth riding in the future will be of the spring frame variety, preferably with an engine of about 8hp. The transmission must be all-chain, totally enclosed in substantial chain cases, which must be easily and quickly detachable, and, moreover, they must be as quickly and easily attached again. In the past, we have seen many chain cases which could be detached with ease in five minutes, but these same chain cases took at least five hours, plus five screwdrivers, to attach again, to say nothing about the enormous amount of unparliamentary language. This type of case must vanish for ever, as I am absolutely certain that the 1919 motor cyclist will have no use for it. Of course, there will always be a number of motor cyclists who will be unable to afford the above type of outfit, and for these riders a really efficient spring seat-pillar on the machine and a spring sidecar wheel will be demanded. After very many thousands of miles riding on outfits fitted with either a spring frame or a spring seat-pillar, I would never again ride an outfit without one or the other. There is one other fitment I feel sure will be demanded by a number of riders for several years to come, and that will be a really efficient paraffin vaporiser, as I am convinced that it will be a long time before petrol becomes really cheap again, if it ever does. At any rate, whatever the price of it is, paraffin will always be about half the price, and to the motor cyclist who has to consider his running expenses paraffin will always hold out attractions, provided it be properly vaporised. I for one shall continue to use paraffin as fuel until I find a fuel as good as petrol at the same price as paraffin.”

1919 CLYNO
From Mr John Duffy, AMIAE, Designer and Director of the Valveless Two-Stroke Engine Co.
“THERE ARE TWO FEATURES IN MOTOR CYCLE DESIGN which, to my mind, have not in the past received the recognition they merit. The first of these is the loop frame. For years now the conventional practice has been to make the engine part of the frame structure, in which position it helps to support the load in addition to propelling the machine. This is admittedly bad practice, and yet convention continues to override efficiency. The frame should be of a structure complete in itself and capable of supporting the load whether the engine is in position or not, and there is hardly a type of motor cycle, either two-stroke or four-stroke, which would not benefit by the adoption of this principle. Among the advantages of the loop frame are ease of assembly, high ground clearance (when used in conjunction with the outside flywheel), and an engine free from frame stress. This last is of particular importance on two-stroke machines, where the crank case joints require to be gas-tight. The second feature is the outside fly-wheel. The virtues of this over the usual type are so obvious as to require little emphasis from me. Accessible and adjustable big-end bearings, better acceleration, smaller crank cases, less weight, and cleaner engines are patent to anyone who gives this subject a thought. Why the outside flywheel should, almost without exception, be left to makers of flat twins and two-stroke engines is more than I can understand.”


From Mr AP Young, Chief Magneto Engineer, British Thomson-Houston Co.
“THE MOTOR CAR, MOTOR CYCLE, AND OTHER INDUSTRIES that depend on the use of a petrol motor, will never again be solely dependent on high-tension magnetos manufactured in Germany. This striking transformation has been brought about by the greatest war in history, and it is not a very happy reflection—but nevertheless true—that it required an international upheaval of such magnitude to secure this tremendous result. The invaluable experience gained during the war in the design and construction of aeroplane magnetos will be reflected in the designs that wiU appear during 1919. From my knowledge of what has been and is now being done I can say that these magnetos will be better than the German product, and they should prove themselves superior both mechanically and electrically.”

1919 BTH

From Mr Alec S Ross, Popular Clubman and Competitions Official.
“WHEN OUR ARMIES ARE FINALLY DEMOBILISED, doubtless thousands of young men who, before the war, were satisfied with a town existence and a sedentary life will want something more vigorous, exciting, and manly. Every one of these young men is a potential purchaser of a motor bicycle. The yearly output of motor cycles in this country increased from about 6,000 in 1908 to something like 60,000 in 1914, but even now I am convinced that we are only on the fringe of the motor cycle movement. Factories must be enlarged and the output increased a hundredfold. Prices must come down eventually, but makers will be ill-advised if they sacrifice quality to low price. The ultra-cheap and shoddy machine will alienate many possible enthusiasts and do much harm to the industry and the sport. Low prices must be the result of improved methods of manufacture and large output.”

1919 ROSS

From Mr ER Troward, of Rider Troward and Co, the Hampstead Motor Cycle Dealers.
“THERE IS SURELY ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT AND REFORM—more efficient service, better class second-hand goods, better overhauls, and better guarantees. Let us see that in setting our house in order we do not overlook the cleansing of the retail motor cycle trade. In pre-war days buying a second-hand motor vehicle was like buying a horse—one took an expert with one to avoid being ‘done’. I know nothing about clothes, but I do not take a clothing expert with me when I go to my tailor for a new suit, nor do you take an expert with you when you go shopping at Selfridges or any of the big stores. Therefore, let us see that the retail motor cycle dealer inspires confidence in his would-be purchasers, so that a novice may be able to buy anywhere without fear. The trade now has a very big future, and it is up to the trade to treat all customers well, and to give good workmanship and effectual guarantees, especially as regards second-hand goods, where guarantees now are mostly lacking.”


From Mr Geo Pettyt, Proprietor of Maudes’ Motor Mart.
“AS AN AGENT, THE MOST SOUND ADVICE I CAN GIVE to a prospective motor cyclist is to buy now. As events are progressing, there appears little doubt but that the man who leaves his order until the sun shines will be left without a machine, new or second-hand. During the year 1919 I think we shall see few startling models on offer, as most manufacturers are rightly keeping to the tried and trusted designs until they are free to supply something new which will, in, say, ten months’ time, need every test to which a maker can subject a machine. But 1920 will be an eye-opener to every serious motor cyclist. There will still be a few smaller manufacturers working on the old British principle of ‘individual output’—if I may use such an expression; and, provided these manufacturers turn their attention to a first-class product, their machines will still be in demand, since a number of buyers will always insist on some such special type of mount, even should the price be double that of a like machine manufactured on the quantity scale. There is little doubt but that the motor cycle is coming into its own as the cheapest form of locomotion known in this country for either one or two persons.”


From Mr Harry Bax, of Godfreys Ltd.
“THE TRADE OF A MOTOR CYCLE AGENT necessitates dealing in second-hand machines. This second-hand business—with all its possibilities for sharp practices—is certainly open to improvement for the credit of the trade and the protection of purchasers of second-hand machines. The buyer of a new machine relies on the guarantee of the maker; the purchaser of a second-hand machine on the guarantee of the agent—specific or implied. When, as in some cases, the value of this guarantee is limited to its advertising possibilities, the buyer suffers. But the agent can, and should, by actual examination of all working parts of every second-hand machine passing through his hands, make his guarantee of equal value to that of the manufacturer. He certainly cannot do it otherwise. In other words, it should be his business to reconstruct every second-hand machine so that his guarantee rests on a foundation of fact and not speculation. That something should be done to make it less easy for all dishonest agents to exploit the novice, all who have the interests of the trade at heart will admit. How it is to be done is one of the problems of reconstruction.”


From Mr George Brough, AMIAE, Trials Rider and Designer.
“I AM VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE PROSPECTS 1919 and the following years have in store for motor cyclists. Thousands of pounds’ worth of machinery will be diverted from the manufacture of all kinds of munitions of war to the production of motor cycles in large quantities. Scientific research has shown us how to reduce the weight of our engines, with an increase in power output. New and better shop methods assist standardisation. Concentration by one factory on one model will enable each individual firm to pay attention to the dozens of details which require attention before we can claim that our trusty bicycles are as free from trouble as are high-class cars. I am of the opinion that we shall soon see the exodus of the luxurious high-powered combination. I think the next show will confirm this. However, the sidecar enthusiast, the potterer, and the business rider will all be catered, for when Olympia next opens its doors, and the purely solo man who wants the fastest thing on wheels with complete equipage will find it will not be necessary to buy an over-engined machine weighing 150lb too much, because it happens to have been designed for sidecar work.”


From Mr Eric Williams, DCM, Winner of the Last Junior TT.
“I NOTICE, WITH SATISFACTION, THAT SOME MANUFACTURERS are taking up the American system of concentrating on one or two models, making parts standard and interchangeable throughout, so in future let us hope our spare parts will not want a lot of fitting, which was often the case pre-war. But why not take it further and make chief distributing agents or centres for large areas, say, six or eight, in the British Isles? These centres would do the whole business for their firm in this area in supplying new machines (appointing their own sub-agents), effecting repairs which would otherwise go to the manufacturers, and carry a large stock of spare parts, which could be despatched to private owner or sub-agent within a short time of the known requirements. Now, regarding competitions, one must admit that in 1914 in many of the trials it was as much an endurance test for the rider as for the machine. This now, when a lot of us have been through the ‘mill’ a little with the Boche, and our health not what it might be, makes us shudder at riding through what we did in pre-war days. If the ACU would take stock machines from the show windows and then put the trade riders on them, we should find results more interesting and useful with less rough riding, and the better standard machine would come out on top; also, it would be much more fair for the private owner competitor.”


From Mr HO Wood, TT Winner in 1913 on a Scott two-stroke.
“THE POPULARITY OF THE TWO-STROKE MACHINE has decreased considerably during the past few years, mainly owing to its absence from the ranks of machines used for war purposes, the chief reason being insufficient power. It is probable that the future will give us machines powerful enough even for the most exacting. To multiply its supporters the two-stroke must compare favourably with the four-stroke on the following points: reliability, prolonged efficiency, simplicity, accessibility, handiness, balance, acceleration, flexibility, cheapness, and consumption. It will be generally admitted that the best two-strokes do compare favourably with and even excel four-strokes in some respects, excepting in fuel economy. Manufacturers in the past have not given this item sufficient consideration, but no doubt they will now turn their attention in this direction.”

1919 WOOD

From Mr CG Pullin, Holder of the Senior Tourist Trophy.
“IN MY OPINION, POST-WAR PLANS OF THE MAJORITY of engineering firms had not properly matured at the signing of the Armistice, and it will be well into the summer months before the large production schemes, now possible with the present machine tool equipment and factory extensions, get into full swing. Labour should present no difficulty, wages are likely to be high, and also raw materials; but on a substantial output and correct design these should not stand in the way of a good, reliable, and cheap machine. The greatest question, to my mind, that is not yet settled, is the design. I have recently inspected numerous drawings of machines now in the course of construction, but although being brimful of novelties and fitted with super-efficient engines, all tend towards complication. The man in the street must have simplicity. I expect to see great developments in two-stroke designs, and if only designers will throw off the cloak of convention and realise that a two-stroke, three-port engine can be equipped with additional valves and made to operate economically without complications, a huge field awaits their product. Turning to gears, an infinitely variable gear of the hydraulic type is clearly indicated, splendid results now being obtained from comparatively small units, but some time will elapse before these can be produced to meet the requirements of motor cyclists. In the meantime, the best compromise seems to be the epicyclic type, all gears being in mesh and fool-proof in operation. The finality in frame design has yet to be reached, but pressed steel construction is likely. to come forward.”


From Mr Laurence H Cade, the London Motor Cyclist-Journalist.
“THE FUTURE MUST INEVITABLY BE VEILED IN OBSCURITY, but the veil is rosy-hued, tinted from the glow of what lies beyond. Nineteen-nineteen is an alliterative date, easy of remembrance, and it will be a year to remember. It will be the morning of time in the development of a new democracy of the road, for motor cycling will indubitably appeal to the masses as it has never done before. There will be tens of thousands of initiates of both sexes, and they have to be taught: not taught to drive, but taught the potentialities and the limitations of the types. There will be a tendency, born of the magnificent war services of the motor cycle, to expect too much. We shall see mechanical Shetland ponies hauling pantechnicon-like sidecars, unless—well, unless care is devoted to the education of the newcomers. As an industry, a sport, and a pastime there is a wonderful future ahead of us.”

1919 CADE

From Mr Frank Whitworth, Prominent in the Birmingham Retail Trade, Popular Clubman, and Successful Competition Rider.
“THE POSSIBILITIES SEEM ALMOST BOUNDLESS. Why should not everyone in Great Britain have a motor bicycle—everyone between, say, the age of nine and ninety? This would enable some decent-size outputs and some real quantity production. Yes, enormous expansion in quantity is the first probability that strikes one in relation to the future of motor cycling, though perhaps not to quite the extent I have suggested. The type is no more fixed to-day than it was in the first and false boom of 1904, nor in the second and genuine boom of 1910. Producers and users were, in those days, uncertain and wavering between different types of engines, transmissions, and frames, and to-day they are still as doubting and undecided. Indeed, the manufacturers are, apparently, so far as the bulk of them are concerned, feeling less decided in their steps to-day than they were in 1910…The general opinion seemed then to have settled on the 500cc single-cylinder as the desideratum of the motor cyclist…whereas the older motor cycle firms mostly sprang from pedal cycle origin, some of these are coming from the aeroplane industry, and they approach the subject of motor cycle design from an entirely new standpoint. Their constructive ideas begin with the engine, and then work through to the suitable transmission, frame, etc; the older school started with the bicycle, and the engine came later for adaptation to the bicycle. With the two schools competing we shall get some improved results from both, particularly in the direction of decreasing weight whilst maintaining power.”



From Mr Hugh Mason, Winner of the 1913 Junior TT.
“FOR FOUR YEARS THE EVER-INCREASING DEMAND for munitions has gradually organised rapid, accurate, and massed productive methods which were practically unknown before the war. This and the testing and treating of material, together with the extremely fine limits of tolerance in the gauging and inspection departments, must surely prove extremely beneficial and a lasting education to those called upon to resume the manufacture of motor cycles…machines may not be cheap in one way, but the motor cyclist will get better value for money than ever before, as a machine manufactured upon up-to-date methods necessitates that all parts must be interchangeable to the last degree. Again, all working parts, including nuts, etc, must be hardened, and suitable set spanners supplied; also larger tyres, more efficient mudguarding, dynamo lighting, automatic and semi-automatic lubrication will be required, and the whole machine made generally more durable throughout. I am of the opinion that fewer models will be manufactured, possibly only two, viz, lightweight solo and sidecar combination. The latter calls for the more improvement, inasmuch as drivers will require much more protection than formerly, or they may quickly become light car owners. Open-frame ladies’ machines will not be demanded, as the fair sex, having responded to the nation’s call, have consequently become more sporting; and, suitably clad, they will prefer the standard and more rigid type of frame, particularly as this standpoint will enable them to use any make or model, solo or sidecar, which comes their way.”

1919 MASON

From Mr Fred Dover, the Coast Rider, of Sheffield.
“DURING THE LAST THREE YEARS I HAVE BEEN DRIVING an American 7hp twin three-speed countershaft model and have always been able, up to the last few months, to get any part I required. Although the machine has its drawbacks, I have every reason to be well satisfied with it. I consider that unless manufacturers pay great attention to working on standard lines, and to secure the easy purchase of spare parts (and the said spares to fit when secured), they will be left behind. With regard to future competitions, I think from a sporting point of view they will be uninteresting, because the present-day machine and rider can do anything in the way of running to time and climbing hills, and, in my opinion, the popularity of the old events was due to the sporting element. What the machine of the future will be depends upon the requirements of the rider. For dodging about town on pleasure or business without luggage, it seems to me a 2½hp two-stroke two-speed counter-shaft model fills the bill. For solo distance riding with a small amount of luggage and a sidecar attached occasionally, a 3½hp single three-speed countershaft chain-cum-belt is my fancy. For touring with passenger and luggage for two, I want a 7hp three-speed countershaft, 28in wheels, 3in tyres, all-chain jigger; spring frames on all models. Manufacturers, in their own interests, should do all they can to improve and perfect the ‘sundry’ side of motor cycling, including perfect lighting arrangements, cheap fuel, and prompt attention to spares.”

1919 DOVER

From Mr Harold Weldon, Hon Secretary, Nottingham &DMCC.
“HOWEVER KEEN WE MAY BE ON BRITISH MOTOR CYCLES, I think we must admit that in design our best makes are not progressing as they should. Compare any British car with the best motor cycle made, and it becomes evident at once what a long way behind is the motor cycle. Why should it be? We did not wait for the Americans to show us how to fit four-cylinder engines in our cars; why should we wait for them to show that they are desirable in motor cycles? Why did we let them get on the market with all-chain drives, what time we were still hanging on to belts? Not because American engineers are more clever than ours. No! Then it must be our manufacturers who are to blame. If we in England can produce the finest cars in the world, why cannot we produce the finest motor cycles? Is there any reason why we should not have four-cylinder, three-speed, spring-frame, detachable wheeled machines, with automatic carburetter and lubrication the same as we expect and get on any car? I plump for four cylinders, because it has been proved in the car world that the four makes a better all-round car than does a twin engine; it is a better wearing car, and no more trouble to keep in order. The same thing will happen with motor cycles, and, although I believe in British goods for Britons, I submit that there is no sweeter running motor cycle made than the American Henderson. Our V-twins will not bear comparison with it either for smooth running or for life of bearings—big-ends especially. A big, easy compression, long-stroke flat twin might run it close, but there isn’t one. Our frames, with one or two exceptions, are the same as they were when I first started riding in 1908. Spring frames we must have. Rigid frames are no use to our cousins in the Colonies, and they would like to use British machines if possible…I am now running a Morgan and an 8hp Zenith, and have nothing but praise for both of them.”


From Lt Francis A McNab, RNVR, of Brooklands Fame.
“MAY I, IN VIEW OF THE TENDENCY OF MODERN DESIGNERS to increase both cost and complication (ie, four-speed gears, spring frames, kick-starters, clutches, extra large and expensive tyres, etc), make a plea for a sporting, simple, and moderate-priced type of machine? From personal experience I feel convinced that this constitutes the kind of machine that will appeal to a large section of service men on their return to civil life. The specifications of the type of motor bicycle I have in view would be somewhat on the following lines: engine, 5O0cc, single-cylinder, with decompressor. A simple, light countershaft two-speed gearbox, with chain-cum-belt drive. No clutch or kick starter, the decompressor on a well-tuned engine eliminating the necessity for these. The gear change should be foot-operated, leaving both hands free for starting and control. I also maintain that the fast and handy type, easy to keep in tip-top tune (and, incidentally quite, capable of taking a light sidecar on any ordinary road) is what the really sporting rider wants. We are none of us likely to be blessed with too much £ s d for some time to come; therefore, its price should make this machine the choice of many.”

1919 MCNAB