Pioneer manufacturer James Lansdowne ‘Pa’ Norton died, aged 56.
The Senior TT was won by Howard Davies on his JAP-engined HRD ahead of a new model AJS and the ohv Norton. Davies nearly did the Senior-Junior double but was beaten into second place in the Junior by Wal Hanley’s Blackburne-engined Rex Acme (AJS-mounted Jimmy Simpson was third; he also recorded the first TT lap at over 60mph).
Having broken his run of bad luck Handley also won the Ultra-Lightweight TT for Rex Acme. He was also leading the Lightweight race, and set a new lap record, before retiring, leaving the Twemlow brothers to take 1st and 3rd for New Imperial, bracketing Paddy Johnson’s Cotton.
Once again Douglas took Sidecar TT honours, ahead of two Nortons.
CF Temple was back on the record trail, covering 100 miles in an hour on a 995cc OEC-Temple-Anzani on the Montlhery banked circuit. OEC also came up with the ohv 498c Atlanta featuring a bevelled-shaft camshaft drive.
King Albert of Belgium took delivery of his fifth bike, a Jeecy-Vea, which was Belgian built but powered by a British Coventry-Victor engine.
The Belgian GP was postponed by red tape. The Belgian Motor Cycle Federation banned FN for an alleged rule breach in a previous event. But FN took the Federation to court and a judge said they could race. The Federation stood its ground and simply postponed the race, while agreeing to pay the British contingent’s hotel bills and fares. To allow the race to continue FN stood down. Bennett’s Norton won the 500cc class, Wal Handley won the 350cc class for Rex Acme and Porter’s New Gerrard did it again in the 250cc class. But AJS teamster Jack Hollowell was killed when he crashed into an iron gate post.
More humiliation for the French in their GP with AJS, Norton and Douglas 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 500cc class ahead of the Peugeot vertical twins. AJS were 1st and 2nd in the 350cc race, with Jack Stevens ahead of his team-mate Jack Hollowell. Stevens sportingly insisted that he had been credited with a lap too many and Hollowell had won but the French officials sniffily refused to accept this so the result stood.
The Grand Prix des Nations at Monza was run in foul weather which forced a number of retirements. Tazio Nuvolari, later to become a legendary car driver, won the 350cc class for Bianchi, followed home by two more Bianchis. The 500cc race was won by a GR, an ohv JAP-engined special riden by Count Mario Revelli, ahead of a Moto Guzzi. Revelli’s brother, Count Gino, started building GR road bikes but went under in 1926. The 250cc class, normally an Italian shoe-in, went to Jock Porter’s potent New Gerrard by a six-minute margin.
Elsewhere British bikes continued to make their mark on the Continental circus. The Spanish Three-Hour 500cc race was won by a Spaniard, but he was riding a Douglas; Sunbeam riders Hungarian TTs; while CT Ashby won the 500cc German TT for Panther.
Ulsterman Joe Craig, who would earn an awesome rep as a Norton tuner, won the 500cc clas of the Ulster Grand Prix for Norton. Royal Enfield took 350cc honours and Cotton won the 250cc class.
Following Britain’s 1924 victory the ISDT crossed the Channel where, on a tough course in the South-West, the Brits did it again with a James, New Hudson and AJS-mounted trio finishing ahead of teams from Germany, Norway and the Netherlands.
Marjorie Cottle, Louise Mclean and Edyth Foley were the British B squad for the ISDT. The gels done good, winning gold medals all round.
A growing number of machines were appearing with four-speed transmissions. Straight-tube forks, notably Brampton and Webb, were rapidly replacing curved fork legs; electric lights were superseding gas; drum brakes were driving out the old bicycle-style rim brakes.
George Brough offered the option of spring frames.
Bohmerland began making bikes in Czechoslovakia, just one of many marques that were born in the twenties and died away in the thirties. But it deserves a place in the motorcycle hall of fame for being a three-seater, and for the fact that you can’t see one without smiling. The 598cc ohv Liebisch one-lunger was too tall for a conventional saddle tank so the fuel lived in cylinders hung on each side of the rear wheel (the third seat could be attached to the rack). Shorter-wheelbase models were used for racing; sadly no-one ever staged a Bohmerland race for teams of three.
Britain produced 120,000 motorcycles, compared with 55,980 in Germany and 45,000 in the USA. British registrations reached 581,222 by year’s end; motorcycle exports totalled £2,870,534.
The launch of Beeza’s cut-price ’round-tank’ model the previous year ignited a price war with Matchless and Raleigh in the 250cc class.
Douglas also got in on the act with the cheap-as-chips 350 flat twin EW.
Triumph’s 500cc sv Model P undercut the opposition with a retail price below £42 17s 6d. It caused a sensation and production hit 1,000 a week. However, Triumph’s reputation was tarnished by the P’s low quality and design flaws. About 20,000 were produced before the improved Mk II restored public confidence in the marque.
As the major players cut prices to the bone smaller marques went to the wall. The second half of of decade would mark the end of the line for BAT, Brady, Beardmore Precision, Hazlewood, Hobart, Martinsyde and McKenzie. Connaught and Quadrant were in their final decline; Clyno, Lea Francis and Rover dropped bikes in favour of cars.
An enthusiast named Edward Turner designed and built an ohc 348cc motorcycle which attracted favourable coverage in the Blue ‘Un.
Road racing had been banished to the Island and Ulster, but sprints and hillclimbs on closed roads were attracting big crowds until the death of a spectator at Kop Hill, led to a nationwide ban.
Ariel recruited chief engineer Val Page from JAP.
Japan offered subsidies to domestic made vehicles with military applications. The Murata Iron Works and Mazda made unsuccessful Harley clones but the Japanese army was also importing Harleys.
By year’s end about 190 miles of arterial roads had been built in Britain, including the first dual-carriageway, the Kingston Bypass, which would be a favourite with the ton-up boys decades later.
The first Dutch TT was staged at Assen.
Work started on the 17.6-mile Nurburgring; the first German Grand Prix was held.
Alfred Büchi built a four- stroke engine featuring a turbocharger.
To mark the 30th anniversay of The Emancipation Run (come on, it was only 40 pages ago) veteran bikes (and cars) headed for the coast, as they have ever since.
In the USA the American Motorcyclist ssociation took over the organisation of motorcycle sport from the ailing Federation of American Motorcyclists. But the AMA would not affiliate to the FIM for nearly 50 years.