1927

Edward Turner took his 350cc cammy single to Ariel. Jack Sangster and Val Page weren’t interested but Turner also showed them a sketch of his dream bike: an ohc square-four. They hired him.

The TT got off to a grim start when Archie Birkin was killed during practice – he hit a wall trying to avoid a fish van. From then on the roads were closed for TT practice.

Walter Moore joined Norton following spells with Douglas and ABC. He helped develop the ohv Model 18 but is best remembered for the ohc CS1. Stanley Woods was hot favourite to win the Senior TT on the new model. He led for four laps, setting a lap record, before dropping out with mechanical problems, but Alec Bennett won on another CS1. Runner-up was Jimmy Guthrie on a New Hudson with a Triumph in third spot ridden by Tom Simister (totally irrelevant, but change a character and wouldn’t Tom Sinister be a great name for a character in a Restoration farce?).

Harold Willis of Velocette developed a positive-stop foot-operated gearchange for the company’s cammy racers.

Bikes were sprouting oil tanks as dry-sump lubrication became more common.

Wal Handley led the Junior TT till halfway round the last lap when his Blackburne-engined Rex-Acme broke down. Freddie Dixon won on an HRD, ahead of Harold Willis (Velocette) and Jimmy Simpson (AJS). Handley had better luck in the Lightweight, winning after a great scrap with Alec Bennett and his OK-Supreme. Having set a lap record Bennett dropped out. L Archangeli became the first Italian on the TT podium, finishing 2nd on his Guzzi ahead of CT Ashby’s OK Supreme. .

Always the showman, George Brough attracted a lot of attention with a 996cc V-four. Only one was built and George wanted £250 for it, compared with £46 for a sporty four-valve Rudge.

British motorcycle exports were worth some £3 million. Judging by the cost of the BruffSup and the Rudge that would equate to about £300m today.

The new cammy Nortons went on to win the 500 class in the French, Dutch and Swiss GPs; cammy Ajays led the 350s in the Belgian, Swiss and German GPs; a cammy Velo did likewise at the French. An ohv Sunbeam headed the 500s in Germany, beating BMW on its home ground.

A 250cc P&M Panthette braved storms to cover 60 miles in an hour at Brooklands.

Streetlights had been around for centuries; now the government set a national standard based, logically enough, on “uniform illumination of road surfaces”. The first automatic traffic lights were installed, in Wolverhampton and Leeds; the first white lines  appeared as road dividers.

Windhoff, which made 500cc watercooled twostrokes, launched a short-stroke 748cc oil-cooled ohc four with shaft drive. It was one more high-spec, high-priced thoroughbred that failed to find a market. Windhoff switched to utility twostrokes powered by Villiers engines it made under licence.

Neander was another short-lived but innovative German marque, most notable for its lightweight, triangulated duralumin frames. It initially used Villiers engines but graduated to big ohv V-twins from JAP and MAG.

A clutch of pretty ohv and ohc 175s appeared in Italy from the likes of Agusta, Benelli, Miller, Ladetto & Blatto, FVL, Gazzi, Giacomasso and Piana.

NUT’s big fourstroke V-twins were joined by a Villiers-powered 172cc twostroke; Abingdon King Dick made its own 173cc fourstroke; and, decades before the arrival of the ubiquitous Bantam, BSA launched a 174cc twostroke.

Just to remind the world that France could still produce exciting motorcycles, Koehler-Escoffier, having made pretty humdrum bikes since 1912, came up with a 996cc ohc V-twin racer. C’est magnifique!

This was the year of the saddle tank, and no other innovation made bikes look ‘as ‘modern’ – veteran bikes are still referred to as flat-tankers. A few marques got in early; others, including AJS, Douglas and Sunbeam, were a little behind the pack. But within a year saddle tanks were all but universal.

NSU launched sv and ohv unit-construction engine/gearbox units with a modular design.

A Norton riden by Bert Denley won The Motor Cycle prize for the first 500 to cover 100 miles inside an hour. Soon afterwards Freddie Dixon matched him on a BruffSup combo.

The German Nurburgring opened for business.

The Blue ‘Un launched a campaign to develop ‘Everyman’ motorcycles for non-enthusiasts: easy to start and ride, economical, clean to ride in everyday clothes (often with enclosed engines) and often with weather protection.

As an alternative to tradesmen’s outfits the French used ‘triporteurs’ with two wheels up front.

The Middlesbrough Club, which had invented the game of motorcycle football, played the Coventry Aces in the first cup final (at Headingley). They lost.

The Auto Cycle Union selected Marjorie Cottle, Louise Mclean and Edyth Foley to join the British contingent in the ISDT.

With all forms of motorcycle competition banned from mainland British roads a growing number of riders were migrating to dirt, sand and grasstracks. And daredevil Aussie speedway aces arrived in the old country to show the pommies how to ride sideways on shale. Flat-twin Douglases with their low centre of gravity were initially dominant though they were soon challenged by Rudge, and JAP-powered machines.

BSA offered the 493c ohv ‘sloper’ (though unlike the Panther, it retained a downtube). The Sloper was a great succes, as was the twon-port ohv single Model 90, complete with Sunbeam’s legendary enginering and finish.

In Russia Izh launched a 1,200cc transverse V-twin featuring a pressed-steel frame incorporating a silencer.