IXION’S USE OF ENGLISH, bless his memory, is a delight. Here he is responding to a correspondent working far afield and yearning for home comforts: “For his next place of exile he plans to choose a land which manufactures its own motor cycles, instead of importing them across parasangs of sea and railway…[the parasang, of course, was an ancient Persian measure of length–about 3.25 miles–which came down to us via classical Greek usage, and Ixion, of course, was a classics scholar]…He does not mind London traffic, as the busmen, and most of the others, are such superb drivers. But his spine waves in incessant cold shivers on the Brighton road at weekends.” Another correspondent was simply brassic or, as Ixion might have said, in a state of penury: “He has no machine and at the moment sees no chance of getting one. Makes one inclined to put one’s snout in the air and howl like a dog, doesn’t it? Well, he is only 23, and one never knows what will happen. I wasn’t much younger when my father caught me reading one of those naive publications which represented the peak of the motor press at that date. He demanded angrily why I was wasting my time and money on such rubbish: I should never have a motor of any sort, and I should be well advised to read something useful. I have made a living out of motoring ever since, and ridden many hundreds of petrol-driven objects on land and water, and upstairs as well. So here’s hoping for you, too, Sandy. Perhaps the Government will one day license sweepstakes, and then somebody is sure to start raffling super fours for threepenny tickets.”

Zenith was relaunched by London-based Writer Motor and Cycle Works, using JAP engines from 350-750cc.

ALTHOUGH THE MINIMUM RIDING AGE had risen from 14 to 16, anyone under 16 who had held a licence for more than six months was allowed to keep it. Every motorcyclist was required to take out third-party insurance and pillion riders would no longer be allowed to ride side saddle. Talking of pillioneering…


“THE CHAOS WHICH EXISTS at the present time in regard to pillion seats has already been dealt with at some length by The Motor Cycle. Briefly, the facts are these: The Road Traffic Act specifies that a pillion rider must sit astride ‘upon a proper seat securely fixed to the cycle behind the driver’s seat’. No definition is given as to the exact meaning of ‘proper seat ‘ or ‘securely fixed’, and there is no way in which any particular type or make of seat can be ‘officially’ approved as conforming to the Act. The whole matter is left to the discretion of the courts, and here again decisions may vary; the police in one area may take exception to a type of seat which will be considered altogether proper in another part of the country. But the outlook is by no means as black as it would at first appear. For as long as the rider has a seat designed expressly for pillion riding, and is satisfied in his own mind that it is properly fitted, he has just as good a chance (better, in fact) of proving to police or bench that his seat. is a ‘proper’ one and securely fixed, as the police have of proving that it is not. In addition to this, almost all the leading pillion manufacturers have now stated definitely that their seats, when properly fitted, confirm to the requirements of the Act, and users of their seats are asked to communicate with them should they at any time be summoned on that account.” Fortunately there was no lack of flapper brackets from which to choose.

L-R: “When folded back this Mosely pillion seat not only keeps itself dry, but also the motor cyclist’s saddle. The ‘Safeway’ attachment for fixing an ordinary saddle to the carrier; it is made by Cundles. The Terry pillion is built on Terry spring-saddle lines. The Weathershields seat has a very secure method of attachment to the mudguard.”
“A neat appearance is a feature of the Halford mudguard seat. The Atlas pillion consists of a well-padded seat mounted on coil springs. A lightning fastener attachment gives quick access to the inflator-valve of the P&H pneumatic seat. On a Dunlop seat the saddle is composed of a resilient composition: coil springs do the rest.”
A saddle-type pillion seat at a very low price—one of the James Grose models. Real hide forms a stout covering for this well-padded Ashby sports pillion seat. The Sandham sports seat is stuffed with a mixture of wool, hair and fibre. A combination of air, springs and sponge rubber for the ‘padding’ in the Saxess seat.”

WHEN A CLUB HAS its annual dance, the affair is usually well supported and a great success; and when twenty-three clubs get together and hold one big fancy-drew ball—well, it takes Covent -Garden Opera House to hold all the.dancers, and even then it’s a tight squeeze. The Combined Motor Clubs’ Ball, held last Saturday at this famous venue, in aid of the Greater London Fund for the Blind, was a positive 2,000cc record-breaker among dances. There were two cabaret shows, Miss Violet Lorraine to present the prizes for the best fancy dresses, Miss Ivy Tresmand and Mr Gene Gerrard to make the draw in the charity raffle, and Herman Darewski’s and Alan Green’s bands. The clubs hung out banners in front of their private boxes, reminding one of the hotels on Douglas front at TT-time. It was a good show, and to judge by the huge attendance, the charity should benefit considerably. Mr AE Cooke, of the London MC, deserves praise for the heavy work he put in to organise the affair.”

THE FIRST EDITION OF The Highway Code was distributed free to every household in the land so, in theory, pedestrians and motorists alike would know and, presumably, follow the rules of the road. Fat chance.

“IN CONVERSATION WITH an agent in a large provincial town recently I learned that one of the first effects of the new Road Traffic Act in his district was to interfere with its own working. In this town there had been for some time past a form of flying squad, or police road patrols mounted on motor cycles; but to meet the requirements of the Act, this force was to be strengthened as well as tuned-up in general efficiency. A number of really hot-stuff solos had, therefore, been ordered through this agent for delivery all ready for the road on January 1st. Intending to license the machines in the usual way, the agent made the interesting discovery on December 31st that several of the prospective riders did not possess the necessary insurance certificates! The mighty mechanism of the Law, therefore, said: ‘No insurance, no licences,’ and some rattier crestfallen traffic patrols thus began their new duties on foot!”

LOCAL SPEED LIMITS still applied but following the withdrawal of the national 20mph speed limit it was theoretically OK to go as fast as you dared on the open road. To prevent chaos offences of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving were introduced, empowering the police to prosecute motoring malefactors in Police Courts. The new Pedestrian’s League called for all motorcycles to be banned and a national speed limit to be reintroduced and reduced to 12mph, falling to 6mph in towns. Responding to a police crackdown on ‘technical offences’, a correspondent in the Yorkshire Evening News warned motorcyclists: “Ride clear of the West Riding if you value a clean slate. It is no place for innocents.”

“ONE OF THE MORE POPULAR grumbles emanating from the prospective purchaser to-day is that in many cases he is unable to try out his selections on the road. He must, consequently, either trust in the knowledge that all machines are good machines, or else await a published road test. Obviously, even if it were desirable, it is impossible for a works to organise a colossal test run for everybody, but Ariels did the next best thing a short time ago. Club secretaries from all over the country were invited to a lunch preceded by a tour round the works and followed by a ‘try-out’ of the varied Ariel models. This firm can always be relied upon to do things well, and the guests must have returned to their native heaths with much useful knowledge and some rosy recollections!”


NO MACHINE IS BETTER KNOWN the world of motor cycle sport than the Norton. Right from the earliest days this make of machine has enjoyed a reputation which has been maintained in the face of fierce competition. A feature of the Norton machines has always been that speed and reliability have been combined remarkably successfully. When the Norton name is mentioned, the motor cyclist instinctively thinks of speed, but it should not he assumed that this is the only point the makers bear in mind. For instance, the 490cc two-port machine is produced not only as a fast mount but as one that will fulfil all be conditions likely to he encountered in every kind of road work. A road test of this model places the rider in a position to be able to answer many of the questions that may be asked by an interested person. Is it a touring machine? Yes. Is it suitable for trials work? Yes. Can it be used for racing? Suitably tuned and stripped. yes. Does it handle well in traffic? Yes. The answers given to all these questions may lead the reader to believe that here is the ideal machine; and without exaggeration, it can be said that it is the ideal machine for many people. It performs a variety of tasks in an exemplary manner, and there are but few faults worth remarking upon. The recent cold weather has provided the worst possible conditions under which to try the engine-starting. So severe was the frost during the test that the oil in the gear box reached a consistency that prevented a quick return of the kick-starter pedal to the normal position until the box has warmed up. Yet the engine remained free, so that it could be spun freely, and a response was forthcoming at the third kick. A noticeable point was that the engine did not often kick back, so that almost full advance could be used when attempting to start. In starting, it was found important to use the throttle carefully; the engine seemed not to mind flooding, but it objected to anything more than the merest opening of the throttle slide until it was on the move. Idling was good, though not phenomenal, when the engine was cold. When warm, it was well up to stelae, and would corn. (site with that of most average, and would compare with that of most side-valve engines. Mechanical noise was not in any way pronounced if piston slap be excepted. This was rather noticeable for the first mile or two, but disappeared as the temperature of the engine rose. The valve gear was on the quiet side, and remained so over the length of the test, and remained so over the length of the test—about 600 miles. No adjustment of the tappets was carried out at all, and the clearances remained correct throughout the test. A source of mechanical noise may sometimes be found in the gear box of a machine, but the Norton did not offend in this respect. All the gears were quiet, and it was impossible to detect ringing or hum at any time. Chain noise, also, was practically non-existent. Both chains stretched a little in the first 150 miles; but after adjustment—a fifteen-minute job—no further stretch developed. The twin silencers were well up to their work, and cut exhaust noise down to a minimum. It can truthfully be stated that, even on full throttle, the exhaust note had nothing offensive about it, and the rider never felt that the public was being annoyed. Norton have paid considerable attention to this matter in recent years, and their 1931 silencing system certainly does not lag behind the times. Until a rider comes across a particularly stiff clutch he does

“The controls of the Norton.”

not realise how often the lever is operated; and then he most earnestly covets a light clutch. It will be sufficient to say that the test of the Norton did not give rise to any such thought, for the clutch was a light one, and it took up the drive as a clutch should. In changing gear a slight difficulty—and an unusual one—was occasionally experienced in engaging top gear. There was no noticeable clutch-drag, but the engine speed had to be judged nicely if a certain, quick change was to be made. The other changes were perfectly simple, and the lever could be flicked from one position to the other with the utmost ease. With the engine at its proper working temperature, the flexibility on top gear was very good indeed. At first there was a little harshness in the transmission, but this wore away as the test proceeded, and eventually it was found possible to travel on the level on top gear at about 10mph without snatch. Certainly, there was no need to reach a high road speed before changing up into top, unless the rider was in a definite hurry. This was found particularly useful in town work. If an engine is badly balanced, the fault will surely be detected at some part of its speed range. On several occasions the Norton throttle was moved through its entire range, but the only noticeable difference was the increase in road speed. Vibration was never felt, even momentarily, and the smoothness of the engine was a point that added greatly to the feeling of comfort when travelling at high speed on long runs. Before testing for all-out speed it is desirable to know something about the machine. True, its behaviour at really high speed may differ from its low-speed manners, but a rider can generally tell ‘by the fee of things’ what to expect. Right from the outset, the steering was perfect. Heavy traffic proved the Norton’s controllability at crawling pace, and by the time a mile had been covered all trace of strangeness had gone. Almost immediately a run of 160 miles was undertaken, mostly on main roads, but with about 20 miles of rather rough secondary roads. All the roads were damp and unusually greasy, but no difficulty was experienced in averaging just short of 35mph, in spite of the fact that the entire run was done in the dark. One fault only came to light during this trip, namely, that there was too much up-and-down movement of the front forks, which bottomed’ on the return. An adjustment was made to the shock absorbers, however, and better results were obtained. The back wheel sat on the road well, and there was no tail-wagging. The same trip was done on two further occasions, and the fuel consumption worked out at approximately 95mpg, a remarkable figure, due, no doubt to the fact that the engine was working all the time well within its limits, and was scarcely ever extended. Oil was used at an almost unmeasurable rate, the mileage per gallon being more than 2,500, and probably over 3,000. Acceleration was what is expected from a Norton, that is, exceptionally lively and smooth, with no ‘flat spots’ in the carburation. Maximum speed was judged to be in the region of 80mph. The rear brake pedal comes just in front of, and below, the left footrest, in an ideal position for operation by the toe. Very little pressure was needed in order to transmit full braking power, and retardation was positive, sensitive and smooth. The front brake was equally effective, and either brake would stop the machine on a gradient of 1 in 6 from a coasting speed of about 20mph. A good machine, and worthy of its makers’ reputation, which it can only enhance.”

“The two-port Norton has a performance which does not belie its appearance.”

“ONE OF THE MORE POPULAR grumbles emanating from the prospective purchaser to-day is that in many cases he is unable to try out his selections on the road. He must, consequently, either trust in the knowledge that all machines are good machines, or else await a published road test. Obviously, even if it were desirable, it is impossible for a works to organise a colossal test run for everybody, but Ariels did the next best thing a short time ago. Club secretaries from all over the country were invited to a lunch preceded by a tour round the works and followed by a ‘try-out’ of the varied Ariel models. This firm can always be relied upon to do things well, and the guests must have returned to their native heaths with much useful knowledge and some rosy recollections!”

FRANCE ALLOWED ‘VELOMOTEURS’ (powered bicycles) to be used without roadtax or even registration. More than 20 factories were soon churning them out; production hit 35,000 a year. They did 25mph/120mpg and were light enough to be ‘girl-handleable’. But one carried a 14-stone rider up Shap Fell, with a little LPA near the top.

GERMANY EXTENDED motor cycle road-tax exemption up to 200cc.

THE BRITISH  INDUSTRY lobbied the government to follow suit and the possibility of road-tax exemption for lightweights led to a surge in demand for the 98cc Villiers Midget two-stroke which had previously primarily powered lawnmowers. Sun, Dot, Wolf and Coventry-Eagle fitted Midgets as did Triumph. However, presumably embarrassed by its venture into the utility market, Triumph sold its tiddler under the Gloria trademark which it had previously used for bicycles.

THE SUNBEAM MCC’s Pioneer Run was restricted to bikes made before 31 December 1909; nowadays it’s 1914.

Burman had been supplying four-speed boxes for competition bikes for some time; now they became readily available for roadsters. My beloved Panther has one, though at the time of writing 4th gear’s on strike.

FROM A FULL-PAGE AD in the trade press: “Matchless Motorcycles (Colliers Ltd) beg to announce that they have been favoured by a contract from the War Office to supply a considerable number of Matchless ‘Silver Arrow’ motorcycles for Army purposes. This contract has been placed after 15 months of the most strenuous testing to which any motorcycle can be subjected.” Matchless also supplied the London Mobile Police with big-twin X/3 combos.

AN RAC GUIDE (as patrolmen were known) leapt into action when he spotted a bolting horse dragging a milk float along the Great North Road near Grantham at a full gallop. He gave chase on his motor cycle, managed to take hold of its bridle and kept the horse to the left of the road for more than half a mile, avoiding oncoming traffic, before bringing it to a halt and handing the uninjured beast back to its owner, who had followed in a car.

THE INDUSTRY DESPERATELY needed a boost—Dot was in such dire straits that salesmen was flogging handfuls of tiddlers to dealers off the back of a trailer to pay the company’s weekly wage bill. Ironically, its 98cc Special was one of the best of the new breed, sporting a saddle tank and electric lights as standard.

THE ACU ASKED the press to refer to speedway as speedway, rather than dirt track.

ENCOURAGING RIDERS TO EXPLORE the Continent, The Motor Cycle’s Wharfedale reassured enthusiasts: “Food is varied and cheap. So are wines and cigarettes. Essentials, in fact, are low in cost…” Anyone wanting to ride overseas had to join the AA or RAC and take a special test before being issued with an international licence. And in those pre-MoT days the bike had to pass a roadworthiness test too.

IN SOUTH LONDON the Mobile Police were prosecuting riders of leaky exhausts—a trace of soot at a joint was enough evidence to attract a fine. One unfortunate rider stopped on Clapham Common was warned that a slack exhaust tappet made his bike “excessively noisy”.

AUTOMATIC ‘ROBOT’ traffic lights were in use in more than 120 towns in England and Wales.

THERE WERE 3,370 MOTOR CYCLES in Ceylon (which we now have to call Sri Lanka); all but 34 of them were made in Britain.

ALL VEHICLES BUILT after 1 June had to have springs between the wheels and the frame – except for mobile cranes and motor cycles.

THE TIMES PUBLISHED a series of letters suggesting a more elegant term for passengers than ‘pillion riders’ Popular choices included ‘pillionettes’ and ‘pillionaires’.

DURING AUGUST MOTOR CYCLE and component imports were valued at exactly £688. Exports were worth £80,386.

A 196CC VILLIERS TWO-STROKE converted to run on diesel was displayed at the Shipping and Engineering exhibition in Olympia. A major advantage of the conversion was that diesel cost less than petrol…

Pioneering sidecar manufacturer Mills-Fulford came up with some new models including the Junior and (right) the Super-Sports.

A GERMAN ENGINEER DESIGNED a hydraulic torque converter and fitted it to a 500cc ohv Horex. Replacing the clutch and gearbox, the converter was said to offer improved smoothness and acceleration.

PHIL IRVING moved from Velocette to Vincent-HRD.

“SIX BARROW MOTOR cyclists have been fined for not having ‘proper pillion seats’ when carrying a passenger. The chairman of the Bench emphasised that the passengers were liable to be fined for aiding and abetting.”

“A PENRITH MOTOR CYCLIS, stopped by the police for carrying a passenger on the saddle while he himself rode on the tank, said that he knew he was required to have a seat for a pillion passenger, but pleaded that his passenger was not a pillion passenger, since he was siting on the saddle!”

“AFTER ‘CUTTING IN’ COMES ‘creeping up”, defined by Bolton’s Chief Constable as ‘a habit of motor cyclists to creep up either between stationary vehicles in a traffic block or between vehicles and the kerb.’ He says it is dangerous.”

“PROVISION FOR HOSPITALS treating motoring cases is made in the Road Traffic Act.”

“IF YOU SEE WHAT appears to be a parcel lying on a deserted stretch of road don’t stop to pick it up! According to a warning recently issued, this new way of getting motorists to stop is being adopted by modern highwaymen.”

‘THE BBC HAS DECIDED that the word ‘garage’ should be pronounced as if it rhymed with ‘marriage’ or ‘carriage’.”

“A CONTRACT HAS BEEN arranged between a French concern and the Soviet government for the importation into France of 300,000 tons of Russian petrol yearly.”

“POMADED PROMENADE PERCY? ‘I don’t think we should be too hard on the motor cycling youth with his flying scarf and well-pomaded hair and his girl friend on the pillion. He, too, will learn from example and precept.’—Mr R Yarnell Davies, Chief Constable of Flintshire, in a Manchester Guardian interview.”

“A NEW 350CC ROYAL RUBY two-stroke model known as the ‘Blue Diamond’ has been introduced by Diamond Motors, St James’ Square, Wolverhampton. The power unit is the well-known 342cc Villiers engine with the usual Villiers automatic lubrication and flywheel magneto. This is housed in a sturdy loop frame which passes under the engine, forming a cradle; in addition, detachable torque tubes are fitted, extending from the bottom of the rear engine plates to the rear fork-ends. Transmission is by roller chain via a Burman three-speed gear box. Druid forks are fitted, incorporating both steering and shock dampers, and both wheels carry six-inch internal-expanding brakes. Finished with dark-blue panels and gold lines, the chromium-plated saddle tank has a fuel capacity of approximately two gallons; a separate oil tank…is fitted to the seat pillar. The wheels are finished to match the tank, having chromium-plated rims with blue centres and gold lines.”

“An addition to the Royal Ruby range—the 342cc ‘Blue Diamond’.”

“THERE HAS BEEN much discussion of late as to whether the ultra-light-weight will return to favour in this country and become as popular as it is on the Continent. Undoubtedly one of the chief reasons against its success has been its lack of dependability, but in recent years vast strides have been made in motor engineering; motor cycle engines, for example, have been improved out of all recognition in the matter of reliability, and the small-capacity engine of to-day is a real power unit, in the full sense of the words, as compared with the rather delicate and uncertain toy it was some ten or twelve years ago. And now from Germany comes a very interesting motor unit designed for attachment to pedal cycles; it is known as the Sachs engine for bicycles, and consists of an air-cooled two-stroke built in unit with a two-speed gear and incorporating a single-plate dry clutch. The cylinder has a bore and stroke of 42x54mm, giving a capacity of 74cc, and the engine is said to develop 1¼hp at 3,000rpm. The crankshaft is mounted on a plain bronze bearing of ample dimensions on the driving side, with a roller bearing on the opposite side. Lubrication is by the petroil system, and ignition is provided by a flywheel magneto. A decompressor is situated at the top of the cylinder, and is operated from the left handlebar; the control is so arranged that it can be used in conjunction with the clutch lever for starting purposes. The gear control and petrol tank are, of course, clipped to the top tube, and transmission to the rear wheel is by roller chain. The weight of the power unit is 18lb. Naturally, the Sachs engine is intended for use with a strengthened cycle frame fitted with wheels carrying low-pressure tyres. The engine, it is said, gives a speed of 20mph on the level, while gradients of 1 in 12 can be taken in top gear, and on low gear a climb of 1 in 7 can be surmounted without any necessity for pedalling. Fuel consumption is something like 135mpg, and the entire machine weighs approximately 77lb. An interesting extra is a small dynamo designed to work in conjunction with the flywheel magneto; even at speeds as low as 6mph it is claimed that enough current is generated to throw a good light. The Sachs engine unit is distributed in the United Kingdom by Tome, 57, Old Street, London, EC1.”

“A pedal cycle fitted with the Sachs engine; note the gear control on the top tube. (Right) A sectional view of the 74cc engine-gear unit.”

“STANLEY WOODS, THE IRISH HERO of many a road race, has gone into partnership with CHW Menders, who opened a motor cycle depot about eighteen months ago.”

“DRAKE AND GORHAM WHOLESALE, 77, Long Acre, London, WC2, have been appointed sole distributing agents to the electrical trade for the Runbaken ‘Vest-pocket Detectoscope’ which wi1 be known in future as the ‘Testoscope’.”

“THE PRICE OF ‘REGENT’ Empire spirit has been reduced to ls l½d a gallon for the ‘Super’ grade, and to 11½d for the ‘Commercial’ grade.”

“NATIONAL BENZOLE MIXTURE has been reduced in price to ls 2½d a gallon through pumps, throughout the country, ls 3½d in cans in the LCC area, and ls 5d in cans for the rest of England and Wales. The price of National Benzole has also been reduced to ls 8d through pumps, and ls 10d in cans. Prices in Northern Scotland are ld a gallon more in each case.”


MORE THAN TWO YEARS of specialisation have gone to the making of the third ‘Ivory’ Calthorpe. The concentration upon this one model has simplified production to a remarkable degree, and facilitated that attention to important details that is so desirable. The machine has several commendable features, not least of which are its price and its handsome appearance. Its performance, too, is such as to command respectful attention. The machine tested was fitted with coil ignition, a system which is still something of a novelty on motor cycles. Throughout 600 miles no ignition fault developed, and, so far as can be remembered, not a single misfire occurred. Starting was ridiculously easy, and in this respect the machine represented a vast improvement on former types. The engine was free, and could be spun well by the kick-starter; generally, two kicks only were necessary, while on numerous occasions the first kick was effective It was not necessary to retard the ignition in order to obtain excellent idling, but, with the spark fully retarded, idling was more than usually good and the sparking absolutely regular. Mechanical noise was present, though never really obtrusive; it did not increase as the test proceeded. There appeared to be no piston slap, but the valve gear, while iIt did not hammer, gave off a certain amount of confused rattle. Perhaps the chief noise came from the gear box, which was rather too audible on the third ratio. On the other hand. exhaust noise was very slight indeed; there are two large silencers, and they perform their duties admirably. No clutch slip was experienced, and the clutch. which was light to operate, took up the drive smoothly. 0n two occasions the operating cable needed adjustment, due either to stretching of the wire or bedding down of the plates. The adjusting screw is very accessible, so that the work occupied but a few moments. Gear changing, either up or down, was a matter of the utmost ease. The third ratio was found very convenient for town work, and, on this gear, the machine was capable of a speed of about 45mph. On top gear the engine was fairly flexible, but, as indicated above, the suitability of third gear eliminated the temptation to hang on to top. At very slow speeds on the high ratio the transmission was inclined to be a little harsh, but, by using the gear box as the makers intend it should be used, harshness was rarely felt. Steering and general control were above reproach. a very comfortable riding position is provided, which allows the rider to shift the weight instantly to the footrests should it be desired to do so. At seven miles an hour the

“The ‘Ivory’ Calthorpe is a really good looking machine.”

machine could be steered comfortably ‘hands off’, and the same sort of riding could be accomplished at 50mph without lack of safety. Cornering was good, provided that the tyres were inflated correctly. correctly. Over bumpy surfaces it was found that the machine behaved very well indeed, and never became ‘skittish’ or prone to tail-wag. The front forks were well up to their work. So satisfactory was the steering that the damper was never used Both the brakes were excellent, and were not of the type that requires frequent adjustment. Half a turn of the adjusting nut on the rear brake rod was all the attention that was given, and each brake remained most effective throughout. That in the rear wheel is applied by a toe pedal in front of the left footrest. Practically no effort was required to exert full braking power, and the pedal was well placed for ease in operation. The usual handlebar lever applied the front brake, which, like the rear one, was both smooth and powerful in action. All the controls were conveniently situated, and it was found that the ignition and air controls were almost superfluous. Maximum speed was slightly over 65mph—not an ultra-high figure perhaps, but it should he remembered that the machine would maintain 50mph for as long as the rider wished, so that a high average was possible. The highest average speed over a long distance was just over 34mph, accomplished without making any attempt at a speedy journey. Hill climbing was good; it was difficult to make the engine pink, and the pulling power was excellent. Here, again, the third ratio was found handy, and fast ascents of steep main-road hills were always possible. Although the Calthorpe was not a light machine, it was by no means heavy on petrol. Straight petrol was used all the time, and the consumption figure of more than 90mpg was registered on the run mentioned above, which was over a mileage of 160. Oil, at first, was being delivered to the engine in large quantities, but the supply was gradually diminished until about 2,300mpg were being covered. At this rate of consumption the exhaust was slightly smoky. Almost as much night work as day work was done on the machine in order to obtain an idea of the efficiency of the electrical equipment. The battery showed a full charge at the end of the test, and the only failure in the system was the burning out of a tail lamp bulb. At about 28mph, with the full head-lamp beam in use, the ammeter showed a steady charge of nearly 2 amps, so that the fear of being stranded with a dead battery would appear to be so remote as to be negligible. It was found that some of the detail parts, such as handlebar fittings, showed traces of rust rather quickly. On the other hand, the chromium-sided tank, as well as its top ivory panel, remained in perfect condition, in spite of the fact that the machine had some very rough usage. None of the chains seemed to stretch at all, and no adjustment requiring the aid of tools had to be carried out. A good point was the fact that the engine and gear box exuded practically no oil, the exteriors remaining clean except for mud. It should not be assumed from this that the mudguarding was poor. The guards are of deep section, and cover a good part of the circumference of the wheels, and stop much of the mud met with in ordinary riding. On several occasions the machine was used on Midland trials courses, and it was found that on the colonial sections, some of which were exceptionally slippery, the model behaved admirably; feet-up performances were made matters of comparative ease, and this with standard tyre treads. Speaking generally, it can be said that the third Ivory Calthorpe is a good example of the modern single-cylinder. Its design is interesting and sound; its appearance is praiseworthy; and its performance very pleasing.


PUBLIC DEMAND HAS INDUCED the makers of the Ariel to add a new model to their range. The little 250cc ohv machine has earned a splendid reputation, but there are those who desire slightly more power without the extra weight and full power capabilities of a 500cc engine. It is with this in view that the makers have decided to introduce a new 350cc model following closely on the lines which have proved so satisfactory in the small size, though in order to take the larger engine the machine has been stiffened up in many directions. With a bore and stroke of 72x85mm (348cc), the inclined cylinder has a two-port detachable head, and the ohv mechanism is enclosed. In contrast to the normal Ariel practice of carrying the push-rod covers to a box cast with the base of the cylinder, the covering tubes extend down to the timing-gear casing. Lubrication is by twin plunger pumps, and operates on the dry-sump system. The Ariel centrifugal oil purifier is, of course, incorporated in the flywheels. Transmission is from a pivot type three-speed Burman gear box, and the primary

1931 ARIEL 348
“A smart newcomer—the 348cc two-port Ariel.”

“A SHORT COURSE and a start at one o’clock after an early lunch created a new atmosphere for the Bemrose Trial. No doubt its change from a full-day to a half-day event had assisted in getting the increased entry of 43, of which all but four solos started. The course was not unlike last year’s in general ‘design’, although Hunger Hill was omitted, which was a matter raising no objection from the eight sidecar entrants. As a matter of fact, the general anxiety was mostly concerned with the state of country in the Longnor-Axe Edge district, which had been under snow for a week or more, and was in the throes of a slow thaw. The trial started from Alvaston, Derby, and the condition of things was quickly appreciated. Jackson’s Lane, near Duffield, served as the example. It was going to be a day of mud. More than half of the solo men used their feet, either at Jackson’s Lane or Lapidosa, the second hill, and by the time the second check was reached, at Foxholes, only 23 miles from the start, the competitors were already well sorted out. A run over higher country brought the riders into the dreaded snow area; moreover, the weather showed signs of changing. Taddington Moor was the location of the extraordinary time check of about five miles, used to decide winners in case of ties. The route-markers had had to clear the remains of snow drifts to make a way. Three-ply, boulders, mud and slush were the obstacles, and even Goodman confessed to wondering if the five miles were endless! Retirements were many. The struggle against mud was too much, and barely half the starters emerged to reach the Hind Low check, fifty miles from the start. This left only 23 competitors to face what may be called the real climbing obstacles (Cheeks Hill and Hollinsclough) as contrasted with all the previous mud-wallowing. Cheeks Hill is short, sharp and snorty, as all who favour the Buxton area for their sport well know. But it is in a little sheltered cleft, and was filled with drifts that resisted the prevalent thaw. Its rocks, boulders, and deep ruts were hidden under knee-deep snow. Graham Goodman (Norton), far in advance of anyone else, made a fast climb, jabbing down a foot once or twice and sticking momentarily in the deep drift at the summit. But his climb was unaided. Next came J Beck (348cc Norton), but he stuck completely in the drift at the top, and could not get out until JH Jenkinson (346cc Levis) came up, got into the same predicament, and then they helped each other. MG Lund (348cc Calthorpe), AR

“DK Mansell (490cc Norton sc) and W Harrison (346cc Levis) battling through the drifts on Cheeks Hill.”

Edwards (348cc Velocette), and G Littleford (348cc AJS) all needed help, but Edwards was the only one, apart from Goodman and Beck, who was anything like in the running on time. Next F Williamson (248cc Ariel) made a wonderful effort, and actually made the first non-stop crossing of the topmost drifts. L Thompson (348cc Velocette) and A Tyler (346cc Levis) both stopped, as did the hail and sleet which had been blowing across the hills to everyone’s great discomfort. There was a long interval; then N Hooton (348cc Norton) failed, and just as he got out of the way DK Mansell (490cc Norton sc) came ploughing up. Could he succeed? He hit the deep drifts with a thud! No! But a little help and he was away, the eleventh competitor to make the ascent. What of the 38 solos who should have been in front? V Harrison (346cc Levis) added to the list of failures, while HB Macmillan (496cc James), who has been a Bemrose winner in the past, lay on his back and for a few moments wondered where he was. Then FW Harmston (497cc Ariel) stopped, while RF Tingle (490cc Vincent-HRD) did more; he lay down in the drifts and wallowed. This was winter sport with a vengeance…The second sidecar, EF Coope (348cc Velocette sc) made a fast and thoroughly ‘fierce’ climb. SB Storey (349cc BSA), JC Bailey (346cc New Imperial) and W Cole (499cc Ariel) made somewhat ragged climbs. After Hollinsclough came Hopedale, which caused considerably more bother than had been anticipated—boulders and mud were the principal obstacles—the out-standing efforts being made by Goodman, Edwards, Mansell, Beck and Cope. It was with relief that the survivors reached the final check and a well earned tea at the Black Boy’s Head and Green Man at Ashbourne Only 76½ miles. But what a day! Those who got there, including the fourteen who completed the course for no reward at all, agreed that it was a good trial, except that the ETC section was rather too much of a good thing in view of the prevailing difficulty of the course. Outside the principal awards no one qualified for a ‘gold’, and there were only two ‘silvers’. Results. Bemrose Trophy (for best performance), GB Goodman (348cc Norton), 2 marks; News of the World Cup, DK Mansell (490cc Norton), 7 marks; best 500cc solo, FW Harmston (499cc Ariel); 350cc solo,A Tyler (346cc Levis); best 350cc sidecar, EF Cope (348cc Velocette sc); best 250cc solo, F Williamson (248cc Ariel); 175cc solo, L Vale-Onslow (172c SOS); team award, N Hooton (348cc Norton), GB Goodman (348cc Norton) and DK Mansell (490cc Norton sc); best performance by a Leicester club member, A Tyler (346cc Levis); Derby, DK Mansell (490cc Norton sc); Lincoln, GB Goodman (348cc Norton); silvers, J Beck (348cc Norton) and AR Edwards (348cc Norton).”

“Ploughing through the deep snow on Cheeks Hill. The riders are AR Edwards (348cc Velocette) and G Littleford (348cc AJS).”

READER’S EXPERIENCE: 1927 349cc OHV BSA. “I purchased my 349cc ohv BSA second-hand in February, 1929; it had previously had only only one owner and very little use. The machine holds the road beautifully at all speeds, and has no tendency to wobble at speed over bumpy roads, even with the steering damper slackened right off. The maximum speed I have obtained is just in excess of 73mph, but I think that with more careful tuning and a slightly higher top gear 75 or 76mph could be reached; the gear I use is rather low, as I use the machine for grass-track racing. Tho most comfortable touring speed is round about the fifty-five mark. Acceleration is good; I have tried it out favourably against several 500cc machines. The engine keeps its tune well if the tappets are watched carefully. The most suitable fuel to use with the high-compression piston is a fifty-fifty petrol-benzole mixture, with a No 41 jet in the carburetter (TT Amac); the consumption works out at about 70mpg. The oil consumption is fairly high, being about 100 miles per pint, but that I do not mind. I have used the machine for various events, such as trial riding, grass-track racing, scrambles, practice on a dirt track, and motor cycle football matches, and only once has it let me down; that was in a scramble when the throttle wire broke. Taking the machine all round I think it is an ideal clubman’s mount, with which I am very pleased.—JEB.”

“Just a run down to Capetown: The whole world is indeed the motor cyclist’s playground. Here is still another expedition starting from Berlin to traverse the 6,000 odd miles from Cairo to Capetown.”
“Journey’s beginning. Edward Farrell and W Johnson, of Widnes, Lancs, are setting out on a world tour via Turkey, the Sahara, Capetown, India, Australia and America. Their machine is a ‘Sloper Ariel’, and they are seen receiving a send-off from the makers’ works at Birmingham.”

“SOME TIME AGO MENTION was made in these pages of a new lightweight two-stroke machine, the 346cc Pouncy, made by AJ Pouncy at Owermoigne, Dorchester, Dorset. The experimental models made their first appearance in the 1930 London-Exeter Trial, and now delivery is in full swing. This new machine has the well-known 346cc long-stroke Villiers engine with flywheel magneto and two-lever carburetter. Petroil lubrication is used as standard, although the Villiers pressure system can be obtained for an extra 15s. To obviate settling of the oil, the all-steel welded tank is fitted with a two-way tap and filter. The frame is of straight-forward design with brazed joints. Brampton forks with 6in brakes, 25x3in heavy Avon tyres and 5in D-section mudguards add to the sturdy appearance of this lightweight, which weighs 219lb, complete with Villiers direct lighting system and parking lights. This model, to be known as the ‘Cob’ is finished in black, with a red panel on the nose of the tank, and is priced at £38 17s. The price includes a 3-speed Albion gear box; a foot-change costs an extra 10s. At a later date it is hoped to produce a more expensive and faster model (a speed of 70mph is anticipated).”

“The 346cc Pouncy is fitted with the long-stroke Villiers engine.”

IXION HAD A NIGHT OUT at Stamford Bridge, and decided: “Dirt-track racing at its best is probably the most thrilling spectacle which the world of sport affords. At the Bridge four riders effect a rolling start halfway down the grandstand straight. The lucky spectator in the next bend—if he isn’t blinded or smothered by the cinders which their scrabbling wheels heave at him in great swathes—gets a thrill not to be matched in the Targa Florio mountain car race. Atmosphere Within a few feet of his nose he beholds four gnome-like troglodytes, masked and armoured, skidding at high speed round an untakable bend at angles which nullify gravity and centrifugal force. Their speeds and their attitudes are like mechanical impossibilities—yet they occur! The noise is hellish!The atmosphere is compounded of solid dirt, burnt dope, blue castor fumes, and the screeching of 40,000 frenzied fans. If this inferno lasted for four full laps the entire ‘gate’ would expire from heart failure. But of course it does not last. Half-way round the first ‘U’ somebody—on Saturday it was usually Wal Phillips—establishes a nice little lead, partly by superior engine pep, partly by sliding that is a shade more devilish than any his rivals can produce. This lead he usually keeps, with small additions, for four laps. Behind the victorious Triton a couple of minnows may or may not fight an exciting battle for the honour of second place. Frequently one or two of the riders fall off—occasionally three of them stop in a single heat; sometimes one gets on again and carries on, and the race becomes confusing…Why do so many motor cyclists neglect the speedways? At its best no spectacle can stop your heart so completely and so suddenly. I would go every week if I could reasonably expect to see such a devilish duel as that in which Bill Stanley and Tommy Croombs put up for second place in Heat 3 of the League Match; or Con Cantwell dragging a fallen rival’s bike for 50 yards with his footrest, and never coming off; or Ron Johnson’s lightning streak through the field in 50 yards…”

“A new short-wheelbase Douglas with a specially low engine mounting and new cylinder-head design. (Right) A long-wheelbase Rudge designed for the coming dirt-track season—the engine is of the 1930 TT type, but with wet-sump lubrication and a higher compression ratio to suit alcohol fuel.”

H QUINN, ON A THREE-YEAR-OLD 348cc Calthorpe, won the International Leinster ‘200’ which was run on Saturday on the Skerries-Rush-Lusk circuit in Co Dublin. The nominal distance of the race was 208 miles, but, owing to the system of handicapping employed, in which riders received credit laps as well as time allowances, Quinn had to cover only 169 miles. He covered that distance in 28hr 44min 22sec—a speed of 61.75mph. WHT Meageen (348cc Velocette) was second at 73.77mph. He made fastest actual speed of the race and won the 350cc class cup. JG Burney (346cc Royal Enfield-JAP) was third at 67.76mph; PT Walls (499cc Rudge) was fourth, at 72.72mph. Walls won the 500cc cup, and he was the only finisher who had to complete the full distance of the race. LH Davenport (246cc New Imperial) won the 250cc Class cup at 67.12mph. This was the third Leinster race in which Quinn and his Calthorpe had figured. In 1929 they were 16th at 60mph; in 1930 they were 8th at 58mph. The handicappers must have imagined that the Calthorpe would be still slower this year, but it was much faster. By tuning efforts Quinn had added seven or eight. mph to the engine’s normal speed.”

“HV Quinn, the winner, with his three-year-old 348cc Calthorpe.”

FROM 1 JANUARY 1932 tax on bikes under 150cc was to be cut to 15 bob a year—manufacturers immediately began to develop a class of 150s. The Blue ‘Un noted: “…the value of the concession…is immense, as it should be the means of bringing into the motor cycle movement many new recruits…the insurance question is the stumbling block…reduced rates [must] be instituted to cover these light-weight, low-powered miniatures of modest cost…The future possibilities for light motor cycles are enormous. What is needed is a special trial organised by the Auto Cycle Union to demonstrate to the public at large the handiness, reliability and economy of the new series of miniature motor cycles….The 98cc Excelsior-Villiers…is already on the market and a new arrival is the 989cc Coventry Eagle-Villiers…A 98cc Sun is also announced, a 98cc Wolf is soon to appear, while…a 98cc Dot-Villiers will be in production…this machine will have a two-speed Albion gear box, 4in internal-expanding brakes, a saddle tank, and the Dot cerise finish.”

“INTENSE INTEREST IS NOW centred around the future of the light, low-priced motor cycle, which, thanks to [Chancellor of the Exchequer] Mr Snowden’s concession, seems likely to get a firm hold on the market. If the British industry is to establish a supremacy in this line against foreign competitors it is essential that the quality of the products shall be high, even if the specification includes little more than bare necessities. This point has been fully realised by those of our manufacturers who have considered the question, and the Coventry Eagle ‘Marvel’ is no exception. Encouraged by the concession—though the decision to market the machine was made before the- Budget announcement—the company will have this very attractive little proposition in full production about Whitsuntide. The new model is a real motor cycle, small indeed, but not a toy. It has been thought out with the greatest care, and though its price of £16 16s is modest, all the essential features of motor cycle construction and some luxuries have been included. For instance, electric lighting by the Villiers direct system with a battery for parking purposes is included in the price, there are lock-stops for the steering head, the brake pedal is mounted separately from the footrests, and a soft-top Lycett saddle has been standardised. As a power unit, the 98cc Villiers two-stroke is employed, and transmission is through a two-speed Albion gear box, which, with the reduction in the two chain drives, gives ratios of 9.7 and 16.4 to 1. These two units are attached in a most rigid manner, the former by very sturdy engine plates, and the latter by a strong underslung lug in a frame of simple but interesting construction.

L-R: “With the exception of the throttle lever, the controls are brazed on. The blades of the pressed-steel forks. Alignment of the gear-box is assured by a groove in the mounting. Note the separately mounted brake pedal. This drawing clearly shows the frame layout.”

From the head to the rear spindle there are two straight tubes, bolted in position and trapped and bolted to the vertical seat post. Brazed to the bottom of the head lug is a single tube which passes round the crank case and joins the gear box mounting lug, making, with the seat tube, a main frame of loop construction. Footrests, brake pedal and central stand are all mounted on extensions of the engine plates, and the stand is no positioned that the machine can be balanced with either wheel off the ground. A welded-steel tank holding 1¼ gallons of petroil mixture is bolted to the frame, and is provided with an oil measure in the filler .cap. Neatly filling a gap in the frame is a circular steel tool box, and the battery for the parking light is placed behind the saddle. Pressed-steel side-members are employed in the fork construction, with a barrel-type of compression spring between the blades. In each wheel is a four-inch-diameter internal expanding brake, and 25×2.75in. Avon tyres are standardised. With the exception of the single-lever carburetter control, all the remaining lever pivots are brazed to the bars, which have a very neat, clean and pleasant appearance. A hand-operated control has been chosen for the gearbox, and no kick starter is fitted as it is a simple matter to ‘paddle off’, even for a person, of small stature. The lines of the little machine are good, the detail work simple, clean and well designed, and the finish—black and gold—is attractive. Altogether, the Coventry-Eagle ‘Marvel’ is a most practical little job, light enough to be handled by anyone, and sturdy enough to stand up to plenty of hard work.”

1931 COVEAGLE 98
“The machine has a pleasing appearance.”

OVERCAST AND GREY was the Sunday morning of the Grand Prix of the Nations and the least weather-wise had no need of help from the Meteorological Department to guess what, was in store. This certainty, and perhaps the eleventh-hour withdrawal of the new 500cc Bianchi, kept away the people. Never has the Monza track been to desolate for such an important international event. At 9 o’clock the Fascist militiamen easily outnumbered the public. However, the few hardy motor cycle enthusiasts who did brave the terrors of the elements were well rewarded. The pits were occupied by wrinkle-browed riders and mechanics who, ever and anon, the while they put the last finishing touches to their mounts, cast furtive glances aloft at the grey pall that to threateningly overhung the park and appeared to mingle with the tree tops. Twenty-two riders responded to the electric warning ‘buzzer’; seven one-seventy-fives and fifteen three-fifties, the former being required to do 20 laps (137.220km) and the latter 30 laps (205.830km). Of the one-seventy-fives, there were four Benellis, two Millers and one DKW. The three-fifties included five Velocettes (LH Davenport on one), three Rudges, one Miller, one Motosacoche and one Condor. When the field had got away Mario Ghersi (AJS)—Pietro Ghersi’s brother—and a 175cc Miller were seen to be moving but slowly. The 175cc DKW just managed to crawl to the pits, and, after several stops, the rider withdrew on the 5th lap. Meanwhile, the rest were moving, the Velocettes coming well to the fore after the first lap, with Ghersi (AJS), and Cerrato and Lama on Rudges in hot pursuit. Then there came into sight the Benellis, and behind came Davenport and Turreni (AJS), who was having plug trouble. Every lap brought Ghersi nearer the leaders, and on the fifth he was first, his time being 17min 48sec—an average of 71.85mph—with a Rudge pressing him closely. In the baby class, Tony Benelli, on his newly designed Benelli, had nothing to beat, and won as he liked. One surprise, however, was sprang—Moldini’s Miller was too fast for the standard Benelli model. The sixth lap was fatal for one of the Rudges, the rider of which retired. Ghersi (AJS) was not having things quite all his own way, for, at the completion of the tenth lap, there was not much light between him and the three Velocettes, which were going magnificently. The Motosacoche had retired with engine trouble after four laps. Ghersi’s average for the fifteen laps was 74.25mph, or 27sec better than Landi’s Velocette. At this point Ghersi visited the pits to refill; their tank capacity being greater, the Velocettes had no need to stop. When the AJS rider got away he was 16sec to the bad, but, after a thrilling struggle, he regained his former position in the 19th lap, only to lose it again a lap later. What a grand battle! The public could not sit still in the stands, but rushed out into the rain to stand by the railings and cheer. The riders passed and repassed each other time and again, but eventually Landi had the honour of being first in. His average speed for the 25 laps was 74.72mph. The exciting duel was abruptly and disappointingly brought to an end before the finish by Ghersi crashing on an awkward ‘S’ bend, and, though he and his mount miraculously escaped damage, he was never able to regain the time lost. Nevertheless, he had the satisfaction of finishing second and also of making the fastest lap. At 2 o’clock, under a vertical deluge, thirteen five-hundreds and seven two-fifties lined up. The Seniors were: f NSUs (known locally as ‘the League of Nations’, for the company is Italian, the make German, and the riders English and Italian!), three Rudges, two Nortons, two Motosacoches (with Charlie Dodson riding one), one Sunbeam, and last, but not least, an AJS, with Freddie. Hicks up. There were six Guzzis and one Swiss Condor in the lightweights. Of the latter class nothing need be said, save that Corday on the Condor ran as regularly as a clock, while the winning

“The start of the 175cc and 350cc classes.”

Guzzi pat up an average lower, than that of the one-seventy-fives. The five-hundreds suggested speed-boats as they screamed along the flooded track, leaving whirling white spray in their train. Two Rudges were leading the first time round, with Hicks lying some-what behind. Dodson pushed to first place on the third lap. Landi (Rudge) skidded, damaging his carburetter. Then Hicks (AJS) began to take an ominous interest in affairs, and by the fifth lap was already third. Dodson (Motosacoche) lay 15sec ahead of Bandini (Rudge). Bullus (NSU) appeared to be going at a terrific speed as he threaded his way through the two-fifties. Dodson was not too happy, and was in two minds whether to visit the pits, but apparently decided that ‘he who stops is lost’. Soon after, Hicks caught and passed Dodson, only to lose the lead again a few minutes later. On the unlucky thirteenth round Bandini had to stop at the pits because of ‘goggle trouble’; this stop he repeated on the next lap. Dodson’s speed for the fifteen laps was 76.98mph, and Hicks was 23sec down. Till now, Bullus (NSU) had been getting along steadily in third position, and seemed quite happy; then Jimmie Simpson (Norton) broke in upon his privacy and drew up alongside Hicks. Nevertheless, Dodson still held on, and, indeed, managed to increase his lead. At half-distance he was 47sec ahead of the AJS rider. And now came a reshuffling. First Simpson stopped and then Hicks, thus letting in Bullus. The twenty-fifth lap saw Dodson still in the lead, with Bullus only 31sec behind. Hicks lost 44sec in filling up, and now lay sixth. Another period of excitement such as the spectators had enjoyed in the morning now began. Hicks began to catch up again, and on the thirtieth round was already third again. On the next lap Dodson began to experience lubrication trouble; he fell back to fourth, then to eighth, and finally to ninth; then a slight spill dislodged an oil pipe, and he retired. At the thirty-fifth lap Bullus, now in the lead, had averaged 76.55mph, and Hicks was 23sec behind. The AJS crack now began to gain 6sec a lap; and Simpson clung to him like a shadow, till he had a spill on the ‘S’ bend and spoiled a certain chance of being second, if not first, for the race clearly lay between these two famous riders. All eyes were glued on to the bend in the track to see whether Hicks’s magnificent ride had borne fruit, and when his black form was sighted leading the way a big cheer went up. Hicks’s average was 76.92mph, a really amazing speed when the terrible track conditions are taken into account. RESULTS. 175cc (20 laps=137.220km): 1, Benelli (Benelli), 67.35mph; 2, Moldini (Miller); 3, Alberti (Benelli). 250cc (25 laps=171.525km): 1, Brasi (Guzzi) 66.84mph; 2, Panella (Guzzi); 3, Truzzi (Guzzi. 350cc (33 laps=295.830km): 1, Landi (Velocette) 74.72mph; 2, Ghersi (AJS); 3, Bruni (Rudge). 500cc: 1, Hicks (AJS); 2, Bullus (NSU); 3, Simpson (Norton).

“This gruesome representation of the Northampton Pirates MCC graced the top of the table at their annual dinner. Mrs E Bell, the president of the club, is shown in the photograph.”

“A ‘LIGHT 500’ SIDE-VALVE machine weighing under 224lb [and thus eligible for reduced 30s tax] fully equipped with electric lighting and bulb horn is the latest addition to the Matchless range. The engine, which has a capacity of 498cc, is fitted with an aluminium piston, roller big-end bearing, floating gudgeon pin and similar parts usually associated with engines of the high-efficiency type. Furthermore, it is provided with a specially designed cylinder head which is claimed to give freedom from ‘pinking’ combined with a high power output. The actual figures claimed are 13bhp at 4,200rpm, equivalent to a road speed in the neighbourhood of 60mph. Lubrication is by the well-known Matchless dry-sump system, with an automatic device for lubricating the primary chain. The valves are totally enclosed, and starting is facilitated by means of a decompressor. An invar-strut piston is fitted in order to eliminate slap. Transmission is by means of a…three-speed pivot-mounted Burman gear box. In spite of the low weight of the machine, a remarkably sturdy frame of the duplex-cradle type is employed, allowing the engine to be inclined slightly forward and at the same time giving’ a low saddle position. The petrol tank is of new design, and has a capacity of two gallons. It is finished in the usual Matchless colour of chromium with white side panels. A separate oil tank with a capacity of three pints is situated under the saddle. Additional refinements are a spring-up central prop stand, hand-adjusted front forks, 6½in brakes, a Dunlop waterproof saddle, and a detachable rear mudguard.

“The ‘Light 500’ Matchless.”

“JUST BY WAY OF A CHANGE, the sixth Pillion Trial, organised by the Carshalton MCC, was held over a type of going very different from that of previous years. Kentish chalk and slime were replaced last week by the deep sand to be found on the Surrey and Hampshire borders. According to the route card, there were to have been seven observed sections and two tests. Owing, however, to some observers losing the way and, secondly, to the last-minute discovery that another hill was a bridle path, the 103 competitors had to face only three sections, a simple stop and re-start test, and a brake test. The day turned out to be as bad as it could possibly have been. A steady drizzle, which very soon became an unrelenting downpour, had obviously kept many pillion riders of the gentler sex away; but, nevertheless, there were quite a large number ‘about’ at the start from the Victory Inn, on the Hog’s Back. Crooksbury, the first hill, possessed scarcely any gradient, but was covered with sand to the depth of some eight or ten inches. RCC Palmer (348cc Cotton), J0 Frogley (596cc Scott) and T Waken (346cc Levis) all arrived in a bunch, but, while the latter two roared through, Palmer came to an abrupt standstill. Miss BF Miller (499c Rudge) romped along, roaring with. laughter. ATK Debenham (499cc Rudge) was very good indeed, but the palm for one of the fastest and straightest climbs must go to M Riley (247cc Levis), although KP Jones (346cc Levis) was just as steady. T0 Mutter (496cc James) was going great guns until his gear jumped out; his failure heralded three similar efforts on the part of PF Lucas (499cc Rudge), FC Brown (499cc Rudge) and Miss TE Wallack (349cc BSA). FL Dodridge (499cc Rudge) was clever in avoiding. VC Morris (249cc Dunelt), who had stopped through lack of power, while CE Nutman (346cc Royal Enfield) just collapsed in a heap at the feet of The Motor Cycle man. The next observed section was the splash at Little Pond, which was less than a foot deep. Nearly half the entry failed, simply and solely through taking it too fast. J Balchin (497cc Ariel) was lucky to get through, as was RE Sewell, on a similar machine. GW Hole (348cc Raleigh) showed his experience to advantage. Almost immediately after leaving the splash the riders entered the next section, known as Daytona Beach, a level stretch of deep sand. It caused . absolute havoc. However, star performances were made by AH Collinson (346cc Levis), FW Clark (346cc Coventry-Eagle), FJ King (499cc Grindlay-Peerless), and, of course, L. Heath (497cc Ariel), in spite of the deeply rutted, waterlogged sand. The course then led to Thursley Common, which was tricky in parts, though unobserved, and the stop-and-restart test on Young Chalky. By this time the rain was making itself just about as unpleasant as it could be and so it was a great relief to everybody, on arriving at Haslemere, to learn that the last hill, ‘The Lost Cup’, had been abandoned, and that the finish was there and then, with an excellent tea waiting for the soaked competitors.”

“At the start. The riders are K Pugh (490cc Norton), PF Lucas (499cc Rudge) and TOM Mutter (496cc James.”
“CE Macbeth (349cc BSA) in Little Pond Splash, which stopped many competitors who tackled it too hastily.”

“ONLY 328 MOTOR CYCLES were exported from the United States during January last, as compared with 1,321 machines in the corresponding month of 1930….103 motor cycles were imported into the Irish Free State during January and February last, as compared with 113 in the corresponding period last year…Only 253 motor cycles were imported into Sweden during the two months ended February last, compared with 616 in the corresponding period a year ago.”

“THE SOUTH METROPOLITAN GAS Company has patented a device fr utilising street lamps at cross-roads as highway lighthouses, by means of a beam of light of any desired colour.”

“BIRMINGHAM MAGISTRATES RECENTLY dismissed a case in which a motor cyclist was summoned for permitting a pillion rider to sit otherwise than astride, although he had pleaded guilty. It was explained that the pillion rider was a woman of 60, who probably did not fancy sitting as the Act demanded.:

“PETROL CAN NOW BE obtained in three colours—pink, blue and green.”

“AS LONG AGO AS 1897 a german engraver named Diesel designed an engine which, it was claimed, would run on oil, gas, or coal dust. The Diesel engine is now considered by many to be the internal-combustion engine of the future; it is firmly established in marine practice, and is coming into use on motor lorries.”


“THERE WAS ONCE A TIME when I used to laugh at the students of design who were always clamour-ing for multi-cylinder motor cycles. Who on earth wanted such machines, I asked myself, when the terrific acceleration and speed of the 500cc single was almost perfection itself? And, again, what could beat the simplicity of the single? Why bother to complicate matters by the addition of one or three more ‘pots’? No, frankly, the idea never thrilled me in those days. But I was to be thrilled; so much so that the day on which I made my first acquaintance with a four will remain one of the most outstanding of my life. It all happened like this. One day last summer I was told that there was an experimental four-cylinder of 600cc outside the office, and it was suggested that I should take it for a three- or four-hours’ spin. I was not excited at the prospect. Riding many makes of machines throughout the year is inclined to make one a wee bit blasé. In a few minutes, however, I was suitably clad and off on what I still call my ‘revelation run’. I wish I could pass on to you the thrills that assailed me, one on top of another. The very first thing that struck me was the motor’s smashing acceleration. A tweak of the throttle, and one was liable to slip on to the rear mudguard. Then there was the steering. That was amazing, too, thanks partly to the low and even weight distribution and partly to the even pull of the engine The whole thing seemed a dream. One went cruising along in the sixties—simply without realising it. Only a soft, silky purr reminded one of the existence of an engine. After eight years of riding singles it was disconcerting, so utterly different; so different, in fact, that it hardly bore comparison. There was no waiting for the engine to wind-up its revs. They were there as soon as the throttle was opened. I caned the machine up and down a deserted stretch of road—70-80-85 and almost 90mph—time and again. Yet the engine showed not a sign of overheating. The long and short of it was that from that summer’s day I simply longed to own such a machine, though at the same time I feared that the experimental was a tool-rooM job and that the production model might lose half its charm. After months and months (they seemed to me like years) the manufacture. announced that they had finally overcome some minor production difficulties, and that the fours were now coming through. In went my order, and in a very short time a wire arrived to say that the model was to be on a certain train. Needless to say, I was at the station hours before time, only to discover that the Easter holiday rush was making all trains nearly an hour late. I bided my time, and the train came in—without the model. A further two hours’ wait for a later train only produced the same result. Thoroughly disconsolate, I set off home. After a sleepless night I wended my way back to the station and…there she stood, bright chromium peeping cheerfully through cloth and paper wrappings. Mine at last! Hastily tearing away wrappings, and emptying into the tank the bottle of petrol I had brought with me, I flooded the carburetter and pressed the kick-starter. The engine promptly screamed in protest, as I had forgotten that it was unnecessary to give it more than a tiny throttle setting. Hurriedly rectifying matters, I set off for home, the proudest motor cyclist in the I world. Outside the station I found it was pouring, but what did I care? In half an hour I was home, and hastily checking over nuts and bolts and making small adjustments here and there to suit my riding position, for in an hour’s time I had to set off for the West Country and be in Lynmouth that night.

Ixion was entranced by a Squariel; Ambleside fell for the Silver Hawk—and who could blame him?

Very soon, with knapsack on my back, I was on my journey with that glorious feeling of having charge of a dead-quiet but immensely powerful living thing to bend to my will. The new engine was so free that I could maintain a steady 45mph without having a guilty conscience. What fun it was to steam through towns in top, with policemen looking round, open-mouthed, because of the four’s absurd silence! And so to Porlock hi1l, which was carefully climbed on bottom and second, and thence down to Lynmouth. Nest day I had to be up early, for the Land’s End competitors were due in round about 7am, and it was from here that I had to ‘pick up’ the trial and follow it down to the finish. Naturally, all the way down I drove with due consideration to the engine, and therefore could not form any idea as regards its hill-climbing abilities. In fact, I was rather doubtful, for it was so docile at low speeds. So I made a break on my journey back through North Devon, and, after changing the oil, let her have it up Beggars’ Roost. And up this West Country terror, with its steepest portion of 1-in-3, she rocketed in bottom gear, venting a snarl like a supercharged car at speed on Brooklands. Then I put her at it in second gear, and once again she went over, almost as though the hill had not existed. It was all so absurdly easy, especially when I called to mind previous ascents of the Roost which I had made. Back home again. I changed the tyres for the competition type, preparatory to a little mud-larking. Believe me, or believe me not, that four-cylinder handled in sticky going like a two-fifty. One would have thought that wheelspin would have set in. But no, there was not a sign of it. I maintain that a four—or, for that matter, any multi, be it flat-twin. vee-twin, or four-cylinder—can get off the mark with far less wheelspin than a single, chiefly because the clutch can be dropped almost immediately and the drive can then he controlled by the throttle only, thanks to the slow, even pull. This means, too, that a multi can accelerate smoothly and quickly on a steep and slimy gradient; the engine has plenty of power on a bottom-gear ratio; the rider is able to feel’ his rear wheel all the time. I have now ridden four different types of four-cylinder machines of varying horse-power, apart from many forms of twin, and feel almost a connoisseur on the subject, so enthusiastic am I. That gloriously smooth pull at low speeds, that smashing acceleration almost throughout the range of speed, and the amazingly high touring speeds that are possible without the rider realising the fact, make me think how slow we were in waiting until 1931 for the medium-size multi.”—AMBLESIDE.

“We are familiar with pictures showing army-like formations of smart American ‘speed cops’, but this photograph of part of the West Riding mobile police force shows that the parade-ground tradition is spreading.”
“Not ‘camouflage’ for traffic patrols, but simply the vehicles used by a service of skilled house repairers in the States.”

STANLEY WOODS WON THE 500cc class in the German Grand Prix on a cammy Norton, just 0.4sec ahead of Tim Hunt on another Norton. Graham Walker was third on a Rudge; Harry Tyrell-Smith won the 350cc race aboard another Rudge. A rider named Toricelli won the 250cc class on a Puch, but he was followed home by EA Mellors (New Imperial), Ernie Nott (Rudge) and LC Crasbtree (Excelsior-JAP).

“The 500cc men entering the first bend after the massed start. Soenius (Motosacoche), Simcock (OK Supreme-JAP), Hunt (Norton), Heyer (AJS) and Dodson (Motosacoche) are the leaders.”
1931 DUNELT 350
Having dropped its 350cc two-stroke the previous year Dunelt plugged the hole in its range with a Villiers-powered ‘Monarch’ featuring Miller coil ignition in place of a flywheel mag. “Liveliness was an outstanding feature of the power unit,” the Blue ‘Un’s man repoprted. “there was little or no hesitatio when it was called upon for extra rpm, and the power output was such as to render constant operation of the [Sturmey-Archer] gear lever by no means a necessity…Steering at all times was above reproach…’hand’s off’ riding was child’s play at any speed above a crawl.” Fuel consumption ranged from 85-100mpg with oil consumption of 1,000mpg.

“IN ORDER TO TAKE full advantage of the facilities offered by the latest taxation regulations, the Excelsior Motor Co will shortly market a new 147cc model. It is not intended that this machine shall replace the present 98cc model, which is already selling in large numbers, but that it should form a distinct type suitable for those who require somewhat higher performance and are prepared to pay a slightly greater sum for it. The 147cc Villiers engine is set vertically in the frame. The power is transmitted through an Albion two-speed gear box with clutch and kick-starter, and a single straight chain-guard protects both front and rear chains. Though the frame outwardly resembles that of the smaller model, it has been stiffened up to withstand the extra power, and is fitted with a lower tank rail. The two-speed gear box is operated by a pedal on the left footrest. Two-way adjustment is provided for the handlebars, and to them are brazed the fulcrums of all the control levers. The saddle tank is finished in black, with a red panel and gold line. Pressed-steel fork blades are employed, and the Dunlop tyres are of the 25x 2.75in. size. Both brakes are of 4in diameter, a Lycett saddle is fitted, and the silencer is large and effective. Lubrication is by petroil. The price will be announced in the near future, and it is likely to be extremely moderate. There will be also a de luxe edition fitted with direct lighting and battery parking light, legshields, bulb horn, and licence holder.”

1931 EXCELSIOR 150
“The 147cc Excelsior is a well-finished little machine.”

“LAND’S END-JOHN O’ GROATS—Finishers in the MCC Event. Only one competitor in the motor cycle classes failed to complete the long distance from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in the MCC’s classic ‘holiday’ run last week. The event started at 7am on the Monday and finished at mid-day last Thursday. There was one observed hill each day; Countisbury, Kirkstone Pass, and the Scottish hill, Drumnadochit, were included, but they caused very little bother. The weather was mainly fine until Moffat was reached, when it became less kind. The finishers were as follows: PF Lucas (499cc Rudge), RC Coles (596cc Douglas), LA Barrett (499cc Rudge), W Slee (347cc Matchless), AD Carnes (592cc Matchless), FC Berryman (247cc P&M), HP Casey (346cc Levis sc), TB Raban (1021cc BSA three-wheeler), H Laird (1096cc Morgan).”

“A cheery group—and a motley variety of riding kit—at the start of the MCC Team Trial for The Motor Cycle Trophy.” The trial was won by the Ilkley club.
“A clubman’s wedding. When Mr L Murray and Miss Eve Harris, of the Norbury Club, were married recently, this is how they left the church. The bridesmaids and guests were all soloists too!”
Despatch riders practising their act for the Tidworth Tattoo on Salisbury Plain. Panthers, let it be noted, were not always window-cleaners’ bikes.
“Ready to deal with any trouble. These patrols of the RAC of Western Australia are a conspicuous feature on the roads in the neighbourhood of Perth. Their mounts are BSAs.”
“Keeping the sport clean is evidently the aim of this fair visitor to the new North Herts Speedway.”

“MRS IXION ASKS ME TO SAY that she is extremely flattered by the recent suggestion of a wag in the Correspondence columns that she should conduct a page in the Blue ‘Un for pillion couples. But she did her courting in pre-pillion days, when carriers were made of Meccano strips, and so high up that you’d have needed a pair of steps to get on them. Anyhow, as there weren’t any clutches, and the man mounted by a flying leap, I should have had to push her off and then vault over her toupée. So she did her courting in a trailer (early stages) and a forecar (later period), and knows nothing at all about pillions; and no salary which the Editor could offer would induce her to try a flapper bracket at her age and weight. Moreover—and here speaks the British matron, sound to the core—she thinks the modern maiden cannot really love her boy if she grumbles about pillions. Mrs Ixion, in her trailer days, took the liquid oil of my exhaust and the dust which my back wheel stirred up off an untarred road. In her forecar days she interposed her tender and shapely person as a buffer between me and- traction engines, barbed wire fences, and other obstacles. The modern girl must be a poor fish if she seriously objects to a slight spray of Castro! on her stockings as a set-off to the company of her beloved.”

Ixion, at great personal risk, gives some Practical Advice to Motor Cyclists who Happen to be Living under the Authority of a She-who-must-be-Obeyed: “AT INCREDIBLE PERSONAL RISK I have produced the following authoritative article on the art of managing the missus; or, for that matter, the mater; or the landlady; or one’s sister; or one’s fiancée; or, indeed, any female person who adopts a callous, brutal and unsympathetic attitude towards our hobby. I am not really sure that I am justified in writing it. If there are females in our ménage who object to motor cycling in any of its aspects it is probably our duty to shake the dust off our feet, and cut such people clean out of our lives. I have no sympathy with the man who selects his bride-to-be on the grounds that she looks like Greta Garbo, or has the dowry of a Coats or a Vanderbilt, or dances divinely, or can play the ‘cello, or for any such fool reason as these. The he-motor-cyclist cottons to a girl because she prefers the reek of Castrol to Coty; because her balance on a pillion is perfect; because she will lend a hand at mending a burst tyre in the rain; because she know how to grind in a valve; and so forth. If she has beauty and wealth in addition, so much the better; but these latter are not essentials. Still, some of us, like myself, saddled our homes with an assortment of petticoats before we began to motor cycle; and such deserve sympathy. After all, none of us had a chance to choose our mothers or sisters. There isn’t always an alternative landlady. To change fiancées may imply an action for breach of promise, and the resultant damages would mean selling the model. And it must be confessed that some of the sweet young things are awfully sly; they pose as fiercely interested in motor cycles until they’ve extracted a ring from us; and then, after being especially loving, they coo, ‘Bert, dear, when are you going to sell that horrid, smelly, dirty bicycle, and buy the suite for the front room?’ Of course, we put down our feet with a hang at this stage. But they do nag so; and even motor cycling loses some of its charm if pursued in a constant atmosphere of friction at the home end. You all know what I mean. You are overhauling the model, and you have to drain the crank case. You let it drip on the scullery floor. There’s a row. Next time you let it drip on the garden path, and she steps in the puddle with her new lizard shoes. More rows. Next time you rush indoors, see a hefty bowl on the dresser, and use that. The bowl, of course, turns out to be the Sèvres, waiting to contain a super salad when the Plantagenets arrive for lunch. Or you want a bit of rag in a hurry, and you dive into the corner where she keeps her sewing dump, and see a square yard that’ll just do; it turns out to be a bargain from the Great White Sale; she meant it for her summer beach-frock, and has been bragging to Mrs Smith next door about it. These small bothers are of daily occurrence in a household when the man is a motor cyclist and the woman isn’t. Now, there are just two policies to meet this set of circumstances. The first is to be a cave-man. Go your way. Let her lump it. Most of us get ratty, and start like that. I did. Believe me, it doesn’t pay. They have so many crafty feminine ways of getting their own back. They will talk and talk, AND TALK when you are trying to get to sleep. Meals will be lain. Or underdone. They’ll forget to order matches. Or, worse still, beer. They will surround themselves with a guard of other women before whom you cannot say what you think. They will let the radio spout talks on bi-metallism and turn it off when the variety starts. The second plan is to be tactful and considerate.

“…very quietly dump them behind the scullery door…”

Sounds weakish, but it makes for peace. By tact I mean two things. In the first place, don’t annoy them more than you can help. Buy a cheap galvanised bowl for draining the crank case, and don’t use the salad bowl. Keep your own private dump of rag in the toolshed, and don’t rob their work-baskets. Don’t wipe your hands on the curtains after decoking the cylinder. Don’t spill oil about the house or garden, nor even in the back kitchen. Don’t borrow their scissors for carving sheet-iron. Don’t keep rubber solution in the drawing-room. All this demands constant forethought and self-restraint, and represents a considerable strain. But it may save you from getting a wet dish-cloth across your face, a female gambit which is apt to produce quite violent consequences in the home. Having got as far as this, don’t leap to the conclusion that you can guarantee domestic peace. You cannot effect it by such simple means. You may be the tidiest, most thoughtful, and completely considerate son, lodger, or husband in the world. But sooner or later there will nevertheless be some frightful fracas, descending out of a clear sky without warning. For example, you arrive home after a filthy run, and your waders are in such a state that you could plant cabbages on them. You sit on the back doorstep, pull them off, and very quietly dump them behind the scullery door with the intention of brushing off the dried loam next morning. She comes in to prepare the supper and the tail of her eye sights the waders. She lets fly. Her standard opening is, of course ‘What are those horrible things doing on the floor?’ And it’s no use answering brightly: ‘Oh, just lying there.’ The waders, of course, are doing no harm at all. But her sex isn’t rational. The real reason of her ire is that she’s bought a new hat which tickled her to death; and she’s just discovered that Mrs Smith next door has got a similar model for 1s 11d less. So it is useless to point out that the scullery floor is dirty anyhow; that it’s due for a scrub to-morrow morning; and that your waders have not deposited one speck of loam on the floor. Your cue is to distract her thoughts from the hat into some pleasant channel. It is so much easier than it sounds when once you get the idea. Mine started in on me last night. I never said one single word about the scullery floor. I’m far too crafty to reason with women. I just drew myself up and stared at her. ‘How is it,’ I enquired of a hushed universe, ‘that even a pretty woman never looks so handsome as when she is cross?’ This opening took her completely by surprise, and she stared back at me incredulously. I developed the theme. ‘You always were a looker,’ I continued; and with that spot of crimson on each cheek and your eyes sparkling…’ I gazed at her admiringly. She began to smile. ‘Get those dirty things off quick,’ she said suddenly; “I’ve got such a jolly supper cooking for you.’ Better than a wet dish-cloth, wasn’t it?”

“You let it drip on the garden path and she steps in the puddle…”

“THE SEVENTH DUTCH TT, run on the Drente circuit in Northern Holland, saw a one 100% victory for British riders, who took the first three places in each of the three races. Tim Hunt (Norton) added yet another success to his dazzling list by winning the Senior race at the wonderful speed of 82.07mph—the highest average speed ever seen in a motor cycle road race. He put up a lap record at 84.99mph.” Ernie Nott (Rudge) was runner-up, ahead of Stanley Woods (Norton). Van Rijk (AJS) was the first Dutch rider home, in 6th place, “…and received huge cheers and the Dutch national anthem…The Drente circuit is an exceedingly fast one, and this year it was faster still, for nearly £9,000 had been spent on giving it a perfect non-skid surface and widening some of the especially narrow sections. It would have been difficult to find a loophole anywhere in the organisation of the event; for instance, no fewer than 234 police were posted round the course —which is a short one of 17km (10½ miles); and there were six first-aid posts, each with a qualified doctor. The circuit is roughly triangular in shape. In addition to the three ‘corner’ turns, there are three other sharp turns and a number of twists that call for nice judgment, especially when they have to be tackled after ‘flat-out’ sections of dead straight. All Holland. seemed to be at the start and there were big crowds at all the point of interest. Thirty thousand had paid for admission to the grandstand enclosures alone.” The 250s and 350s made a massed start: “…a total of 39 men pushed off when the flag fell; and the unmuffled voice of 39 healthy engines accelerating away rent the air like a long drawn-out explosion. By not having a massed start in the TT we miss the finest spectacle that roadracing has to offer.” First three 250s home were Harry Tyrell-Smith (Rudge), EA Mellors (New Imperial) and CW Johnston (Guzzi). Stanley Woods (Norton) took 350cc honours, followed home by LH Davenport (New3 Imperial) and Graham Walker (Rudge). Dutch rider W van Gent finished fourth, but he was riding an Ajay.

“Tim Hunt (Norton), the winner, cornering. It was the first time he had ridden on this circuit, and he told The Motor Cycle man that he enjoyed it immensely, though he ‘could have done with a few more corners’.”

“TESTS WERE CARRIED OUT last week of the new automatic traffic signals in Oxford Street, London, W. A bell rings at each change to warn pedestrians.”

“GERMAN CHEMISTS ARE PERFECTING a gas, for use as a war weapon, which will effectually stop internal-combustion engines. It’s chief constituent is ethylated iodine. Query: Would traffic patrols find a cylinder of the stuff more effective than the usual whistle?”

“MOTORISTS OF MACEIO (Brazil) who violate traffic regulations may have their fines halved if they use, instead of petrol, an alcohol fuel made locally.”

“A FALLIN MAN bought a motor cycle for 25s. It cost him £13 in fines at Stirling Sheriff Court—£10 for not being insured, £2 for inefficient brakes, and £1 for having no number plate.”

“IN BELGIUM DURING 1930, 52,856 motor cycles were registered, as compared with 45,814 in 1929 and 39,287 in 1928. “

“TROUBLE WITH AN HT CABLE! When a police constable was riding his motor cycle down Haydon’s Road, Wimbledon, London, SW, an overhead tramway cable broke and fell on his machine. Luckily he escaped a shock, but the motor cycle caught fire and was burnt out.”

1931 COVEAGLE 150
At the 1930 show Coventry Eagle launched a 196cc Villiers-powered lightweight named the ‘Wonder’. In response to the new 15s tax regime it added a 147cc version, the ‘Little Wonder’. “The very complete specification,” according to the Blue ‘Un, “includes a three-speed gear, legshields, an undershield, carrier, 26x3in tyres, and chromium plating…this new model looks—and is—a very ‘real’ motor cycle.”

THE US-BASED EXCELSIOR company, determined to avoid a financial crisis in the wake of the Wall Street Crash, stopped production of the Henderson four and the V-twins it had sold in Britain under the American-X banner to avoid confusion with the British Excelsior (which had just launched the 129cc ohv Bantam, not to be confused with the two-stroke Beeza. And don’t mix up the BSA D7 Bantam with Excelsior’s 247cc ohv D7).

AS THE RECESSION BIT ever deeper Rudge, Scott and even BSA decided to save money by staying away from the show. France and Germany cancelled their national shows, but not Italy. The Green ‘Un warned: “We must watch Italy. She has forged ahead in sport and is forging ahead in manufacture.” Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini held membership card No 1 of the Moto-Club Italia; bikes under 175cc were exempt from road tax. No wonder its show was packed with lightweights, but centre-stage was held by a blown transverse-four  Moto Guzzi racer.

AJS LAUNCHED AN IMPRESSIVE 598cc 50º transverse V-twin at the Milan Show but the company had expanded and diversified at just the wrong time and ran into cashflow problems. Following unsuccessful negotiations with BSA it was snapped up by Matchless so production moved from Wolverhampton to Woolwich. The sale also killed off AJS’s final project, a 630cc ohv inline four. The design and tooling of the Ajay transverse twin was sold to Japan, where the engine was used in lightweight commercial vehicles well into the 1950s.  AJS’s liquidator was able to pay every creditor in full with enough left over for the Stevens family to keep the famous Retreat Street works. They were quickly back in business with a three-wheel commercial vehicle, followed by proprietary engines. They could not be sold as Ajays so, rather cheekily, the Stevens brothers adopted the name Ajax. Users included AJW.

Norton, doubtless smarting from Rudge’s domination of the previous year’s TT, roared back to the Island to start a long winning streak. The cammy engine’s lubrication problems had been sorted by Number 8 Hats Joe Craig and Arthur Carroll, allowing Tim Hunt to become the first rider to win the Junior and Senior TTs in the same year. In the process he knocked 8min 30sec and 10min off the Junior and Senior  records. With Guthrie and Woods 2nd and 3rd in the Senior, Norton also became the first manufacturer to score a Senior hat trick since Indian in 1911. To put the cherry on the Norton cake Simpson, having recorded the first 60 and 70mph TT laps, lapped at over 80mph before retiring. The Norton  team went on to win 10 Continental grands prix that season. In the six years from 1931-36 Norton would win 11 out of 12 Junior and Senior TTs.

Graham Walker and Tyrell-Smith were 1st and 2nd in the Lightweight TT on Rudge’s radial-valve 250cc and Rudge would have scored a hat trick but Ernie Nott could only manage 4th . Mind you, he was forced to continually adjust a slack tappet by hand. Tell kids today…

There’s no doubting the TT was tough on bike and rider alike. Of 50 starters in the Junior just 15 stayed the distance; in the Senior there were 56 starters and 13 finishers; in the Lightweight there were 41 starters and 13 finishers. The Blue ’Un warned: “Much remains to be learned about engine design.” It called on designers already using multi-cylinder engines in luxury tourers to build multi-cyclinder racers and expressed concern over “the way certain of the machines appeared to steer at speed”.

Velocette tried supercharging its cammy single. A distinctive induction note inspired racing workshop boss Harold Willis to dub her Whiffling Clara.

Having won the Junior Manx Grand Prix for the second year running Velo rider DJ Pirie collapsed and had to be carried from the track. He recovered in time to be called before an Island magistrate who congratulated him on his victory, then fined him £2 for riding with an ‘inefficient silencer’. Of 41 starters only 14 stayed the course.

The ISDT moved to Italy for another high-speed mountain blitz. For the second year running mechanical failures and crash damage knocked out the Brits, leaving Italy to take another Trophy with the Dutch team claiming the Vase.

The ACU, which now listed almost 400 affiliated clubs throughout Britain, responded to the recession by halving the TT entry fee to £16.

The Japanese military took delivery of a 1,200cc flat twin from JAC, joining the growing number of Harleys made under licence by Rikuo.

New Hudson adopted enclosure of the driveline and underside of its duplex frame, reviving a pre-WW1 design by fitting a kickstart that doubled as a propstand. Despite a stunt in which a 550cc sv outfit was ridden from Brooklands to Lands End and back 20 times without stopping the engine, teething troubles hit sales. Within a couple of years motorcycle production had ceased and the factory was making braking and suspension systems for Girling.

Ariel won the Maudes Trophy for what became known as the Sevens Test, involving all seven models in its 1931 line-up. A sv 350 averaged 52.58mph for seven hours at Brooklands; an ohv 350 covered 115 miles on 7s (35p) worth of petrol and oil; a factory spannerman set out to decoke a 597cc sv within seven minutes (it actually took him 4min 19sec); an ohv 500 was set the target of covering 70 miles in an hour (it covered over 80 miles); a 550 sv sloper was riden for 70min non-stop in each of its four gears; an ohv 500 sloper made seven climbs of seven infamous hills including Porlock; and a 600 Squariel did 700 miles in under 700 minutes (averaging 62mph).

Scott had to call in the receivers but kept trading and developed a highly promising water-cooled triple. Sadly it never got into production.

“And now, a word from our sponsors.” Here are some contemporary ads.

1931 SUN AD
1931 BMT AD