This early roadtest of a Bradbury Peerless is notable two beer stops. But it does give an insight into the day-to-day running of a pioneer motor cycle.
THANKS TO THE courtesy of Mr Jackson, the manager of the London depot of Bradbury & Co, a Peerless motor cycle was placed at my disposal for the week-end trial, and I decided to give it a run to that popular east-coast resort, Southend.
The engine crank case is cast in malleable cast iron , forming one piece with the bottom bracket. The bore is 3⅛in and the stroke 3in [375cc], rated (at 2½hp) at 1,500 revolutions. The pulleys are V-shaped with a gear ratio of four and a half to one. Cylinder and combustion head are cast in one piece; Longuemare carburetter. The contact breaker is of taper form with high-speed trembler, Bassée-Michel coil. Spark lever on right side of top tube, throttle valve on left; combined valve-lifter and switch actuated by inverted lever under left handle. Right-hand inverted lever, Bowden brake for rear wheel, and right-hand thumb rim brake on front wheel complete the controls.
Residing at Forest Gate, we escape the main road through Whitechapel and Stratford. There are tram setts, however, to Chadwell Heath, from which point the road becomes almost excellent to Romford. In the High Street, Romford you are ‘spotted’ by a lynx-eyed constable, who touches his hat and at the same time takes a mental photograph of the show, and telephones in on to Brentwood. But no matter, I let the machine rip until the foot of Brook Street hill is reached. There is a conveninient hostelry on the left, with good lubricants, and a cooler is taken. Not that it is wanted, but it is fatal to enter Brentwood (six miles from Romford) under the half hour, and it is far cheaper to lubricate than to contribute £3 and costs to the Brentwood court of justice (?).
The motor evidently did not like the look of Brentwood Street hill, for it would not start; I dropped the valve and the belt simply slipped, but an injection of paraffin through the helmet indicator over the inlet valve did the trick, and we romped up the one in sixteen rise with the throttle full open.
Through Brentwood the decline is taken only at a fair pace, as halfway down it is sharpe to the right to Shenfield.
Past Billericay the motor simply tears away, full of life, until it is pulled up a bit up the steep Crays Hill, short but sharp, just before Wickford. Then through Wickford a right-angle turn brings the machine on a fairly step incline with a hump on the top, but, although labouring a bit, it goes over this without pedal help.
Again there is a favouring decline, until the gradual rise to Raleigh, where we bear to the right under the railway arch, past the railway station entrance, and just pull the machine up by a valve easer, to take the sharp turn to the right into the High Street. Round the corner the valve is released, but the belt slips and the motor simply gives a dying groan and splutters out. It is a hint that both engine and driver require a lubricant.
I let out the dirty oil, for I have run about thirty miles, pump in a measure and take one myself at the corner house. Away again, dab the float, kick the pedals, drop the valve; but as is not uncommon with a high-powered engine, it will not start without a dose of paraffin. Then off it goes like a gun over the final eight miles–the last two miles tram setts–and Southend is reached in double quick time.
On the return journey the machine went home to Forest Gate without a hitch, with the exception that we stopped to lubricate.
Altogether it was a pleasurable run on as satisfactory a motor bicycle as we have ridden, and fully up to the excellent standard the Bradbury Company has always set itself to maintain. My only complaint–if it can be called such–is that as a single* the 2½hp Peerless is, if anything, a wee bit too powerful, and more fitted to push a forecarriage, drag a sidecarriage, or haul a trailer, than run alone.
*Nowadays we would say ‘solo’.