Search our collection
De Dion Bouton motor tricycle
De Dion Bouton motor tricycle, by the Motor Manufacturing Co. Coventry, 1898. This tricycle is a copy of the French machines which embodied improvements patented by Count Albert De Dion and Charles Bouton in 1895. A vertical single-cylinder air-cooled engine is mounted behind the rear axle which it drives through spur gearing.
Avro Monocar motorcycle
The Avro monocar 2.5 h.p., 1926. This is an original design by Sir Alliott Verdon Roe and probably intended as a prototype for future production. Roe was best known as an English pioneer pilot and aircraft manufacturer, founder of the Avro Company in 1910. After finding success working with aircraft he turned his attention to his other passion, motorcycles. His aim was to economically combine motorcycle simplicity with car comfort; he was also very concerned with protecting the rider from weather and dirt. The design shared the premise of the earlier Ner-a-Car (viewed by Alliott as being too near a motorcycle), and shows the continued desire for an alteration in the motorcycle design. This desire and these designs were a precursor to the evolution of the scooter. This vehicle was personally used by Roe over many thousands of miles between Southampton and Manchester.
Ariel 'Leader' motorcycle
Ariel Leader twin-cylinder, two-stroke motor cycle, 1963. The Leader was designed by Val Page and first produced in July 1958. Its design had the unusual feature of having its frame welded up ‘car style’ hiding its engine. In 1959 all other Ariel models including the Square Four were dropped, and the Leader gained acclaim winning Motorcycle of the year, 1959, in ‘Motorcycle News’. Nonetheless the aesthetic design did not prove very popular and in 1960 the Arrow was released. The Arrow was almost exactly the same at the Leader but with a ‘naked’ engine. In the 1960s all British motorcycle and scooter manufactures were finding it difficult to compete with the Japanese imports and in 1965 BSA, Ariel’s parent company, decided to stop the production of all Ariel motorcycles.
Triumph Model H Motorcycle
Triumph Model H motor cycle, 1917, with lamp, horn and pump.
Velocette LE200 motorcycle
Velocette LE200 motor cycle. The Velocette LE was introduced in 1949 with a 150 cc engine and launched as the ‘Motorcycle for Everyman’. The LE stood for Little Engine and was notably light and quiet. In 1951 the engine capacity increased to 192 cc and though the motorcycle still proved too expensive for mass consumption they were very popular with British police forces which gained the bike the nickname ‘the Noddy Bike’. This motorcycle is a 1955 version of the LE with a larger 200 cc engine. Production stopped in 1968 when the Velocette factory closed.
Werner Motor Cycle, 1899
Werner motor cycle, 1899. The engine is attached to the steering head and the petrol tank to the top frame and it is lightweight with a smoother drive due to the belt drive, however it was a little unstable due to its high centre of gravity.
F.N. 3 h.p. 4-cylinder motor cycle, 1905
F.N. 3 h.p. 4-cylinder motor cycle, 1905
Levis 2.25 h.p. two stroke motor cycle, 1916
Levis 2.25 h.p. Popular two stroke motor cycle, 1916
Ariel Square Four motorcycle
Ariel Square Four motor cycle, 1959, part of an era of heavy luxurious touring motorcycles. First produced in 1931, the Square Four was the first of the four-cylinder motorcycles to earn and keep a substantial market; however due to a fall in demand, production ceased in 1959. This type of motorcycle would have cost nearly as much as a small light car and with a 1-litre engine and 100mph performance the ‘Squariel’, as it became known, was a ‘superbike’ of its day.
Ner-a-car B-series motor bicycle
Ner-a-car motor bicycle, 1925. Designed by the American designer Carl Neracher in 1918 and an example of attempts by motorcycle designers to give the motorcycle and motor-tricycle more car-like features. The name, a play on Neracher and the idea that the vehicle was ‘nearly a car’, underline this intention. It was known for its stability and protection from the road, debris and the weather, inviting riders to ‘Go As You Are on Your Ner-A-Car’. About 1,000 to 1500 were made every year between 1921 and 1926 and only about 50 (including this one) are known to still exist in England.
Zenith-Gradua motor bicycle, 1920
Zenith-Gradua motor bicycle, fitted with 5 H.P. vee twin J.A.P. engine, 1920
D.K.R Capella Motor Scooter
D.K.R. Capella motor scooter, 1961. Due to traffic congestion, high fuel costs and inadequate parking the motor scooter was becoming increasingly popular in Europe in the late 1950s. D.K.R Scooters Ltd started producing scooters in 1957, and in 1961 they brought out the Capella. The Capella was given a new style and body work and replaced most of DKR’s other models. The Capella’s basic design is typical of many of the scooters being produced in the 1960s while scooters and mopeds were reaching their peak of popularity. The growing scooter culture is illustrated by the production of the ‘Scooter Weekly’ supplement to the magazine ‘Motorcycling’. The Capella ran for five years until DKR Scooters ceased production in 1966.
Honda CX500 Turbo motorcycle
Honda CX500 Turbo motorcycle, 1982. Frame no. PC03-2000006, engine no. PC03E-2000007. ( Less turbocharger and manifold, computer, electric fuel pump retained by Honda for sectioning). NOTE: see Screen 2. Honda was founded in 1946 by Soichiro Honda with the aim to produce cheap transportation for the Japanese after the devastation of the Second World War. It is now one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. This CX500 Turbo is the result of a Honda research programme developing the turbocharger to obtain the performance of a larger engine with the fuel economy of a smaller engine. The CX500 is the first motorcycle to combine a turbocharger with computer controlled, fuel injection and ignition systems.
Junior Triumph motorcycle
'Junior' Triumph, 2-stroke, 2.25 h.p. motorcycle, c. 1914-1918. These motorcycles were also affectionately known as the ‘Baby’ Triumph. They first started being produced in 1913 to satisfy the growing demand for economical lightweight motorcycles, and were so successful production continued until 1925. The later models were fitted with a clutch and kick-start, though models like this had neither and had to be started by sitting astride and ‘paddling’ off. These motorcycles also still carried the common Triumph feature of the front fork rocking about a single pivot.
Indian Motorcycle, 1911
Indian 3.5 h.p. single-cylinder motor cycle, 1911. This motorcycle was made in 1911 and has a 3.5hp 499 cc single-cylinder engine with speed gears and positive chain drive.
Raleigh 'Wisp' Moped
Raleigh 'Wisp' moped, 1967. Mopeds and scooters were a cultural phenomenon in 1960s Britain. At their peak in 1964, imports stood at 100,000 a year and UK production at 36,000, yet by 1966 imports had sunk to 15,000 a year and UK production also continued to decline. However the aspects of modern life which initially caused the scooter's popularity, urban congestion, parking restrictions and costs, continued to rise. This led manufacturers like Raleigh to believe there was still a market. With the Wisp, Raleigh attempted to go back to the motorized bicycle, trying to appeal to a market that asked for ‘a design gayer, more cosmopolitan and less utilitarian appeal’.
Gadabout motor scooter
Swallow 'Gadabout' motor scooter, 1948. The Swallow Coachbuilding Co. Ltd was bought in 1945 by the Helliwell Group, an aircraft servicing and repair company. They started to produce the Gadabout in 1946 in an attempt to enter the emerging market for easily maintained, inexpensive, lightweight scooters. It was designed by two aircraft-men, Eric Sanders and Frank Rainbow, inspired by the foldable Welbike, used on airfields during the War. The Gadabout was billed as the "British Two-wheeler for Mr & Mrs Everyman", and was confirmed successful when adopted by public bodies including the Staffordshire Constabulary. The Gadabout Mark II followed in 1949 and the model continued to be made until September 1951. Another lightweight scooter was designed to follow the Gadabout, the Joyrider, but it was never produced.
Triumph motorcycle, 1904
Triumph motor cycle, built two years after the first Triumph motorcycle was produced, with a 2.5 hp engine probably made by JAP or Fafnir, and the rest of the vehicle of Triumph design, Coventry, West Midlands, England, 1904
Raleigh Moped Bicycle, 1959
Raleigh moped bicycle, 1959. Raleigh Industries Ltd started making motorized bicycles in 1901, but production stopped in 1933. The Raleigh moped bicycle came into production in 1958 and was designed to provide personal motor transport at low cost. The design championed economy, ease of handling, maintenance, parking and safety as its key features. During the late 1950s there was a growing demand in Britain for independent transport, people were travelling further to get to work and parking was getting more difficult in towns. Mopeds were ideal as they were smaller than scooters and motorcycles and easier to drive. In 1960 Raleigh’s own moped was replaced by one built under licence from Motobécane and a copy of the French Mobylette.
Single Cylinder Shaft Driven Motor Cycle
F.N. 2.5 H.P. single cylinder shaft driven motor cycle, 1909
Corgi Motorcycle, 1948
Corgi motor cycle, 1948. The Corgi is a fold-up motorcycle based on the military Welbike. The Welbike was designed to fit in a container and be dropped by parachute behind enemy lines during the Second World War. The design was redeveloped for a mass market by John Dolphin and production of the Corgi began in 1948. 27,050 were manufactured and some exported to the US, branded as the ‘Indian Papoose’. However even though additions like a side car and kick start were added, standards of motorcycles and living were changing in the 1950s and people wanted more than the very basic Corgi, so production ended in October 1954.
Werner motor bicycle
Werner 2 h.p. motor bicycle, 1902-3, with accumulator ignition, spray carburettor. Pedals, crank and chain missing. This model marks a major step in the development of the practical motorcycle. The location of the engine at the bottom bracket of the frame provided the best solution to problems of weight distribution and frame strength. In addition, the engine was actually built in to the frame, rather than simply being clipped on. The engine is a 262 cc, four-stroke unit with an automatic inlet valve and the De Dion-Bouton system of coil ignition. Lubrication is by hand pump. There is no clutch, and pedalling gear would originally have been fitted for starting and for assisting the engine where necessary.
Drawing of surface vaporiser
Drawing of the De Dion surface vaporiser, 1899. Following the invention by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885 of the surface vaporiser for supplying an ignitable air-petrol mixture, various specialised types were evolved for both cars and motor cycles. The example shown in this drawing is one of the best known of this period, and was used extensively on the De Dion motor tricycle.
Ariel Motor Tricycle
Ariel motor tricycle, 1898-1899. Motor-tricycles were at their height of popularity in the 1890s. During this period Ariel Motors produced the ‘Ariel’ motor-tricycle, its design based on the De Dion-Bouton model of tricycle. The Ariel motor-tricycle was able to establish its reputation by winning the Paris to Marseilles to Paris race in 1896 at the speed of 14.5 mph, making the model very fashionable. This is an example of a later model than the machine that won the 1896 race and sports some improvements including enclosed gears and improved weight distribution positioning the engine in front of the axle.
O.E.C. Motor Bicycle, 1930
O.E.C. motor bicycle, 1930, fitted with J.A.P. engine
Quadrant motor bicycle
Quadrant 3.5 hp motor cycle date 1905 or 1906, with damaged headlamp, ruby reflector, toolbag containing 5 spanners, 2 tyre levers, 1 punch, 2 oil cans AMAC carburettor. Right pedal and toolbox damaged
3.5 hp Triumph motorcycle, 1907; an improved version of the 1905 3hp Triumph, the first wholly in-house designed and manufactured Triumph motorcycle. This design helped increase the popularity of motorcycling at a time when the market was at a slump due to the unreliability of the machines. The Triumph 1907 had a newly designed light frame with Triumph patented spring forks, a jet carburettor with magneto ignition, and a ball bearing engine. The motorcycle also claimed to have the most comfortable ride compared to other motorcycles. Due to these combined features of increased dependability and comfort the motorcycle had been transformed into a form of reliable transport.
New Hudson Autocycle
New Hudson autocycle Reg. No. 656 EHK, 98 c.c. manufactured 1955
Coventry-Eagle Pullman motor-cycle, 1936. Object c
Coventry-Eagle Pullman motor-cycle, 1936. Object consists of two parts. The m/cycle is out on loan, and a lamp from this machine is located at Blythe House(B/FF31/N17E/E/04/LTT).
Velocette Valiant motor cycle
Velocette Valiant motor cycle, 1959. The Valiant was launched in 1956 at the Earls Court motorcycle show. It was intended to combine the ‘civilized’ virtues of the LE Velocette with a sporting appeal for the younger rider. The Valiant had many of the LE’s features but was designed to be faster with a top speed 60mph. At the time this Valiant was made, in 1959, Veloce also released their entry to the scooter market, the Velocette Veeline. This was generally considered to be a Valiant but with a dolphin fairing and was produced until 1961. The Valiant faired slightly longer and was finally withdrawn in 1963.
Douglas B28 2.75 hp motorcycle, 1928, with pump and 2 nickelled stands
A.B.C. Scootamota motor scooter
A.B.C. Scootamota motorcycle, designed by Granville Bradshaw. These were first introduced in 1919 and were one of the earliest and best examples of what we would now just call a scooter. A cheap, simple and practical vehicle, Motor Cycling magazine was particularly impressed by its stability. Unsurprisingly the design was soon copied by other manufacturers, however Skootamota ceased production in 1921.
Golden Flash motorcycle
B.S.A. Golden Flash vertical twin-cylinder motor cycle, 1953. BSA Cycles has its origins in the Birmingham Small Arms company, founded in 1861 by fourteen Birmingham gunsmiths. In the 1880s the company branched out into the newly emerging bicycle trade. In 1903 the company first experimented in motorcycle construction and by 1951 it was successful enough to buy the struggling Triumph Motorcycles Ltd, making them the largest producer of motorcycles in the world. The Golden Flash motorcycle had been introduced a year earlier, a larger version of the 1938 Goldstar model. It led to the rise of the parallel twin engine layout, which was to dominate British design throughout the 1950s and 60s, and with its all-over gold paint scheme proved a popular escape from post war austerity.