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by Charles Falco, TR3OC Historian
Although designed in the mid-1960's, the engine of the Triumph Trident (as well as of its sister the
BSA Rocket 3) was based heavily on Triumph's legendary two cylinder 500cc Speed Twin of 1937 (and the next year's sports model Tiger 100). Because of this, the three cylinder Trident is sometimes known as the "Tiger 100 and a half." The Tiger 100's basic design was one of the most long-lived in motorcycling history, being used for the next 50 years in Triumph's entire range of vertical twins (and triples) including the famous Bonneville.
The Trident was immediately labeled a "superbike" when it was introduced in the summer of 1968. This was an apt description, since the Trident was the first modern, multi-cylinder production motorcycle, and one of the very fastest then available. For the first few years both the Trident and Rocket 3 were produced with 4-speed gearboxes, and known as the model T150 and A75 respectively. In mid-1972 a 5th gear was added, creating the model T150V Trident. However, very few genuine five-speed Rocket 3's came off the assembly line before production of them ceased entirely. In 1973 a front disk brake replaced the original drum, resulting in the final production form of the T150V.
Severe financial and management problems at Triumph, along with the rapid disintegration of the entire British motorcycle industry in the early 1970s, led to a government-sponsored merger in July 1973 with Norton; the only other remaining manufacturer of significant size. However, the restructuring plans announced by the newly formed Norton-Villiers-Triumph Ltd. (NVT) resulted in a worker's blockade of the Meriden factory starting in mid-September. Production of the Trident was eventually transferred to NVT's Small Heath factory the following March, but this lengthy disruption resulted in relatively few 1974 Tridents being produced.
Shortly after production of the Trident resumed at the Small Heath factory, a major change was made to the machine's engine layout. This new 1975 model T160 Trident employed an engine with forward-sloping cylinders as used by the original BSA Rocket 3, but also with an electric starter and the gearshift moved to the left side to comply with American safety legislation. However, this final Trident was only produced for little more than a year, at which time the NVT company collapsed completely. The final batch of T160 Tridents came off the line the week before Christmas, 1975. As Roy Bacon writes in his book Triumph Twins & Triples, "At the end of 1975 the last Trident left Small Heath to bring to an end production of one of motorcycling's legends."
In all, only 27,480 Tridents were produced during its seven year life (for comparison, roughly 250,000 Honda Gold Wings were manufactured in its first seven years).
Epilog: The collapse of NVT in 1975 not only ended production of the Triumph Trident, but it also marked the effective end of the "classic" British motorcycle industry. Thus drew to a close England's domination of world motorcycle production, which had lasted for almost three-quarters of a century. However, with the re-establishment of the Triumph marque in the 1990's with a "new generation" of motorcycles--including a new Trident--the future again looks bright for this famous name.
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The story of the Norton Commando Isolastic engine mounts.
In 1966 AMC, which at that time included Norton, was acquired by Manganese Bronze Holdings. The chairman of MBH, a group of engineering and metal firms was Dennis Poore. Apparently he had been planning this move since 1962, and by completing it just after the receiver had been appointed, avoided negotiations with the long-suffering AMC shareholders.
Dennis Poore chaired a meeting in late 1966, getting together executives from both the Wolverhampton Villiers plant and Norton-Matchless at Plumstead.
The purpose of the meeting was to come up with a new flagship motorcycle for the new concern, a big bike primarily aimed at the US market, to replace the Atlas.
They decided to resurrect a five year old design produced at Plumstead by Charles Udall, a unit construction 800cc dohc parallel twin with a four-speed gearbox. This heavy engine was housed, inclined forward, in a modified featherbed frame decked out with many AMC cycle parts topped by a tank bearing the traditional Norton name. The project was dubbed P10.
Bernard Hooper, who had been with Villiers from 1958 to 1965, was designated the project's chief designer. Hooper was an experienced development engineer who, while at BSA, had already been responsible, with Herman Meier, for taking the 125cc Bantam to 150cc, and for the experimental Sunbeam S10. Then, as a freelance, he had worked on the racing 344cc Scott, and with John Favill at Villiers had developed their all-original 25bhp 250cc twin-carb two stroke single, the Starmaker, which was to become the basis of some quite successful road racers. He left late in 1965 to go independent, rejoining Norton
Villiers late in 1966. (Later Hooper and Favill were to collaborate again, at first for Norton Villiers Triumph, on an idea they started when freelancing in 1965, the revolutionary two stroke stepped piston SPX Wulf Design.)
Hooper was quickly disillusioned with the P10. One of the engines main features was the long, single row, cam chain, at 88 to 90 links it was as long as a conventional final drive chain. It ran through a series of teflon coated steel tubes, outboard of the engine, which gave the superficial appearance of inclined pushrod tubes and made the bike resemble a stubby Vincent Comet. The engine suffered from a lack of power and vibration, a consequence of the long cam chain and the traditional if outdated parallel twin design. The team's attempts to continue development on the engine and cylinder head were undercut by the knowledge that Wally Wyatt, the seasoned Plumstead, (Norton) based development engineer, had already modified the Atlas engine to produce more power than the P10 looked capable of.
Early in 1967, the now late Dr. Stefan Bauer joined the team as Director of Engineering. He came from Rolls Royce, and before that, the atomic energy industry. He was not a motor cyclist, which may have contributed to his approach which was perceived as abrupt and high handed. Bauer was emphatic from the start that vibration would not be tolerated. He also endorsed Poore in insisting that, come what may, the new flagship had to be ready quickly. in time for the Earl's Court Motorcycle show in September 1967.
It was apparently Poore himself that finally put a stop the P10 project after a test ride, a bike that would have become the 800SS. The unit construction twin, with double overhead cams that the British bike industry needed to evolve, to challenge the rising sun from the east. This under funded, underdeveloped and therefore misformed new hope, was killed at birth by its stepfather. There is a surviving example at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.
There was three months to go to the show, and Hooper came up with the idea, of using the Atlas engine in something like the new type frame that Bauer was had been developing for the P10. The new frame would be used despite the reputation of the featherbed. The new frame would eliminate vibration by hanging the engine, gearbox and rear swinging arm from rubber bushes, isolated from the main frame and the rider, hence the name Isolastic. The new frame would not just have a single top tube, but a 2.25 Inch diameter main spine, twin front down tubes and a triangulated rear section. The new frame was also light, at 24lbs some 11lbs lighter than its predecessor, the featherbed.
Bauer was also responsible for the new oil bearing Triumph frames, to be used on the new range of Triumphs for 1971. Dr. Bauer had temporarily joined BSA-Triumph from Norton, from where he would return. This new Triumph frame would benefit from computer stress analysis, however there were still several broken frames to sort out as they were tested at MIRA, and the design would be changed accordingly.
The Commando Isolastic Engine Mounts
Dr. Bauer designed a frame with engine mounts carrying rubber bumpers to isolate the rider from the vibrations of the large parallel twin Atlas engine. The unique thing about the bike and frame, was that the swinging arm was connected directly to the engine plates, and therefore the engine unit.
While this arrangements gets round the problem of transmission snatch and windup from the rubber mounted engine with chain drive, it also creates its own problem, a rubber mounted rear wheel. That is, the rear wheel is rubber mounted through the engine mounts to the frame. And all this from the company that brought you the featherbed.
So, unlike other rubber mounted engines, like the BMW and Sunbeam, (both of which with rubber mounted engines but shaft drive and conventionally mounted swinging arm) the Commando engine mounts had to be something special. Allowing up and down movement limited only by the rubber mounts, but limiting sideways movement to the smallest possible clearance to allow the mountings to work and provide a stiff ride.
There are three engine mounting points on the Commando. The first at the front of the engine is a large diameter tube with two crescent shaped pieces welded to one side. The crescent shaped pieces bolt to the front of the engine, and a smaller tube goes inside the larger, the gap between stuffed with the rubber mounts. These are rings of rubber and on later models the rubber rings are fixed with circlips, the early ones moved about a bit. The inner or smaller tube is bolted to two lugs welded to the frame. This is a special bolt with a reduced head to allow it to be removed and clear the exhaust. The bolt is secured with washers and a locking nut. Side to side movement, or end float, in the front mount is controlled with either shims or, on later bikes, (standard on the MKIII), a screw or vernier adjustment. The moving parts are separated with a teflon washer.
Movement in the front mounting is the most critical to the handling of the bike, the rear mount tends to be used as a pivot. The front mount is also the mount that needs adjusting most frequently. This mount cannot be converted from Shim to Vernier without the help of a machine shop, although there are a number of places that will sell you the vernier type engine mount. The difference between the two is that on the shim type, the center tube protrudes from the crescent engine mounting plates by different amounts. The one sticking out more needs to be turned down so that both sides are the same, it also needs to be turned down square with the tube, (so you can't do it with a hacksaw).
Converting the front mount to the vernier or MKIII type, you will still need some bits from the old shim mount, even with the conversion kit. Its also a good idea to replace the teflon washers, which will also be missing from the kit. The vernier type is essentially the same as the shim type, however the center tube is threaded at one end, to allow the end cap to be adjusted for clearance. The threaded end cap has a series of holes to allow adjustment. To adjust the vernier type simply loosen the main bolt that passes through the middle, then using the tool (Which is a thin rod of metal about the same diameter as a thick spoke) tighten to take out all play, then back off by one of the series of adjuster holes in the head. This gives 5 thousands clearance.
The rear engine mount is a large diameter tube again, but this time as part of the engine plates. The plates secure the gearbox to the engine and have a mounting point for the chaincase center bolt. The large tube is located directly above the swinging arm pivot. This is the inaccessible mount, adjustment with the shims is possible but difficult, the vernier is easier. The internal tube is again fixed to the frame through two lugs welded onto the frame, a stud replaces the bolt and is secured with washers and two locking nuts outside the two Z plates and spacers.
Converting the rear mount requires no machining, however, you will need to remove the engine, gearbox and swinging arm to get it out. (It may actually be possible to convert with the engine and stuff in situ, but you ought to replace the internal rubbers at the same time, which can only be done with the mounting off the bike. Adjusting the rear vernier type is the same as the front.
If you are replacing the internal Isolastic rubbers, there is a service tool for the front mount, assume you use the same for the rear. The rubbers come in different sizes for each mount, reducing different types of vibration.
The third and final engine mount is the one that fixes the head and prevents the engine and thereby the swinging arm twisting. This is much simpler that the other two engine mounts in that there is no end float to adjust. On earlier models it consisted of a flat piece of metal bent into an S shape, this was intended to allow the engine to move around its vertical axis, (up and down) but prevent any side to side movement. This would result in the rear wheel twisting. The early S shaped top engine mount failed and broke often. It was replaced with two simple rubber mounts, the same as the ones for the exhaust mounting plates. These screw directly into the smaller frame tube above the engine. There are two triangular plates, studs and a bracket which complete the arrangement, securing to the head with three socket screws.
The only conversion worth noting here is with the Norvil head steady, apparently it goes under all types of tank and improves handling, (stops the rear wheel from twisting as mentioned earlier). The only company producing genuine Norvil stuff is good old Fair Spares.
1. Clearance in the lower two mounts is given in the manual as 10 thousands, though the police are rumored to set this to 6 thousands. The smaller you can get it the better the handling, although some movement must be present or the frame will break. The trade off being increased vibration.
2. Dont put the bike on the center stand to adjust or change any of the isolastic mounts, the stand is bolted to the engine plates remember.
3. Point of interest. When the Norton Commando was originally conceived, and still in prototype form, it had the vernier, (threaded adjuster) adjustments to the Isolastics. For the production models, and to reduce production costs, shims were used.
From the Internet
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An epic journey of 1928
Reproduced from the Internet by W. Boddy Motorcycle Sport, August 1972
Motorcycling is again coming back into favor and it does not seem right that all the credit for the long-distance pioneering runs of long ago should remain with the four-wheeler fraternity, does it? We may regard with a mixture of awe and reverence the exploits of people like Birtles who drove a Bean from London to Australia in 1927, those who raced from Paris to Peking as long ago as 1907 when the big Thomas car proved the winner, the Court-Treatts who coaxed a couple of Crossleys from the Cape to Cairo, taking from 1924 until 1926 to do so, and Fred Grey who undertook Trans-African journeys in a pair of twin-cylinder Jowetts, of only 7 hp, named "Wait" and "See". But the motorcycle could do it too, as I
Now propose to remind you.
The outfit concerned was a 3½ hp. Rudge-Whitworth with a box-bodied sidecar, which Stanley Glanfield, of the well-known motorcycle factors, Glanfield Lawrence Ltd., rode to some purpose away back in 1927/8. What Glanfield set out to do was to ride his moderately-powered, single-cylinder Rudge for a distance of 18,000 miles across four continents at a time in motoring history when roads, maps, service facilities and conditions generally did not encourage a world onslaught of this kind, even in a car and with company to share the adventures.
Pay tribute, then, to this lone rider, who on 2 July 1927, having worked at his preparations all night, kick-started his Rudge and set off towards Folkstone on a journey which was to occupy all his skill, stamina and resourcefulness for the next eight months. The sidecar was useful as a repository for tins of petrol and oil, food, blankets, and some spare parts. On the pillion Glanfield had fitted a small vice, anticipating the need to make roadside repairs....
Even to cross Europe alone on a motor-cycle was tough going 44 years ago, but the Rudge was at Amiens by the first nightfall and the only alarms seem to have been a narrow escape from colliding with a train at a level-crossing near Compeigne and a fire, quickly put out with the rider's extinguisher, near the German border. Slightly singed, Glanfield pressed on, crossing Germany without the advantage of speaking the language, but losing 10 days at Vienna because the frame broke and had to be repaired there and then beside the road.
To prevent this happening again a lightweight sidecar was made especially for the machine in Vienna. This was an improvement but the very bad roads in Hungary and the Balkans continually threw Glanfield out of the saddle, and in Serbia he found that if he had put 65 miles behind in a day it was good going. By August 15 our hero had reached Constantinople but the feared red tape of Turkish officialdom delayed him for nine days. Then it was across the Bosphorous to Haida Pasha, where the rider was compelled to give up riding the Rudge for a time, it being part of the official ruling that he must travel by train in order that he might not get a sight of the Dardanelles fortifications. Indeed, at this period of his travels officialdom did its best to bring the venture to a halt. For instance, the Police sent him to Payas over narrow mountain tracks strewn with boulders and crossed by dried-up riverbeds and gullies. Arriving there thoroughly exhausted, Glanfield was told he must go back as far as the insignificant village of Deurtyol to obtain permission to leave the country, and all his protests fell on unsympathetic, deaf ears. So he turned back and faced the route in darkness, risking malaria, an armed guard on the pillion.
Thrown into goal, then under open arrest, the motorcyclist from England eventually got away and was soon glad to be speeding along a fine highway towards Aleppo, with the old roman road from Alexandretta still discernible alongside. But these easy conditions were not destined to last long. The Syrian desert had to be crossed, which was quite a feat in itself, and at Tel-e-Far, where he asked for water, the Arabs proved to be hostile and only a tin of cigarettes and the Rudge's acceleration after these were handed around saved Glanfield from very likely suffering the fate which had befallen the last white people to stop there - the crew of an armored car, they were all murdered....
Perhaps not surprisingly, Glanfield now fell ill with fever but after a short spell in hospital he insisted on riding on, with a temperature of 104 degrees. He was worried about his self-imposed time schedule and knew that there would be the welcome respite of the sea journey from Basra to Bombay. This was a much-needed break, because the run from Bombay, across India to Calcutta was almost beyond belief. The rivers were flooded by the monsoon and the Rudge had to be dismantled to get it across many of them, while the combination of endless mud and rain caused an equally endless series of small mechanical troubles. Against such adversities Glanfield averaged 300 miles a day and his fame had preceded him as he rode his disreputable motorcycle and sidecar into fashionable Calcutta.
Next it was by sea to Penang and then more interminable riding, through dense jungle, and torrential Malayan rain. The under-wheel hazards were less from Malacca to Singapore but the rain, if possible, even heavier. The rider was frozen, which is probably why he elected to cover the last 17 miles into Singapore at 60 m.p.h., the Rudge as game as when it began.
The plot was now to ride to Java and embark for Port Darwin, hoping to get there before the rains came. Alas, the Australian monsoon was not beaten and the Rudge had to do the best it could, over almost trackless going composed of bog, sand and rock, the conditions ever deteriorating.
Improvising bridges from purloined railway sleepers, heaving and pushing, Glanfield forced the luckless Rudge along. He had company for a time, while a young stockman accompanied him on the pillion, but this passenger had had enough when a particularly bad pothole threw him off and at the same time crushed one of Glanfield's feet under the machine. The nearest hospital was at Boulia, 200 miles away, so there was nothing for it but to ride, in fearful pain, solo, to salvation. To do this although every jolt made him sick with pain, Glanfield had somehow to get the Rudge across numerous creeks and riverbeds. He also had to rebuild the gearbox, damaged by boulders after he had been crawling for miles over ridged sand in low gear.
A week after his release from another hospital, Glanfield hit a hidden tree stump, which tore off the sidecar wheel and caused the machine to somersault three times. A control pierced his leg but although bleeding profusely Glanfield had to go a quarter of a mile on foot before he found the sidecar wheel. He carried a spare spindle and at Tambo the damage was repaired and once again he pressed on - again against doctor's orders.
There were further troubles but just before Christmas he had almost completed the 800-mile run to Sydney when, three miles from his destination, the engine gave up. A big combination was sent out to tow him in but it broke down and the Rudge was eventually persuaded to motor in on its own.
After Glanfield had attended to business in Sydney, rider and Rudge crossed the Pacific and the final part of this endurance marathon was from Los Angeles to New York in temperatures below zero, sleet, rain and a biting head wind. At a level crossing the Rudge nearly ended up as it had almost done in France but a burst of acceleration saved the day.
That was it! The Rudge had covered 18,000 miles of the worst going imaginable. It came home triumphantly on the Olympic and rests today in the Coventry museum. Let no-one say that motorcycles were not every bit as good as cars at these pioneering Trans-Continental runs!
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Engineering Genius or Accident
The HRD company was founded by Howard R. Davies in 1924. Davies was a very successful racer and engineer, winning the 1925 Senior TT on his 490cc ohv JAP-powered HRD racer. The 1927 Junior TT was won by Freddy Dixon on a similar HRD machine. In 1928 HRD was sold to Bill Humphries who promptly sold the company to the young engineer, Phil Vincent. "The Vincent HRD Company Ltd." was formed and drawings, jigs and tools were transferred to Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England.
Machines bearing the Vincent-HRD name were powered by a variety of JAP and Rudge-Python engines and Burman gearboxes. All shared the then unusual cantilever rear suspension system which was to be the mainstay of all future machines (predating Yamaha by three decades!). An Australian engineer by the name of Phil Irving joined the company in 1932 and was set the task of designing an engine. By 1934/35 the factory had released Irving's vision, a 496cc high-camshaft ohv single, named the Series A Vincent-HRD. The engine was released in three guises, the Meteor, Comet and Comet Special (TT Replica), varying in state of tune from mild to hot. Each model differed only in carburetors, pistons and camshafts. The
Comet Special had a bronze head.
1936 / 37 heralded the release of the 100mph, 988cc high-camshaft v-twin Series A Rapide, fondly known as the Plumbers Nightmare due to it's maze of external oil and fuel lines. The story goes that the concept for a v-twin was stumbled across when two patterns for the Comet were overlapped! With excellent handling, stability and brakes, the Rapide earned a reputation as a bike for the experienced and discriminating rider although the clutch and gear box were over-stressed and prone to failure. Production of the Series A singles and twin continued up until the advent of World War II.
It was almost ten years before the release of a new model and for all intents and purposes, the 998cc v-twin Series B 'Rapide' was a brand new bike. Introduced in 1947 it boasted many excellent features. The gearbox, while still running it's own oil, was now a part of the main engine casting. The bike had no frame in the conventional sense - the engine was a fully stressed member upon which a box-section oil tank (the so-called upper frame member) sat. The front Brampton girder forks were attached, via the L-shaped steering-head lug, to the front of the oil tank, and the upper mounts of the rear cantilever suspension (and dual seat) to the rear. That, in essence, was the entire frame!
In 1948 the 998cc v-twin Series B 'Black Shadow' was released. The machine differed from the Rapide with hotter cams, higher compression pistons, bigger carburetors and the now classic 5" speedo. The Shadow was distinguished from the Rapide by its stove-enameled black engine. The only Series B single to have been produced was the Meteor. Vincent Girdraulic forks were soon introduced to replace the aging Brampton girder forks. The new innovative design aimed to combine the best qualities of both girder and telescopic forks. Die castings replaced the heavier sand castings, saving considerable weight. The rear spring suspension was updated with the introduction of a damper. Four brakes, two on the front and rear, became standard. These were amongst the changes that ushered in the new range of Series C machines.
A new v-twin model, the Series C Black Lightening was released late 1948. Built for racing, the machine sported radical cams, and even higher compression pistons and larger carburetors than the Series C Shadow. A large 3 inch diameter speedo and tachometer were fitted, and the headlights and associated gear was removed. The Series C single was available in two guises; as the Comet and Gray Flash. The Comet was tuned to Shadow specifications, whilst the Flash to Lightening. Phil Irving left the factory in 1949. In 1950 the initials H.R.D dropped from Vincent-HRD due to Americans confusing the marque with the similarly initialed Harley Davidson.
In 1954 the Series D was released. It was a radical departure from the Series B and C and sported a windscreen, headlight fairing, and a set of fiberglass panels that fully enclosed the bike. The new model also included a smart lifting handle for the center stand, similar to pre-war Rudge machines. Amongst many modifications, magneto ignition was dropped in favor of coil ignition and the innovative use of oil tank as a sub-frame member was dropped.
The Series D Black Knight and Black Prince replaced the Series C Rapide and Black Shadow. However, due to popular demand, the Rapide and Black Shadow were reintroduced early in 1955 as naked versions of their new enclosed counterparts. The Series D Victor, a 500cc single was to be the successor of the Comet, but only one was ever produced.
The low-quantity production of such high-quality machines was not profitable. The last Vincent twin, a Black Prince, came off the production line on December 16, 1955.
Quote from the Vincent Riders Handbook, Chapter II, Running-In a New Machine.
The initial running-in period also forms a good introduction to the capabilities of the machine for those who have not previously ridden a motorcycle of such outstanding performance. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such a rider is very prone to be deluded into badly underestimating his speed, through the smoothness of the engine and frame suspension ... and it is a very wise plan to watch the speedometer closely to avoid approaching corners at speeds which are too great for safety.
Edited from the Internet
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The Most exclusive Motorcycle in the World
Ariel built De Dion-engined three-wheelers at Birmingham in I889 and four years later began the manufacture of motorcycles with 3-5 hp single-cylinder White & Poppe engines. In later years Ariel built them under licence. When the 1914 war broke out the Ariel range consisted of 498cc sv singles and 998cc ioe V- twins. Other models had 348ce and 669cc V-twin power units, which were superseded by 794cc V- twins.
In 1921 a 586ce single with 86-4mm bore and 1OOmm stroke came on the market, followed in 1922 by a 664cc single with 92mm bore and 10OOmm stroke. Another new model was a MAG engined 992cc V-twin which was sold for £125 solo and £160 with sidecar. The price for the 499cc sv single was then £95. By 1924 the Ariel range consisted of a 247cc sv Blackburne engined machine, 498cc sv and ohv models and a 993ce ioe V-twin. Ariel, then owned by Jack Sangster, was joined in 1927 by the young technician Edward Turner. Chief designer was Val Page, who designed new 498cc ohv and 557cc sv singles, which proved to be bestsellers. In charge of publicity was Vie Mole, and of competitions the famous Harold Perrey.
New 248cc and 348cc machines appeared soon afterwards and 1931 saw the introduction of the well-known 498cc Square-Four, with the four aircooled cylinders set in a square formation and the ohv gear operated by a chain- driven camshaft. This machine was designed by Edward Turner. Redesigned Square-Fours with 596cc and 996ce followed during the 1930s, and also models with forward inclined engines (slopers) and some very nice sports models, the 248cc, 348cc and 498ce ohv Red Hunter range. The big sv single now had 598cc and on the big Square Fours the ohc valve gear was superseded by pushrods.
In 1936 Edward Turner left to become boss of Triumph in Coventry, after Jack Sangster bought that factory. During the war, many 347cc ohv Ariel machines were used by the Forces. Main Ariel production after the war concentrated around 347cc and 497cc ohv Red Hunter singles including competition models, 498cc ohv vertical twins, a 598cc sv single and the 997cc Square Four. This machine sold in 1952 for £287 lOs. On the other end of the scale, the 197cc Colt, an ohv single selling for £134, came into production and also the twin-cylinder Huntmaster range, including 646cc ohv versions. Jack Sangster, also head of BSA at Birmingham since the early fifties, moved Ariel nearer to Armoury Road. Many BSA and Ariel parts were identical. Edward Turner moved from Meriden (Triumph) to Armoury Road (BSA). He was also responsible for Ariel which eventually moved from Selly Oak (Birmingham) into the BSA factory, and created in the early 1960s the 49ce Pixie, an ohv single, which did not gain much fame. In contrast, the famous 247cc vertical twin two strokes, the Leader and the Arrow which were designed once more by Val Page, proved to be excellent machines. A 197cc version was the last real Ariel machine to be built.
By 1970 the name Ariel was unfortunately no more on a two-wheel machine. All that are left are memories of success in trials and of famous trials riders, including Harold Perrey, Fred Povey, Ted Ray, Ron Langston and the famous Sammy Miller.
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Years before BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) produced complete motorcycles, they supplied most British and foreign factories with cycle parts of the highest calibre. The first complete machines were motorized bicycles. Afterwards single-cylinder sv models with their own engines were built. These were 498cc (85mm x 88mm bore/troke, 3.5hp) and 555cc (85mm x 98mm bore/strokc, 4.5 hp) designs. The first sv V-twin had 770cc and was built in 1921. The following year another V-twin with 986cc made its first appearance. Other models built during the 1920s and early 1930s included the famous roundtank 249cc version, 349cc sv and ohv singles and similar 498cc models. There were also 174cc two-strokes, and in the late 1920s 493cc singles including the famous Slopers with sv and especially ohv engines.
The 1930 range included 249cc sv and 249cc double-port ohv singles, 349cc sv and ohv singles and also 493cc versions with (as always) BSA's own sv and ohv power units. Most models were supplied with vertical or inclined engines, the ohv versions with one or, if required, two exhaust pipes. The V-twins had 770cc and 986cc engines. The 174cc two-stroke was superseded by a 149cc ohv single during the 1930s. Other models in these pre-war days had 249cc sv and ohv and similar 348cc and 499cc singlecylinder engines. Then came 498cc and 744cc ohv
V-twins and a 595cc sv single. The prices in 1936: £31/7s./6d., 499cc sv £56/lOs., 748oc ohv V-twin £75 and the same for the 986cc sv V-twin.
Although BSA never competed officially in races, in the late 1930s they produced very sporting singles. Walter Handley won a Gold Star in June 1937 at Brooklands (riding a tuned 493cc ohv Empire Star), an award made to all riders who lapped the track at over 100 mph. This led in 1938 to the first 'Gold Star' BSA model, which also with 348cc engine was built for many years and after WWII was one of the most popular sports machines ever built in England, especially among clubmen, as these machines were not only fast and reliable, but also comparatively cheap and of simple design. Among many other events, they won clubman's TT races and also showed great reliability and high speeds in the pure TT events. New 123cc, 148cc and 174cc two-stroke singles, the Bantam models, were introduced atter the war, in which 493cc sv singles were among the leading machines of the Forces.
Among the post-war BSA models were the single-cylinder 249cc and 343cc onv Star versions new 497cc and M6cc vertical ohv twins and also different single-cylinder trials and scrambles models. During the late 1960s they had 441cc single-cylinder Victor and twin- cylinder Royal Star versions with 499cc (65.5mm x 74mm bore/ stroke) engines as well as 654cc (75mm x 74mm bore/stroke) twins. which included the Thunderbolt, Lightning, Hornet and Spitfire models. In the early 1970s BSA produced 173cc Bantam two-strokes, 247cc and 441cc Starfires and Shooting Stars with ohv single-cylihder engines. 654cc Thunderbolt ohv twins, the very popular 654cc Lightning ohv twin and the Firebird, a 654ec twin- cylinder 55 bhp scrambler. New was the 740cc Rocket, a three-cylinder ohv machine with a transverse mounted engine. This machine had 58 bhp at 7250 rpm and a top speed of over 120mph. Later models had 64 bhp at 7500 rpm. In addition, there was also a new Gold Star, the 50055, with a 499cc single-cylinder ohv engine.
Once England's leading motorcycle factory, BSA ceased production in 1971, but in the late 1970s a reconstructed BSA Co. Ltd. came into being. This company builds an enduro- like "Tracker" machine with single cylinder 124 and 174cc twostroke engines of Yamaha manufacture. Most of them are supplied to overseas countries.
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