Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ABC Motorcycles - Sopwith

I am currently reading Edward Turner – The Man Behind the Motorcycles. Unfortunately the book is currently out of print. I've been searching for a used copy for a while but they are normally priced $100+. I finally broke down and bought the Kindle edition for $10. I am enjoying it so far.

The book mentions ET having an ABC motorcycle in his youth. I had never heard of ABC before and was fascinated by the Sopwith Aviation affiliation.
The 496cc, ABC horizontally-opposed twin which Edward is seen with had only a brief production life in the early twenties. Of advanced specification, it was made by Sopwith, a company that diversified into motorcycles after making aircraft during the 1914-18 war.
ABC had always had a close association with the Sopwith aircraft company and in 1919 they jointly exhibited the Sopwith 390 cc horizontally-opposed twin-cylinder overhead valve (OHV) machine at the annual Motor Cycle show. It aroused a lot of interest with innovative front and rear leaf springs and "expanding" brakes, wet sump lubrication, and a four-speed gearbox. It was also one of the first motorcycles with a duplex cradle frame. One thing it did not have, however, was any form of starting mechanism; the rider had to "paddle" or bump start to get the engine going. The ABC 400 was made under license by the Sopwith Aviation & Engineering Co in Kingston-upon-Thames and 2,200 were produced. Later models had improved valve gear, speedometers, and electric lighting. Sidecar outfits were also produced as optional extras.
Sopwith Camel

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