New Hudson Motorcycles

New Hudson

New Hudson Summer Hill Street and Goodman Street, Birmingham
  • New Hudson motorcycles were produced from 1903 to 1933, and from 1940 to 1958
  • 1890 The company started as Hudson Bicycles
  • 1903 The first motorcycle was produced. It was an early primitive fitted with a De Dion engine. At that time the firm was based in Icknield Street, Birmingham, but they soon left the powered market.
  • 1910 Late that year the company returned, this time in Summer Hill Street. They listed two models of conventional design, fitted with 2.5hp or 3.5hp JAP engines, belt drive, Druid forks and with various transmission options.
1910 Stanley Show

The New Hudson Cycle Co., Ltd. Birmingham.
A decided novelty will be shown on this stand in light weight machines with 2 H.P. free engine and 3-speed gear, catalogued at 45 guineas. The makers claim for this machine that it is a light-weight with all the efficiency of the heavy-weight, and that it is capable of going anywhere under any conditions.

The intention is to make this the model de Luxe of light-weights, therefore the very highest quality fitments will be employed - Brooks best saddle, Dunlop non-skid tyres, together with the most luxurious finish and equipment possible. The same machine will also be catalogued without 3-speed gear and free engine at 35 guineas. A third machine will be shown of the New Hudson 3 1/2 H.P., possessing all the same high-class fitments and finish, and retailing at 48 guineas.

  • 1911 They added their own 3.5hp engine.
  • 1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book
  • 1913 The JAP engines were dropped and they added their own 2.75hp motor.
  • 1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices see the 1917 Red Book
  • 1914 A 6hp V-twin appeared, plus a 211cc two-stroke lightweight. This and the 3.5hp single ran on until 1916.
  • Post-war. Only the two-stroke was listed.
  • The Olympia Show report of 1921 describes the light two-stroke model as follows:
  •  
Notable on account of their fine finish and general excellence of design the New Hudson two-stroke motorcycles exhibited on this stand are sure to attract attention. The little 62 mm by 70 mm engine is well known as a giant in performance, and the ratios of the two speed gearbox , 5 and 9 to 1, give a satisfactory road speed with tremendous hill-climbing powers. The riding position is very comfortable, and the saddle is but 25 ins. from the ground, to which desirable end the low built frame and 24 in. wheels are contributory factors. The tank is tastefully finished in brown and has a capacity for 1 3/4 gallons of petrol and 3 pints of oil; as the petrol consumption is in the neighbourhood of 100 m.p.g., it will be realized that a full day's riding can be accomplished on one tankful of spirit.
  • 1922 A 594cc four-stroke single appeared.
  • 1923 The two-strokes were stopped, but 346cc and 296cc models appeared.
  • 1924 A 346cc ohv model appeared.
  • 1926 Models of 490cc and 594cc were listed, with sporting names.

    Excerpt from Reports on sports machines of 1926 (published in 1949 by Motor Sport Magazine)

"... a 4.9-h.p. "Super Sports" New Hudson. Early praise was accorded to the forward position of the 79.5 by 100-mm. engine, which enabled the magneto to be safely hidden behind the cylinder, permitted ample space for extra toolbags, generator or accumulator and resulted in excellent stability of the bicycle as a whole. Indeed, aided by heavily-ribbed s.s. Dunlops, this New Hudson never wanted to skid, even on frozen grass and remained fully under control, even on full lock. Such features as the generous size of the roller-bearing o.h.v. rocker gear, the skirted pushrods, excellent rear-brake adjustment, "Flexkas" brake pull-off springs, decent-sized head lug, smart and useful chain guards, front-fork shock-absorbers, steering stop lugs and grease-gun lubrication were admired. The finish, too, was excellent and the Terry Q-spring saddle appreciated..."
  • 1927 A New Hudson came second in the Senior TT and records were set at Brooklands.
  • 1929 A 249cc sv model, known as the Ixion, was sold at a reduced price in order to clear stocks.
  • In 1929 the company purchased the Girling brake patent from the inventor Albert Girling, to supply brake systems to Ford, Austin, Rover and Riley
  • 1931 The range was revised so that engines were inclined with partial enclosure.
  • 1932 The 'Depression' years were hard for all concerned. The inclined engines had had their heyday, enclosure was not popular and the new engines had problems.
  • 1933 Having hit a low spot, the company ceased the production of motorcycles and concentrated on making Girling brakes.
  • 1940 The name of New Hudson reappeared on an autocycle powered by a 98cc Villiers engine.
  • 1943 The Girling interests were sold to Lucas and the company went back to bicycles making with a range of autocycles or lightweight motorcycles
  • Post-war. The firm had, by then, become part of BSA and the autocycle continued until the end of the decade.
  • 1948 The New Hudson was one of the cheapest autocycles available - priced at £48 17s 11d [£48.90] for that year.
  • 1949 The autocycle was revised to use the Villiers 99cc 2F unit, and continued for several years.
  • 1956 During that year the machine was completely restyled and ran on in that form.
  • 1958 Production came to a close.

In 1930, the Ixion name re-surfaced when New Hudson failed to sell a large batch of 249cc sv models that had been produced to capitalize on public interest. The BSA Round Tank had been so successful that there were, by 1929, too many others on the market, many of which lacked the staying-power of the BSA.

By changing the name to Ixion, New Hudson were able to slash the price of the motorcycles in order to clear stocks.

The company also used the name for engines sold to other firms, both at home and abroad, including Rex of Halmstad

  • Note: In all, about 24,000 New Hudson autocycles were produced: 5,000 JDL machines, 14,000 of the earlier 2F design and 5,000 re-styled models. New Hudson put their frame numbers on the left-hand rear fork end and each model had its own prefix: MC for the JDL, ZE for the 2F and N for the re-styled New Hudson.
Sources: Grace's Guide



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