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British Motorcycles

Singer Motorcycles

The Singer company began in Coventry in 1896 or earlier as a bicycle manufacturer.


  • 1900 Started by offering a 222cc four-stroke single (the engine design was bought from Perks and Birch, formed by former employee Edwin Perks, and Frank Birch). Used in the Motor Wheel.
  • 1900 Description and illustration of their 2hp model in 'The Engineer'. The patent of Perks and Birch.
  • 1901 The firm began using the Perks and Birch motor wheel. It replaced the front wheel of their tricycle, or the rear wheel of a bicycle, that they were already producing. It was, reportedly, incredibly uncomfortable, as the wheel banged into every pothole and bounced over every bump.
  • 1903 Their versatile design was used as a rear wheel on a Phoenix Trimo forecar. Later that year an open-framed ladies' model appeared. To improve access, it had spokes on only one side. With a freewheel in the drive, it had no engine braking and could coast down hills with a dead engine.
  • 1904 New models were added to the Singer range. These had an upright engine mounted in a cradle hung from the downtube. The list was quite extensive with tricycles built for solo or tandem use, as well as forecars, and also a V-twin, two-speed tricar.
  • 1905 All-chain drive and fan cooling was adopted, as was magneto ignition. After 1905 the company turned their attention to cars for a few years.
  • 1910 The Singer Moto-Velo appeared. This was a lightweight model with a Dufaux engine mounted within the main frame.
  • 1910 Stanley Show
    Some ten motor-cycles will be staged on this stand, including six specimens of the 3 H.P. Roadster Model and Touring Trophy Model. There will also be three 14 Moto-Velo for gentlemen and 14 H.P. Moto-Velo light-weight for ladies. We understand that the Singer. Light-weight has been considerably improved for 1911. The frame height is lower, foot-rests are now fitted, as well as a foot-applied belt rim brake; wider mudguards and a new pattern handlebar will also be incorporated. The machine will be retailed at £33 15s. As regards the 3 H.P. model, the engine is of single-cylinder type with handlebar controlled carburetter; gear driven magneto ignition, enclosed with aluminium; variable pulley, double ball bearings to the main shaft; well designed and heavy flywheels; large inlet and exhaust valves, both mechanically operated and interchangeable; ample exhaust pipe; large silencer; bore and stroke 85 by 88, the cubic capacity being 499. The whole machine is beautifully finished. all bright parts heavily plated on copper, the tank being finished in aluminium with green panels.

  • 1912 By this year, Singer had a wide range of machines on their lists. They built a 499cc racing engine, with a four-valve head and water cooling. It was meant to be raced at Brooklands by the Singer rider G. E. Stanley, but he preferred his successful and reliable sv model. Over the next couple of years the range continued, with steady developments.
  • 1914 Late that year, a two-stroke, two-speed, chain-cum-belt driven model, built under Peco patents, was added. It also had Druid forks and foot-boards.
  • 1915 That range continued for a short time but World War I brought production to a close, and after the was was over the company's attention returned to cars.

Singer Company History

  • 1896/7 Directory: Listed under cycles as Singer and Co. Limited of Coventry.
  • 1903 The company, Singer and Co, was registered on 25 August, to take over the Singer Cycle Co.
  • 1906 Singer and Co Ltd own all the shares of the Singer Motor Company.George Singer and J. Stringer are directors.
  • 1909 Became a private company.
  • 1912 Listed in Spennell's directory of Coventry as Cycle Manufacturers.
  • 1912 Spennell's lists them at Canterbury St, Coventry (Wire, Singer; Tel571) and as manufacturers of motorcycles.
  • 1915 Ceased production of motorcycles.
  • 1922 Acquired the Coventry Repetition Co.
  • 1922 Directors were; Rodolph Fane De Salis (Chairman), A. C. Bourner, W.E. Bullock and George Albert Eastwood.
  • 1927 Ceased production of cycles.
  • 1936 Became a public company.
  • 1956 The company was in financial difficulties and the Rootes Group who had handled Singer sales since before World War I, bought the company, and closed the Coventry works.

Sources: Grace's Guide



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