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British Motorcycles

Weslake

Weslake motorcycles have been in production since 1972, in Rye, Sussex. Initially the company was best known for their engines and their work on cylinder heads for cars.

Harry Weslake was born in Exeter in 1897. His father Henry directed Willey and Co, an engineering company in Exeter. At the age of 15 he hired a motorcycle and trundled off into the blue yonder until stopped by a policeman who sent him home. With the onset of war, against his family's wishes he joined the Royal Flying Corps. Whilst still enlisted, at the age of 18 he took out a patent on a carburettor. The carburettor by Weslake of Exeter became quite well known. Wex. By the early 1920s he had his own workshop and became interested in why two seemingly identical engines would perform very diffently, so he applied the skills he had learned whilst working with his father, a gas engineer, to discovering the secrets of induction. To do so, he invented gas flow. Over the following decades and through the war years Harry worked with numerous companies in the automotive field including W. O. Bentley (a fellow motorcyclist, Australian born), SS Cars and later Jaguar, Austin, Citroen, Armstong Siddeley, and also Riley (who did not have the good grace to appreciate him). Postwar he formed Weslake and Co. Ltd. by the 1970s his speedway engines had become very successful, winning the 1976 world speedway championship. Two years later in the '78 championship Weslakes took 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place, with delighted Harry looking on. He collapsed that evening and died happy.
  • 1970s. Early in the decade the firm combined with John Caffrey to build the Weslake Vendetta. The engine was a 492cc eight-valve vertical twin, and drove a five-speed gearbox. The frame was duplex tubular and rode on wire wheels with a disc front brake and conical rear hub. Later came larger versions of the engines but, increasingly, Weslake had limited chassis involvement. They also built 500cc singles running on dope for grass-track use.
  • 1980s The grass-track models now had a five-valve head. They then went on to produce a 998cc ohc ten-valve V-twin, along the lines of an earlier eight-valve engine. Some of the Weslake singles were used for speedway and long-track events but, for the majority, the company kept to engines rather than machines.
  • 1990s Late in the decade they offered the Wexton Sprint road model, with their 498cc gohc single engine mounted in a Norton Featherbed frame with a Norton or Quaife gearbox. Production was limited and the machines built to customer specification in the cafe racer style.
Sources: Grace's Guide

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