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Rudge-Whitworth Motorcycles

Rudge-Whitworth

of Crow Lane, Coventry

  • 1894 The company was registered on 9 October, to amalgamate the Rudge Cycle Co and the Whitworth Cycle Co.
  • 1896/7 Directory: Listed under cycles. More details 
  • 1912 Spennell's list them at 34 Hertford st, Coventry (Tel. 393) and as manufacturers of motorcycles.
  • 1914 Cycle, motor cycle and motor wheel manufacturers. Specialities: light bicycles, motor bicycles and detachable wheels for automobiles.
  • 1914 Rudge Whitworth Ltd (Motorcycle Garage) are listed at Scott Street, Cardiff.
  • 1935 Private company.
  • 1936 Their old factory in Reddings lane was taken over by MEM Co.
  • 1961 Manufacturers of the "Rudge-Whitworth" cycle.

Rudge Motorcycles

  • Rudge motorcycles were produced from 1911 to 1946. The firm was known for its innovations in engine and transmission design, and its racing successes. Their sales motto was "Rudge it, do not trudge it."
  • 1909 They began selling re-badged Werner motorcycles in 1909 and manufacture of their own machines commenced in 1911.
  • 1910 The company moved to the world of power. They developed a prototype with a 3.5hp, overhead inlet-valve engine. The biggest difference, in comparison with other manufacturers, was a one-piece fork shackle that enclosed the single-spring assembly. They retained that design feature throughout their years of production.
  • 1911 Rudge announced a variable gear in which both engine and rear-wheel pulley flanges were moved.
  • 1912 The variable gear appeared on a model that was to be known as the Rudge 'Multi', which remained in their catalogue for a decade.
  • 1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book
  • 1913 Little altered but a new model with a 749cc engine was produced. It was designed to take a sidecar and was available with the clutch or the 'Multi' gear.
  • 1915 Three models were listed, but the firm turned to war work and the production of motorcycles ceased.
  • 1919 Production restarted and they built the 499cc single in three forms, the 749cc single and also a V-twin - all with the 'Multi' belt drive.
  • 1919 March. Advert for car detachable wire wheels.
  • 1923 A new four-speed gearbox was introduced and this would soon bring an end to the twin and the 'Multi'.
  • 1924 Trade had dwindled so the Rudge engine was revised.
  • 1925 The range was available in 346cc and 499cc models. The 499cc was also available as a Sports version. They all had four speeds with coupled front and rear brakes - both operated by the foot pedal. The 346cc was soon found to be lacking in performance and was dropped.
  • 1926 Only the 499cc model, in both versions, was produced.
  • 1927 The two 499cc models were joined by a Special model.
  • 1928 Rudge started using drum brakes. These were particularly necessary for sidecar use and even more so if the new Rudge caravan was towed. Saddle tanks also appeared that year; as did a new Speedway model for dirt-track racing.
  • 1929 Following success at the Ulster Grand Prix, the all-new Rudge 'Ulster' was launched. Also listed were the 'Special' and 'Dirt Track' models.
  • 1930 Rudge started using dry-sump lubrication. The firm had its most successful year at the TT, following the development of a four-valve cylinder head with radially disposed valves and six rockers. They took the first three places in the Junior and first and second in the Senior.
  • 1931 The depression years meant that the firm were unable to profit from their previous TT wins as their sports models were expensive, although they managed a win in the TT Lightweight. They began to sell their engines, usually given the name of Python, to other firms - in direct competition with JAP.
  • 1932-1934 The TT brought them seconds and thirds. Several models had minor revisions and modifications.
  • 1935 Rudge 'Ulster'. Exhibit at Nottingham Industrial Museum
  • 1935 Financial difficulties had set in; at the end of the year they went into liquidation and were eventually bought by EMI who continued their production.
  • 1937 Production was moved to the EMI plant at Hayes in Middlesex.
  • 1939 Manufacturing ceased. This was because the factory space was needed for radar equipment.
  • 1940 An autocycle appeared and although it originated from the Hayes plant, it was later made in Kent by Norman. Raleigh bought the name during the war, after which it was used on a bicycle range for a short time.
  • 1981 A London show exhibited a sport roadster with the Rudge badge. It combined modern techniques with an old and famous name, but nothing further came of it.
The National Motorcycle Museum exhibits:-
  • 1927 Rudge Whitworth 500cc
  • 1931 Rudge Whitworth 250cc
Sources: Grace's Guide

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