Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Rudge Whitworth Cycles was a British bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer that resulted from the merger of two bicycle manufacturers in 1894, Whitworth Cycle Co of Birmingham, founded by Charles Henry Pugh (1840-1901) and his two sons Charles Vernon and John, and Rudge Cycle Co of Coventry. 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."

Selling re-badged Werners in 1909, the company went on to produce their first motorcycle in 1911, a single-cylinder F-head (IOE - inlet over exhaust), 500 cc bike. In 1912 the belt drive 499 cc Rudge Multigear was released, using variable groove-depth pulleys to gain 21 forward gear ratios, and a top gear as high as 2.75:1. (The Zenith Gradua and 1907 FN 244 cc single used a similar system.) In 1913 a 750 cc Multigear was released. In 1914 Cyril Pullin won the Isle of Man TT on a Rudge Multigear. Together with the Zenith-Gradua this was one of the first continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

In 1915 a 1000 cc using a Jardine four-speed gearbox was released, followed by a 1000 cc Multigear. In 1923, they introduced an in-house manufactured 4-speed gear box to replace the Jardine gearbox, and Multigear production ended. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry refers to the motorcycle in his short story 'Enter One In Sumptuous Armour'; "Fine motorcycles whizzed by or splashed past us: ... a Rudge-Multi, with their involved gearshifts......." (Pg. 233)

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