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Cyc-Auto Autocycles

The Cyc-Auto has an important place in British motor cycle history because it was the original autocycle. The road taxation system in Britain after the Great War did not encourage the production of really lightweight machines like those produced on the Continent. It was only after Philip Snowden's Budget of 1931, which introduced a tax concession for machines under 100cc, that it became worthwhile to produce a motorised bicycle. Mr Wallington Butt's Cyc-Auto was the first on the scene.

Announced in March 1934, the Cyc-Auto was the machine that started the autocycle boom. It was, however, quite different to all the subsequent makes of machines that appeared on the market. The crankshaft of the 50mm×50mm, 98cc, two-stroke engine ran fore & aft and drove the final drive chain by way of a worm & wheel in the bottom bracket. Cyc-Auto Limited built the machine in Abbey Road, Park Royal, London NW10. The company later moved to Bashley Road, Park Royal and then to 107 Westbourne Grove, W2. Despite being so different to other manufacturers machines, it was nevertheless the starting point of autocycle development and many of its features were taken up by the Jones prototype autocycle, which, in its turn, led to the standard pattern of autocycle that followed.

The first model, Model A, had a frame that, apart from the oversize bottom bracket, was virtually a standard bicycle frame. The saddle was at normal bicycle height and it had a normal bicycle chain-wheel: features that indicate that it was designed as a bicycle with motor assistance rather than a motor cycle with pedal assistance. The engine of the earliest models was built by the Cyc-Auto company and had a cast aluminium beehive silencer behind the engine. The crank-case was enlarged at the front to enclose a flywheel. There was no clutch or lighting and the fuel was carried in a small cylindrical tank mounted behind the saddle on the front of the carrier. Ignition was supplied by a Wico magneto mounted ahead of the engine and it had an ETC carburettor. A dog-clutch allowed the engine to be disconnected. In 1935 a second model, Model B, joined the range. This was a lady's model with an open frame. These models were replaced by models C and D in 1936. The main change was the alteration of the frame geometry to lower the saddle. The new frames were two inches [50mm] lower than their predecessors. On the gent's Model C this meant that the top tube joined onto the headstock about half way down and on both models the new design permitted a riding position more suitable for a powered machine. There were other changes, including oil lubrication of the worm & wheel instead of grease and a Burgess silencer and tailpipe added to the exhaust system. At the same time there were also four sidecar versions offered. The S1 had just the sidecar chassis, the S2 had a commercial box carrier, S3 was a child's touring sidecar and S4 was a child's sidecar of air-flow design. All the sidecar models used a modified form of the Model D lady's frame and Cyc-Auto's own sidecar chassis. This was a banking sidecar that could be quickly detached without tools by removing the hinge pin. The sidecar wheel could pivot with a castor action to reduce tyre wear and to make cornering easier. An adjustable damper was provided to prevent the wheel from wobbling on poor road surfaces. The S models had special attachment points for the side car and Cyc-Auto's literature warned that Models C and D were unsuitable for sidecars. Cyc-Auto also warned that The fitting of any sidecar other than those supplied by Cyc-Auto Ltd. invalidates our guarantee.

A new engine was introduced for 1937 and the models using it were designated CV and DV. The magneto was changed for a flywheel type so the design of the crank-case was also changed because it no longer had to contain a separate flywheel. The reason for the change was that the engines were now being made by Villiers (hence the V in the model names) who fitted their own magneto rather than the Wico unit. Despite the change in manufacturer, the external appearance of the rest of the engine was unchanged and the exhaust arrangement remained the same. The same models continued into 1938, but in that year the Cyc-Auto company sold out to Scott Motors, Saltaire Ltd. The Cyc-Auto Works Company's office moved to 381 Uxbridge Road, London W3. Scott produced its own engine for the Cyc-Auto but for a while continued to produce Villiers-powered machines as cheaper models than the Scott- powered ones. Although the Scott engine followed the same general layout it was quite different in its detail design. It still had an aluminium expansion chamber for the exhaust but this now led into two tail pipes. The Scott take-over saw some long overdue additions to the machine: a clutch and a rear stand. They also introduced the option of a hub brake on the front wheel, all previous models having had a stirrup brake.

For 1939 there was a range of five models: a gent's and a lady's, both available in Standard and de Luxe versions, and a tradesman's carrier model. All models were powered by the Scott 98cc engine. The fuel was carried in a 5 pint [2.8 litre] cylindrical tank that was mounted behind the saddle. The standard models still had a rigid front fork and stirrup brake on the front wheel but the de Luxe specification included a spring fork and front hub brake.

The outbreak of World War II ended further development for the duration. For 1948 there was only one model, which was basically the same as the pre-war lady's Deluxe except that the post war engine had its twin exhausts emerging from the front of the cylinder. This model continued in production until 1958.

Bike Image Description
1941 Cyc-Auto with Scott 98cc engine 1941 Cyc-Auto with Scott 98cc engine
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