English firm Humber built three-wheeled forecars
and four-wheelers as well as the motorcycles
which they manufactured from 1902 to 1930.
Initially their machines were built under
Phelon & Moore licence using a single cylinder
P&M engine and two-speed chaindrive transmission,
but later examples had their own engines of
496cc, 596cc and 746cc. These included sidevalve
flat-twins which were built up until about
1924, subsequent machines having only single-cylinder
347cc engines with either sidevalve, ohv or
overhead cam configuration. Competition success
included a win in the 1911 Junior TT.
Humber produced their first cycle in 1869
and was at the forefront of motorcycle development
during the pioneer years. Early machines were
largely of the tricycle type; with Ixion crediting
them with building what, in his opinion was
the best example of the breed in 1902, towards
the end of the type's period of popularity.
It was equipped with a P&M type chain
drive, which the company had been quick to
embrace and girder forks. Other early innovations
included the adoption of a cone type clutch
operated by a quadrant on a lightweight machine.
The company had moved into car production
during 1901 and continued to manufacture the
high quality cycles for which they were renowned,
counting His Royal Highness King George V
among their clients. It has been suggested
that their motorcycle activities were not
pursued with the same level of enthusiasm
that other manufacturers displayed as a consequence,
although their history of innovation and success
would suggest otherwise.
1911 Humber V-Twin vintage
motorcycle TT model. 2.75 HP, approx,
During 1911 the company introduced
a new 2 3/4hp side valve vee twin. The
2 3/4hp model complied with the new
Junior TT regulations that stipulated
a capacity of no more than 340 cc for
twins and 300 cc for singles. Run over
the full mountain course, Humber rider
Percy Evans fought off a strong challenge
from the single cylinder Matchless of
Harry Collier to secure a victory for
the vee twin, with other examples of
the type finishing in 4th, 8th, 9th,
14th and 18th places out of a field
of thirty-four riders.
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