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Wilkinson TMC


Wilkinson's luxurious four-cylinder touring motorcycle must surely have been the most sophisticated bike of its age - and the most comfortable including front and rear suspension suspension and a car-type upholstered seat. The product of the prestigious Wilkinson Sword Company it was engineered to the highest quality and had a design that was years ahead of its time.

Wilkinson had dabbled with a proprietary single-cylinder engine bike as early as 1903. However, in 1908, a young designer, P G Tacchi, had patented a design for military scouting motorcycle equipped with a Maxim machine gun. As military suppliers, Wilkinson were attracted by the scheme and despite their failure to win an army contract they decided to persevere.

The Tacchi design used a proprietary V-twin engine and forks but in other respects including the rear suspension, it resembled the Wilkinson that followed. The Touring Auto-Cycle (TAC) was aimed at the civilian touring market.

Powered by a 676cc four-cylinder air-cooled engine it featured a car-type clutch and three-speed gearbox shaft drive. There was a new fork design by Tacchi which used quarter-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Steering was either by long, swept-back handlebars, or a car-type steering wheel. After an enthusiastic reception, production began at Wilkinson's works in West London. A couple of years later there was a major change to the design with the launch of the Touring Motor Cycle (TMC).

The most obvious alteration was the use of a water-cooled side-valve engine, now of 848cc. There was also a return to a more conventional type of proprietary front fork. In fact there were many changes throughout the development of the Wilkinson, which was hand-built in small numbers. A larger 996cc engine was offered in 1913, mainly for the potential sidecar user.

World War I and the rise in demand for arms meant that Wilkinson suspended production. But right to the TMC and a light car that Wilkinson had also been working on were taken over by Ogston, another West London firm. When peace returned, Ogston concentrated their efforts on the car, while Wilkinson turned the factory turned the factory over to making garden tools. Only a couple of hundered Wilkinson fours had ever been made but their demise spelt the end to one of the most interesting pioneers of the British industry.

Wilkinson TMC

  • Engine - 848cc, four-cylinder water-cooled side valve four stroke
  • Bore and Stroke - 60 x 75 mm
  • Launched - 1909-1916
  • Carburettor - Stewart Precision
  • Gearbox - car-type three-speed gearbox and shaft drive
  • Suspension - Saxon front forks
  • Top Speed - approx 50 mph