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
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
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.
- 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
- Suspension - Saxon front forks
- Top Speed - approx 50 mph