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British Industrial History

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Lea-Francis: Motorcycles

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1913. 3.25 h.p. Exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum.
1913. 3.25 h.p. Exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum.

Note: This is a sub-section of Lea-Francis

Lea-Francis motorcycles were produced from 1912 to 1924, in Lower Ford Street, in Coventry.

1912 Lea Francis is perhaps better known as a car manufacturer but in the very early days the firm gained a reputation for the excellence of their bicycles. The prototypes of their motorcycle were produced in time for the 1912 Show. The machine was very well received, and featured all-chain drive in oil baths, multi-plate clutch, quickly detachable rear wheel, 2 speed gearbox with kick-starter, and particularly efficient mud-guarding. used JAP engines

1912 Having already dabbled with cars since about 1904, the firm turned to motorcycles and introduced one model, in August. It had a 3.25hp JAP V-twin engine with chain-driven Bosch magneto, a two-speed gearbox, plate clutch and fully-enclosed chain final-drive. There were also Druid forks and dummy-rim brakes on both wheels. It was offered as a reliable and comfortable tourer.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book

1914 It was joined by a prototype combination using a 6-hp V-twin MAG engine, but the project was dropped due to the outbreak of war. Meanwhile, the other model was uprated to 3.5-hp JAP V-twin engine.

1915-1916 The 3.5hp model continued, with a three-speed gearbox.

1919 After the War, the same model reappeared, but with only two speeds.

1920 That model was joined by one with a 3.5-hp MAG engine.

1921 The 3.5 bh-p model, plus another with 5hp, were given three speeds. Engine capacities were 495cc and 592cc.

1922 Those models ran on, together with a stripped sports version of the 3.5hp.

1923 The 592cc machine was given a Burman gearbox.

1924 The above model was the only one listed that year, after which motorcycle production ceased.

  • Note:
    • It is recorded that some 1,500 machines were made, of which around two dozen remain today.
    • The Lea Francis story was recorded by Ken Hallworth in “OLD BIKE” number 18, summer 1996.
    • There is a Lea-Francis Owners' Website [1]
    • Graham Francis's son, Gordon, would go on to co-found Francis-Barnett.

National Motorcycle Museum exhibits:-

  • 1913 Lea Francis 3.25 hp V-Twin

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [2] Wikipedia
  • The British Motorcycle Directory - Over 1,100 Marques from 1888 - by Roy Bacon and Ken Hallworth. Pub: The Crowood Press 2004 ISBN 1 86126 674 X
  • [3] Ian Chadwick's motorcycle web site
  • [4] Yesterday's Antique Motorcycles web site
  • [5] CyberMotorCycles web site