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1928 Coventry-Eagle Flying-8
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The Coventry-Eagle Flying-8 is considered to be one of the most attractive classic motorcycles of its time. It was certainly one of the most expensive...

Established in Victorian times as a bicycle manufacturer, Coventry-Eagle built a diverse range of motorcycles until the outbreak of the Second World War. Many of these were workaday machines, assembled from the usual range of built-in components, but Coventry- Eagle finished their motorcycles carefully and so developed a reasonable reputation.

By the time the first War broke out, Coventry-Eagle had a range of three models, including a Villiers-powered two-speed 269cc lightweight, a 3.5hp single, and a three-speed 5hp V-twin. In the early 1920s their line-up chopped and changed depending on which engines were available - Coventry-Eagle swapped between Abingdon, JAP, King Dick and Villiers motors before settling on a favoured design.

Note lack of moss or weeds on the driveway; always a sign of an attentive owner. Coventry Eagle Flying 8

Then in 1923 or thereabouts, Coventry-Eagle got the formula just about right with their most famous model, the Flying-8. The Flying-8 was a development of the JAP V-twin powered machine, and initially used the 976cc sidevalve motor although a 50-degree 980cc ohv version trundled along for the 1926 season, with heavy-duty Webb girder front forks, and 8-inch Royal Enfield brakes on both wheels. It weighed 395lb and its wheelbase was 59-inches.

According to Bob Currie; 'With a rounded and tapered fuel tank, and an exciting-looking power unit, Coventry-Eagle's famous Flying Eight bears a striking resemblance to a Brough-Superior of the same period. That is not really surprising, for George Brough and Percy Mayo of the Coventry-Eagle company spent some time together towards the end of the First World War discussing the type of motorcycle they would like to manufacture when the hostilities were over, and they found their tastes were remarkably similar.'

The Flying-8 was indeed considered to be a worthy rival for the Brough Superior and a formidable Brooklands racing machine, with its guaranteed a top speed of 80mph (pretty respectable for a sidevalve). When equipped with a Jardine gearbox it certainly didn't come cheap - the ohv Flying-8 was the second most expensive motorcycle on the market at the time.

Man with clipboard has bet his trousers on Len making the junp... Len Ore on his 1924 Flying-8 in the West Kent Run gymkhana

By 1928 the Flying-8 was equipped with magdyno electric lighting, Ghost silencers, and a steering damper, and this version was considered to be 'one of the most handsome British bikes on the market.'

Brough stuff on

When the world economy crashed in the 1930s, Coventry-Eagle were forced to change tack and then concentrated on two-stroke bread-and-butter lightweights. The last ohv Flying-8 left the factory in 1930 and the final sidevalve model the following year. Coventry-Eagle continued building bikes until the outbreak of WW2, and listed a range for 1940, but very few were built after hostilities started.

Moody lighting makes all the difference. 1928 Coventry Eagle Flying 8

Likewise, very few Flying-8s are known to survive. There's a 1925 example on display at the London Motorcycle Museum, and Len Ore (Vice-President or the Ariel Club) campaigned a 1924 Flying-8 some 20 years ago in the West Kent Run gymkhana. It's extremely unusual for an ohv Flying-8 to go on sale, which is why the one pictured here is likely to sell for £50,000 or more when it goes under the hammer at the Bonhams auction at Stafford on 27th April 2008.

The 1928 bike which is up for grabs used to belong to the VMCC Coventry-Eagle marque specialist, Ken Hodgson, and was also previously owned motorcycling journalist/publisher, Bruce Main-Smith. It's said to be in 'highly original and oily rag condition', but it hasn't been used since undergoing mild mechanical re-commissioning in the early 1990s. This is the first time it's been offered for sale in 25 years… so maybe the bidding will be fierce!


More info from

A bargain at £140


Coventry Eagle bits on


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