Bikes | Features | Events | Books | Tech | Magazine | About | Messages | Classified | Links

more bike profiles...

Bike Profile

1923 Hobart Junior 169cc
Home -> Bikes -> Road Tests and Profiles ->

An unusual vintage motorcycle, manufactured by Hobart-Bird was featured in the December issue of RealClassic. By strange coincidence, RC reader Keith Billett owns a very similar machine...

Hobart-Bird and Co built a variety of bicycles, motorcycles, engines and components from the turn of the 20th century until 1924. In 1901 the company produced a primitive with an inclined engine, and two years later added a new model with an upright engine, situated in a loop frame with braced forks. By 1910 they'd developed a motorcycle with a 2.5hp inclined engine, a gear-driven Bosch magneto, Druid forks and belt drive. Their range then expanded to include a ladies' model with enclosed valvegear and an open frame, and a 3.5hp twin.

Hobart-Bird started using JAP engines before the outbreak of World War One, and after hostilities ceased they produced a wide variety of machines, from a 269cc Villiers two-stroke to a 6hp JAP V-twin.

Nice curtain! 1923 Hobart Junior 169cc, as restored by Keith Billett

Hobart tended to follow the general trend of motorcycle development at the time, and produced their first sprung frame in the early 1920s. However, their machines were not particularly extraordinary and didn't stand out greatly from the crowd, so the company lost sales as the market tightened throughout the decade. By 1924 Hobart had stopped building complete bikes although they supplied components to other manufacturers for quite a while.

The bike featured in the December issue of RealClassic was a 1919 Hobart 250, which had somehow mysteriously transported itself to New Zealand. After one of those rebuilds which takes several decades to complete, that Hobart now rides again.

The story prompted Keith Billett to get in touch and send in some more photos of the breed. Keith too has restored a Hobart, and his is a 1923 169cc Junior model. Keith was given a helping hand during his rebuild by the Coventry Museum of Transport; 'I was sent several pictures from a very helpful chap from the Museum, who went down and photographed a Hobart in their storeroom!'

Keith was also given considerable assistance by the VMCC's marque specialist, Mike Atherton, 'who was a great help to me in my project.' His two-stroke, two-speed Hobart was one of the last models built by the firm -and Keith reckons that the skin on the rice pudding is probably safe: 'The small two-strokes are a bit low in power; you could get off and walk faster if the wind's in the right direction!'

"Vintage" stuff on

Bikes in the museum are kept securely strapped down to prevent them escaping into the wild... Coventry Museum of Transport's Hobart

There's one final, strange coincidence. The Hobart in New Zealand is painted an unusual colour; something close to metallic beige which looks as if it escaped from a trendy 1970s nightclub. From Keith's research into the marque, the models were supplied in either maroon, black or blue.

'Mine is now red' he says 'but when I got it the tank was hand-painted in yellow, much the same shade as the one from NZ…'

For every 'after' there is a 'before' Keith's 1923 Hobart Junior 169cc, before restoration


  • The Coventry Museum of Transport contains the largest collection of British road transport in the world:

  • The VMCC has over 130 experienced marque specialists and an extensive library:

  • The December issue (RC45) of RealClassic which contains the original article about the 1919 Hobart is available here

  • Home

    Vintage (so they say) bikes on


    Like what you see here? Then help to make even better

    Bikes | Features | Events | Books | Tech | Magazine | About | Messages | Classified | Links

    More Bike Profiles...

    RedLeg Interactive Media

    © 2002 The Cosmic Motorcycle Co. Ltd / Redleg Interactive Media

    You may download pages from this site for your private use. No other reproduction, re-publication, re-transmission or other re-distribution of any part of this site in any medium is permitted except with the written consent of the copyright owner or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.