18th April 2012
Richard Jones joins the VMCC for a Sunday ride out, and meets half of the known survivors of a very unusual Midlands vintage marque...
The RealClassic events diary is a treasure trove of what's going on, and whilst wandering through I noticed that the VMCC were holding a 'Cedos Run' at Northampton. This is only a stone's throw from Jones Towers so it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Tessie the Hinckley Triumph and I set off on an overcast Sunday morning - it was a bank holiday, so what else could be expected on the weather front.
I first came across Cedos at last year's Banbury Run™. Intrigued by the name, I subsequently discovered that the marque had been manufactured in Northampton between 1919 and 1929 by two brothers, CEDric and OScar Hanwell. Production began with ladies' and gents' lightweight two-stroke 211cc motorcycles. Both models had two-speed gearboxes and belt final drive - starting was by a push rather than a kick. 1922 brought a 257cc variant but liquidation of the company in 1922-23 brought about a corporate restructure - sound familiar? Between 1924 and 1928 various models were produced by the revitalised company using Blackburne, Bradshaw, JAP and Villiers engines mated to three-speed Sturmey Archer gear boxes. The stock market had an unfortunate and terminal effect on Cedos and in 1929 production ceased.
Arriving at Midsummer Meadow the first motorcycle I saw was this Cedos combination:
This 1924 example has the rare 350cc air/oil-cooled engine which used oil pumped into an alloy jacket to cool the cylinder, designed by Granville Bradshaw, with a Watsonian sidecar. It was owned by Percy Spokes, a local motorcycle dealer and member of the Cedos board. The bike was been tested for some time ago by Titch Allen who believed the 350cc engine was as good as a 500cc and declared that 'the engine punches away with a wonderful solid feel to it and accelerates as if the chair were not there.;
Then another Cedos appears; a two-stroke Cedos Ladies Model Number 5, apparently used locally for deliveries and known as the works bike. Note the absence of front brakes - apparently Cedos directors believed that brakes were a 'liability' Presumably lady riders of Cedos machines were required to invest in stout footwear to halt their machines!
Then came a third which, combined with the other two, makes up half of the known running Cedos motorcycles in the UK (there is also a seventh but in Holland). As several thousand of these motorcycles were built it does beg the question as to what happened to the rest? Perhaps there is a warehouse similar to the one in the Indiana Jones film but filled with boxes of veteran and vintage motorcycles…
The third Cedos had not arrived alone - it was accompanied by an Endurance and a BSA. Endurance were produced until around 1925 by CB Harrison of Birmingham. Apart from their own 259cc power plant, used in 1920, two-stroke engines were supplied by Villiers and also Arden and were generally 269cc although a 343cc Villiers appeared in 1923.
To be honest I haven't a clue what model BSA this is; does anyone know? (We think it's a 1927 or 1928 250cc Model B De Luxe, but stand to be corrected if someone knows better!)
This BSA I could recognise, not least as the word 'Thunderbolt' is helpfully painted on the side. Designed as a touring bike this A65 variant had, not unsurprisingly, a 650cc twin cylinder engine with a single Amal carburettor; it was good for 100mph with handling and brakes to match. This one looks like a model from the latter part of the eight year production which ran from 1964 to 1972.
From Thunderbolt to Thunderbird - the latter is a spirit of thunder, lightning and rain in the form of a huge bird in the mythology of certain Native American peoples. Perhaps the British obsession with the weather explains the names of its motorcycles (see also 'Lightning', 'Flash' and the less famous 'A Little Drizzle'). This is a fine example of the original rather than the more recent Hinckley model of the same name
'A BSA Jim but not as we know it'. This bike certainly turned heads, not least due to the exotic sound emanating from those twin exhausts. An M20 frame employed to house a JAP V-twin engine and a Norton gearbox has been used for this special, or 'bitsa' as a less complimentary spectator referred to it.
There were non-British marques in attendance including this beautifully presented BMW R51 - how the owner kept it clean given the state of the roads I do not know. Whether it was still as pristine at the end of the ride I would doubt but I would volunteer to clean such a lovely bike, hosepipe ban or not.
Bikes were now starting up and leaving for the 35 mile run which was to end in a local hostelry, although I suspect the riders of some of the older machines may have been contemplating a shorter trip to the same pub. As can be seen this Cedos produced a bit of smoke when starting but it kicked into life readily and was soon travelling at a reasonable pace around the car park to warm up
The Endurance also fired up quickly and although requiring some fiddling with a multiplicity of handlebar levers also set off at a pace to get the oil moving
The BSA, on the other hand, was proving troublesome and required some advice on starting. However it was eventually kicked into life, although its hapless rider did appear to be somewhat out of breath.
And so it was that the last Cedos left Northampton town - for now. I did wonder whether to follow but although I was on a Bonneville I don't think one of Mr Bloor's models would cut the mustard with the VMCC so I set off back for Jones Towers. However if a new acquisition to the Jones's stable turns up later this year who knows - I may also be travelling to the pub!
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