1921 Martinsyde 678cc Racing Motorcycle
Registration no. FN 5679
Frame no. 895
Engine no. J362
The British firm of Martinsyde was founded in 1908 when Helmuth Paul Martin and George Harris Handasyde went into partnership to build aircraft. By the end of WWI Martinsyde was Britain's third largest aircraft manufacturer, occupying sites at Brooklands and Woking. Faced with a sharp downturn in demand for its products, the firm turned to motorcycle production at the war's end having acquired the rights to an unusual exhaust-over-inlet v-twin engine, designed by Howard Newman, and an AJS gearbox. Martinsyde made its first public appearance at the 1919 Motorcycle Show at Olympia, displaying a 6hp combination powered by the 678cc version of Newman's engine. Problems caused by unsatisfactory frame components having been overcome, motorcycle production got properly underway early in 1920. The company's first machines were marketed as Martinsyde-Newmans, abbreviated to simply Martinsyde after Newman's departure. 497cc v-twin and 350cc single-cylinder models were added to the range and Martinsydes began to feature in competitions, achieving some notable successes at Brooklands and the Scottish Six Days Trial. In November 1921 Martinsyde rider H H Bowen captured the One-Hour record at Brooklands, covering 77.58 miles on the 24th and 78.13 miles on the 29th of that month. Introduced in 1922, the 739cc Quick Six sports model benefited from many of the engine modifications, including detachable cylinder heads, tried out on the One-Hour machine. Sadly, a disastrous fire later that same year destroyed the works and Martinsyde went into liquidation, its name and remaining stock being acquired by BAT. The last complete machine was sold in 1923 and few examples - a little over 30 according to the Martinsyde Register survive of the 2,000-or-so made.
This particular example was previously owned by automobile engineer Chris Tait, one of the founders of the Martinsyde Register, and was sprinted and raced by him at Brooklands in 1939. The machine was purchased in fire-damaged condition and has been rebuilt with everything that needed replacing replaced including the gearbox, control levers, handlebars, footrests and some frame tubes. Departures from factory specification include Webb strutted forks, hub brakes, dropped handlebars, the rear mudguard and the exhaust system. The machine is described by the private vendor as in generally good condition and offered with Swansea V5.