The ex-Dave Chadwick, Isle of Man TT
c.1952 LEF 125cc Racing Motorcycle
This unique racing motorcycle was built circa 1952 by Bob Foster and Herbert Lewis, partners in the Watford-based motorcycle dealership of Lewis, Ellis and Foster. Work started in 1952 on a double-overhead-camshaft engine using drawings made by Herbert Lewis, who had designed the team's 250cc racer a few years previously. Bore and stoke dimensions of 55x52.5mm were chosen, these being identical to those of the Triumph 3T-based motor used in the 250cc LEF racer (Lot ??? in this sale). The camshaft and con-rod were made in house, as were the majority of the other engine parts except for the timing gears (Triumph) and oil pump (Norton). Sparked by a Bosch magneto and breathing via an Amal GP carburettor, the LEF motor produced 13bhp at around 9,000rpm. The gearbox used was an Albion four-speed racing unit, while the frame was made from Accles & Pollock oval section tubing.
In its day a number of well known riders rode the LEF 125, including Jim Dakin, Eric Pantlin, Rex Avery and Dave Chadwick, achieving numerous good results at mainland short circuits including Mallory Park, Thruxton and Silverstone. The LEF 125 was also campaigned at the Isle of Man TT where its first outing in 1954 resulted in a 'DNF' for Dennis Lashmar, winner of the 1,000cc class at the 1949 Clubman's TT. The LEF's best IoM result was 5th at the 1956 Lightweight 125 TT with Dave Chadwick on board, which resulted in Motor Cycling magazine reporting that 'the private venture LEF puts Britain on the leader board.'
Run on the Clypse course, the '56 Lightweight 125 TT was won by MV Agusta works rider Carlo Ubbiali, who had earlier triumphed in the 250cc race and thus became the first rider to win two TTs on the same day. In the 125 event Ubbiali won by five minutes, lapping all except the second-place rider, Montesa-mounted Marcello Cama. Fitted with a streamlined 'dustbin' fairing like most of the field, Chadwick's LEF finished some 12 minutes behind the winner at an average speed of 60.25mph.
The LEF 125 was tested by Vic Willoughby at the 1957 TT and on the Mountain Mile a speed of 83mph was achieved on the outbound journey and 93mph on the return in rather windy conditions. During the race, Eric Pantlin saw a tachometer reading of 10,000rpm on the drop to Whitebridge on the Clypse circuit, equivalent to 98mph, but was forced to retire. The LEF's last Isle of Man TT competitive outing was in the 1958 Ultra Lightweight race, rider Rex Avery bringing it home in 15th place.
Its competition career at an end, the LEF 125 was retired from active duty but kept by Bob Foster in his workshop. The machine is offered for sale today by a member of the Foster family, to whom it passed in the 1970s. In more recent times the LEF 125 has participated in the Pembrey Regularity Run and various parades, the last such occasion being at Brooklands around 2/3 years ago. This historic British racing 'special' is offered with period photographs and a copy of Motor Cycling's report on the 1956 Lightweight 125 TT.