Restored by the Sammy Miller Museum
1930 James 499cc Model B1 Sports Twin
Registration no. GF 6476
Frame no. 3771
Engine no. B2 226
Like so many famous and not so famous motorcycle firms, that founded by Harry James in 1880 started out as a bicycle manufacturer. Based initially at Sparkbrook and then Greet in Birmingham, the James Cycle Company built its first motorcycle, a Minerva-powered machine, in 1902. The first model to be powered by James's own engine followed in 1908; this was the 'safety' James, a radical design featuring wheels carried on stub axles, scooter-fashion. More orthodox designs followed, with two-stroke, sidevalve, overhead-valve, single-cylinder and twin-cylinder models featuring in the range before the end of the 1920s. The company was proud of the fact that, unlike the majority of the competition, its motorcycles were manufactured in their entirety in the James works, with only components such as the Bosch magneto, Mills carburettor, tyres and lamps being bought in from other manufacturers.
For 1914, James offered a revised single-cylinder model in three-speed and two-speed versions, both of which featured fully enclosed, all chain drive. The firm's first v-twin, the 500cc (3½hp) 'No.7', arrived that same year. Priced at 60 guineas, James's top-of-the-range offerings were quality products that incorporated some interesting ideas, one of the more practical being the 'spring drive' shock absorber built into the rear wheel hub. 'We confidently claim that this refinement affords all the sweetness of "belt drive" with none of the attendant foibles,' declared its maker.
From the mid-1930s onwards James began concentrating on the lightweight two-stroke models for which it is best remembered, but before then the top-of-the-range 499cc v-twin was being built in sidevalve and overhead-valve forms, and there was even a speedway version of the latter. For 1930 the roadsters were typed B1 (overhead-valve) and B2 (sidevalve). James guaranteed a top speed of 80mph for the B1 in solo trim, stating: 'We have no hesitation in recommending this model, which will adequately meet every demand which the most critical rider may require.'
This superb Vintage-era example of James' charismatic Sports Twin is offered fresh from restoration in 2013 by the world renowned Sammy Miller Museum workshop. The machine is presented in ready-to-ride condition and comes with V5C registration document.