c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle
Lot 375
c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle
£ 5,000 - 7,000
US$ 6,500 - 9,000

Amended
Lot Details
c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle
c.1948 LEF 249cc Racing Motorcycle
This unique racing motorcycle was built circa 1948 by Bob Foster and Herbert Lewis, partners in the Watford-based motorcycle dealership of Lewis, Ellis and Foster. The engine was based on a 350cc Triumph 3T unit, which was fitted with a special short-stroke (52.5mm) crankshaft to reduce the swept volume to 249cc while retaining the stock 55mm bore. Tiger 100 alloy con-rods were used to achieve the correct piston height. In 1949 Herbert Lewis designed new camshafts to increase power, resulting in some promising results. Subsequently a new swinging-arm frame was produced, together with an alloy cylinder head, and the Triumph gearbox replaced with an Albion racing ’box.

John Harrowell was the main rider, achieving placings at Dunholme, Eppynt and Haddenham. The LEF was raced at the Isle of Man TT several times but was forced to retire on each occasion. Dennis Lashmar took over from John Harrowell and managed a 3rd place at Boreham at the end of 1952.

Concerning performance, the assistant editor of The Motor Cycle magazine, George Wilson, tested the LEF over the Mountain Mile in the Isle of Man in 1950 and reported the following: ‘This is the first 250cc racing twin I have ever ridden and what impressed me most - apart from the handling qualities - was the lack of megaphonitis... Up to 7,000 to 7,200rpm in 1st and 2nd the little engine buzzed in a most exciting manner and there was not even the merest trace of vibration. Into third, the needle dropped back to 6,000rpm and the engine started to miss. I returned to where the machine's rider, John Harrowell and Messrs Lewis and Foster were waiting, and reported lack of steam and erratic running. John Harrowell and I swapped places and he sped off, to return with the engine spinning with the smoothness of a turbine and buzzing happily. I tried again, after John explained I should take the engine up to 8,000rpm at least before changing up and that I should make racing changes in order to keep the revs around that figure... As I streaked over the Mountain Mile towards the Mountain Box, and round the gentle right hand bend before the second gear left, with the machine on full noise and revving at 7,500rpm in third gear, the crowd watching said that the frontal area appeared to be no greater than that of a stem of a wine glass. To sum up, I cannot think of any racer irrespective of make or capacity, that in its own way has given me greater satisfaction to ride.’

Over time much of the LEF was lost but upon John Harrowell’s retirement he decided to reconstruct it. The complete rolling chassis was located together with the alloy cylinder head, gearbox, oil and fuel tanks, and a spare crankshaft. A Triumph 3T engine was purchased and modified to the original specification, although the 3T cams were retained. Although successfully paraded at various meetings, the rebuilt LEF has not been run for a number of years but benefits from a recent overhaul of the magneto. Offered for sale by a member of the Foster family, to whom it passed in the 1970s, the machine is offered with period photographs and a copy of John Harrowell’s 1949 magazine article describing its construction.

Saleroom notices

  • We are advised by the vendor that since the publication of the catalogue, the engine has been run.
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