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Homepage. This page: An original pre-war photograph of a classic British motorcycle and its rider.

Excelsior JAP.

Mark was kind enough to send over this original photograph of a pre-war Excelsior motorcycle, one of several old images he's found at car boot sales in recent times. This side view sees a beaming motorcyclist sat on board his prized machine, a note on the back dates the picture to 1935. The motorcycle's registration is BHX 860, a London issue, but for some reason I don't have any records of the BHX series for the 1930s. Can anyone accurately date this machine for us, and ideally confirm the model of bike shown here? I've looked at various pictures of sporting 250cc, 350cc and 500cc Excelsiors but I've yet to find an exact match. The engine would appear to make this an Excelsior-JAP, but more information would be welcome.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
1934/1935 Excelsior motorbike
The name Excelsior, or British Excelsior to give it its later full title, dates back to the earliest days of motorcycle production in Britain. Indeed it is credited as being the first "proper" motor-cycle manufacturer in this country, producing their first motorised cycle in 1896 from their Coventry base, previously having built pedal-powered cycles. By the early 1920s the firm had re-located to Tyseley in Birmingham. Early machines were powered by one of several engines, including Minerva, MMC and De Dion units. In 1914 they offered the first of their J.A.P.-powered motorcycles. In 1921 ownership of the company switched to the Walker family, and the firm was renamed as the Excelsior Motor Company Ltd. The new owners had not long before produced a range of motorcycles badged as Monarchs, so were not new to the business. New models were created, and the switch to the aforementioned Birmingham premises took place.
Machines of varying capacities, from 98cc to 1000cc, went on sale, using engines supplied by Blackburne, Villiers, J.A.P. and Condor. The company's directors were well aware of the benefits that on-track success could bring to the sale of road bikes, and Excelsiors were regularly to be seen in competition action thereafter. Certainly the JAP-powered machine shown above has the air of sporting aspiration to its lines I think.
Owners of these fine motorcycles might find the Excelsior parts ads section of this site to be of use. A photograph of G.R. Stanley astride a racing Excelsior B14 J.A.P. at Brooklands can be seen on this page of the site.
Return to Page 16 in the gallery of classic vehicles.

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