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Model History & Innovations

A timeline of Rudge development – 1910 to 1940

1910 - First Rudge assembled on 27th July

1911 - First Rudge motorcycles on sale to the public, single speed, single cylinder (499cc), belt drive,optional NSU or Mabon geared machines before the Multi

1912 - Multi gear introduced along with single speed Brooklands and TT models.

1913 - Larger capacity 750cc Multi introduced

1914 - Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub available.

1915 - A 'V' twin with Jardine 4 speed gearbox appeared before the Multwin, the 1000cc V twin 'Multi' was introduced.

1921 - 3 speed gearbox introduced.

1923 - 4 speed gearbox introduced on the 7/9hp V twin machine. Last Multi produced.

1924 - New 4 valve 350cc model introduced with 4 speed gearbox, followed by 500cc version.

1925 - Production 500cc as above with linked front and rear brakes.

1926 - 350cc model dropped.

1927 - '100MPH' racing machine offered to special order.

1928 - First saddle tank machines fitted with internal expanding drum brakes. Dirt Track model introduced.

1929 - Ulster model added to the range after Graham Walker's Ulster G.P. win, along with a JAP engined 250cc (OHV or SV) and parallel 4 valve 350cc. Gearbox footchange first used in the TT.

1930 - Dry sump lubrication introduced on Rudge engined road models. Last year of the JAP 250cc and parallel valve 350cc. Gearbox internals revised for 350cc/500cc models and external kickstarter stop removed. The 'Ulster' now came with an optional 90 MPH guarantee at £75 and a 100mph guarantee at £85. First 'Python' engines on sale through other manufacturers.

1931 - TT Replica models introduced (350cc & 500cc). Fully radial Rudge engined 250cc introduced with coil ignition along side fully radial 350cc. 250cc gained its own gearbox (basically a scaled down 500cc item). Parallel valve 500cc road machines (Special & Ulster) now had the magneto mounted behind the cylinder.

1932 - First and only year of the fully radial 500cc Ulster. 250cc TT Replica introduced. Road models (350cc/500cc) gained a true oil bath chaincase. Stand handle introduced on the 350cc & 500cc models. Limited production 6 stud Dirt track engine produced.

1933 - Last year the dirt track machines were catalogued. Last year of the 250cc, 350cc and 500cc TT Replica machines and fully radial 350cc. 500cc Ulster reverted to forward magneto mounting position with a semi radial cast iron cylinder head. 250cc gained a true oil bath chaincase.

1934 - Ulster now rear magneto with the newly introduced aluminium bronze semi-radial cylinder head. 250cc fully radial 4 valve Sports introduced. 500cc gearbox internal ratios standardised (no longer different for Special and Ulster).

1935 - First 2 valve 250cc introduced - the Tourist. 500cc Competition model catalogued.

1936 - Last year of the fully radial 4 valve 250cc (250cc Sports). 250cc 2 valve renamed Rapid. Round tubed forks introduced. Special engine capacity changed to 495cc from 499cc. Ulster cylinder head casting revised to cure weaknesses. Single 'WD' Ulster and 'WD' Rapid produced for evaluation by the MOD.

1937 - 500cc engines redesigned with fully enclosed cylinder heads. Sports Special 500cc model introduced. E.M.I. takes over company and moves to Hayes, Middlesex. Bicycle production only recommenced in 1937, motorcycles not being produced until late 1938. Competition model dropped.

1938 - 250cc 2 valve Sports introduced. Ulster head revised with extra rocker cover bolt.

1939 - 500cc Ulster fitted with RR50 aluminium cylinder head. Villiers engined Autocycle introduced. Small number (12) of true WD 250cc produced and delivered under contract.

1939/40 - Factory closes to make room for radar production.



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©  Colin Chapple