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World of motorcycleS
S1 Publishing(Oxford)© -2013
Dogdragons Info
Chater-Lea
Chater-Lea began in Victorian times making bicycle parts for other firms and in due course graduated to making complete motorcycles using a wide range of proprietary engines.


1900 The first motorcycles appeared. They were built to order using whatever engine the customer specified. 

1902



1903

1904
Chater-Lea made frames & fitting for many other makes of engines -  including Minerva

Advert is for a Minerva Romania engine in a Chater-Lea frame? with Chater-Lea fittings?
As anyone could buy the frame kits, you can asume that Minerva motorcyles were made in your shed/kitchen or workshop.... As far as I'm aware, Minerva never made motorcycles... they made motors... or... dios this advert mean that the Chater Lea frames were those "so called improvements"?... either way a clip on is a clip on. & trying to find out which is which, is not an easy task.
After a few years they had only one model, robust in construction, that was meant for sidecar use. It had a 6hp JAP engine, a two-speed gearbox, all-chain drive and leading-link front forks. They then produced a 2.5hp solo with a JAP engine and belt drive. (note... trying to varify this)

1909 By now they were using a three-speed gearbox and crankshaft-mounted clutch on the sidecar outfit plus various solos.

The  V-twin 1913
1916 They reverted to one model for a while - an 8hp twin sidecar. They then added a 369cc two-stroke with two-speed gearbox and belt final-drive.
World War I. production stopped. For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book 

1920 The company returned to the market with only the two-stroke.

1921 A 976cc JAP V-twin was added.

1922 They produced a 488cc sv single, of their own design.

1923 More models were added that year.

1924 Their own model was enlarged to 545cc and they produced other models with sv and ohv Blackburne engines. It was the last year for the big V-twin. They started fitting saddle tanks to their models. They made a name at Brooklands when records were broken by Dougal Marchant riding a machine with a modified Blackburne engine. It helped sales, but the machines were expensive.

1925 Only three singles were listed.

1926 They unveiled a new 348cc ohc model of the face-cam type, with vertical shaft drive. There were also two sports models with either Blackburne or JAP engines. At 100mph it was the world's fastest 350cc machine. Marchant set a World Record Flying Kilometre for 350cc and 500cc motorcycles at 102.9mph for the firm, though the engine was his special and not the later face-cam Chater-Lea engine

1927 The only models produced that year used their own Chater-Lea 348cc and 545cc engines as well Blackbourne engines (see you tube clip). The name changed to Chater Lea Ltd. when the founder died in 1927. The business was then taken over by sons, John and Bernard.
They exhibited at the 1927 Motor Cycle and Cycle Show at Olympia stand No.237

1928 The company moved to Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire.

1929 They added a 247cc lightweight with a Villiers engine, and a Dirt Track model.

1930 Only three road models were in production and the two-stroke was dropped.
1931 Their style now had a somewhat 'vintage' look and the only machines built were the camshaft and sv models.

1935 The camshaft model ended.

1936 The sv model ended and the firm returned to general engineering.
 Over the years a total of 1200 combinations were supplied, the last one in July 1936
This machine had found favour with the AA as a good strong reliable sidecar unit for patrol work
(WWII Manufactured parts for the De Havilland Mosquito)
Chater Lea Links
Yesterdays - 1902
Yesterdays - 1926 350cc
Youtube - 1927 single
Yesterdays - 1935
Info gracysguide
edited by S. Dogdragon (a bit of extra info by myself too)
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