Lea-Francis motorcycles were produced from 1912 to 1924, in Lower Ford
Street, in Coventry.
1912 Lea Francis is perhaps better known as a car manufacturer but in the
very early days the firm gained a reputation for the excellence of their
bicycles. The prototypes of their motorcycle were produced in time for
the 1912 Show. The machine was very well received, and featured all-chain
drive in oil baths, multi-plate clutch, quickly detachable rear wheel,
2 speed gearbox with kick-starter, and particularly efficient mud-guarding.
used JAP engine.
1912 Having already dabbled with cars since about 1904, the firm turned
to motorcycles and introduced one model, in August. It had a 3.25hp JAP
V-twin engine with chain-driven Bosch magneto, a two-speed gearbox, plate
clutch and fully-enclosed chain final-drive. There were also Druid forks
and dummy-rim brakes on both wheels. It was offered as a reliable and comfortable
1914 It was joined by a prototype combination using a 6-hp V-twin MAG
engine, but the project was dropped due to the outbreak of war. Meanwhile,
the other model was uprated to 3.5-hp JAP V-twin engine.
1915-1916 The 3.5hp model continued, with a three-speed gearbox.
496cc J.A.P. V Twin
Click on photo to see 12 more photo's
of this machine
1919 After the War, the same model reappeared, but with only two speeds.
1920 That model was joined by one with a 3.5-hp MAG engine.
1921 The 3.5h-p model, plus another with 5hp, were given three speeds.
Engine capacities were 495cc and 592cc.
1922 Those models ran on, together with a stripped sports version of
1923 The 592cc machine was given a Burman gearbox.
1924 The above model was the only one listed that year, after which
motorcycle production ceased
It is recorded that some 1,500 machines were made, of which around
two dozen remain today.
Graham Francis's son, Gordon, would go on to co-found Francis-Barnett.
There is a Lea-Francis Owners' Website but it caters more for the car
manufacturering side of the company
For a list of the models and prices 1913-1917 motorcycles
see the 1917 Red Book.
According to gracysguide The Lea Francis story was recorded by
Ken Hallworth in “OLD BIKE” number 18, summer 1996 (I've never seen this
mag so I went on line, I found a mention of it in Austrailia, but as that
didn't start untill 2009 I don't think it was that one).