1931 James Road Racer

This eBay auction for a1931 James Roadracing bike was sent to us by a CSBF reader in theUK. Over the last 6 months I have seen it posted previously, but have not been able to find a lot of information about James motorcycles. A little deeper digging did find a few bits of information.

First from the seller

This is James own engine NOT a J.A.P Very rare….Good working condition, regulary used and raced….A unique bike that is always the centre of attraction….Will take car or bike in part exchange…No time-wasters please…If you want to stand out from the crowd this is the bike for you.

What I was able to find out was the Henry James made his first bicycle in 1880 and his first motorcycle in 1902, the appropriately named Model A. These first motorcycles were powered by Minerva and then FN four stroke engines. After WWI James moved onto smaller 2 stroke engines until the 1930’s. During the between war period, James appears to have offered a single cylinder, a flat head (side valve for the English readers) and  OHV engines like this road racer.

This website has information on motorcycles offered by James and indicated that their Speedway racing bikes were well liked by racers because of the James designed all metal clutch. No indication about the engines used, or if they were James originals. This Road Racer does look a lot like a 1931 Model C1 Delux Super Sport Twin.

After 1934 James moved back into the small, lightweight 2 stokes and continued on this path through WWII. AMC, owners of the AJS and Matchless brands, purchased James in the 1950’s and this likely kept them in the lightweight market. AMC would need a small bike, read Brand Name, to expand its market coverage, and keep the number of competitors down for their heavyweight brands.

The seller tells you that you will be able to stand out from a crown with this James road racer. This is a fact. The question will always be the price. Is it worth the starting bid? That all depends on the bike itself. I would think if this was an all original Speedway bike, since they were only made for a few years, it would be rare. But if there are bids and parts from other years or models, the value will be less. I am a big fan of pre-war race bikes, so if I had the Pound Sterling, I would be bidding here. BB

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