1928 Zenith Racer
Having looked through the auction catalogues in the last couple of days I have been leaning towards bikes made previous to WWII. There is just something in the design of the early motorcycles with just the basics; Engine, Wheels, Frame, Tank. This was not a conscience effort to be minimalist, it was a technological reality that limited builders. This design was best seen in the racing bikes of the 1920’s when all the rider needed were two wheels an engine and gas to make it go. This Zenith from 1928 offered on eBay has these simple components.
Zenith was a company that started making motorcycles in 1904, but like many manufactures of the time, they would purchased engines from engine manufactures. What put them on the scene and ahead of the game was their chief engineer Freddy Barnes. He developed the Gradua gear, an adjustable diameter engine pulley, which when expanded, increased the overall gear ratio. This gave a great advantage over fixed ratio competaters, and got them banned from competition, a fact that they advertised as a badge of honor.
Some information on the Zenith for sale
This GENUINE 20s frame was located and united with this fabulous VINTAGE racing running gear. Frame number is 10424 and simply turned up some time ago at a swap meet …We have no idea of the history of the frame but it is genuine & I would think further research will uncover the numbers on both the engine and frame to be of the finest pedigree. APPEARS FRAME CRADLE EXTENDED AT SOME TIME TO ACCEPT THIS FABULOUS ENGINE, CRAMBED IN ~ IN TYPICLE 20’s RACER STYLE.. The machine will require further fettling to bring to optimun standard
JA Prestwich was a London based engine manufacture who first built their own motorcycles in 1904. Soon afterward they began to offer their engines to any and all Manufactures. With names like Brough Superior, Triumph, AJS, HRD all using JAP engines at one time in their history, you can see that JAP was doing a good job. This was most apparent when Bert Le Vack became the first motorcyclist to round the famous Brooklands racetrack in a JAP powered Zenith at over 100mph, and later set a speed record in 1928 at 124.62 mph on a Zenith/JAP.
Some info on the engine for sale
This machine is fitted with the rare VINTAGE 1928 680 JAPLONDON RACING ENGINE GTO Y/C /1955.. with top oil spray to valves. AS FITTED TO BROUGH SUPERIOR & ZENITH..THE ENGINE HAS BEEN THROUGH BOLTED FOR RACING AND APPEARS EXCELLENT IN EVERY WAY. NEW PISTONS VALVES ETC.. FITTED WITH A RARE TWIN BOWL AMAL CARBURETOR, NICKLE TANK & BROUGHSUPERIORCASTLE FORKS WITH DAMPENING. FRAME IS THE EQUALLY DESIRABLE ZENITH CRADLE TYPE, VERY RIGID VERY STRONG & USED FOR RACING FOR MANY YEARS..6 BOLT STURMEY ARCHER GEARBOX, HAND MADE ALLOY PRIMARIES COMPLETE THIS REMARKABLE RESTORATION.
Collecting and riding racing bikes from the 1920’s would be a wonderful pass time, but it might also be difficult. Where could you ride this bike other then a racetrack. And I would guess that the number of people who have the skill to keep the bike running would be small. The seller looks to have a thing for racing motorcycles as you can see a 19’teens board track racer, and a pre-war DKW two-stroke in some of the pictures. If you are in on the bidding for this Zenith, be prepared to wait on delivery, as it currently sits in Australia.BB