Matchless Motorcycles Have a Long and Illustrious History

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Matchless was formerly the largest motorcycle manufacturer, and the Collier Brothers were interested with motorised two-wheelers around the turn of the century. Both Harry and Charlie Collier believed in competition, and the Collier brand was well-known prior to World War I. The company’s headquarters were in Plumstead, South East London, which was far from the industry’s heartland in the Midlands.

They also made automobiles in the 1920s. At the start of the 1930s, the business offered a singles lineup comparable to that of any other manufacturer, as well as a large V-twin for sidecar use.

They also had the new Silver Arrow for 1930, which was kept a secret until the very last minute. It was another attempt to supply the touring rider with a sophisticated machine that was fully equipped.

The mag-dyno was driven by a gear-driven camshaft that ran the length of the machine. It gave the impression of a shaft drive, but this was an illusion because the power was transferred through chains to the three-speed gearbox and then to the back wheel.

There were no exterior oil pipelines because the lubrication was dry sump, with the oil tank fastened to the front of the crankcase. The frame was tubular, with coil springs and friction dampers located beneath the saddle to adjust the pivoting rear suspension.

The front had girder forks, and both wheels had drum brakes coupled to a right-hand foot pedal, with the front brake operated independently by the handlebar lever. The instrument panel, which was positioned above the bars and contained both dials and switches, completed the look. This was to put the finishing touches on a machine that was marketed to the discriminating as quiet, smooth, and comfortable.

The issue was that devotees would demand further innovations and sophistication but would never pay for it. Fortunately, Matchless continued to produce simple devices that sold well and kept the company afloat. The singles all had a vertical cylinder with the magneto tucked behind it, and the smallest was a 245cc with the R/4 side valve and the OHV R/6 OHV.

There were two variants of the latter, one having dual ports and the other, the Special, which only had one. The Special was rumored to have a top speed of 85 mph. To round off the singles, there was a 583cc side-valve V/6.

The large v-twin was available in two models, both of which used the same 982cc engine with side valves. The X/2 was the base model, with the X/R2 having chrome-plated rims and other upgrades.

The rotating and reciprocating plunger installed in the crankcase provided dry-sump lubrication on all variants. This system was supposed to endure decades.

When it was originally presented, the Silver Arrow drew a lot of attention, but it was too little and tranquil to pique people’s interest. This changed within a year when the business revealed a machine at Olympia with a four-cylinder overhead camshaft engine. It was dubbed

The list was drastically altered in 1936, with only the side valves F7, D5, and X4 remaining. Matchless stopped delivering machines to the technical press for road tests in 1937, and this practice persisted for many years. Although the Sunbeam name was sold to BSA in 1943, the firm also obtained the rights to the Sunbeam motorcycle company, resulting in the foundation of the AMC group.

AMC continues to build motorcycles and compete in races. Following the death of Ike Hatch and the severe competition from other European bikes, they withdrew from racing in 1954. With sales dropping in the 1960s, AMC decided to focus on the Norton twins and Matchless/AJS singles, but these were not successful, and the plant ended production, and AMC was absorbed into the Norton-Villiers Corporation.

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