You are here: Index — Complete Motorcycle Compendium
The Complete Motorcycle Compendium
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2004 Royal Enfield Bullet 65
Rabbit Japan, 1946-1968, scooters, built by Fuji Heavy Industries. Had engines up to 250cc. Fuji also built the Hurricane motorcycle from about 1953 to 1968
Rabiniek Germany, 1930’s – 1958, Sachs engines
Radior France, 1920’s, JAP engines
Radco 1913-32.Small bikes. Started again 1954-56 as Radnall. Made a minibike in 1966.
Rambler England, 1950s Rambler was the name Norman autocycle used on exported bikes
Ratier France, 1946 – 1962, They had BMW “Boxer” style opposed twin engines of their own manufacture
Reading Standard USA, 1905? Early models used Thor engines. Bought by Cleveland motorcycle in 1922, Cleveland sold the last Reading Standard in 1923.
Racycle USA, 1900’s Miami Cycle Co. Thor engines
Raleigh England, Their first motorcycle was a bicycle frame with a 2 HP German Schwan engine built in 1899. T
Raynal England, 1936 – 1950, Autocycles with Villiars “Junior” engines
Ready Belgium, 1920s, NV Ready Motor Co
Red Horse USA, Harley clones
Regas USA, The Regas Vehicle Company built it’s first motorcycle around 1900 using a DeDion engine. Before they stopped making motorcycles in 1903 they also used Patee and or Fleming engines
Reliance USA, In 1903 the Reliance was Introduced by the Empire Motor Cycle Co., which soon changed to the Reliance Motor Cycle Co. The company had financial problems in 1911 and was purchased by it’s former director Willis Ives. Ives restarted the production of motorcycles in 1912 under the Monarch name. see Monarch
Rene-Gillet France, closed in the early 1960’s
Rex (Rex Coventry) England around 1904, joined with Acme of England around 1922 and became Rex-Acme
Reynolds Special See Scott
R&H England, 1922 – 1925
Rickman England, 1957 – ? made mostly dirt bikes using their frames and other manufacturers engines
Ridley USA, They make 3/4 scale bikes that look like a Harley and use 465 to 570cc V-Twin engines and an automatic transmission that their ads describe as “Gas & Go. There isn’t a clutch to mess with or shifter to be confused by.” How convenient, I always get confused by that pesky shifter
Rieju Japan, 1930’s
Rikuo (Rukuo?) Harley sold manufacturing rights to the Japanese Sankyo Pharmaceutical Company around 1929. They built flathead Japanese Harleys for a short while from design details supplied by HD
Riley England, 1896 – 1908, Riley Cycle Co. Ltd. was founded in 1896 and produced a powered quadricycle, and a tricycle, both called Royal Rileys’ in 1899. Their first purpose built motorcycle was in 1903, using an engine of their own design. Motorcycle production stopped in 1908? and bicycles ceased by 1911, so the company could concentrate on auto production
Riotte USA, 1895, Carl Riotte designed a small kerosene burning engine that was attached to a bicycle
Rizzato Italy, 1978
Robinson see AR
Roc France, Race chassis builders
Rockford USA, 1972 – 1975, sold models called Chibi, Taka and Tora see Bridgestone
Roehr USA, They have their first prototype done, the RV500cc two stroke, it has 102hp and weights 325lb
Rokon USA, Started making 2 wheel drive bikes in the late 1950’s
Roland Made by Allright
Rollaway USA, Rollaway Co. 1919 – 1921, made bicycle engine kits
Roper England, 1901 – 1905
Roper (steam) USA, 1867, Made by Sylvester Roper, it was probably the first motorcycle. Made about the same time as the Michaux-Perraux in France. The coal fired steam engine unit is part of a specially built chassis rather than an add-on and had no pedal crank. Roper also built a four wheeled “steam carriage” and exhibited both at fairs and circuses for a number of years. He suffered a heart attack while riding one at a show in 1896 and died. One is in the Smithsonian Museum
Rossija Russia, 1903
Rotax Austrian engine builder
Roto Gannet England, 1971 Rotary
Roton Australia, 1990 Rotary engine. Brian Crighton, who had worked on Norton’s rotaries, started the company
Roussey France, 1950’s, Scooters
Royal Enfield England, The Enfield Cycle Company built their first motorcycle in 1900 and used their own and other makers engines until around 1927? and then used only their own. The first Enfield “Bullet” was built in 1932. The last Enfields were made in England in 1970… But, in 1955 they set up a plant in India to build bikes for the police and army. When the parent company went bust. Royal Enfield started as a munitions and arms manufacturer George Townsend & Co. in Redditch, near Birmingham in 1880, making bicycles. In 1892 it was closed for financial reasons, but it came back as Enfield Manufacturing, reformed by Robert Smith (works director) and Albert Eadie (managing director). They started making Enfield bicycles in 1892 before turning to motorcycles in 1899 with a single powered by a 299cc Minerva and a quadricycle with a de Dion engine. They produced their own engine in 1901. However, in 1904 they let motorcycle production slip while they concentrated on cars (as the Enfield Autocar Company). This company went broke in 1907 and the parent company concentrated on parts manufacturing, while Eadie resigned.
Enfield returned to motorcycling in 1910, when they produced a lightweight V-twin, which was followed in 1912 by a 770cc JAP-powered V-twin using an Enfield-patented Cush-drive rear hub. Several new designs were introduced in the next four years including a two-stroke 225cc machine in 1914 that came third in the Junior TT that year.
When war broke out, Enfield made both bicycles and sidecar outfits for the Allies. After WW1, their line expanded to singles. Starting with a 350cc in 1924, it grew to include a range from 225 to 488cc (first offered as a sv in 1927, it also came in ohv versions in 1928). A special version of the 1922 2 1/4 hp model was made with a lowered frame for women. They also offered a series of twins which reached 976cc in 1921 with an engine of their own design. They also made a large 1140cc V-twin Model K, which was produced through the 1930s, until 1938.
Firsts included Cush drives before WW1 and dry sump crankcases in 1930 models. During WW2 they made a robust 350cc side-valve single for the military.
The Bullet was launched in 1934 in 250, 350 and 500cc sizes, although the initials used to designate models were still retained. The Bullet was successfully redesigned after WW2 and did well in sales and in trials matches after its re-launch in 1948. The 1949 Model G Bullet had an alloy head, and full swing-arm suspension. The 1948 Bullet also had a re-designed frame, and its new suspension offered superior handling against its competitors.
In 1948, the company introduced the Meteor, its first parallel twin, a 500cc machine with swing-arm suspension and other advances. This was upgraded to the 692cc Meteor in 1953, the largest parallel twin available aside from the Vincent. It got several more upgrades to the Super Meteor, then in 1958 the Constellation with its Airflow fairing, and finally the 736cc Interceptor in 1962 and the final version, the Mk2 Interceptor, perhaps the finest British twin ever made. Another popular Enfield was the Continental GT, a five-speed 248cc sporting single. The Clipper ran from 1953 to 57, when it was replaced by the unit-construction Crusader (a budget Crusader II was launched in 1958-65, but was not the same machine). The Clipper itself was really a budget version of the Bullet.
Several innovative machines were made in the 1950s and 60s. The Crusader Sports (56) was the first modern British four-stroke, the Series II Interceptor (69) had wet-sump lubrication, capacitor ignition and a vertical oil filter.
For a short while before it collapsed, American firm Indian sold the Interceptor in the USA with an Indian badge. In the mid-1950s, RE sold manufacturing equipment to an Indian subsidiary in Madras, to make the 350cc Bullet for the Indian Army and Indian police.
In the mid 1960s, RE was in financial trouble. They continued in business until 1967 when they closed and sold off their stock and machinery. The Indian Enfield company however, made Bullets with hardly a change since they began in 1955, except to upgrade the engine to 500cc for one model, improve the electrics and brakes. These bikes have been exported around the world, coming back to the UK in 1978 and other countries soon after. They become popular as simple, easy-going bikes with a vintage look and feel, but at low cost.
In 1997, the Indian Enfield company acquired the rights to use the name Royal Enfield on its bikes. Swiss engineer Fritz Egli has done considerable work upgrading and tuning Bullets for more power and speed.
Enfield India just kept on making the 500cc Bullet. They purchased the rights to use the Royal Enfield name in 1995
Rover English car builder that made motorcycles from around 1902 – 1925
Rovena cycles were produced from 1963-1968. Two-stroke motorcycles, built by Sanglas using twin-cylinder 249cc and 323cc Hispano-Villiers engines
RTX England, Dirt bikes
Rudge England, 1894 – 1939, the Rudge Whitworth company, 250 to 500cc. four valve IOE motors. Bought by Raleigh
Rugmobile (Ruggles) USA, 1902 – 1909, H.B. Ruggles designed and produced the Rugmobile and the Ruggles. They had step through frames for “rider comfort”
Rumi Italy, 1950’s Scooters
Rush Belgium, 1921 – 1930
Rys Poland, 1958 – 1963