AJW Motorcycles :: History
Chapter 10

1935

As A.J.W. moved in to the New Year it was intended that all their machines would be fitted with J.A.P. engines and Albion or Burman gearboxes. (Most of the machines built in 1934 had had Python engines and gear boxes.)  However, some would have Python engines and Albion gearboxes or J.A.P. engines and Python gearboxes until they had cleared all their old stocks.  This change was due to Rudge stopping the supply of engines and gearboxes.

Frame 1935-39

Frame 1935-39

Now with their new engines A.J.W. had updated their range of machines. The new frame design had a steel gearbox housing with great lateral rigidity, coupled to tubular chainstays. Main tubes were 11/2in. diameter and the top tube was connected to the gear box housing with 1in diameter tube brazed in. All tubes were of best quality steel.  Sidecar lugs were also incorporated.

The J.A.P. engine now fitted to the updated Flying Vixen was a TT replica of 498cc (80mm bore by 99mm stroke) with a 20 degree down-draught inlet and large diameter single exhaust port. The cylinder barrel was deeply recessed into the crank case, affording a high camshaft position and short push rods. The latter was fitted with return springs and all valve gear totally enclosed and automatically lubricated. It had an oil-feed to valve guides and dry sump lubrication with force feed to a double row roller bearing big-end. A 14mm plug was fitted and compression ratio was 6.64.

An Amal large bore T T racing pattern carburettor was now fitted.

1935 Flying Vixen

Flying Vixen

The gearbox was now a Burman four-speed with a totally enclosed short movement foot control. Gear ratios, 4.4 5.5 6.9 and 11.7 to 1, or T.T. ratios were available to special order.  Also fitted was a four-plate clutch, incorporating a shock absorber.

The rest of the specification was, in the main, much the same as the 1934 models.

Pride & Clarke also sold side-cars to fit all A.J.W. models. The side-car body could be painted the same colour as the petrol tank panels if required.

PRIDE & CLARKE’S  brochure states, “Marvels of luxury, elegance, economy and value specially manufactured from  A.J.W. motor cycles.”

1935 Sports Sidecar for Flying Fox

Flying Fox complete with Pendine Sports (above) sidecar £65

Pride & Clarke offered 13 different types of sidecar ranging in price from £9.5s.0d. to £21 17s.6d.

The Red Fox was now in its second year and in February 1935 the MOTOR CYCLE road tested that machine.

The A.J.W. Red Fox is a machine designed to suit those who would prefer a five hundred to one of smaller capacity, but whose exchequer forbids a high initial cost.  By economising in luxury equipment it has been possible to keep the cost of the Red Fox down to a very low figure, that is what the makers claim, but it is exceedingly difficult to realise where and how the saving has been made.

The A.J.W. is neatly finished in black with no bright parts to clean except the exhaust system. Following straightforward practice, the 490cc ohv two-port J.A.P. engine is mounted in a sturdy diamond frame.

As the adjustable foot rests have a wide range of movement, it is possible to set them to suit a rider of any height. With the footrests adjusted to individual tastes and with the admirable relationship of the handlebars to the saddle, the riding position is comfortable.

The Bowden carburettor was set to give a really good tick over when warm and with the ignition retarded. To start from cold it was only necessary to advance the ignition, lightly flood the carburettor and give one good kick on the starter. Throughout the test the A.J.W. was always an easy starter, the ratio of the kick-starter gearing to the engine being almost perfect so that very little effort was required.

Mechanically the J.A.P. engine was considerably quieter then average, while the exhaust note was subdued, but with quite a Brooklands tang about it.

Red Fox 1935

Red Fox

All controls worked easily and lightly. The clutch, if such a complaint can be made, was almost too light and, being perfectly smooth, it enhanced the machine’s handling in traffic.  The gear change is by hand but conveniently placed for a reasonably quick change.  The gear lever however was not quite correctly adjusted and on several occasions second gear would jump out, apparently due to slight clutch drag. It was very often difficult to disengage a gear when stationary.  Other than this nothing but praise can be written about the gearbox.  It was dead silent, all gears might have been top gear for all that the rider could hear.  Likewise, when moving, the gears almost selected themselves so easily did they fall into mesh.  Engagement could be made regardless of the throttle opening.

At first the steering of the A.J.W. appeared to be on the light side.  But this is apparently not a serious matter, for a bad road could be taken with neither the steering damper nor shock absorbers in action and no trace of wobble appeared.  However the shock absorber adjustment is mounted on the top fork spindle and can be set to suit requirements from the saddle when in motion.  With the shock absorbers in action the steering becomes a little less light.

The road holding was a feature of the A.J.W. sufficient to inspire really fast corner work, while the brakes were well up to standard, the front being particularly good in operation. Both brakes provided the feeling of safety in wet weather, there being little or no tendency to lock the wheels.  On grease, the handling of the machine was also very good.  Particularly was this noticed in lanes covered with slime and mud.

The engine, like the rest of the machine was brand new when tested and therefore the maximum speed of 71mph in top gear (4.6 to 1) does not give a true representation of its abilities.  On three occasions this speed was attained, but with all the signs of a partial seizure being imminent.  In second gear (7.1 to 1) a speed of 62mph was reached. While 38mph was the best figure obtained in bottom gear (11.8 to 1).   The ratios are well chosen for both riding in traffic and on the open road.  Owing to the extraordinary flexibility of the J.A.P engine, the fact that a four-speed gearbox is not fitted passed unnoticed.  Actually the engine would throttle down in top gear to a slow trotting speed and then accelerate smoothly without snatch.

The engine, though not a sports model, was of a distinctly lively nature.  From 20 mph it took just over 5 seconds to accelerate to 45mph in second gear.  Owing to a rather big gap in the gear ratios, the best top gear time was 14 seconds.  These figures were obtained with the clutch fully home and the ignition advanced.  It was noticeable that the engine was very sensitive to the throttle and would readily pink in protest if it were abused.  Ethyl and other anti-knock fuels materially reduced the tendency for the engine to knock.  Other wise the behaviour of the engine was excellent and throughout the test it showed no bad traits.  The engine was well balanced and no vibration period was noticeable, except when over revving in the intermediate gears.  It was remarkably oil tight and at the end of the test only a smear of oil was visible, appearing from beneath the rocker gear.  In consequence, the approximate oil consumption figure of 2,500mph is not surprising.  The petrol consumption at a maintained speed of 35mph was 68.4mpg.

One criticism can be levelled at the central stand, which is not easy to find with a be-wadered foot, while it is also difficult to lift the machine without a handle. In conclusion, the lighting set, with a separate Miller dynamo, mounted in front of the cylinder and driven off the engine-shaft, performed admirably and was well in keeping with the rest of the machine.

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A.J.W. found themselves excluded from the 1935 Olympia Motor Cycle Show as all their machines were sold through Pride & Clarke.  In fact the south London dealer hired a shop opposite Olympia (11. Hammersmith Road.) in order to show their range of A.J.W.s along with others  such as Calthorpe, Douglas and Panther.

Pride & Clarke had earlier been banned by the British Motor Cycle and Cycle Manufacturers and Traders Union, for offering machines below the prices agreed by the Union.   Since before World War Two the industry association, the B.M.C., C. M. and T. U. maintained a strict hold on the retail prices that were charged by dealers.  This was of course retail price maintenance.  They would decide what profit margins dealers could make.  Pride & Clarke were notorious for flouting the union rule and charging lower prices to their customers.  The union sometimes put pressure on firms who dealt with Pride & Clarke, such as Dunlop, to stop supplying tyres to the particular motor cycle manufacturer.  Things came to a head in 1935 when Pride & Clarke were banned from the London show.  Post war, the union became the British Cycle and Motor Cycle  Industries Association and increasing free-trade legislation meant that they could no longer keep such a strong hold over motorcycle dealers.  This liberalisation in trade culminated in the 1962 Anglo-Japanese trade agreement, which allowed a flood of Japanese motorcycles into the UK.   The association tried unsuccessful to resist this.

Taken from an  A.J.W.  brochure

Another year – another spring – summer with its sunshine and long days – the open road – miles to cover – sometimes fast, sometimes to dawdle-happy times.  Happy if your bus is going well, if it eats up the miles happily and keeps on doing it, or ambles along comfortably whilst you revel in the view.  Happy – there’s literally no limit to your enjoyment with an A.J.W., a bus which you can depend on giving you unfailing reliability. But that is not all.  Just watch how she attracts attention from the roadside – distinctive lines and an individuality compelling admiration and envy, and notice how safely she corners and the effortless control – no need to worry if its greasy.  Take a run over that bumpy stretch really fast and feel how comfortably she handles and what a revelation in road holding.  Or should you feel inclined, have a go at that local trials hill and you’ll be surprised how she’ll climb and rock steady too.  Whichever model you decide on, you get these same characteristics in every A.J.W. and, what’s more, a delightful feeling of possessing a mount which can move, then hold its own in appearance, comfort, performance and all round value against all comers.

HERES EVIDENCE –  some typical opinions of A.J.W. owners.

I can now take the greatest pleasure in writing these few words in appreciation of the service given and the trouble taken over my machine.  I have given it a very good test, including my run back to London from your works, which was as good as anybody could wish, and I must say that I am absolutely satisfied in every way.  I want to thank you and everybody for the amount of work carried out in such a short time. I should have no hesitation in recommending these machines to one and all.  A.R.H. Tottenham.

The A.J.W. Flying Fox is in my opinion the sweetest machine on the road.  I have covered some 20,000 miles of trouble free running and the engine is in perfect condition. I get 88-90 mpg on petrol and 2,000 mpg on oil and can attain a speed of 70 mph. I am interested in your 1935 production.  Please forward catalogue and literature.  W.G.M. Dublin.

I had one of your 1933 models, and I am proud to say that I found the machine very reliable and it gave me every satisfaction, finding no fault whatever. I have just of late sold it to my brother, and did not hesitate in buying one of your 1934 models for this year, and that is also giving me every satisfaction.  W. C. Gravesend.

These letters could be viewed at the A.J.W. works in Exeter.

The record book states that there were one hundred and forty six machines built in 1935.

Only two Flying Foxes and one Red Fox are known to have survived from 1935.

Changes from 1934

  • New frame and tool box

 

 

 

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