AJW Motorcycles :: History
Chapter 12


As A.J.W. moved into 1937 one of their brochures stated :

Quality is the keynote of these latest Fox machines; quality in manufacture and appearance, setting an entirely new standard in economical motor cycling.  To quote the words of a satisfied owner, ‘To ride a Fox is to experience the handling of a true race-bred and, for power and flexibility, road holding and comfort, appearance and reliability, there is no equal’. Only by the combination of the ablest designs, finest components and specialised production methods can so great a compliment be justified.  Make a point yourself of trying the model of your choice, and whether a mere novice to a well seasoned rider, you will find in the Fox a machine suitable alike to your taste and to your pocket.

1937 catalog

An A.J.W. brochure (above) showing the rider sitting on his A.J.W. Red Fox admiring the  view !

In January 1937 Popular Motorcycling reported on the new A.J.W.s

So successful have the two A.J.W. Fox machines proved to be, that these are being continued practically unaltered for the 1937 season.  Detail improvements however have taken place both in design and appearance and an even better specification is offered than last year.

The 490cc Red Fox

Dealing with the machines individually, the Red Fox is fitted with the latest 490cc ohv 2- port J.A.P. engine, which now has oil fed direct to the centre of the big-end through a drilled crankshaft.  The overhead valves are operated by enclosed push-rods and rockers which, together with the valve guides, are automatically lubricated by oil drawn up from an oil box on the timing side of the crankcase.  An additional refinement of totally enclosed valves and valve springs is available at extra charge of £1.

Ignition is provided by a separate Lucas magneto, and carburation by a Bowden instrument with a quick action twist-grip throttle control.

Passing on to the transmission, Coventry chains are employed throughout, the primary being positively lubricated by an adjustable regulator on the return side of the engine lubrication system and the rear by crankcase breather.  Both chains are adequately protected by neat covers conforming with the lines of the machine.

An Albion 3-speed gearbox is fitted giving three useful ratios of 4,6 7 and 11 to 1, and gear changing is effected by a lever on the tank side. A 4-plate clutch incorporating a shock-absorber transmits the drive to the rear wheel.

The brakes are 7in diameter front and rear and, on account of the special water excluding cover plates, are as equally efficient in wet weather as in dry.  Rims are black enamelled and carry 26in x 3.25in Firestone  tyres.  A feature of the rear wheel is its quick detachability, there being no necessity to break the chain for removal purposes owing to the forward slotted fork ends.

The exhaust system consists of two low-level pipes leading into tubular pattern silencers. An innovation here concerns the method of attachment to the ports which is effected by smart finned clips in place of the hexagon nuts previously employed.

The finish of the Red Fox is all black, with the tank attractively lined in red and gold. This now has a capacity of 3 gallons, whilst larger sized knee grips are attached to the sides. Fully adjustable footrests and handlebars and a Lycett Aero saddle are further considerations towards the rider’s comfort.

Equipped with Miller S.U.S. lighting including a 7in lamp with chromium plated rim.  The Red Fox sells at the very modest figure of £49 10.

The 490cc Flying Fox

1937 Flying Fox

Turning now to the Flying Fox : here the specification is more lavish and the equipment even more complete than the Red Fox.  The engine, a 490cc 2-port J.A.P. again, incorporates the same improvements in the big-end lubrication as the other model, but the exhaust is a semi-high level system of unique straight-through design.  Actually the silencers are fitted inside the exhaust pipe, the latter being made large enough in diameter to allow for some of the area to be occupied for this purpose, without interfering with the free passage of the exhaust gases in any way.  At the extremities of these pipes a novel form of fishtail has been added, these are bell-mouthed in shape and each contains a cone which dissipates the gases evenly through a circular slot, the total area of which is made to equal the annular space around the silencer insertions.  The effect is a greater degree of silence without any of the usual back pressure attendant with most types of fishtails.

A four-speed gearbox, with foot-operated gear-change and enclosed operating ratchets is employed, the ratios being 4.4, 5.8, 8 and 12.3 to 1. The clutch of 4-plate construction is operated by an improved type of thrust mechanism which is totally enclosed and lubricated and also readily adjustable without the use of tools.

Brakes are of 7in diameter and chromium plated rims with 26in x3.25in Dunlop Universal tyres are standard.

The petrol tank of this model is handsomely finished in chromium and deep blue, and an ingenious rain gutter on the top prevents rain collecting in the rider’s lap.

The forks have hand adjustable shock absorbers and the handlebars are insulated by rubber from the frame of the machine.

Fully equipped with separate dynamo lighting and an 8in headlamp, also an electric horn, the Flying Fox offers exceptional value at £53 10s.


During 1937 MOTOR CYCLING road tested an A.J.W. combination.

Even in 1937  £70 6 shillings was an exceptionally low price to pay for a powerful, attractive, and well-made combination.  This was the cost of the 490cc ohv J.A.P. engined A.J.W. Flying Fox, fitted with a Pride & Clarke Luxury Pendine Sports sidecar on a Graiseley under-slung chassis and the equipment was not skimped.

Performance.  On the road the outfit performed well. With a 12 stone passenger aboard, it would  cruise at 50 mph for so long as the road conditions permitted.  Hill-climbing, also, was good, and respectable averages could be comfortably maintained.

Weather conditions were not favourable when the A.J.W. was tested at Brooklands; a strong wind was blowing and rain was falling most of the time.  With the wind, the speed recorded over the ‘flying quarter’ again with chair occupied was 59.2 mph, whereas in the opposite direction it was 49.4 mph.  The mean speed of 54.3mph. subsequently, can be regarded as a most creditable performance, and the mean speed of 35.15mph over the ‘standing quarter’ might have been better had it been possible to overcome the considerable wheel spin on wet concrete.

Flat out, the outfit travelled at 55mph, the engine turning over at only 3,820rpm on the too-high top gear of 5.2 to 1; this speed was reached in 39 seconds.  It is more then likely, therefore, that a few more mph would have been obtained by substituting a smaller engine sprocket.

Minimum non-snatch speeds are not recorded.  There is no doubt that the J.A.P. engine proved to be a very fine puller at a low rate of rpm.  Pinking was an unknown quantity on the A.J.W, but from the first there was a distinct knock when the throttle was opened quickly.  After a thousand miles or so, however it showed definite signs of diminishing.

The brakes were particularly smooth in action and the rider was able to lock the front wheel with relative ease, due to the extremely ‘leverable’ handlebar control.  The rear brake, on the other hand, required considerable effort to obtain really hard braking, although the pedal was well placed.  The stopping distance from 30mph on wet concrete, was 551/2 ft. both ‘anchors’ having been ‘thrown out’.

Handling.  The steering was pleasant and definite on dry roads, but on greasy surfaces the outfit showed a tendency to crab on corners if they were taken at all quickly.  This was probably due to insufficient weight on the front wheel.

The sidecar, finished in blue to match the blue and chromium of the machine, was well sprung and had a generous back rest, a lift-up scuttle and a hinged door provided for easy entrance and egress.  A disappearing hood and a rigid windscreen completely protect the passenger from the weather, even during severe rain, while provision was made for carrying luggage in a capacious rear locker.  Incidentally, the sidecar had four points of attachment.

Consumption.  On several occasions 66 mpg was logged for main road work at a sustained cruising speed of 45 mph; in London the figure was 55 mpg.   Oil consumption was not excessive at 1,600 mpg; the adjustable primary chain oiler being used freely.

Starting.   The A.J.W. was always a ready first-kick starter, provided the ignition was half retarded, the air closed, and the throttle barely opened.  Once the engine was warm it would tick over so slowly that one could count the revs.

Summary.  The riding position was comfortable and the controls well arranged, the foot pedal of the Albion four-speed gearbox being light in operation and easy to place into neutral, the handlebars were rubber-mounted.   A minor criticism arose, however, in that a whine was heard when using the intermediate gears.  Deluxe features were a heavily valanced rear mudguard, with an extension for protecting the chain, and ingenious V-shaped rain deflector incorporated in the fuel tank.  The straight-through-looking exhaust pipes contained Burgess sound-absorbing elements.  Both power unit and gearbox remained clean throughout the test, except for a slight oil leakage from the push-rod tubes.

In short, the Flying Fox outfit represented good value for a relatively small outlay, both in specification and detail refinement.


At the time of writing five Flying Foxes and two Red Foxes are known to have survived from 1937.

The record book shows that A.J.W. built two hundred and fifty seven machines during 1937; the most they ever achieved in any year.

Changes from 1936:

  • New tank rubbers Red Fox.
  • All models fitted with finned clips on exhaust pipes.
  • Bell-mouthed shape with an inner cone now fitted to end of exhaust pipes Flying Fox.







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