AJW Motorcycles :: History
Chapter 13


With the clouds of war drifting across the horizon, A.J.W. moved into another year.  They started well with the introduction of a modified Flying Fox.  The main changes were an updated engine with a single port head and a choice of Amal or Bowden carburettors.

This was to be the last year that the Flying Fox would be produced.  Since its introduction in 1931 it had been in continuous production with various models, many modifications and several unusual features.  During those eight years, hundreds had been produced; it had turned out to be a reliable well produced machine and a credit to its designer John Wheaton and his Company.

THE MOTOR CYCLE  reviewed  the Flying Fox in late October 1937.

A.J.W. are specialising on a new Flying Fox model, a 490cc J.A.P engined machine with a number of interesting features.  At first glance the overhead-valve engine appears to be much the same as before except that it is of a single-port type.  A closer inspection, however, reveals new totally enclosed valve gear and several other points of interest.

Cylinder HeadThe engine, for which is claimed more power and greater liveliness, has been modified in a number of respects.  Internally there is a new single-row roller big-end bearing.  This is of the caged type with modified lubrication arrangements, a bushed big-end eye and a sleeved crank-pin.  A  more obvious alteration is the enclosure of the valve springs and outer ends of the rockers by means of split aluminium housings attached to the rocker box, which carries oil to the valve guides, while the rocker box itself is fed via a pipe from the J.A.P oil box at the bottom of the timing chest.

Other features of the 490cc ‘square’ engine (it is 85.5x 85 mm) are a slightly down swept inlet port, dry-sump lubrication, the employment of a 14mm sparking plug and the new J.A.P anti-slap piston.

The carburettor fitted to the Flying Fox is an Amal with a horizontal mixing chamber, and ignition is by a Lucas magneto with a face-cam contact-breaker and built-in Nifal magnets.

In general appearance the Flying Fox A.J.W. is very much on standard lines, with its J.A.P. engine, Albion four-speed foot-change gearbox and Druid or Webb single-spring forks.  There are, however, a number of out-of-the-ordinary features.  The frame itself is unusual.  This is of the so-called diamond type with 11/2in  diameter tank and front down tubes, but at the rear end there is a ingenious box arrangement.  Each chain stay terminates at the front end with a brazed-on T-shaped lug and this is bolted to a frame- work of steel angle, which with the rear engine plate forms a neat sturdy rectangle. Between the two rectangles these extensions of the twin chain stays are mounted on the gearbox and the rear-engine lugs, this box-like construction results and ensures an exceptional degree of rigidity.  The fork-ends too, are unusual.  They face forwards instead of to the rear and therefore when the wheel is removed there is no need to unhook the spring clip in the rear chain.

An exceptionally deeply valanced rear mudguard has been a feature of A.J.W.s for many years.  This has the near side valance carried inside the rear chain guard in order to protect the chain from dirt thrown by the tyre and is also hinged at the lifting handle to assist in easy wheel removal.  No oil bath is provided for the primary chain, but enclosure plus positive lubrication by means of an adjustable feed from the return side of the dry-sump lubrication.

Flying Fox 1938

Flying Fox

Two other out-of-the ordinary features are the silencing system and the dynamo drive. The silencer now fitted is a Burgess, which is, of course, of the absorption type, and in addition there is a neat annular fishtail.  This latter consists of a belled-out tail pipe into which is welded a steel cone. Thus there are two concentric cones with a ring-shaped outlet for the exhaust gas. The distance between the cones is arranged so that the outlet area is the equivalent of a pipe some 1 1/4in in diameter.

A Miller dynamo is fitted.  This is mounted on rubber, and has a shock-absorbing drive, a Dunlop vee belt.  An 8in head lamp is standard and an Exide battery.

Other features of the specification are a 3-gallon petrol tank finished in blue, chromium and gold, a half-gallon oil tank, 3.25inx19in Dunlop Universal tyres, an exceptionally comfortable pair of ‘natural-angle’ Amal 7/8in diameter handlebars with built-in controls, a quick-action or so-called ‘racing’ twist-grip throttle control and 7in British Hub brakes, the rear one with a sturdy tangential anchor arm.  The fuel tank has the neat but effective A.J.W. vee-shaped rain gutter.

Complete with electric lighting and electric horn the Flying Fox costs £59 10s. Plus £2 10 for an 80 mph Smith’s trip-type illuminated Speedo-meter.


The Motor Cycle Show that year was held in Earls Court London, but A.J.W. were excluded along with Cotton, Panther and D.K.W.   They had a Special display at Pride & Clarke’s West End show rooms at 107 Park Lane, London W.1.

At that display in Pride & Clarke’s show rooms A.J.W. introduced its latest models for 1939.  They were the Flying Fox (they were by now selling off old stock as no more were being manufactured) and two completely new machines.  They were the Lynx and the Lynx de Luxe, both Two-strokes with Villiers engines

The  MOTOR CYCLE  reviewed these two machines in late October  1938.

Interesting AJW Trio Two new 250cc Two-strokes with Angle-steel.

In addition to the popular overhead valve Flying Fox model, the A.J.W. range for 1939 includes two-strokes of particular interest.  These models are known receptively as the ‘Lynx’ and the ‘Lynx de luxe’ and both employ a 250cc Villiers engine of the deflectorless-piston type.

An unusual feature of the design is a bolted-up duplex cradle frame constructed of L-section nickel steel throughout, with the exception of the twin seat stays, which are of tubular construction.  In this frame accessibility has been very carefully studied, so that both the engine and gearbox can, it is claimed, be removed without difficulty in a few minutes.

Another point is that there are no engine plates; the crankcase being bolted directly to the frame members.

The engine is mounted vertically and twin high-level exhaust pipes are carried in a straight line one on each side of the machine to the rear wheel, where they terminate in tubular silencers.

In the case of the standard Lynx there is a flywheel magneto and a Villiers carburettor with an extra large air cleaner.

The gearbox on this model is a three-speed Albion with enclosed positive-stop foot control.  Full enclosure is also provided for the primary chain, while there is a shock absorber incorporated in the clutch.

Pressed steel front forks of the central spring type are fitted and these have hand-adjustable shock absorbers.  Other details of the specification include a 3-gallon petrol tank, central spring-up stand, adjustable footrests, Dunlop saddle and 3in x19in tyres and Villiers direct lighting system. The Lynx tank is finished in black with gold lining and has the usual parts chromium plated.

The Lynx de luxe model follows the same general lines, except that it has coil ignition, separate dynamo lighting and a four-speed Albion gear box.  Also the tank is finished in polychromatic silver with blue top and side panels and the machine generally is slightly more luxurious as regards detail equipment.   The price is £32 10s.


The record book shows that only one hundred and thirty eight machines, all Flying Foxes were built in 1938.

Only two Flying Foxes are know to have survived from 1938.

The last Flying Fox was built on June 10 th 1938 and had frame number 37354.

Changes since 1937:

  • Engines updates and single port head.
  • Amal or Bowden carburettors.










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