Saturday, August 04, 2012


A picture full of appeal; Vintage-era racing bikes are light and purposeful.

Manuel Parra of Spain sent photos of his just-completed restoration of a 1930 'TT' Rudge, which was originally raced in France under pilot Ric Felix Llamdo.  A French collector owned it for many years, and began the process of restoration, and on his death, Manuel purchased the Rudge, and finished the job.  There are quite a few unique features on the racer, added no doubt by the Llamdo during the course of his racing career, including the very FN-like 'pistol grip' fuel tank, and French tachometer and control levers.
The Rudge 4-valve pushrod engine; note ingenious method of opening two valves with a single pushrod.  The near-side rocker opens the far-side valve via a 'rocker arm' across the top of the cylinder head.  Simple and durable, as smaller valves need lighter springs, with consequently less load on the valve train.
The Rudge 'Ulster' was the top of the range model from Rudge's hottest years on the track; they dominated the Isle of Man TT in 1930, after many years battling with Sunbeam and Norton for supremacy.  Sunbeam had already won their last TT in 1929, taking first and second place in the Senior TT under Charlie Dodson and and Alec Bennett...while Rudge, Norton, Velocette, DOT, Cotton, and Montgomery filled the Top 10 that year, a veritable poem to a lost British motorcycle industry, once world-dominating, now largely forgotten.   In 1930, Rudge engineer George Hicks redesigned their signature four-valve cylinder head for more power, which worked well enough to relegate Jimmy Simpson on his Arthur Carroll-designed Norton, and Charlie Dodson on his Sunbeam, to third and fourth places.
Graham Walker after his second place the 1930 Isle of Man TT, having a well-deserved smoke!
Little did they all know in 1930 that the Isle of Man TT, the toughest and most prestigious road race in the world, would never again see a pushrod-engined machine win the prestigious 'Senior' race.  By the 1931 TT, Norton had sorted out their engine and chassis issues with the new 'Carroll' OHC motor, which would dominate racing for the next two decades, as the 'International', then the 'Manx Grand Prix', and finally, simply the 'Manx'.
Wonderful hand-numbered tachometer, which Manuel wisely kept 'as found'
The Rudge 'Ulster' and later 'TT Replica' models were still potent racers, taking many firsts in European road racing for years to come, and

Manuel included 'before' and 'after' photos...and isn't it a pity the machine couldn't be kept in the 'before' state?  Hard won racing patina is a mighty sexy finish...


murderdromecycles said...

they cleaned the history away! Interesting bike - thanx Paul



thomas said...

Pre-restoration it was perfect.
Too bad.

OcchioLungo said...

One of the really neat things about this particular Rudge is that it features fully radial valves. In other 4V models and in other years, the valves were parallel to each other, and operated by a shared rocker. For the radial layout, a pivoting linkage setup connects each valve to the other across the head. That allows the valves to open while operating at angles to each other.

But the downside to this version of a 4V radial layout is that there is a lot of pivots, and a lot of mass that has to move back and forth with each opening. I've never calculated the weights (technically it is the rotational inertia), but I bet that it is more than a conventional two valve design.

The additional valve area was worth the tradeoffs though, to breathe more air/fuel into the combustion chamber at lower valve lift than a 2V motor.

Don't trudge it, Rudge it!

Anonymous said...

Absolute unbeatable machine - what a beauty.

-Walter U.

Anonymous said...

Graham Walker's telling of his TT and Ulster Grand Prix races on the Rudge is fascinating reading. Great machine!
- Eamon N.

Shoni Ben Cnaan said...

Monday, August 06, 2012


Thank you for the article about 1930 Rudge Racer, I wanted to add a reply on the construction of the exhaust valves in the Rudge head, but notice that some one beat me. I can also assume because that it looks look like the head was of hemisphere construction, which increased the combustion speed (like in Chevrolet Hemi engine), increasing the speed of combustion meant that you did not need to pre ignite the combustion in high RPM which would have led to less compression loss which meant higher torque.
Here are some photos of a Rudge motorcycle which was restored in Israel with original 1930 Rudge advertisement, , I found out that the guy (Nir Ozdor) who restored the motorcycle was a mechanical engineer who graduate from Ben Guryon University few yeas before I attended it, unfortunately Nir was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2006.

In Nir website I came across an article he wrote in English about 8 motorcycle riders who went around the world on there motorcycles in 1930is and visited the Rudge factory in England, they went out of Israel to Egypt, Europe and America. “AROUND THE WORLD ON EIGHT BIKES” by Nir Ozdor

Shoni Ben Cnaan

Indiantim said...

George Hack designed the radial and semi radial Rudge, later to work for Bristol airplane Company

rudge de said...

another piece of Art destroyed! When will they ever learn??

Tyrefryer said...

It was Chrysler who made the Hemi, not Chevrolet and only the Rudge Special had parallel valves, the Ulster continued to have a semi-radial head with radial exhaust and parallel inlet valves until production ceased in 1939. The reason for this was that the power increase on a fully radial head was comparably insignificant. If you race a Rudge 500 today the Special is the preferred engine, the linkage in the Ulster semi or fully radial head is too unreliable and needs constant adjustment.