In 1928 Graham Walker’s Rudge, a works 500, became the first motorcycle known to win a sanctioned road race at an average speed in excess of 80mph, the British Ulster Grand Prix.
This racing success led to the introduction of the legendary ‘Ulster’ cast bronze head sports model sold to the public; a production racer of sorts. Early Rudge engines used parallel valves in a pent-roof combustion chamber. Later valve trains used four valves, and some were radial in layout, much like systems Honda introduced in the 1980’s.
Rudge Motorcycle Company was formed of two companies in 1894, Whitworth Cycle Company of Birmingham, England and Rudge Cycle Company of Coventry, England; both originally bicycle makers. The last Rudges were built in 1946. Rudge was very successful in road racing including wins at the Isle of Man Senior TT and the Ulster Grand Prix. Then Rudge withdrew from factory racing efforts and instead supported private riders with affordable yet cutting edge race-ready machines.
Rudge was an innovator, earned many patents, pioneered enclosed valve train designs, bronze cylinder heads with pressure fed top end lubrication. He’s also credited with the hand operated center stand on this bike, seen later on Vincents. What we now refer to as “linked brakes” were a Rudge innovation as was a unique foot operated center stand. Most lasting and important, Rudge is also responsible for the innovation of the demountable wire wheel for automobiles and knock-off wheels for sports cars, and licensed its famed flanged alloy rim design to the Italian wheel maker Borrani. As a Borrani-made product his flanged alloy wheel became the universal high performance standard on all continents.
When you visit the National Motorcycle Museum you can view a wide range of British motorcycles including Rudges, a Velocette, the Douglas in several versions plus fine Nortons, Vincents and Brough Superiors all representing the British industry at its height. We thank Don Rosene of Alaska for loaning this original paint Rudge Ulster.
- Engine: 499 cc Single
- Type: Air-Cooled, Twin Port OHV
- Ignition: Magneto
- Carburetor: Remote Float Amal
- Bore & Stroke: 88 mm x 85 mm
- Horsepower: 26 Horsepower
- Starting: Kick Starter
- Exhaust: Brooklands Style Silencer
- Primary: Chain Driven
- Final Drive: Chain
- Electrics: Generator
- Suspension: Girder Fork / Rigid, Sprung Seat
- Brakes: Drum / Drum
- Wheels / Tires: 3.00 x 21 / 3.00 x 20
- Equipment: Ammeter, Speedometer, Steering Damper
- Weight: 420 Pounds