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2016 Pioneer Run from London to Brighton

March 22, 2016

Sunday was the annual Pioneer Run for pre WWI motorcycles. It continues to be the world’s largest event for bikes of the era, with about 300 machines participating each year. Click here to see photos from previous years. The run is hosted by the Sunbeam Motorcycle Club, which is open to all old bikes, not just Sunbeams.


I’ve attended the last two runs, but stayed home this year. Fortunately Nick Smith sent in these great pics that illustrate just some of the variety of machines that participated, in no particular order.



Here is a nice Ariel. Armstrong 3 speed hub and with the White and Poppe motor that featured the very widely-spaced sidevalves. This one also features some racy handlebars.



This other (very simliar!) Ariel has the same specification, but also has the springs and linkage under the seat for a smooth ride.



The 1902 Clyde was also on the Anglo Dutch tour last summer. A fine early machine with a Simms motor and a Simms low-tension magneto. The mighty Bosch high-tension mag was still a few years away.



What is that? An early Triumph, but with the top frame tube cut down and modified. When the style for lower frames came in c1913ish older bikes were modified by owners or even by the factories.




The famous James with the Pineapple fins on the cylinders. Single cylinders are more common, but here is a Vtwin version.



Some neat frame tubes on the Arno!



Another Arno with neat frame tubing.



This old 1913 Excelsior looks good in red.



There are a surprising number of American-made machines on the run, including Merkels, X’s and HD’s like this one.



A Triumph I think, but the paint is deceiving.



Early AJS with a real gearbox, plus enclosed chains.



This green Centaur looks much like the other 500 single cylinder bikes, but that rear hub is different. A close look shows the live axle, clutch and the drum brake on the other side.






Everybody loves the Wilkinson!CIMG2923





Here is a neat thing, the Stuart Stellar. Two cylinders in line, two stroke, water cooled and made before the War. The small bike on the right is a Dayton, also made in the same factory.









9 Comments leave one →
  1. Jon Dudley permalink
    March 22, 2016 2:35 pm

    Nice to see a close up of my Arno – the grey and maroon one. What you can’t see is the bodge required when the petrol tap fell out of the bottom of the tank! A 2 litre oil can with a crudely affixed petrol tap was strapped to the carrier and a long length of plastic pipe fed the carburettor – surprisingly it all held together and was replenished twice on the way down to Brighton. A great run and a superb event. Hope you may be able to make it next year Pete.

    • March 22, 2016 2:41 pm

      Ha! That must have been quite a ride Jon! I’m glad that you made it into Brighton. 🙂

  2. Rob Smith permalink
    March 23, 2016 3:42 am

    Hi Pete, DX 1047 is an almost untouched 1914 Triumph my father has been kindly loaned for many years to ride in the Pioneer. I was the jockey on the little Dayton pictured with the Stella, only the Two-Stroke engine was made for the Dayton by Stuart Turner. Chas. Day & Co of Shoreditch, London the Dayton manufacturers were better known for their bicycles and it’s basically one of their cycle frames modified to take a belt rim on the rear wheel and the engine held by 3 clamps. It goes very well and chugs up the hills on the Pioneer! Dave Masters swapped the Veloce for the microphone this year as Brighton commentator, he did a superb job. It was another great day, hope you’re able to return next year.

    • March 23, 2016 8:42 am

      That sounds like a wonderful day! The Dayton and Stella must have attracted a lot of attention.

  3. John Quirke permalink
    March 26, 2016 2:31 am

    Well done Pete some really interesting, technically different and pretty cycles. That modified Triumph took some work to build and that Stella shows how much knowledge and craftsmanship was around in the pre WW1 era.

  4. March 26, 2016 7:19 pm

    It looks like the Centaur has another belt pulley on the other side. Drum brake or dummy rim brake?

    • March 27, 2016 11:51 am

      must be a dummy rim brake on the other side, in addition to the drum brake I guess. Does anybody know this bike?

      • Nick Smith permalink
        March 28, 2016 2:31 am

        The gear is a ROC-type two-speed, which used band brakes as clutches. High gear is direct, the belt pulley being clutched direct to the centre part of the hub, and so the wheel. Low gear is achieved by clutching a set of epicyclic gears to be stationary, meaning that the drive from the pulley goes through the gears to the centre part of the hub, and so the wheel. The band brake which is visible appears to be the low-speed clutch. The gear seems to be between the 1912 and 1913 versions, in terms of features. The rear brake works on the dummy rim.

      • March 28, 2016 11:05 am

        Thanks Nick. I noticed the linkage on the left, and thought it was only a clutch hub. I appreciate the info!

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