c1920 Peerless

If only my tank were this good...

Peerless is a pretty good name for a motorcycle - in the English language at least - so it is hardly surprising that it was used for machines built in the UK, the USA and Australia.

The Australian version was built, like my Blue Bird and De Luxe, by A.G. Healing in Melbourne, Victoria. My JAP-powered machine is essentially a sister bike to the Blue Bird, differing only in that it drives through a 3-speed Burman chain-cum-belt gearbox. They are compared in a separate article.

Beginning around 1911, the Healing-built Peerless bikes used single-cylinder Fafnir motors, initially in inlet-over-exhaust form but later with full side valves. Later Precision twins were used. Apart from the earliest models, these early bikes were distinguished by the use of a round-topped fuel tank that wrapped over the bottom bar.

Post-war, 6 h.p. JAP twins were used, with either a flat tank or a rather stylish saddle tank built by Edwards Brothers. My machine dates from around 1920, and is shown here as it came to me some years ago. I have managed to collect most of the missing bits, so it's feeling a little happier these days, even if restoration is still far off.

Sad remains of my 1920 Peerless JAP

There are a few surviving Peerless motorcycles, most fitted with the Fafnir motor and dating from the 1912-14 period. A nice Fafnir-powered survivor - incidentally fitted with a Peerless adjustable pulley - is shown in the Australian bike gallery. Other survivors feature the small v-twin motors from Precision: either the 5 h.p. with outside flywheel, or the more orthodox 4 h.p.

Copyright Leon Mitchell 1999-2002


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