Lewis motorcycle models through the years

Vivian Lewis Limited produced a wide range of motorcycles between 1899 and the mid 1920s. In the table below we list the known models.

Pioneering 1899
1899 Lewis motor triplet The motor triplet, which ran in March 1899. The power unit, built by O'Grady, later powered a pacing tandem and finally in 1900 the first Lewis car.
Experimenting 1901 - 1903
1902 Lewis Minerva clip-on On September 14, 1901 The Register stated "... a motor-bicycle fitted with a 1 3/4 h.p. air-cooled engine is also shown and favourably commented on by cycling visitors." Although the 1902 211 cc Minerva unit was usually rated at 1 1/2 h.p., it was most likely the power source for this machine. In 1901-02 form, a surface carburettor would have been fitted as on this machine.

The majority of Lewis motorcycle production in the years 1901 - 1903  (such as it was) would have used Minerva clip-on engines.

1902 Lewis MMC T.P. O'Grady raced an MMC-engined machine with some success at the Adelaide Oval in October 1902.
1903 Lewis Kelecom This machine was snapped in the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works in McHenry St c1904, and uses a Kelecom motor and BSA frame fittings. From the transfer on the steering head it would appear to be a Lewis, but it could have been built or imported by James Hill and Sons, c 1903.
1903 Lewis Minerva clip-on For 1903, the Lewis motorcycle featured a 2 h.p. clip-on Minerva motor with full side valves and spray carburettor. In September 1903 Mr. Lewis was reportedly so satisfied with testing of this model that "he has made special arrangements for putting a large number of them on the roads during the coming cycling season".
1903 Lewis MMC and Lewis Minerva T.P. O'Grady at The Opening Run of the Automobile Club in October 1903. His MMC-powered machine is either an updated version of the machine from the previous year (now fitted with reinforced front fork and new tanks), or a new machine along the same lines. The Lewis behind is a 1903 pattern full side valve clip-on Minerva.
Manufacturing 1904 - 1925
1904-5 Lewis Minerva This type of machine - with vertical Minerva motor, Longuemare carburettor, battery and coil ignition fitted into Chater Lea cycle parts -  would be the norm for Lewis machines from 1904-1905. The curved front down tube was a feature of these early machines.
1905 Lewis water-cooled prototype An early water cooled machine, first shown in September 1905. This machine belonged to Norman Jackson, and may have been the prototype machine fitted with a motor said to have been produced at the Lewis factory.
1906 2 1/2 h.p. Lewis water-cooled production motorcycle The production version of the water cooled model, c1905-6. Three brakes - front rim brake operated via solid links from the right bar, rear rim brake via Bowden cable from the left bar, and drum rear brake via Chater Lea back-pedal mechanism - seem a little excessive.
1906 2 3/4 h.p. Lewis Minerva The Minerva model, now with eccentric-drive to the forward mounted Eisemann low-tension magneto, and straight frame tubes, c1905-6. From 1907, the same model could be had with a spring fork attachment on the Chater Lea fork, and the Millenium rear rack and rear-wheel stand.
1907 Lewis Minerva twin At least one Lewis was built c1907 using the 4 1/2 h.p. Minerva V twin engine, but this photograph is the only evidence of the model's existence.
1907 3 h.p. water-cooled Lewis motorcycle From 1907, the water cooled machine began to use a 3 h.p. side valve motor either built by, or copied from, the Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company, the forerunners of AJS. This is the "high" frame model of 1907.
1908-1910 3 h.p. water-cooled Lewis motorcycle From 1908, all models featured a lower frame, with a triangulated support for the steering head. Longuemare carburettor, with Bowden wire control. This model was current 1908 - 1910.
1908-9 3 h.p. Lewis motorcycle The air-cooled Minerva motor was used through 1907, but was replaced in early 1908 by an air-cooled version of the 3 h.p. Stevens motor. In this picture from the 1909 catalogue, the Longuemare carburettor has the "wheel and lever" control on the tank top.
1908-9 3 h.p. Lewis with 2-speed ROC hub This illustration of a water cooled model fitted with a two-speed ROC hub comes from the 1909 catalogue. A machine of this type was displayed on the Lewis stand at the Autumn Show in March 1910.
1908-9 3 1/2 h.p. Lewis motorcycle The 3 1/2 HP air-cooled model introduced in 1909 was fitted with a motor sourced from A.W. Wall Ltd, makers of the ROC motorcycle, in the UK. This motor is best recognised by the two bolts in the exhaust port securing the exhaust pipe. The model ran through 1910, with some examples using the new Chater Lea cycle parts.
1908-9 Lewis twin The 5-6 HP air-cooled twin was another motor used by A.W. Wall in their ROC motorcycles. This motor features bolt-on exhaust ports. There are no known survivors of this model.
1911 3 1/2 h.p. Lewis Precision water-cooled motorcycle
State Library of South Australia
At the Spring Show in September 1910 we see two important new features: the coil-sprung Chater Lea fork (usually seen with a new steering head lug, but here with the last of the old frames) and the Precision motor sourced from F.E. Baker Ltd. in the UK. The new model came in both water-cooled...
1912 3 h.p. Lewis motorcycle ...and air-cooled models, of which this is the 1912 3 h.p. variant. By this date the new steering head lug removed the need for the tubular gusset.
1912 3 h.p. water-cooled Lewis motorcycle Around 1912, the water cooled model used a larger radiator and water tank, occupying all of the space between the tank rails. The petrol tank behind the seat tube necessitated the quite unusual B&B carburettor.
1914 Lewis Precison OHV racing motorcycle Several machines were built from 1913 using the 3 1/2 h.p. Precision OHV motor, in both stripped and road-going trim. The pilot here is believed to be Edgar Ferguson. In addition to the air cooled versions, at least one machine was fitted with the water-cooled Green Precision motor.

1914 Lewis JAP twin

A group photograph at Belair National Park in September 1914 shows this JAP-twin-engine Lewis. Unfortunately the transmission arrangements are hidden from the camera, but no visible gear lever suggests direct belt drive.
1914 Lewis Precision twin In a catalogue prepared towards the end of 1914, Lewis offered a twin-cylinder machine fitted with a 6 h.p. Precision engine. No JAP engines are featured in this catalogue.
1915 4 h.p. Lewis Precision twin In mid-1915, the 4 h.p. Sporting Model was announced. A surviving 1914 catalogue has this illustration and the machine specifications tipped in, indicating that the model was added to the Lewis range after the catalogue was finalised. Note the absence of pedals.
1916 6 h.p. Lewis JAP Around 1915-16, Lewis began offering machines using the Sturmey Archer 3-speed countershaft gearbox. An almost-survivor used the 6 h.p. Precision twin - later the 6 h.p. JAP engine took over.
Gearboxes, clutches and the Druid fork 1916 - 1925
1919 Lewis Precision 2 speed motorcycle The first mention of production Lewis machines using the popular Druid fork comes in 1916. Little is known about this air cooled 3 h.p. Precision with 2 speed gearbox, but it was most likely produced 1916-1919.
1919 Lewis JAP By 1919 Lewis were still offering "the famous Lewis JAP", by now fitted with a  Druid fork. This 6 h.p. machine is fitted with an American Dixie magneto. An 8 h.p. JAP twin was also available.
Lewis advertising in 1919 offered a Villiers-powered machine. No illustration has yet been found.
1921 Lewis Precision 2stroke This post-war Precision 2 stroke, fitted with a 2-speed Chater Lea gearbox and Brampton Bi-flex front fork, was offered from 1920.
In 1925, Lewis offered its final locally manufactured machine. The "Lewis Sports" model had a 2 3/4 h.p. (348 cc) side-valve motor (most likely Precision) and Sturmey Archer 3-speed gearbox. No illustration has yet been found.

Lewis motorcycles index

Copyright Leon Mitchell 2007-8

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