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Lot 694: 1924 Zenith-JAP 346cc

Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams (22 October 2006)

Zenith motorcycles were manufactured from 1904 until 1950, in a variety of factories in or around London. From the early days proprietary engines were used, such as Fafnir, Precision, JAP, Bradshaw and Villiers. The driving force behind Zenith was Chief Engineer Fred Barnes, who was responsible for the famous ‘Gradua’ gear. Worked by a hand wheel or crank handle, the Gradua mechanism varied the diameter of the engine pulley while simultaneously sliding the rear wheel back and forth in the fork slots, thus maintaining correct belt tension. Its advantages showed most effectively in speed hill climbs, and in pre-WW1 days Zenith riders gained many successes as they could change gear during the ascent while the other competitors had to make do with a single ratio. Rival riders and manufacturers considered this an unfair advantage, so many leading clubs barred Zeniths from their hill climbs. Zenith was quick to recognise the publicity value and took the word ‘Barred’ as their trademark. This light and compact machine is an example of the sole single-cylinder sidevalve model in the Zenith programme for 1924. It is equipped with a three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox, Senspray carburettor, mechanical oil pump, Druid fork and aluminium-alloy chainguards. The vendor advises us that the machine, which has spent the past 45 years in a museum collection and is unregistered, is in good, original, unrestored condition and runs well. Nevertheless, the customary re-commissioning and safety checks are advised before returning it to the road.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams, Staffordshire
Lot Number694
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£2600
Hammer Price (inc premium)£2990
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number8332
Engine numberIY/M 23217
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors