ABC (England)

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For ABC motorcycles of France.

ABC was a British motorcycle manufacturer established in 1914 by Ronald Charteris in London. Several British motorcycle firms started up with the name 'ABC', including Sopwith. The 'All British Engine Company Ltd.' of London was founded in 1912 and later changed to 'ABC Motors Ltd.'[1] With chief engineer Granville Bradshaw, Charteris built a range of engines throughout the First World War. From 1913 ABC produced motorcycle engines. Bradshaw was an innovator and in 1918, ABC made a 500cc transverse mounted flat twin engine several years before BMW adapted the design. (Bradshaw challenged BMWs use of his patented design in 1926.) and in 1919 ABC also produced the 'Scootamota' - the first motorised "scooter". The company stopped producing motorcycles after 1923 due to competition from cheaper manufacturers.

The shift from producing aircraft to making motorcycles was more difficult than ABC expected and their costs - and prices, were higher than the new competitors emerging after 1920. They stopped producing motorcycles after 1923, although some production continued in Germany until 1925. Another company called ABC that was not connected with Charteris or Bradshaw produced 247cc and 269cc motorcycles with Villiers engines in Birmingham between 1922 and 1924.


ABC 400cc[edit]

Produced between 1919 and 1925, the ABC 400 had a 398 cc horizontally opposed twin-cylinder overhead-valve four-stroke engine, four-speed gearbox with an H-gate and was fitted with an advanced (for the time) carburetor from Claudel-Hobsob to give a top speed of 70 mph (110 km/h).

ABC 500cc[edit]

French manufacturer Gnome & Rhone produced an improved 493cc version of this machine under license until 1925. Between 1920 and 1924 they produced over 3,000 of the 'French' ABC but relatively few have survived.