Humber moto 350 cc from 1902

Humber Limited was a pioneering British motorcycle manufacturer. Humber produced the first practical motorcycle made in Britain by fitting one of their Humber bicycles with an E. J. Pennington two-horsepower motor in 1896.

On 10 July 1899 Bert Yates won a motorcycle race on his Humber motorcycle in Coventry in what he claimed was the first motorcycle race ever held on a track. This was in spite of problems with the ignition lamp going out (hot tube ignition).

The engine was mounted on the right hand side of the rear wheel, with the crankshaft passing through the wheel and the flywheel on the left side and drive via an epicyclic gear in the hub (unlike the Pennington patented design had cylinders both sides with the bulk of the engine behind the rear wheel driving the rear wheel spindle directly).

The machine in this 1899 race was later converted to electric ignition. According to Bert’s account Humber sold 15 to 20 of these motorcycles. From the description and timing these would most likely be powered by De Dion-Bouton engines, as they started making their lightweight engine in 1896 – initially with hot tube ignition, and Humber collaborated with Harry Lawson (of New Beeston Cycle Co) who held a licence for the De Dion-Bouton engines.

New Beeston Cycle Co had exhibited a De Dion-Bouton engined motorcycle at the Leeds Motor and Cycle Show in February 1897.

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