The very first motorised bike or trike in this case was the Butler Petrol Cycle in 1898. It was never really developed because it was perceived that there wasn’t much of a market for it, so the funding was never found. A few were made for exhibition and display and despite some interest it was seen as more of a curio than a proper business opportunity. This was all to change when the German company Of Hildebrand and Wolfmuller began to produce a real motor-powered cycle that used motorised the chain. Now the British got the idea via first of all with the Excelsior Motor Company who decided to incorporate a motor unit in one of their pedal bikes. It was the start of a revolution and a new industry that the UK would have a huge input to.
As the motorbike design and power increased so did the motorbike rider's choice of protective and fashion wear. So, you can now put on our Best summer motorbike jacket and jet off into the sunset.
Triumph. Triumph were, and still are to some degree, the kings of the road when it comes to British motorcycle manufacture. They were started in 1898 by a German immigrant who set up production in Coventry. Through the years beyond the first world war into the 1920’s the Triumph trusty, with wicker side car option became the go to affordable vehicle for many. Into the 1930’s the company began to work on sportier and more touring brands.
Royal Enfield. Like many bicycle producers Royal Enfield decided to add an engine to their pedal models. They were fast and light weight which was a feature of the bikes through the decades that they were actively producing. It was a feature that encouraged the British government to use them when they were looking for a motorcycle for dispatch riders. Royal Enfield had a previous experience at this as they used their machines to build weapons parts in the First world war.
Norton. Norton were at first a simple bike parts supplier at the turn of the century. They offered the addition of an engine but soon realised that it would be a much better idea to build the bike altogether. The company specialised in making tourers that could be used to roam the countryside in comfort or enable the commuter to get to work easier. It was in the realm of motorsport that the company really excelled.
The Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA). This was a number of companies that all produced different things like weapons, car and bike parts, they were also manufacturers of body parts and chassis parts plus items for the manufacturing industry. They came together to form the BSA and in 1910 took the monumental step of introduction the production of motorcycles to their roster of products. They were so incredibly popular that the constantly sold out for the next 4 years running.
All of these companies enjoyed great success and world status, but they are now mainly either bought out by other foreign interests or they only produce bespoke pieces as there is no longer a large-scale production of a British bike anymore.