Prescott Bike Festival

Prescott Bike Festival takes place on Sunday April 6, featuring plenty of action on the Prescott hillclimb near Cheltenham as well as a host of family activities with proceeds going to the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes and Severn Freewheelers.

The fourth annual event will be larger than ever before, with even more bike manufacturers and clubs confirmed, plus a large display of historic, modern and race bikes on display in the paddock, demo areas, passenger rides, stunt show, trade stalls, live music, good food and a host of entertainment both on and off the track to keep the whole family amused.

Special guest appearances include: former three times British Superbike Champion and Bloodbike ambassador John Reynolds, MotoGP commentator Steve Parrish, racer Michael Rutter and motorcycle adventurer Nick Sanders.

The history of AJS Motorcycles

AJS (A J Stevens & Co) was founded by Harry, George, Jack and Joe Stevens on 14 November 1909.  Harry set about designing the first two machines which were called model A and model B.  Model A was the cheaeper machine and was fitted with a 2.5hp single cylinder, side valve engine and a direct belt drive.

The new machines appeared at the 1910 cycle show at Olympia, London along with a one off 3.5hp V Twin chain drive machine.  Fame followed, as the machines were very successful in endurance races and the Isle of Man TT races.

1912 saw the launch of the model D 5hp V twin, which in 1913 was given a 6hp V twin engine and a sidecar version was introduced.

A new 2.75hp sports machine was developed for the 1914 Isle of Man TT and it proved to be successful, as the five machines that AJS entered came 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 29th in the Junior TT race, with a record speed of 45.58 mph.

On 3 November 1916, the Ministry of Munitions prohibited the production of motorcycles except for military use and AJS had to cease production of its current products.  In 1917, the Ministry received an order from Russia for large numbers of motorcycles to equip its armed forces and AJS received an order for 1100 6hp military machines.

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History of Velocette

The Velocette was built by a family of motorcyclists and this showed through the design and quality of the manufacturing.

That family was the Goodman’s, and three generations were to control the Hall Green firm over the years.  In the early 1920s, they realised that in order to grow as a company, they needed a new machine of advanced specification and developed an overhead camshaft 350cc engine, known as the K series, which was introduced in 1925.

By 1930 they had made their name in the TT with Junior wins in 1926, 1928 and 1929 using the OHC engine.  They also introduced four speed gearboxes in 1933 for the KSS and KTS models, however, there was a big gap between the small two stroe and the sports camshaft models.

To fill that gap, they experimented with a side valve 350cc which lacked power but they then came up with another classic, the 248cc MOV.

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History of Indian Motorcycles

The Indian Motorcycle company is America’s oldest brand and was once the largest manufacturer in the world. 


The company was founded by George Hendee and Carl Hedstrom, who produced a single cyclinder bike which proved highly successful.


In 1901, a prototype and two production units were successfully designed, built and tested.  In 1902, the first Indian motorcycles, featuring belt drives and streamlined sytling were sold to the public and in 1903 Hedstrom set the world motorcycle speed record at 56 mph.


1907 saw the first V twin, and it made a strong showing in racing and record breaking.  One of the firm’s most famous riders was Erwin “cannonball” Baker, who set many long distance records.  In 1914, he rode an Indian across America in a record 11 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes from San Diego to New York.


The Scout and Chief V twins were introduced in the early 20s, and became the firm’s most successful models.  Designed by Charles Franklin, the Scout and larger chief shared a 42° V twin engine layout.  Both models gained a reputation for strength and reliability, which led to the saying “you can’t wear out an Indian Scout, or its brother the Indian Chief.  They are built like rocks to take hard knocks’ it’s the Harleys that cause grief”.


Between 1962 and 1967, Burt Munro used a modified 1920s Scout to set a number of land speed records, as dramatised in the 2005 film The Worlds Fastest Indian.

The History of the Motorcycle

There is some debate on what was the first motorcycle built.

Some claim that Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Mayback produced one in 1885, however if a two wheeled steam propulsion vehicle is considered a motorcycle, then the first one may well have been American, as one such manchine was built in 1867 by Sylvester Roper.

The first motorcycle available for purchase was in 1894 and was a Hildebrand & Wolf Muller.  Until World War One, the largest motorcycle manufacturer was Indian, but by 1920, the honour had transferred to Harley Davidson.  In 1927, DKW took over the title of largest manufacturer.

After World War Two, BSA became the largest producer, producing upto 75000 bikes each year in the fifties.  NSU then took the title from 1955 until the seventies.

In the fifties, streamlining began to play a big part of the development of racing bikes, and the fairing held out the possibility of radical changes to the bike design.  NSU and Moto-Guzzi were in the vanguard of this development, both produced radical designs, which were ahead of their time.  NSU produced the most advanced design, but following the death of four riders in the 54-56 seasons, they abandoned further development and quit Grand Prix racing.

Moto-Guzzi produced competitive race machines and by 1957, streamlined machines were winning nearly all of the GP races.  In 1958, full enclosure fairings were banned from racing by the FIM due to safety concerns.

From the sixties through to the ninties, small 2 stoke motorbikes were popular, partly because of Walter Kaaden’s engine work in the fifties.

Today, the Japanese mostly dominate the motorbike industry, although Harley and BMW continue to be popular and supply considerable markets, other manufacturers are starting to become popular.