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The Motorcycles

History of Rudge Whitworth machines

From its foundation in 1894 the Rudge Whitworth company built a reputation for quality, reliability, sporting prowess and innovation with many patented ideas reaching the production machines.
The famous 'Multi' introduced in 1912 with its variable gear ratios quickly became a sought after machine breaking many records and providing the company with their first TT win in 1914.
1923 saw the introduction of an in-house manufactured 4 speed gear box and the first four valve cylinder head on a 350cc which produced more power than the 500cc it replaced!
Coupled brakes using a linking cable appeared in 1925 and remained a feature until production ceased. They were also noted for their massive 8" diameter brakes which appeared for the first time in 1928.
The famous 'Ulster', which quickly became synonmous with the Rudge name, was introduced in 1929 following the Ulster Grand Prix win by Graham Walker at over 80 mph.
The Golden year of 1930 saw the junior TT 1, 2, 3 win using the newly untried fully radial 350cc 4 valve engines and the following year saw the first road machine with the fully radial valve layout. Another distinctive Rudge feature appeared in 1932, the much admired stand handle allowing the machine to be placed on the centre stand with 'just one finger'.
The 'semi-radial' aluminium bronze cylinder head appeared on a road machine in 1934 and development in this engine area continued resulting in full enclosure of the valve gear from 1937 onwards.
In the final year of manufacture in 1939, the cylinder head was cast from RR50 light alloy with iron valve seat inserts. Although production ceased in December 1939, affection for the marque is growing as more people appreciate the quality of RW machines of which some 2000 survive.

In this section:

Model History & Innovations

A timeline showing how Rudge Whitworth developed between 1910 to 1940.

Model Specifications

RW motorcycle model specifications 1926 to 1940 - designed to aid current or prospective Rudge owners to identify machines and their completeness, or otherwise, to original specification.


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©  Colin Chapple