SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
The Model V. Matchless Sidecar Outfit.
TT is very human to suffer from violent prejudices, 1 and dogmatically to proclaim from time to time that this is, or that is not, without being able to substantiate these opinions in any legitimate manner. Motor-cyclists are victims of this failing quite as much as most of the human race, and we ourselves must confess to several not very secretly nourished antipathies to one or two makes of motor cycle.
For some reason or other we always looked on Matchless machines with great dislike, although until recently the only example of this marque which we had ridden was an ancient 5 h.p. single geared model of extremely doubtful age. This dislike was certainly unfair, and must appear highly reprehensible to the old school of motor-cyclists
Since we are always anxious to broaden our outlook, however, we recently availed ourselves of Messrs. Collier’s extremely courteous offer of a machine for staff use in the I.O.M. during T.T. week, and before we say another word, let us humbly offer our apologies to the makers concerned for ever having given way to such totally unwarranted prejudice. It will be seen, therefore, that item two of the above points is already answered. With regard to Matchless performing in future races we can say very little, but there are indications that the ” old firm” still know something about the great game, several riders having put up remarkable speeds during the present year. On the score of appearance, opinions differ, but we ourselves, after a visit to the works, have no hesitation
(of which we are not) who remember the amazing performances of the Colliers brothers in early Tourist Trophy races.
However, hero-worship either of man or machine is usually a result of performances actually witnessed, or of personal experience, or, lastly, perhaps of attractive appearance !
Consider the Matchless from a post-war standpoint ; Messrs. Colliers have religiously abstained from serious racing work since the war, we ourselves had never tried a modern Matchless, and to our eyes there is no sports model in their range of sufficiently attractive appearance to outweigh the other two defections.
in saying that certain ” hush-hush ” 1928 models from Plumstead will leave nothing to be desired in this direction.
The machine delivered to us was new just before the London-Lands End run, in which event, as in the LondonEdinburgh, it had gained a gold medal. It did not appear to be specially prepared in any way, but looked what it was—a works hack in good condition, to be placed at the disposal of those semi-independent competition riders who are so often on the look-out for a machine for such and such a trial. After our experience we should imagine that the model V is in great demand for this sort of work, an
opinion which was heartily endorsed by Mr. Heather, the Matchless Sales Manager. Before taking over the machine we accompanied a tester on a short trial run up the local hill, a long stretch of about 1 in 6 gradient, approached round an awkward bend necessitating a drop to about 20 m.p.h. On any other machine, his negotiation of this bend and hill on
top gear would have seemed rank ill treatment, but the Matchless actually liked it, pulled away in the most praiseworthy fashion, and accelerated up to about 35 m.p.h. on the steepest portion without a sign of distress. This performance would appear to indicate a large and fluffy motor of low compression, pulling a low gear, but on investigation we found that the compression ratio was as high as 6.6 to 1 and that the top gear ratio was 5.4 to 1. We then took over the combination and
drove home with empty sidecar through London traffic. The photographs show that the outfit is of the narrow and light sporting type, so that considerable restraint had to be exercised on left hand corners until a passenger was found.
With passenger, the steering remained light and certain, and we noticed no undue tendency to upset in either direction. A particularly full week-end included the South Midland Centre Championship Trial, in which we drove
model V, on the Saturday ; grass track racing on Sunday morning (on another machine), and a journey to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon and evening in time to catch the 1 a.m. boat to Douglas. In the S.M. Trial we grew to respect the Matchless as a real 100% motor-cycle. As other competitors will remember, the course included miles of rough and winding lanes, miles of switchback common land in the Chilterns, two really wicked watersplashes and several genuine frame smashing colonial sections, the latter baked rock hard by weeks of drought. Partly from exuberance, partly owing to necessity, and partly to thoroughly test the Matchless, we treated these sections as speed trials and covered most of them very fast in the second gear of a close ratio box. The machine suffered some heart-rending bumps and crashes, and many times was flung bodily into the air, but nothing broke, and at all times it was possible to hold the machine on a reasonably straight course, at speeds which would have unseated most solo riders. In spite of the high bottom gear, all the
steep hills, some with hairpin corners, were negotiated with ease, and the engine would always accept second gear incredibly early, once the slowest bends had been negotiated. The observers’ cards show that we officially failed in one of the splashes. These were both over a foot deep and fairly long. In both we paused momentarily—the back wheel sent a spray of water straight into the carburettor, causing the engine to splutter and necessitating a hurried withdrawal of the clutch and furious wangling of the levers, but in neither did the engine
stop or the machine require assistance. Beyond the second splash we saw literally dozens of competitors’ machines, either abandoned or being “dried out.”
Out of an entry of 180, only 6 sidecars gained awards ; two of these only were first class awards, and both are the subject of protests and liable to exclusion. The Matchless was one of the four second class award winners, and it is interesting to note that over 60 finishers gained no awards at all—a sufficient indication of the severity of the trial.
The journey to Liverpool was an epic in itself : how three machines, four people and their luggage started off at 4.30 p.m. to do 190 miles, how one machine gave out after 60 miles, and another got lost after 80 miles, thus leaving the Matchless with a crew of three and all the luggage thundering across England in the dusk. Coventry, after all the previous delays, was passed at 9 p.m. ; Chester at 12 midnight ; and the Birkenhead ferry reached at 12.30 a.m. The ferry left at 12.45 a.m., and we eventually boarded the King Orry ” at three minutes to one ! In spite of the enormous load, the Matchless had been clocking 60 m.p.h. for miles on end, and had proved a complete revelation in sustained power to the whole party, and withal showed never a sign of overheating.
Up to this point our only disappointment was with regard to the petrol consumption.
The carburettor (a B. & B.) seemed to supply a correct mixture, but would only give about 35 m.p.g. Accordingly we lowered the taper needle, and without affecting the performance in the least we improved the consumption to about 60 m.p.g., which, considering the furious driving, is an eminently satisfactory figure.
During our stay in the island we visited Ramsay for dinner. Naturally we went via the course and were amazed to find that we covered this section in exactly half an hour. Later we continued over the Mountain and back to the start—in 23 minutes. Allowing for the section missed out in Ramsey and for possible inaccuracies, this gives us a lap of the 37 mile course in 55 minutes, which is a really phenomenalperformance for a standard sporting machine, on which the passenger cannot assist cornering to the left, owing to the sidecar mudguard bumping on the tyre.
Furthermore, traffic possibilities were given every consideration, and no risks were taken in villages or on blind corners.
. The Matchless maintained a steady 40 m.p.h. up the Mountain, and we were able to use either top gear or second gear at this speed, as the gradient eased or stiffened. Down the Mountain was somewhat terrifying, as we must have exceeded 70 m.p.h. at times, and we confess to having lifted the sidecar wheel at Brandish Corner.
At the conclusion of this performance a match placed on the exhaust port would not ignite spontaneously, thus proving that overheating should never occur.
Sixty-five miles an hour was possible on the level, and there seems no reason to doubt that we approached 75 m.p.h. between Craig-ny-Baa and Hilberry without being quite fully extended, as at this speed, owing to the bumps, the outfit required most of the width of the road !
The return south was a somewhat milder experience, but on one occasion we covered 37 miles (AtherstoneWeedon), of by no means smooth, straight or level road, in exactly 50 minutes, with passenger and luggage. It will thus be seen that the ” V” Matchless is a machine of really excellent performance, far more so than the average sportsman realises, though a study of the maker’s catalogue supplies some hint as to its
capabilities b.h.p. at 4,800 r.p.m. is very good for a standard 500 c.c. machine, and with the high compression piston (7.6 to 1) relatively higher speeds should be obtainable for serious racing work. That this power is really delivered was shown by the back tyre—a brand new heavy cord, which was worn completely smooth in one week. Every component of the machine worked with unfailing reliability, mechanical silence was good, brakes very good, gearbox—Sturmey-Archer, and oil consumption extremely moderate. With regard to the brakes, although both were excellent, they both required a great deal of adjustment, as the linings appeared to wear very rapidly. Admittedly they were used hard, but we imagine better linings could be obtained—we were
actually able to set back the foot brake arm one whole serration on its axis, i.e. about 45 degrees, which is too much in one week.
On returning the machine, the only troubles we could find were one or two spokes broken in the back wheel, which, in view of the harsh treatment administered, was not altogether to be wondered at. The general specification is fairly well known, but one or two interesting points include totally enclosed push rods and overhead rocker gear, Lycett-Aero saddle, Pilgrim oil pump, Matchless forks with shock absorbers and steering damper, and a total weight of only 260 lbs. The price is 02
10s. solo, and 07 with the sidecar illustrated, both remarkably good value, while a postcard to H. Collier & Sons, Ltd., Plumstead, S.E.18, will produce a most attractive and instructive catalogue of the entire range of Matchless models.