The “Matchless” Sports Combination (Model M.3.S.).


THE name ” Matchless ” in connection with motorcycles recalls those very early days when there were very few reliable machines on the road, and before many of the present day makers were in the business at all, the brothers Collier had been successful in winning the first Tourist Trophy race. The fame of the machine goes farther back than that, but I hesitate to look too far into the remote past in case my readers think a bathchair would be more suitable than a sports combination to carry my old bones about.

The Model M.3.S. Matchless submitted for test recently is certainly a very nice machine and altogether worthy of the reputation of Messrs. H. Collier & Sons, Ltd., of Plumstead. It is a machine with quite a sporting character too, and, though in former years the Matchless productions were rather more solid than speedy, the new types have features which are bound to attract the rider who regards speed as a sine qua non.

Some Constructional Details.

The power unit of the M.3.S. is a well-designed Vee twin with a capacity of 990 c.c., and though large does not impress one as being unwieldy. A very neat and finished appearance is afforded by the deep cooling fins ; which, incidentally, are nickel-plated and the side valves are of large diameter. Aluminium pistons render the engine quick in acceleration, whilst the floating gudgeon pins and roller bearing big ends ensure great durability. I rather like the arrangement of the mechanical oil pump, driven from the camshaft and located at the righthand side of the crankcase. The pump is fitted with a small plunger which oscillating whilst the engine is running, indicates that the supply of oil is being circulated properly. An easily accessible adjustment enables the rider to regulate the quantity of oil to suit varying conditions, so that only carelessness can account for any shortage.

The primary drive is taken by a • in. by a in. Coventry chain, and the three-speed Sturmey-Archer gear box provides close ratios as follows :—First speed, 7.1 to 1; second speed, 4.7 to 1: top speed, 3.7 to 1. The kick starter is v ery conveniently situated and has a v ery effective return spring, and I should think the arrangetaent is proof against many of the ills of its kind.

Mounted above the gear box is the Lucas Magdyno, and driven by an enclosed chain, has an adjustment for regulating the tension.

During my tests I discovered that this Lucas Magdyno delivers a very useful spark at low speeds and each time the engine could be started with the aid of a couple of kicks over the compression even on cold mornings.

One of the advantages of the re-designed frame is that a reduction of wheel base has been secured and the incorporation of the new type of Matchless spring fork is a decided improvement.

I was also pleased to note that the designers have not fallen victims to tilt prevalent craze for noisy exhausts, the large diameter pipes and efficient silencer render the machine free from criticism in respect ol noise.

A new Matchless leatuie is the bulbous petrol tank, which, with its pleasant lines and nickel-cum-black finish, gives a good tone to the machine. The tank is provided with” quick opening” filler caps, its capacity being 2 gallons of petrol and gallon of oil.

With regard to the brakes, the design is good, both wheels having those of the internal expanding variety ; but, whilst the rear brake is all that could be desired, I came to the conclusion that the one on the front wheel was none too powerful.

The mudguarding is efficient, as are the chain guards, the latter being of the semi-enclosed type ; and, although my test took me over some very muddy routes, the machine kept itself, myself and my passenger more than tolerably clean.

Good Riding Position and Comfort.

The Matchless is essentially a comfortable machine, the saddle position and footrests being located in the correct relationship to each other, in addition to which

the large knee grips add to one’s comfort. By means of the adjustable steering damper fitted on the handlebars above the head, the steering is rendered very stable, no trace of wobble being detected even on the worst roads included in my test route. As a combination, this outfit steers as well as any I have handled, and it gives one that feeling of confidence which means so much on a big twin.

The sports type handlebars are readily adjustable and right-hand twist-grip throttle control is fitted, the air and magneto being regulated from a dual Bowden control.

By the adoption of 26 in. by 3 in. Dunlop cord tyres and the sports type Terry saddle, the rider is rendered immune from practically all road shocks, the passenger finding real travelling comfort in the smart looking and well-designed Matchless sports sidecar, which is finished off in polished aluminium and black beading. Black leather cloth is used as upholstery and the sidecar has a spring back and a low riding position.

Though listed as a sports model, the makers have not overlooked touring conveniences, ample locker accommodation and a neat luggage grid being among the features of this combination. Perhaps lady passengers would welcome the addition of a step, unless, of course, the fashion of abbreviated skirts is to continue.

Observations on Performance.

I must admit to setting out on my test run with the impression that the Matchless was not a really fast or ” nippy ” machine, but was pleasantly surprised to find this opinion was not supported by actual trial. At. the same time, I consider the top gear ratio a little too high for sidecar work in town, though the intermediate gear is extremely useful. As no speedometer was fitted I was obliged to estimate the speed by a watch and I calculated that a speed of between 65 m.p.h. and 68 m.p.h. was reached with a full-grown passenger in the sidecar. One can keep up a steady ” fifty ” over give and take main roads for an indefinite period without worrying the engine and in one hour covered just over 42 miles without undue “blinding.”

The acceleration is good and nothing could be easier than the gear change at any required speed. I fancied that the best results could be obtained from the carburettor by setting the air lever about half open, when it becomes practically automatic. Considering the amount of fast riding included in the trial, the petrol consumption of 50 m.p.g. may be regarded as satisfactory. For night driving, the Lucas lighting set proved very effective, a powerful beam being given by the ” bright ” filament. The switch for the lamps is incorporated in the back of the headlamp and makes a very neat job. Listed at 00 solo and 07 10s. Od. with sidecar the Matchless outfit makes an attractive proposition, possessing as it does so many desirable qualities and backed by the reputation of one of the oldest firms of manufacturers in the business.