SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
A Moderate Priced Machine with a Good Performance.
By ARNOLD RADCLYFFE.
N°Tto everyone is given the type of pocket by virtue of which every machine in the kingdom is within their reach. To those who desire a good-looking sports machine at a reasonable figure, the ConnaughtBlackburne should appeal. The Sports Model can be purchased either with the well-known 350 c.c. O.H.V. Blackburne unit or with the latest 350 c.c. side-valve engine of the same make. As the former is the more expensive machine and, of course, the better known, we will deal only with the side-valve model.
Any remarks about the frame and gear-box will, of course, apply to the O.H.V. model as well, as there are only minor differences between the two machines. At the present time the 21 Sports, as it is listed, sells at f,42 ros. od., surely a reasonable price for a machine incorporating a high-grade engine like the Bla.ckburne.
On taking over the Connaught from Messrs. Ingrave Motors of Clapham Junction, we got the impression that strength had been sacrificed for lightness, but after quite a strenuous test over some bad country, without fracturing anything, we naturally modified this view somewhat.
In traffic the machine is very docile, tractability being assisted by the position of the clutch lever which is mounted on the end of the left handlebar ; this position seems more natural than the usual method and the likelihood of its coming adrift is lessened.
Steering at first was very unstable, until it was discovered that the head had slackened off ; after adjustment the good qualities of the Druid pattern forks began to assert themselves. These forks incorporate spring locking devices on all the parallel spindles, thus doing away with the old trouble of continually using a spanner on the eight nuts holding the moving parts. The springs appeared very stiff for such a light machine, but no jars were felt at any period, so on this machine at least are forks fitted which do their job with comfort but without sacrificing the strength needed for emergencies.
Other features of the frame are the duplex tubes which support the tank and tie the main members to a certain extent. The tank is mounted in a very neat manner on these tubes, two cast aluminium clips being utilized.
Internal expanding brakes are used front and rear, generous dimensions being employed for the drums.
That the brakes are good can be judged from the fact that a faultless descent was made of Alms Hill, the wheels never being locked once. It is, of course, possible to lock the wheels, but the test of a brake depends not only on their actual efficiency but upon the method of operation, namely, the design of the pedals and the leverage given thereby.
Mudguarding is of D section, the appearance being good and the efficiency as high as one expects on a British machine. The carrier is of stouter construction than is usual on a small machine, inasmuch as the mudguard is relieved of work by two stout stays lugged on to the main back forks.
Handlebars of stout section and good curves are finished off by long rubber grips, a useful as well as a sporting feature.
Points of criticism include the saddle which is too small, the wheels which could be stouter, thus improving the whole appearance of the machine, and the gear-lever which fouls the knee. This latter point should be emphasised as one cannot be expected to grip a gear-lever when one desires to get a firm hold on the tank with one’s knees.
The gear change is certainly very easy, and it would be easier still if the lever were to be bent or disposed elsewhere. The gear ratios are correct for a semisports machine, but if anything, a bit too low for fast work ; the box is not noisy, and second gear is pleasant to use, as it gives no indication that the power is being transmitted in any other manner than directly from engine to back wheel ; incidentally, acceleration is exceptionally good on this gear.
Coming now to the road performance ; it was disappointing at first as regards speed, but as the carburettor was set for economy, this was not surprising. No spare jets being available for the Amac, we fitted the latest type of two-jet Binks. This bucked matters up considerably, a difference of nearly ten miles per hour resulting. With this instrument a speed of over fifty was reached, and a clean ascent of Aims Hill was made: as this Hill was just the slightest bit greasy in parts it was a very creditable performance. Acceleration was generally improved, and the feeling of starvation present with the Amac disappeared. The latter carburettor could, undoubtedly, be tuned to give a much better performance if the petrol consumption was not taken into account. As it was the consumption of the Amac was very small indeed, being well over the hundred mark. Oil also was only consumed in very minute quantities, a mechanical pump delivering to
a drip feed on the tank, whence the oil travels to the crankcase.
Disposition of weight is well carried out on the Connaught for both steering and cornering capabilities are excellent, and the negotiation of rough ground is pleasant, The bike does not ” bucket ” on. the road, and it will not wobble even upon prevarication. These two qualities are essential in a modern machine, but are not by any means universal even yet, wherefore their presence in a machine selling at so low a figure should be strongly borne in mind by any prospective purchaser of a small sports bike.
Altogether, the machine is well finished, and the quality of the material used should be assured by reason of the good name which the Connaught peopk have always had. As an example of the thought expended on the bike, it shoald be mentioned that grease gun lubrication is fitted, a feature eminently desirable in a modern production.