SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
THE 499 c.c. RUDGE-WHITWORTH.
By THE EDITOR.
FAITHFUL readers may remember that in February, 1927, we reviewed a Rudge-Whitworth of that date, which, though possessed of many virtues, was more noteworthy for yeoman service than for refinement.
However, from the first moment of one’s experience of a 1928 Rudge, it becomes obvious that the manufacturers are not a firm to be easily satisfied with their own products, and the later models must make an unfailing appeal to the connoisseur as well as the utility rider. Good as the 1927 bicycle was, it is emphatically most
difficult to believe that the later model emanates from the same works, and the same drawing board ; indeed, if a blindfold test were to be carried out, we believe the result would be extremely interesting and very flattering to Rudge-Whitworth, I,td.
Photographs and a little observation on any main road will have made everyone familiar with the differences on the 1928 model, but the internal changes, really much more important, are far from obvious, and we must confess to complete ignorance as to their nature, though thoroughly aware of their effects.
First and foremost, our attention was rivetted on the behaviour of the engine ; both types were tried (70Special and Sports), and both were paragons of smoothness and power, coupled with a genuine degree of silence. The engine can be run up to the peak of its speed on any gear without the slightest sign of vibration, and its mechanical silence is quite above the average for an exposed push-rod design. The large twin silencers
hush the exhaust to a remarkable extent, though it was found that correct tappet adjustment also played a large part in subduing the “bark.” Slow running and tractability are much improved, strangely enough without loss, but rather with a gam in power. The ” Special ” is capable of a very honest 70 m.p.h., while the “Sports,” fitted with a quick cam,
revs.” up to a phenomenal speed and very definitely lives up to its guarantee of 85 m.p.h. Given power and ability to turn over rapidly, and the well tried 4-speed gear-box, it is obvious that the Rudge is capable of terrific acceleration. A brief reference to
the results of timed hill climbs in various important reliability trials will bear this out, since Rudges have a habit of annexing the first three places in these tests.
Economy has not been sacrificed to obtain the various qualities enumerated above, and the later Rudges still travel about 90 miles for each gallon of petrol.
After the strange experience of seeing two riders thrown by the 1927 model, we were rather suspicious of its steering qualities, but it transpired later that the trouble was due to the front forks not working properly. When this had been attended to the machine was sale. For 1928 additional movement was allowed for the forks, and alterations were made to the frame and head design, with the result that the steering qualities leave nothing to be desired. As befits a fast road machine, the ” Sports ” has 2.75 in. tyres, which for really high-speed travelling are better than the larger size fitted to the ” Special.” The tyres of the latter are perhaps more comfortable for touring and trials
work, but seem slightly more inclined to bounce at high speeds on a wavy surface.
Ability to corner fast was always a feature of the Rudge since pre-war times, and the latest models embody this trait as much as ever ; furthermore, the footrests are well out of the way and provided with a very useful range of adjustment.
The Machine in General.
The Rudge coupled brakes are still a great feature of the machine, and now that the internal expanding type, of enormous size, is employed, with really stiff drums, it would be impossible to find any two-wheeler with more effective stopping power. The weight distribution and the ratio of power applied to front and rear brakes is apparently perfect and both wheels remain glued to the road and seem extremely loth to lock, however hard the pedal is pushed. Recourse to the separate hand lever is never necessary ; in short, the Rudge just does STOP!
Gear changing is now more positive, as a gate is incorporated on the tank, but we should rather like a slightly larger and more solid looking lever.
The present riding position and the raising of the footrests make the Rudge far more navigable on the worst colonial sections and there seems little chance of becoming bogged, as one might with the older type of footrest mounting.
The only other feature to be specially noted among all this excellence was the lighting system, which was reliable and provided a most penetrating beam of light. So powerful was this that we really believe we could, and did, travel just as fast at night as during the day. What more can one desire ? And now for the faults ; quite candidly, so far as
performance is concerned, we found none, but in the course of the year we have had considerable experience of several Rudge machines used for racing and trial riding of various sorts.
We have thus had several ” jobs ” to do on the machines and one or two annoying details have cropped up.
The first concerns chain adjustment ; no drawbolt was fitted to the gear-box so that work on the front chain was a more blasphemous business than it need have been. We are glad to note that the 1929 Rudge has this desirable feature.
Secondly, to remove the engine complete, the clutch must be removed and one of the gear-box bolts withdrawn, to allow part of the box to swing out of the way of an engine bolt.
Thirdly, the clutch cable stop is sometimes inclined to foul the cradle plate, making the removal and insertion of the cable difficult unless the adjustable stop is specially shortened.
These are positively the only faults we could find, and in the ordinary way, they should not cause annoyance more than once in a season’s riding. They are, therefore, negligible in view of the extraordinary value and, real merit of the machine as a whole.
It should be known that the makers found few improvements necessary (apart from those mentioned) for the 1929 Special, and have replaced the Sports model with a replica of their actual racing machine, with cast aluminium chain case and enclosed valve gear, for 09.
Any doubts as to its worth should be set at rest by the mention of two performances only : two hundred miles in two hours, and a road race won at 80 m.p.h. As value for money, we feel that the Rudge-Whitworth xemains supreme.
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