The July 17, 1924 issue of The Motor Cycle carried the first test of the all-new Matchless overhead camshaft 347cc single – a machine aimed purely at the sporting rider.
In the introduction to the test, it was pointed out that motorcycles can possess a charm ‘just as indefinable as that with any human may be endowed.’
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And the writer said: “From the very first it was evident that the overhead camshaft Matchless had got it. It had whims and eccentricities – granted. But what creature possessed of any marked personality has not these things.”
The Matchless was a brute to start. It was a pain to ride in London traffic. And strong crosswinds made the engine run rough!
But on the open road, the Matchless lived up to its sporting pretensions and, in the bike’s defence, the writer said: “At the outset it has to be said that the Matchless is no compromise. Due allowances may be made for certain features of its performance, which might otherwise be classified as faults by the ordinary rider. Take starting… does the owner of a Brooklands-tuned model growl and threaten towards the makers if the machine does not start first kick from cold?” The engine of the new Matchless was a shaft-driven overhead cam single (69mm bore x 92.8mm stroke) with a close-ratio, three-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox. The bike cost £68-5s.
Acceleration was deemed one of the strong points of the new machine… “the sports Amal carburettor fitted is noted for the way it crams gas into the engine, and the lively overhead camshaft engine is admirably suited by this instrument.”
Braking also scored a plus… “nowadays races are lost and won by a machine’s brakes, when so many engines are capable of much more speed than the course demands. They are not the sort, which have virtually two positions – on and off. Its brakes are as safe to use on a wet, greasy road as on the driest surface.”
The Webb forks and spring saddle also came in for praise, combining to make the Matchless one of the three most comfortable machines the writer said he had ever tested – though he didn’t reveal what the other two bikes were!
The test concluded: “For a new design the Matchless made an excellent impression. By the end of its first (model) year, the company should be taking a position among the acknowledged leaders of what is undoubtedly the most popular class of machine of the present day.”Enjoy more Classic Bike Guide reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.