Civvy street machines



Matchless 1951

350cc-1951 Matchless G3LS

350cc-1951 Matchless G3LS

Matchless G3LS in its original paint and chrome, Brooks seats, Dunlop rims. Great handling with a really light clutch action, makes it a delight to ride.




AJS which  was set up by Joe Stevens in Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton became well known throughout the world for its motorcycles. The Stevens brothers built the first motorcycle in the area, when they fitted an American Mitchell engine to a B.S.A. cycle, in the late 1890’s. Wolverhampton motorcycles achieved success in every type of competition, such as racing,  trials, sprints, and record breaking. A.J.S. held 118 world speed records, and Howard Davies of H.R.D. broke the 500c.c. speed record, at 104.41m.p.h., in 1926. A.J.S. won the junior Isle of Man T.T. five times, the senior T.T. once, and the lightweight T.T. once.

A.J.Stevens & Co was founded in 1914 and built a line of different models of motorcycles and cars, until 1931 when the company went into voluntary liquidation. Matchless Motorcycles Limited of Plumstead, London, purchased the A.J.S. name and manufacturing rights, for £20,000.

AJS 16MS 350cc-1954


1954 Single Engine Exploded View

1956, AJS 16MS-350cc



A 1956 AJS, a version of the G3LS , the direct descendant of the Matchless G3/L.

Matchless which owned the AJS name, changed it’s name to ‘Amalgamated Motor Cycles Ltd’ during 1937. They later  formed a group called Associated Motor Cycles (AMC) which consisted of AJSNortonJamesFrancis-Barnett & Sunbeam. As a consequence, when civilian production resumed -after WW2-during 1946 there was little to distinguish between the Matchless G3L and G80 models and the AJS 16 and 18 variants other than the position of the magneto and badge on the tank.

With an emphasis being placed on production, the company concentrated their efforts on the singles which were largely the same as the wartime G3L except for colour and the displacement of the larger models; however, their experience with hydraulic suspension gained during the war years resulted in the manufacture for the 1949 domestic market models ( there is some evidence of machines being built with a sprung frame from 1947 onward for export) of a pivoted fork frame which was used on both the singles and the recently introduced twin. The new frame, equipped with slender damper units of AMC’s own design, was superior to their rivals plunger based systems both in terms of road holding and comfort.

The next major revision to the singles range occurred during 1951 when the original suspension units were replaced with the distinctive “jampot” units. Detail revisions occurred over the next four years, a new Burman gearbox had been introduced during 1952 and auto advance had been added during 1954 together with a full width front hub, which was revised for 1955 and joined by a matching rear one. For 1956 a new frame was introduced with a restyled, long thin oil tank…..


and matching toolbox which also housed the battery and it was the only year that the full width alloy hubs, Jampots and long oil tank/toolbox all came together  resulting in what  I think, is the best looking of the “heavyweight” singles family.

amal 376_5

Amal 376/5

My AJS 16MS just got a new carby, a change from a Mikuni VM 24- that plain wore out (which worked really well on the bike after I got the jetting right) to an Amal 376/5 with 1 1/16″ bore. Jetting: Main jet 210, pilot jet 30.Valve 3.5.The carb came with choke fitted two cable adjusters and a single banjo. I had to make a few adjustments with the throttle cable that had a square-shouldered nipple on the carb end of the cable, while I filed down until it had a tapered profile that fitted into the cable adjuster. I did the same to the ‘air’ cable nipple.after which I removed the nipple. The air cable was the same length of the throttle cable and I had to cut the outer  section of the cable, about  1 1/2″ off it -the length of the air slide- to get the cable to work. Once the cables were fitted the carb went onto the bike sweetly. I installed an air control lever with a yoke onto the right side of the handlebar and hooked up the air cable to the control lever.

Air control lever and yoke_1

Air control lever and yoke_2

Air control lever and yoke_3

After that it was only a matter of tensioning up the cables using the adjusters on the carb and I was ready to start up the bike and was I looking forward to that! Oh! While I was at it I decide to put a pair of Beston type grips that I had stashed away, onto the handle bar.

beston grips

Beston type grips

I opened up the fuel cocks waited a few seconds for the float bowl to fill up and pumped the tickler a few times until I could feel the tickler nudging the float-as the float, floated upwards in the float bowl.DSC00622

All it took me was a couple of swings on the kick starter to fire up the old girl and wow, did she sound as sweet as ever. The old Mikuni was definitely worn out for sure because the new carb made a world of difference to the bike and there was a lot of difference in the performance when I took the bike out for a ride. It could be my imagination, but the bike sounded a whole lot different and there sure was a lot of zing in that thing!!! The Beston type grips were really comfy, being made from soft rubber they soaked up any vibes and they proved a real handful for a guy with big hands.



BSA B31-1951

350cc-1951,BSA B31 plunger

350cc-1951,BSA B31 plunger

1951 BSA B31-Black beauty!

The BSA B31 was one of the  few civilian machines to be introduced in 1945 after WW2. It came with telescopic forks and a rigid rear. In 1949 it was fitted with a ‘plunger’ suspension, which was basically designed so that the rear axle would move up and down two vertical posts with springs to absorb road bumps.


Royal Enfield- G2 Bullet


1954 G2 -Ready for the firing squad-back against the wall and time to bite the ‘Bullet’!

The Royal Enfield Motorcycle Company’s ‘Bullet” was designed by Ted Pardoe who joined
The Redditch based company in 1925. Together with development engineer Tony Wilson-
Jones the two of them conceived the ‘Bullet’ in 1933.

The 350cc Bullet that was introduced at the Earles Court Show in 1949, had a vertical
cylinder, telescopic forks and swinging arm suspension with shock absorbers. The
Bullet previously to this came with a sloping cylinder which went vertical by 1937 and
was set in a rigid frame with girder forks.

The 350cc Bullet had a bore of 70mm and stroke of 90mm with a compression ratio of
7.5:1. The head was cast iron with a light alloy cylinder head. Pistons came with two
compression rings and one oil scraper ring.

A motorcycle of semi-unit construction, i.e. a four speed Albion gearbox bolted onto
the rear of crankcase which facilitates the removal of the engine and gearbox as a
single unit. The primary drive consisted of a duplex chain, tensioned by a spring
loaded Weller tensioner.


The lubrication system is of the dry sump type. A dip stick in a filler cap topped a
cast alloy sump integrated into the crankcase. This location not being the best of
designs caused the oil to run hotter than the separate oil tank design of other
motorcycle manufacturers of the day. The sump holds four pints (2.27 Liters) and should
be filled to the high level mark with 20/W50 multigrade oil.

The importance of lubrication-provided by twin pumps that fed the big-end and rocker
gears- is of the utmost importance due to the design of the big-end which consists of
a crankpin with a white-metal coated mild steel bush, together with a chrome steel
ball race. This ball race was pressed into the big-end of the light alloy connecting
rod ( a single piece affair). Lubrication and the cleanest oil was at the top of the
list, a lack of which -both or either of the two- could result in some detrimental
results as far as the big-end was concerned. An oil filter element consisting of felt
was housed in a tunnel below the oil pump drive on the timing side. Frequent oil
changes enhanced the longevity of components.


The magdyno at the rear of the engine was driven by the inlet camwheel linked by a
gear train. Correct valve timing is ensured by two center punched marked dots on the
exhaust cam wheel and a single center punched dot on the inlet cam wheel. These are
lined up with similarly marked dots on the drive pinion, when the engine is at TDC.
Cam followers with flat bases work on cups at the lower end of pushrods with are
adjusted by locknuts, these are used to adjust the valve clearance at the rockers.

Bullets are torquey and for the most part-trouble free machines although they do
have their short comings and limitations i.e their patented big-end bearings, light alloy
con rods and their trademark lubrication and neutral finders not to mention the clunky
Albion gearboxes which have been addressed in it’s modern day counterpart.

All in all the old Bullet can still live up to its performance if maintained
religiously. They were made for people, who valued performance and reliability in the
day of its manufacture and continue to do so today.

G2 Engine

1948 Bullet-G2 Engine

Gallery | This entry was posted in Civilian singles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Civvy street machines

  1. James says:

    Nice picture of a G3Ls at the top of the page there – useful for checking a few of the details of my ’51 model against!

  2. Brandon says:

    Wow. Good looking bike Uncle. 😀 Is that Amal the modern set you told me about or a really really well preserved old one?.

    • olethumpers says:

      Hey Brandon, Burlen Fuel Systems now own the ‘Amal’ trademark and continue to manufacture (YAY!) what is now termed as ‘obsolete’ carbs. So yeah, this is a brand spanking new one. I really prefer a new one vs a NOS one as the zinc alloy (from which the carbs are made from) tends to deteriorate with time. Amals may be the real thing but they have their downside as well. We’ll see how things go, won’t we 😉 ?

  3. Shahul Hameed says:

    Good and charm looking this msx 2415 ajs bike .. I m eager to see this bike… I love it.

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