British motorcycle manufacturers - S

Last update June 14, 2003

Saltley 1919-24
Sarco-Reliance 1967-73. Offroad bikes.
Saturn 1925-26
Saxessons 1923
Scale 1913-19. Not producing during WW1.
Scarlet 1915
Scorpion 1951-56 (and 1963-65?) - offroad machines.
 Scott

Founded by Alfred Angus Scott, who patented an early form of caliper brakes in 1897, a fully triangulated frame, rotary induction valves, unit construction and more. Scott was a true pioneer. He started making boat engines in 1900.  He patented his first engine in 1904 and started production in 1908 with a vertical two-stroke 450cc twin, with patented triangulated frame, chain drive, neutral-finder, and two-speed gearbox. His two-stroke engine designs are still the basis of modern two-stroke engines.

Very innovative company - created the first kickstart, monoshock rear ends, efficient radiators and rotary inlet valves. They offered drip-feed lubricators and centrestands in 1914, as well as designing unit-construction engines, friction-band clutch and twin pannier gas tanks.

Scott quickly garnered a name for their liquid-cooled, two-stroke, parallel twin design that won numerous trials, hill climbs and TT races in 1911-14. But the two-stroke design was losing speed to four-strokes offered by other companies by then. By 1925, Scotts weren't winning races. Two-speed at first, their first three-speed appeared in 1923, and only after that did they return to some small prominence.

Scott himself left the company in 1915 to set up an experimental workshop. After WW1, Scott turned his attention to a three-wheeler called the Sociable or Autocar, but despite its superior design, was not popular and led to financial disaster. Scott died of pneumonia in 1922 at age 48, and with him went the company's driving force. In trouble by 1927, they went into receivership in 1931. Albert Reynolds stepped in to save the company, but they never fully recovered and  planned 650cc twin was never manufactured.

Scott offered a three-cylinder two stroke (747cc, later 986cc) in 1934 and a 596cc Clubman Special in 1938. After the war, production continued with the 596cc Flying Squirrel, but ended in 1950. Then the company was taken over by Matt Holder's Aerco Jig and Tool Company. A 493cc Scott Swift based on the old design was made from 1956 to 1961. Later a later Silk model was produced, but it was a short-lived project.

Scott-Cyc-Auto 1934-50.  Same as Cyc-Auto. Scott took over in 1938.
Scout 1912-13.
Seal Made motorcycle-sidecar units from 1912 until 1933 using JAP engines and a three-speed gearbox. The sidecar contained the driving mechanism with a steering wheel, and both the rider and passenger sat in it. The actual motorcycle outrigger component had no seat.
Seeley 1966-72. Colin Seeley got rights to make Matchless G50 and AJS 7R racers after AMC closed.
Service 1900-12 (1911-15?)
SGS 1926-33
Sharratt 1920-30. Originally a bicycle company.
Shaw 1904-22 (1901-08?)
Sheffield-Henderson 1919-23. Sidecar manufacturer, also made some motorcycles.
Silk   Small company started by racer/builder George Silk and Maurice Patey, in 1970, production started 1975. Started with a water-cooled 656cc twin. Went to 682cc in 1976 with their 700s production model. Closed in 1979.
Silva 1919-20. Scooter.
Silver 1907. Started by Thomas Silver after he left Quadrant.
Silver Prince 1919-24. Built by Tyrus Cycle Co.
Simms 1902. Made engines and magnetos, and some complete bikes.
Simplex 1919-22
Singer Early British bicycle firm, founded by George Singer, that started in 1900 offering a 222cc four-stroke single (the engine design was bought from P&B, formed by former Beeston employee Edwin Perks and Harold Birch). The unique feature was the engine, gas tank and carburetor housed in a wheel! The design was used in the rear wheel and then the front wheel of a trike. Dropped out of motorcycles shortly after (around 1906), but returned in 1909 and built a series of racers and roadsters. In 1911 they offered a unit-construction 535 and 299cc models. In 1913 they offered an open-frame 'ladies' model.' They entered several bikes in races, including the Senior TT in 1914. The company also made more conventional bikes, but gave up after WW1 and turned to cars.  They were taken over by rival Coventry Premier in the 1920s. Eventually the name was acquired by the Chrysler Corporation.
Sirrah 1922-25 (1921-26?) Made by Alfred Wiseman.
Skootamota 1919-22. Scooter made by ABC
SL 1924-25
Slade-JAP 1920-23. Manchester.
Slaney 1921-22
SMS 1913-14
SOS Super Onslow Special, later named 'So Obviously Superior' because they offered high quality products. Founded 1927, closed in 1939 at the onset of war. Models made with JAP and Villiers engines. Made water-cooled engines in 1932. Taken over by Tom Meeton in 1933 who added optional foot-change gearboxes in 1934. All-weather models offered deep-valenced mudguards, leg shields and under-shields. Also sold tuned versions under the name Meetons Motor.
Southey 1905-25 (1921-22?)
SPA-JAP 1921-23
Spark 1903-04. Name also used by Sparkbrook, 1921-23.
Sparkbrook 1912-25 (1912-24?). Two strokes.
Spartan 1920-22 and 1976-78. Two companies, latter made racing bikes.
Speed King-JAP 1913-14 (1914-15?). Mail order motorcycles, sold by Graves.
Sprite Small Birmingham company that started making 246cc scramblers and trials bikes in 1964. Founded by trials rider Frank Hipkin. Sold in the USA under American Eagle name. Company went broke in 1974, but continued later to make forks and wheel hubs until at least 1978.
Spur 1916. Same as Grose-Spur.
Stafford 1898
Stafford Pup 1920. Scooter.
Stag 1912-14
Stanger 1921-23 Unusual V-twin design.
Stan 1919.
Stanley 1902
Star 1898-1914 (1903-15?) Car and tricycle manufacturer, and 1919-21 (also called Star-Griffon)
Starley 1902-04. Built by Swift.
Stellar 1912-14
Stevens   Formed by the Stevens brothers after they sold AJS to Matchless. Made motorcycles and enginesfrom 1934 to 38.
Stuart 1911-12. Same as Stellar.
Sudbrook 1919-20
Sun Started as Sun Cycles and Fittings Company in 1885, making bikes. Began making motorcycles with Precision engine-powered vehicles in 1911.Made a rotary disc-valve two-stroke racer in 1922 using a Vitesse designed engine. Later used Blackburne, Villiers and JAP engines. Motorcycle production ended in 1932, but returned in 1948 with a 98cc autocycle, later made into a full motorcycle. Made small two-strokes powered by Villiers in the 1950s. Its 1957 250cc Overlander twin offered 'generous' weather protection. A scooter called the Geni was announced for 1958. They ceased production a few years later, when chairman Fred Parkes retired in 1961. Raleigh picked up the company, and continued the bicycle manufacturing side.
Sunbeam

1912-57. Founded the Marston family, they had been making metal goods since 1790 and bicycles since the late 1880s. They made cars starting in 1902 when the Sunbeam company split from John Marston Ltd.  Marston, 76, started making motorcycles in 1912. His first model was a 347cc side-valve single designed by John Greenwood, designer of the Imperial Rover. It had high construction quality and finish, an unusual engine-balancing system and an oil-bath all-chain drive. Sunbeams were known as the 'Gentleman's Motor Bicycle.' Sunbeam's attractive gold-on-black paintwork was much copied in its day. 

Marston and his son died during WW1 and the company passed to Noble Industries (later becoming ICI). They developed the motorcycles even further, winning TT races with their 500cc machines. A smaller range for the 1920s was aimed at cost-effectiveness, and quality suffered. The Sunbeam 90 of 1920 had an alloy piston, overhead valves at 45 degrees and a central sparkplug. Electrical lighting by Lucas was an option at extra cost in 1928. In 1930 the company was noted as 'A subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries.' The last sporting Sunbeam was dropped in 1934.

In 1936, Matchless purchased Sunbeam when AJS, Matchless and Sunbeam became Associated Motor Cycles (AMC) Ltd., continuing production with four new models (245, 348, 497 and 598cc), and next year the larger models got pivoted-fork rear suspension. But the outbreak of war stalled production of new machines. After the war the company was bought by BSA. In 1947 they produced the S7, an advanced overhead-cam, unit construction machine designed by Erling Poppe, using shaft drive, and an ohc longitudinal twin engine. However, it hadn't the speed, handling nor quality of earlier Sunbeams. A De Luxe version was introduced in 1949, making 10,000 by 1952. But BSA made no effort to improve the line outside of an S10 variant, and the name and production were dropped after 1956. BSA later labelled its 175 and 250cc scooters as Sunbeams launched in 1958 and continued until 1964.

Superb   Founded by engineer William Frederick Hooper in 1920, his first design was an advanced Superb Four, an inline-four ohc, shaft-driven machine, with a pump-driven oil lubrication system, and using aluminum cylinders, upper crankcase and gearbox. Only a handful were produced and the under-funded company collapsed in 1922.
Supreme-OK See OK-Supreme.
Supremoco 1921-23
Swallow 1946-51. Sidecar manufacturer, built small Gadabout scooter.
Swan 1911-13. Sheet-metal open frames.
Swift 1898-1915. Bicycle manufacturer, made Starley machines until 1905. Returned in 1910 to sell rebadged Ariels, later putting Abingdon engines in them.
Symplex 1913-22
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Compiled by Ian Chadwick. Send comments and corrections to me at:  ichadwick@sympatico.ca