New Im­pe­rial 250

Begin­ning as a bi­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer in 1887, New Im­pe­rial made its first mo­tor­cy­cle in 1901 and went on to forge a rep­u­ta­tion as an in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­turer. With their rac­ing mod­els, New Im­pe­rial scored six Light­weight TT wins, but it was their range of u

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story Ram­say Mac­don­ald Pho­tos Bill Forsyth

My first as­so­ci­a­tion with the New Im­pe­rial brand/name/make of mo­tor­cy­cles was in 1947/48, at age seven­teen. One of the adult work­ers at our fac­tory was build­ing a house and asked me to work Satur­days to help him fin­ish it, in readi­ness for his English bride to come out. “Mick” was in Eng­land in the New Zealand Air Force dur­ing World War II. It was agreed that I take an old mo­tor­cy­cle as pay­ment, as I was in­ter­ested in bikes. It was a bas­ket case – all in bits, but I took it home and even­tu­ally as­sem­bled all the bits. It was a 1928 model New Im­pe­rial – 2 ¾ horse­power, side valve; the first of the New Im­pe­rial sad­dle tank mod­els. I even­tu­ally got it run­ning but af­ter a cou­ple of rides (you could get a li­cence in New Zealand at age 15), the bot­tom end failed. We dis­cov­ered that the crank pin had been built up with weld, then ma­chined. The weld failed. Mick took the bike back, but I still re­mem­ber those first rides on a New Imp! Fast-for­ward 65 years. Imag­ine, look­ing through Ross Martin’s new shed and his col­lec­tion on mo­tor­cy­cles in 2012, and there it was – a New Im­pe­rial, my first bike. Ross said it was a 1933, 150cc over­head valve Model 23 New Im­pe­rial 3-speed hand-change, coil ig­ni­tion, and for 1932, unit con­struc­tion en­closed hel­i­cal gear pri­mary drive. And yes, the mo­tor does run ‘back­wards’. The bike was un­mo­lested, orig­i­nal con­di­tion, even down to the Dun­lop rub­ber sad­dle, com­plete with the orig­i­nal plaque. It was miss­ing the head­light, car­bu­ret­tor, ex­haust pipe, leather-fronted tool box, and tail light. We even­tu­ally dis­cov­ered that it was a Model 23, but with sports op­tions in­clud­ing up­swept pipe, and a lift­ing han­dle to rear guard (no car­rier) – so it is a Model 25. The bike went down to my brother Rod’s at Apollo Bay and the restora­tion com­menced in late 2013.

LEFT The ac­tual TT win­ner was a lit­tle more me­chan­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated!

LEFT Orig­i­nal tax disc dates from last regis­tra­tion in 1935. BELOW Drive side with the neat alu­minium al­loy pri­mary chain­case. BOT­TOM Fish­tail ex­haust is rem­i­nis­cent of the com­pany’s highly suc­cess­ful Brook­lands rac­ers.

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