THE SHEPPEE MOTOR Co Ltd
Thomas Street, York
Colonel H.F. Sheppee, founder of the Sheppee Motor Co, of York, England, had produced fourteen different models of steam-powered vehicles over a ten year period before deciding to make a ‘Motor bicycle.’ The Cykelaid made its debut on Stand No 49 at the Cycle & Motorcycle Show, Olympia, in 1920. On the first new machine, which went on sale the following year, the complete power unit was carried on a special front fork. Its 104cc two-stroke engine was on the left with its main-shaft run through the wheel spindle to a flywheel. Ignition was by chain-driven Runbaken magneto bolted upside-down to the crankcase base, and transmission was by chain up to a counter-shaft carrying a clutch and then back to the wheel by a second chain.
The firm offered a package of wheel, engine unit and front fork or the choice of complete ladies’ or gents’ machines. The complete Cykelaid could be purchased for £50. The specification included an Eadie coaster hub, rear hand-operated brake, number plate, rear stand and Brooks saddle. The wheels were 28″×1.75″, shod with Dunlop Roadster tyres. Alternatively, the complete front fork assembly was available for £32, as a conversion of an existing bicycle.
These early versions were not fitted with a front brake and, as mentioned above, the complete machine was fitted with two independent rear brakes. Presumably, when buying the front fork unit to convert an existing bicycle, one was also expected to fit an additional rear brake to the machine. Although the engine was lubricated by the petroil mixture, an additional oil tank was fitted. An oil pump driven by the front wheel hub delivered a measured supply of oil to the engine’s main bearings. It would, therefore, be inadvisable to allow the engine to run for a long period with the clutch disengaged, since this would cut off the supply of oil to the crankshaft. None of the available options proved to be very popular with the buying public.
In 1922 modifications were made and the machine appeared as the New Cykelaid with simplified ignition and a pump system in place of petroil lubrication. Capacity was increased to 133cc and girder forks were added. The wheel size was reduced to 26″×2″. Protection for the rider was improved by fitting deep valences to the mudguard and by lengthening the exhaust pipe. A front brake was now fitted. The 133cc two-stroke engine fitted to the left of the front wheel, chain drive via a counter-shaft and a flywheel magneto on the right that was driven by the main-shaft running through the wheel spindle.
The engine unit increased the weight of a cycle by 35lb. It was claimed that it would propel a bicycle at speeds from 3mph to 20mph and that a 100 mile journey could be completed on a full tank of fuel. This model continued unchanged until 1925 when a dummy-rim rear brake was adopted. Although the performance was quite adequate, it had, by then, become outdated and, in the following year, production ended
Whereas motorcycles were usually built in a universal size so that riders of different heights had to adapt, bicycles were made in a variety of sizes. A motorcycle engine that fitted onto a bicycle therefore required a bespoke service to accommodate riders of different sizes. Sheppee rose to the occasion, and did not charge extra for this service.
They offered a Chater Lea tandem fitted with a Cykelaid engine (below) which they named the ‘Cykelaid Complete Motor Tandem’, and also a specially-built ‘drop frame’ machine for ‘riders of below average height’. This could be supplied either as a ‘motor bicycle’ or a ‘motor tricycle.’
Although it had been a common configuration in the first few years of motorcycle manufacture – between 1901 and 1904 – few motorised tricycles were available for public purchase in the 1920s besides the three-wheel Sheppee Cykelaid Motor Tricycle.
1923 Sheppe Motor Tricycle
Registered YB 1248
This Sheppee Cykelaid Motor Tricycle is in good running order.
Though the advert above quotes an engine capacity of 1 3/4 hp, the description below (and others I’ve seen) show a maximum engine capacity of 133cc. The original logbook for this Sheppee records it as 1 1/2 hp, and the catalogue further down the page mentions 1 1/4hp.
The Cykelaid advert below quotes a Brooks B75 saddle for the Ladies’ or Gent’s Cykelaid de Luxe. (Note also the mis-spelling ‘Cykelaide’ in the ad).
The “Cykelaid” – Instructions for Upkeep & Management