The 1914 TT win

Nineteen thirteen was a disastrous year for Rudge in the Isle of Man. First their rider Frank Bateman was killed in a high-speed accident on the mountain while leading the race, then Ray Abbott lost the race by 5 seconds after stalling his Multi when leading on the final lap.

Luck was to change in 1914, when Cyril Pullin riding a Rudge Multi won the Senior Tourist Trophy on May 21st, at an average speed of 49.486 m.p.h. Catalogue No. 18 from Rudge-Whitworth Limited recorded the win as follows:

Senior TT Race, 1914

     "No, I had no trouble whatever" he said, "I just sat on the machine, and the engine and multi gear did the rest. I never knew where I was in the race, and I was never passed, excepting at the depot. The wind was tremendous. I attribute my success to the wonderful powers of the multi gear."

     We have never in any race, and very seldom on the road, seen a machine in such a spotless condition. There was literally not a speck of oil on the crankcase, whilst the belt was in perfect condition. The undrilled top ringed piston had just a nice film of oil on its head, and really astonished Major Lloyd and Professor Sharpe by its fine condition.

The commercial opportunities offered by a TT win were great, and Rudge took out a double-page spread in the May 28th edition of The Motor Cycle to try to cash in. The advertisement featured this picture of Pullin astride his winning machine. Note the Multi gear is fitted, but no clutch.

Cyril Pullin, 1914 TT winner

Elsewhere in the issue was a feature "A Chat with the Winners: Interesting Facts Concerning the Men and Their Machines":

CYRIL PULLIN is not a new-comer to T .T. racing, although his single previous appearance therein was not such as to suggest his proving a winner a year later. Brooklands has been his theatre of operations during the past twelve months, where his successful record rides on Rudges have been as numerous as flowers in spring,  his outstanding performance being achieved last November, when he set up the six hours 500 c.c. record, averaging just short of sixty miles an hour for six hours on his Rudge. Pullin is a Londoner by birth, is twenty-one years of age, and possesses the further advantage of light weight. He described his run as quite devoid of trouble, and told us he only stopped twice, each time at the Rudge depot, where he was filled up and got going again in less than thirty seconds on both occasions. Pullin took his success with great modesty, and declared he felt perfectly fit and very little tired. He said that long distance riding at Brooklands had inured him to long spells at high speed. The Rudge Multi he rode in the race was the of the newly designed T.T. machines, with a very low saddle position, and Pullin said he found the steering perfectly ideal on his mount. The engine was of 85 mm. x 88 mm. bore and stroke, and was of standard design, but the multi gear gave as high a ratio as 23/4 to 1, which, Pullin told us, was particularly advantageous in coming down the mountain.

Pullin's machine was of a new design, featuring a lowered tank rail and low saddle position. In his book "Don't Trudge it, Rudge It", Bryan Reynolds reproduces Pullin's own story of the development of the machine and the race itself.

"A mock-up frame was constructed in my workshop in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW, and a specification drawn up covering the main essentials. Rudge-Whitworth Limited , also very enterprising, lost no time in building some machines incorporating the then famous Multi gear. Tests at Brooklands and on the road were most gratifying and the TT Rudge Multi turned out to be the best steering motorcycle I have had or have ever ridden."

Pullin goes on to describe the race preparations and the race itself in some detail. The official time for the 262 1/2 mile race was 4 h 32 m 48 s at an average speed approaching 50 mph. An astonishing feat, considering the circuit which was little more than a gravel track. In one of my favourite books, "Kaleidoscope of Motorcycling", Dennis Howard gives the specifications of Pullin's machine:

...It differed from standard in having a higher compression ratio (4:1), a 5% nickel steel inlet valve with a shrouded neck. Cams were ground to give an inlet opening at 5o BTDC, closing at 37o after. The exhaust opened at 47o before BDC and closed 20o after. Flywheels were polished and loaded in the rim to balance 45% of the reciprocating mass. A lightened connecting rod carried needle roller big end bearings, but a plain little end bush. The cast iron piston was carefully lightened, and two 1/8 ins piston rings fitted. Piston clearance was made almost double that recommended by contemporary engineers.....and this proved advantageous. 3000 rpm and 80 mph (on the level) could be obtained.

Rudge's response to Pullin's win was to immediately introduce a new model: the T.T. Multi, a virtual replica of Pullin's machine. I have seen the frame for one of these machines in Australia, with a frame number fitting the 1914 sequence suggesting they were available to the public not long after the TT win.

1914 Rudge TT Multi

Stripped of its mudguards, carrier and Multi gear, the machine was offered as the Brooklands Racer, although most Rudge record setting before the First War was done on "high frame" machines.

Copyrightę Leon Mitchell 1998

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