Greeves (motorcycles)

Greeves Motorcycles Ltd is a British motorcycle manufacturer producing motorcycles mainly for the trials and off-road market. Owner Richard Deal bought the rights to the Greeves name in May 1999. The original company had been producing motorcycles since 1952, funded by a contract with the Ministry of Pensions for their Invacar, a three-wheeler for disabled drivers. After many wins in motorcycle trials competitions and developing a successful US export market, the original company ceased trading following a fire in 1977. The new company continues to develop motorcycles and launched the first new Greeves Trials Bike for 20 years in January 2009, with an innovative all-new British two-stroke 280 cc engine. The original company founded by Bert Greeves MBE was the Invacar company. Greeves was mowing the lawns of his home in Worcestershire when he had the idea of fitting the lawnmower engine to his disabled cousin's wheelchair and invented the Invacar. Invacar Ltd was set up and won a major contract to provide motorised three-wheeled invalid carriage vehicles to the UK Government Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. in 1952 from a small factory in Church Road, Thundersley not far from Southend on Sea in Essex. Encouraged by this success, Bert Greeves decided to diversify into motorcycle manufacture. A keen trials rider in his spare time, he had started collecting veteran and vintage motorcycles, including a 1912 Triumph with the registration 'OLD 1'. His disabled cousin Derry Preston-Cobb also encouraged him to start the motorcycle business. Derry's own Invacar was used as a promotional vehicle and had been fitted with a more powerful engine, which he used to amazed other drivers as he overtook them on the Southend roads. Working to ether they developed a prototype using a two-stroke 197 cubic centimetres (12.0 cu in) single-cylinder engine sourced from Villiers Engineering - and a Greeves badge on the fuel tank. The motorcycles were really a sideline for the main business of producing the three-wheeled invalid cars, so development of the prototypes had to be fitted in when the production schedule allowed. Bert had been an enthusiastic motorcyclist in his youth and always had an ambition to become a motorcycle manufacturer. The first Greeves motorcycle was developed in mid-1951, using rubber-in-torsion springing at both front and rear. This unconventional rubber springing came straight from the patented system used for the invalid car. Rear wheel suspension was by a pivoted fork with rods connecting to torsion rubber mounted units just below the seat. Friction dampers were also fitted which could be manually adjusted. The front forks were also unusual, with short leading links to carry the wheel, pivoting on rubber-in-torsion spring units (later known as the 'Banana Leading Link' front fork. Motorcycle production began in the autumn of 1953 and the new models featured a unique frame with the steering head and a massive front down member combined in a large 'I-section' cast alloy beam, cast in a new light-alloy foundry that had been added to the Greeves factory. The tubular frame member was inserted into a mould and the main frame was cast around it, making for a very strong frame. Made from LM6 silicon-aluminium alloy, it was claimed to be stronger than tubular steel and proved capable of standing up to the rough treatment of international off road trials competition. Protection was finished off with reinforced engine cradle plates which were also light alloy castings.[