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Humber Motorcycles
Fate Taken over by the Rootes Group
Founded 1868
Defunct 1930
Headquarters United Kingdom
Industry Manufacturing and engineering
Products Motorcycles

Humber Motorcycles was a pioneering British motorcycle manufacturer. Thomas Humber established the company in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in 1868 to make top quality bicycles and was very successful, opening factories in Coventry and Wolverhampton.[1] In 1896 Humber produced the first practical motorcycle made in the UK by fitting a bicycle with an E. J. Pennington two-horsepower motor.[2]

Ultimately it was the success of Humber cars that brought the end of the motorcycles when Humber was taken over by the Rootes Group in 1930.[2]


1904 Humber

Although the founder Thomas Humber left the business in 1892 his successors, Harry Lawson and an American Edward Pennington continued the name. Lawson brought with him the rights to his innovative three-wheeler, and Pennington owned a number of important patents.[1] By 1903 the priority for the Humber factories was car production, with motorcycle and bicycle production as a sideline. Success with one of Pennington's 340 cc two-speed V twin engined Humbers in the first ever Isle of Man Junior TT in 1911 boosted the motorcycle sales.[3]

Early Humber motorcycles were built under licence to Phelon & Moore with a single-cylinder P&M engine and two-speed chaindrive transmission. Disputes over royalty payments and P&M's desire to make their own motorcycles led to this licence being terminated in 1905,[4] so later models had Humber 496 cc, 596 cc and 746 cc engines.[5]

Humber was taken over in 1930 by the Rootes Group, who went on to make several very successful cars under the Humber name.


Model Year Notes
Humber 4.5 hp 1921 601cc with chain transmission and three-speed gearbox
Humber 350cc Side Valve 1927
Humber Beeston 1903 2.75HP
Humber 340cc 1911 2 speed V twin Humber (won the 1911 Junior TT)
Humber 3½ HP 1912
Humber 350 OHV 1929
Humber 600cc 1921 Flat twin
Humber 350cc OHC 1930 (Last Humber made)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kemp, Andrew (2001). Classic British Bikes. Bookmart Ltd, 11–17. ISBN 1-86147-058-4. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Humber". Retrieved on 2008-07-06.
  3. "TT 1911 Junior TT Results". Retrieved on 2008-07-06.
  4. "Humber models". Retrieved on 2008-07-06.
  5. "Humber motorcycles". Retrieved on 2008-07-06.

External links

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