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1898 Royal Enfield 2 3/4hp Quad

1898 Royal Enfield 2 3/4hp Quad

Quadricycles, virtually four-wheeled bicycles. together with tricycles, precede motor cycles because the first engines with enough power to propel a rider and certainly a passenger, were much too heavy to install in the strengthened pedal cycles of the dat. At the turn of the century the idea of a motorcycle powerful to take uphill and down dale without helpfrom the pedals was still a dream.

Legislation in this country which demanded that mechanically propelled vehicles be preceded by a man carrying a red flag (intended for tractionengines and not repealed until 1896), held back development but in France a range of De Dion engines had been developed to power quadricycles and tricycles. Most of our early machines were based on the French designs, some direct copies made under licence.

The first Royal Enfield Quad, looking virtually the same as this production model, was built in 1897 by R W Smith, joint founder with Albert Eadie of the Royal Enfield Company, for his own use. It attracted so much interest that it was decided to obtain a licence to manufacture the design from the De Dion company.

By 1900 a production model successfully completed a 1000 mile road trial organised by the Automobile Club if Great Britain.

The Quad design is really a tricycle with the addition of a front axle with wheels steered like a car with handlebars instead of a steering wheel (some later quads made by other firms actually used a stering wheel).

The De Dion single cylinder air-cooled engine with automatic inlet valve and side exhaust valve, drives the rear axle by direct gearing. A small pinion on the engine crankshaft meshes with a large gear wheel on the back axle.

There is no clutch or means of disconnecting the drive. By 1900 R W Smith, who was the inventive engineer of Royal Enfield, patened an improved drive which gave the choice of two gear rations and a neutral position.

The Royal Enfield company went on to manufacture full size cars, their 15 hp model being quite successful, but a slump in sales caused financial difficulties and they reverted to pedal cycles and motorcycles after 1909.