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Wooler Motorcycle History

Wooler Flying Banana1920 Wooler

Wooler motorcycles

Wooler was a UK manufacturer of motorcycles and other vehicles, founded by engineer John Wooler in 1911 based in Alperton, Middlesex. The company became known for its unconventional designs which included several fore-and-aft twins, a vertical camshaft single cylinder machine, a transverse-four beam engine, and a transverse flat four. Most machines possessed Wooler's enduring design features of a petrol tank which extended past the steering head.


John Wooler designed his first motorcycle in 1909 - a two-stroke horizontal single cylinder machine with a double-ended piston. The first production model was a 230cc two-stroke with front and rear plunger spring suspension and a patent "anti-vibratory" frame. The motorbike was manufactured by Wilkinson from 1912 onwards with a 344cc engine and marketed as the Wilkinson-Wooler. Production was halted during WWI, and a Receiver was appointed for the company in 1915, but the company's munitions contracts with the Royal Air Force allowed it to survive the war years.

Motorcycle production resumed in 1919 with a new and advanced machine which was entered in the 1921 Junior TT where it was nicknamed the "Flying Banana" by Graham Walker.

The Wooler Mule cyclecar was announced in February 1919. It was powered by a 1022 cc air-cooled twin with the cylinders protruding from the sides of the bonnet, and a circular dummy radiator. The engine used rotary valves. It had a double rear wheel giving the impression of a three-wheeler. No prices were published, but contemporary press reports suggested a price of around £130 which had increased to £185 by December. Only a few prototypes were ever built.

In 1920 the company was reformed as The Wooler Motor Cycle Company (1919) Ltd. and the Mule ceased production.

In 1930 the Great Depression caused the company's final closure.

Wooler returned in 1945 with a prototype 500cc transverse four shaft drive, which was displayed at the Earls Court show in 1948 and again in 1951 and 1954. Only a half dozen handbuilt prototypes were ever constructed and the machine never entered mass production.

1920 Wooler

  • Years in production - 1919-23
  • Engine - horizontally opposed (fore-and-aft) inlet-over-exhaust four-stroke
  • Bore and Stroke - 60 x 60mm
  • Capacity - 348cc
  • Transmission - initially by variable ration belt, later by chain drive
  • Weight - 162lb
  • Top speed - 55mph