The Wilfred Saga




The Wilfred Saga a history of British autocycles (lightweight pedal-assisted motorcycles under 100cc) which were popular from 1934 to their demise in the mid-1950s. Autocycles were affordable, easy to use, economical and did not need a full motorcycle license to ride. They were more or less created by a 17/6d road-tax concession allowed by Chancellor Phillip Snowden in the 1931 budget.

The British autocycle served multitudes of riders well: from air-raid wardens in WWII to midwives, office workers, housewives and commuters, all benefitted from the ease and economy of what was effectively a motorised bicycle. Many major manufacturers in the ‘big’ motorcycle world (Scott, James, Excelsior, Rudge, Francis-Barnett, BSA, Coventry-Eagle) produced autocycles with varying degrees of success before, during and after WWII, though ‘serious’ motorcyclists on big-capacity machines always looked down their noses at autocycles. They were not ‘proper’ motorcycles and were given the belittling nickname “Wilfreds” (after a cartoon strip Pip, Squeak & Wilfred, published in the Daily Mirror) which contemporary motorcycling magazines used at the time.

This book is a long-overdue look at autocycles and their place in the social fabric of Britain over a couple of decades. Profusely illustrated with many rare colour images from factory brochures, road-test reports and technical details, The Wilfred Saga is a deeply-researched, authoritative study of a long-ignored section of motorcycling history.

ISBN 978-0-9547363-3-0, A4 format, soft colour covers, 140 pages with over 170 black & white and colour images throughout the text.