• Mid 20s Zenith updated before the war to late 20s spec.
• JAP KTCY 4 cam engine from a Brough Superior SS80/100
• Long term ownership of over 50 years
• Rare and desirable model
In their early years Zenith were perhaps most famous for their Freddie Barnes designed Gradua variable gear which was so successful against the fixed gear machines that they were banned from many competitions. Zenith turned this to their advantage and Barred became a prominent part of their advertising. However, as countershaft gearboxes and chain drive with all their advantages became almost universal, they were forced to follow suit. The company had many notable track successes in the mid twenties, and by 1925 Zenith machines had won more Brooklands Gold Stars than any other manufacturer. According to Brooklands expert Dr. Joseph Bailey, Zeniths ridden by Joe Wright held the Brooklands outer circuit lap record for ten years from 1925. They also twice held the motorcycle world land speed record.
The motorcycle offered here is a Zenith Super 8 which was first registered on the 24th March 1925. It was acquired by the vendor in the 1960s as a swap with Arthur King for a Scott. The Zenith has a number of modifications, all carried out before 1939, which effectively updated it to a much more usable late vintage specification. The original beaded edge wheels and dummy belt rim brakes have been replaced with Enfield components from a Brough Superior. It is thought that the very distinctive braced forks with dampers on the top front spindles were fitted at the same time. The gearbox is Sturmey Archer.
The original JAP KTC engine was replaced with an extremely desirable 1927 KTCY 4 cam unit from a Brough Superior SS80/100, the Zenith timing cover being cleverly grafted on. (The engine's provenance has been confirmed by Brough Superior Club registrar Mike Leatherdale). In 2001 the engine was rebuilt by Brough Superior expert Dave Clark, whilst the magneto was restored by the excellent Tony Stairs. The vendor reports that the engine runs beautifully and the bike will do 50 mph on a quarter throttle, but if the twistgrip is opened wide it bogs down. No doubt this would have been sorted out had there not been a stable of other machines to ride. As it is the Zenith has not been ridden for about eleven years, and general re-commissioning will be required in addition to sorting out the running.
It is accompanied by two old continuation log books as well as a current V5C, various old tax discs, MoTs, spare transfers, a notebook, old photographs including some black and white shots of the bike when acquired, and a letter from Zenith marque specialist Tony Donnithorne. It is offered for sale only because of the vendor's advancing years.