When I was asked to write ‘Did You Know’ I thought I would write about the history of motorcycles, which I will but in researching different known manufacturers and models I keep coming across names of people and motorcycles that I have never heard of and in that I find interest. With that said, I would like to broaden your knowledge as I broaden mine.
Have you ever heard of Howard R. Davies? He was a little guy in the realm of motorcycling but played a part in the history of cycling. It seems back in the day when motorcycling started there wasn’t as much interest in recreational cycling as there was interest in racing. When I research the early days of motorcycles and riders, all revolved around racing.
After Howard Raymond Davies (1895-1973) was born in Basall Heath, Birmingham, England his family moved to Wolverhampton, where as a youth he was a competitive swimmer, horse rider, and drummer in school. When he left school he hired on as an apprentice at AJS , which was the name used by A. J. Stevens & Co., a company that built cars as well as motorcycles in Wolverhampton. At AJS, Howard gained building skills but longed to race. AJS concentrated on manufacturing not racing and with a no compete clause Howard in around about way moved onto Sunbeam where in 1914 he was entered in the Scottish Six Days Trial, but on the 4th day he damaged the frame. His decision to stay for the remainder of the race was frowned upon by Sunbeam and they let him go. Fortunately later that year was able to work his way back into Sunbeam and entered the Senior race at the 1914 Isle of Man TT coming in second. That was the beginning of a good year of racing for Davies.
WWI started taking Howard away from racing for a short time but after the war he started winning just as he had before the war. During his racing years Davies longed to build his own motorcycle as his biggest complaint for racing other manufacturer’s bikes was their reliability. So in August of 1924 he started HRD Motors building his own motorcycles touted as “Built by a Rider”. Even though HRD Motors was short lived, just over 3 years to be exact, he built quite a reputation and was able to win the 1925 Senior Isle of Man TT and come in second in the Junior on his own motorcycle.
In 1928, by voluntary liquidation, HRD Motors name was purchased by Phil Vincent and became Vincent-HRD Motorcycles. The named lived on until 1955 when financial hardship caused its demise.
I can only give you snippets here but I hope it’s enough to make you wanna learn more.
Have fun, ride safe.
Freelance Photography & Writer