1952 Phillips Cyclemaster 32cc

1952 Phillips Cyclemaster 32cc

…an original cycle-engine combination in superb unrestored running order.

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This is a particularly nice Cyclemaster.

I bought it from a friend, and had it serviced and MOT’d late last year to put it on the road.

It runs well.

This Phillips cycle appears to be its original fitting (frame number TO17463).

It is quite rare being an original bicycle-and-engine combination in such fabulous original unrestored condition.

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J. A. Phillips & Co. Ltd Cycles


Founded by Walter Phillips around 1880 in Birmingham, Phillips went on to become the second biggest bicycle manufacturer in Great Britain (after Raleigh). In 1908 the company gave up its Birmingham premises and bought the Credenda Works in Smethwick.

By 1949 the firm, then a subsidiary of Tube Investments Ltd, employed some 2,000 people at the greatly enlarged Credenda Works, producing and distributing bicycle components. It was still at the works in 1971. The Phillips brand is still used around the world, especially in China and the Far East, having been licensed by Raleigh.

In the 1950s, several cycle makers produced special cycles for ‘cyclemotorization.’ They would be supplied as a complete bike, or missing the rear wheel if a Cyclemaster was to be fitted. Phillips produced a range of such machines. Common features were:

  • Strengthened frame
  • Lower saddle position (more comfortable for powered riding but less suited to pedalling)
  • No rear brake on the Cyclemaster models; rear brake on the others was often a coaster hub
  • Braced (or sprung) front fork
  • Number plates
  • Lighting set designed to run off the engine
  • Lower than normal gearing – since pedals were mainly used for starting and assisting on hills.

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The effect of the braces on the front fork must have been minimal, but at least they make it look stronger. The mudguards are bigger and stronger that on a normal pedal cycle; although extra mud protection made a good selling point, the most likely reason for them was that normal mudguards would not be reliable in supporting the weight of the number plates.

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Below you can see the Phillips Motorised Bicycle. Phillips sold this as a complete machine (though the cycle parts are the same as used on their ordinary bicycle). The frame is the same as that made for the Cyclemaster.

And, below, you can compare it to the ordinary cycle.


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Phillips also sold this type of cycle with a factory-fitted Vincent Firefly engine; it was called the Vincent Power Cycle. You can see from the Vincent advert below that they used a similar Phillips bicycle frame for the 1954 Firefly.

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According to the Moped Archive (the greatest source of information on postwar cyclemotors) the rear carrier was offset on these cycles:

“The carrier is offset to the left so that the carrier stay keeps clear of the Cyclemaster’s fuel tank. This was a cunning re-use of tooling by Phillips. The offset carrier was originally produced for military cycles; the offset made room for slinging a rifle alongside the bike frame.”

[taken from http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pattle/nacc/arc0324.htm%5D

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1952 Phillips Cyclemaster

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So there you have it

…an interesting Cyclemaster absolutely ready for your summer cyclemotoring.

It’s MOT’d until December 2008 and taxed till around the same time. There’s a V5C reg document.

How many cyclemasters do you find for sale with all these delightful features, DVLA registered, MOT’d, taxed and running ready for you to use?

I’ve used this machine and it rides well. I’d much prefer it to stay in the Cyclemaster Museum to be wheeled out with the others for displays. But I now have too many Cyclemasters, and can only ride one at a time. So although I like it a lot, I’d be happy for someone else to be sitting in the saddle and enjoying this Phillips Cyclemaster’s wonderful patina.

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Published on August 15, 2008 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  

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