Excelsior - Course
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Excelsior D2-492-74-06
Photo ou archives : M. Woollett

Capacity : 600
Model : Course
Production : 1903 -
Category : (R) Racing


600 MMC - 1903

Pioneer British superstar

The first motorcycle races held in Britain took place on the velodromes built in the late 19th Century in London – at Canning Town, Heme Hill and the Crystal Palace – and at Aston in Birmingham. The first "superstar" of this period was Londoner Harry Martin with this Excelsior powered by a 2.75 hp MMC engine (a license-built copy of the De Dion unit).

Beating the Continentals

Martin started riding in 1901 and joined Bayliss & Thomas, makers of the Excelsior, in 1902. With his racing Excelsior, Martin was more than a match for the Continental stars from France and Belgium who crossed the English Channel to participate in British events.


His success earned him the nickname "The British Bullet". He was the first man officially timed at over 60 mph on a flying kilometer, a record set during the 1903 Phoenix Park Speed Trials in Dublin on July 4, 1903. Two weeks later, he set a new flying mile record of 58.5 seconds at Canning Town. His engine was a Coventry-built Motor Manufacturing Company single, with auxiliary exhaust ports drilled in the cylinder walls. MMC was the successor to the Great Horseless Carriage Company, one of the companies founded in 1896 by Harry John Lawson in his attempt to gain control of the fledgling British motor industry. MMC's De Dion-type engines were initially fitted in tricycles used by the British Army during the Boer War (1899-1901). Excelsior adopted MMC power units after first using genuine de Dion engines. MMC built singles as big as 850cc, but Martin preferred the 600cc model.


Engine: 600cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke

Power Rating: 8 hp @ 2200 rpm

Valves: automatic intake, side exhaust

Fuel System: surface carburetor

Transmission: direct-drive by leather belt

Suspension: none

Brakes: bicycle-type rim brakes (front & rear)

Wheels: clincher bicycle tires (front & rear)

Weight: 110 lb

Maximum Speed: 60 mph

"The world's motor bicycle record-breaker," Harry Martin set standing-start records up to 12 miles (45 mph) on the Canning Town track, London, in May 1903 with this Excelsior.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

Please contact me at info@moto-collection.org for conditions and copyright.

© Tous droits réservés
François-Marie Dumas

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