Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas
500 Sport & Racing - 1913
Proof of reliability
Best known as an engine maker, Rover was a pioneer of the cycle industry in the 1880s and once was a well-known manufacturer of motorcycles, building its first in 1902 and the last in 1925.
Quality and Reliability
The firm rapidly became famous for its quality and reliability. In 1913, Rover developed a 500cc side-valve machine with an own-make engine, entering a team in the Isle of Man TT. But the works machines already had an oddly dated air, with a high saddle position inherited from the pedal bicycles, and the standard model still used direct-belt drive from the crankshaft pulley and the rear wheel, without a clutch or gearbox.
Insurmountable Handicap Realizing that this would be a huge handicap in the TT, Rover fitted its racing bikes with the Philipson pulley, a kind of rudimentary clutch with moveable cheeks that could be moved apart to allow the belt to slip or closed to give a higher drive ratio. Rover's participation in the TT was intended to demonstrate the reliability of the standard production machine rather than to win big-money prizes. It was very successful in this respect, since the three Rovers entered finished in 15th, 19th and 28th places. The cast-iron pistons were lightened by holes made with a hand drill. The lack of a gearbox was a grave handicap in the struggle with the more advanced Scott, Indian, Sunbeam and Rudge machines.
Engine: 499cc (85x88mm) air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke; magneto ignition; total loss lubrication
Power Rating: 6 hp @ 3200 rpm
Fuel System: carburet or
Transmission: direct-belt drive with Philipson variable pulley
Suspension: Druid girder forks (front); rigid (rear)
Brakes: cycle-type rim brake (front); belt rim (rear)
Wheels: 26x2.50 inch wire clincher (front & rear)
Weight: 194 lb
Maximum Speed: 65 mph
Rover's entry in the Tourist Trophy race was a bold attempt to prove that its production machines could perform well in competition.