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125-year-old bike restored to working order

Sammy Miller’s museum has just completed the restoration of an 1898 Quadrant – at 125 years old it’s one of the oldest surviving British motorcycles there is. It features a French-made Le Brutus engine with period automatic inlet valve, offering 1.5hp. Unusually, it has a two-speed transmission with shaft final drive at a time when most bikes stuck with a relatively crude single-speed belt-drive set up. Starting is via bicycle-type pedals and as with any veteran machine, the rider has to cope with several controls to keep the engine happy, including mixture and ignition timing adjustments.

The Quadrant is the oldest bike on display at Sammy Miller’s New Forest-based museum, which is well worth a visit. Another recent restoration – much younger this one – is the 310cc ‘Miller’ trials bike, which Sammy designed with engine maker Hiro. The intention was to go into mass production, but only this prototype survives. It’s hardly surprising that Sammy Miller MBE has just won the Collections category at the RAC’s Historic Awards ceremony in London.

BMF Chair Jim Freeman said, “Great museum, I’d recommend a visit, if in the area. I don’t have any experience of true vintage and veteran bikes, but this one sounds terrific. I remember the first time I visited the collection in Luneville, realising that as wonderful as the British industry was, there had been a huge French one, not to mention Belgians, too.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Images courtesy of Sammy Miller Museum