Collage of Vintage pictures

1909-25

Cadwell 125 Cafe Racer

2016

7R 3A Boy Racer

1963

7R 350 Track Racer

1930

Bobber 125

2012-14

Daytona 125

2012-14

DD 125E Mk3

2012-14

E95 Porcupine 1954

Eco 2 125

2012-14

EOS 125

2012-14

   
Caldwell 125 2016

H6 Big Port 350

1927

JSM Motard

2012-14

Model 8 350 1960 - 62
Model 14 250, 250 CSR, Scrambler 1958-66
Model 16 350 1950-66
Model 18 500 (S, CS, Statesman) 1945-66
Model 20 500 1948-61
Model 30 600 1957
Model 31650 CSR Hurricane 1957-66
Model E1 / E2 1925
NAC12 2012-14
R7 2012-14
S3 V-twin 1931
Silver Streak 500 1938

AJS Motorcycle History

AJS is also an abbreviation for the American Journal of Sociology. AJS was the name used for cars and motorcycles made by the Wolverhampton, England company A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, from 1909 to 1931, by then holding 117 motorcycle world records, and after the firm was sold the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers on four-stroke motorcycles till 1969, and since the names resale in 1974, on small capacity two-strokes.

History

1930 magazine cover featuring AJS motorcycles racing in the Isle of Man TT:
Joe Stevens, father of Harry, George, Jack, and Joe Stevens, first built an internal combustion engine in 1897, although his engines did not enter production until after 1900. His first engines, of 125 cc, were sold as proprietary engines to other manufacturers. In 1905 the Stevens built a JAP V-twin engined motorcycle, with leading-link front forks and a swinging fork at the rear. This was done at the father's Stevens Screw Company, where the family were all employed.

A new company, A J Stevens & Co (AJS), was founded in 1909 to manufacture motorcycles and the first model appeared in 1911, a two-speed 292 cc side-valve. One was entered by AJS in the 1911 Isle of Man TT races and A J Stevens came 15th in the Junior TT.

Albert John Stevens had his name on the company, but it was really a family company, with, in 1926 for example, Harry Stevens as Engineer, George Stevens as Chief Salesman, Joe Stevens junior as Production Engineer and Albert John ("Jack") Stevens in charge of the design office.

By 1914 the AJS motorcycle had grown to 350 cc, with four-speed gears and chain final drive. AJS won first, second, third, fourth and sixth place in the Junior 1914 Isle of Man TT race that year. Internal expanding brakes and chain primary drive were introduced in 1920. AJS went on to win the Junior again in 1920, 1921 and 1922, and won the 1921 500 cc Senior TT on 350 cc OHV machines. An 800 cc V-twin was also produced.

On 3 November 1916 the Ministry of Munitions prohibited the production of non-military motorcycles, but in early 1917 the Ministry received an order from Russia for military vehicles, and AJS was given a contract to produce part of the order. This kept AJS busy until Ministry of Munitions restrictions were lifted in January 1919.

In 1920 Cyril Williams won the first post war Isle of Man Junior TT on an AJS. AJS took the first four places in the 1921 Isle of Man TT, and Howard R Davies won the Senior on a 350 cc AJS. This was the first time a 350 had won the 500 cc Senior TT race.[3] In 1922 Manxman Tom Sheard won the Junior on an AJS, with G Grinton, also on an AJS, taking second.

In 1928, AJS introduced two new chain driven overhead camshaft racing models, the 349 cc K7 and the 498 cc K10. In 1929 there were again two machines with an overhead cam, this time the 349 cc M7 and the 498 cc M10. Wal Handley came second in the 1929 Junior TT for AJS. The following year Jimmy Guthrie won the 1930 Lightweight TT on a 250 cc AJS.

In 1931 the AJS S3 was released, a 496 cc transverse V-twin tourer with shaft primary drive[4] and alloy cylinder heads. It had been expensive to develop and was slow to sell. Even though they held 117 world records, the AJS company was now in financial trouble.

Automobiles, Omnibuses, and Coaches
Although best known for their motorcycles the company made a few experimental cars with Meadows engines in 1923 but decided not to go into full production.
AJS had manufactured car bodies for Clyno, but in 1929 Clyno went under. AJS returned to car making in 1929 with the Nine powered by a 1018 cc side valve Coventry-Climax engine producing 24 bhp and driving through a three speed gearbox. The cars were quite expensive at £210 for the two seater and £320 for the fabric bodied saloon. About 3,300 were made.

The company also started making buses and coaches. The first model was the Pilot with a Meadows engine. This was followed by the Commodore with a Coventry Climax L6 engine and finally by the Admiral. Just over 200 buses were built.

In 1931 A. J. Stevens & Co went bankrupt. The motorcycle assets were bought by the Collier brothers, London company Matchless and the car manufacturer Crossley Motors. Crossley incorporated some improvements such as a four speed gearbox and using parts acquired from AJS built about 300 cars between December 1931 and May 1932. Assembly took place in the Stockport factory used by Willys Overland Crossley. Motorcycle production moved to Plumstead.

A 1½-litre model was planned, but failed to materialize except to appear on the Willys-Overland-Crossley stand at the 1932 London Motor Show.

In 1938 AJS became part of a group called Associated Motorcycles, formed by the Colliers as a management company for its various interests. After this Matchless and AJS shared models using different badging. 

Stevens Motorcycles
The Stevens brothers tried again and started a new company as Stevens Brothers (Wolverhampton) Ltd to make 3 wheel delivery vans. (They could not call them AJS, as that name belonged to the Colliers.) These used a 588 cc single cylinder engine driving the rear wheels through a 3 speed gearbox and chain drive. The van could carry 5 cwt. It was improved in 1935 with shaft drive and uprated to 8 cwt. The last ones were made in 1936. In 1934 they also produced a new range of motor cycles under the Stevens name. These were made until 1938 after which the company continued until 1956 as a general engineering business.

AJS Racing under AMC
Under AMC the AJS badge may have been put on the "bread and butter" Matchless motorcycles, but the Colliers were mindful of the AJS racing heritage, and used the name on some innovative racing machinery. These racing bikes kept the AJS name alive.

In 1935, at the Olympia Show, an air cooled SOHC AJS 50° V4 was shown, a fully equipped road going version, which did not make it into production. In 1936 Harold Daniell rode a supercharged race version in the Isle of Man Senior TT, but despite its high top speed, it lacked acceleration.

In 1939 a water-cooled and supercharged version of the 495 cc AJS V4 was built to compete against the supercharged BMWs then dominating racing. In 1939 the dry sump V4 was the first bike to lap the Ulster Grand Prix course at over 100 mph (160 km/h). It weighed 405 lb (184 kg). and its top speed was 135 mph (217 km/h). Then World War II intervened.

 At the end of the 40s and start of the 50s, the AJS Porcupine, a 500 cc forward facing parallel twin, and the AJS 7R (32 bhp, 350 cc OHC single) were being raced alongside their AMC stablemates the Matchless G50 (effectively a 500 cc 7R) and by 1951, the Matchless G45 (a 500 cc vertical twin). The AJS Porcupine had been designed for supercharging, before the rules changed banning supercharged racing motorcycles, but even so, Les Graham won the 1949 World Championship on an unsupercharged AJS E90 500 cc Porcupine.

In 1951 AJS development engineer Ike Hatch developed a 75.5 mm bore x 78 mm stroke, three valve head version of the 7R making 36 bhp (27 kW). It was called the AJS 7R3, and was Ike's response to the Italian multi-cylinder racers. They did well enough in their first year, not as well the second. For 1954 Jack Williams, the works team manager, developed the bike further, lowering the engine in the frame, and making some tuning changes that gave 40 bhp (30 kW) @ 7800 rpm. It immediately won the first two rounds of the World Championship and took first at the Isle of Man TT. These were factory specials, but one has survived, and a second has been reconstructed from spares.

AMC withdrew from the world of works and one-off road racing at the end of the 1954, with the death of Ike Hatch, and in the face of fierce competition from the other European bikes. After this AJS made a production version of the standard two valve AJS 7R, for privateers. In 1954 Norton was also moved to the Plumstead works.

With the G15 line, AMC had built on the merits of the G12 but there were numerous changes to frame, forks, swinging arm, primary chaincase, transmission, cycle parts and lubrication system. The P11 was the last line of bikes with bonds to AMC. It used a modified G85CS frame but there were stronger forks, completely new cycle parts (making some was rather costly), altered lubrication and modified primary chaincases, to mention a few.

The G15 series was offered as 3 brands: Matchless G15 comprising G15Mk2, G15CS and G15CSR; AJS Model 33 comprising M33Mk2, M33CS and M33CSR; and last not least Norton N15CS (no Norton-branded roadster made as it would compete against the Atlas). The G15 series was produced from 1963 to 1969. They were initially for export only, but by 1965 these models were available in UK and Europe too.

AJS Today
Associated Motorcycles and the AJS name eventually ended up with Norton-Villiers in 1966. In late 1968 the Plumstead works at Burrage Grove, where engines from the Wolverhampton plant and frames from the Manchester plant were assembled into complete machines, were presented with a Greater London Council compulsory purchase order. The Plumstead works closed in July 1969. It is believed that production of the G15 series was halted late in 1968 (model year '69) with unsold samples on offer through 1969. The AJS Model 33 was the last AJS badged four-stroke produced.

A Government subsidy allowed assembly to move to a factory at North Way, Andover, with an aircraft hangar on nearby Thruxton Airfield housing the Test Department. Manufacturing was concentrated at Wolverhampton.

The name was used on the off-road two-stroke AJS Stormer.  The Stormer period spanned from 1969 to 1974 and was a period of rejuvenation and the introduction of a new competition model in various engine sizes (250, 370 and 410cc) which achieved moderate successes in the hands of such riders such as Malcolm Davis, Freddie Mayes and Andy Roberton.  ,

But when they hit financial problems the rights to manufacture AJS motor cycles was purchased by Fluff Brown who moved operations to Goodworth Clatford near Andover, Hampshire during September 1974.

AJS was re-started by Fluff Brown in 1974 when Fluff, who was previously the competition manager at AJS, bought out the ailing company from Norton Villiers. Fluff continued the parts supply for the AJS Stormer and produced affordable FB-AJS Moto X machines for the clubman racer and 250cc trail bikes. Fluff's eldest son Nick Brown, joined the company in 1987 and was soon looking East at the array of small, affordable motorcycles built in China. One of the first children's Chinese built off road bikes available in the UK was the Jianshe Coyote-80. It was first imported and distributed through a dealer network by AJS in 1998. This well built little machine was an outstanding success and proved very robust and reliable. It showed that Chinese motorcycles, although cheap, could be built to a high standard. AJS motorcycles are still built in China.

All current AJS motorcycles are European Whole Vehicle Type Approved to meet European safety standards and emission levels. AJS are members of the Motorcycle Industry Association and adhere to the MCIA Code of Conduct, and have invested heavily in a comprehensive spare parts supply infrastructure.

Today's AJS have a range of 124 cc four-stroke bikes in road and off road versions, and cruisers with engines of 50 cc, 125 cc, and a 250 cc parallel twin. They also sell AJS Stormer & Villiers Starmaker spares.