Bond Motorcycles & Scooters
|Once his Minicar project was turned over to Sharp's Commercials, Lawrence, "Lawrie" Bond turned his attention to the design and manufacture of a series of small lightweight motorcycles and scooters. The first of these was launched at the Motorcycle show in September 1949 in the form of the Bond Minibyke (illustrated on the left). This was a rather unconventional machine utilising mainly aluminium construction, with it's frame formed of a central tapered oval tube which housed the fuel tank. Initially one model was offered, powered by a 98cc
|Villiers Mk1F engine and on early models, the front wheel was supported by rigid tubes which formed the steering forks. Rear suspension was also non-existent, relying on cushioning from the large low-pressure tyres, but telescopic dampers were fitted at the front by 1950 due to persistent failure of the early front forks! The venture was at least partially successful and a De-Luxe version was soon introduced powered by a 125 cc JAP engine and in November 1950 the design and manufacturing rights were sold to Ellis Ltd of Leeds who continued
|production until 1953, though total production was only in the region of 750. Lawrie Bond now abbreviated the name of his company to BAC (Bond Aircraft and engineering Company) and began work on a new motorcycle the Lilliput (illustrated right). Launched in February 1951 it was indeed a small machine, though of more conventional appearance and once again powered by the 98cc Villiers Mk1F engine, with a De-Luxe version powered by a 125 cc JAP engine. Production was short lived and the De-Luxe model was discontinued in late 1951 due to problems with
|the supply of the engine and the Lilliput ceased production in October 1952 with only some 200 machines built overall. In the meantime Lawrie had already been developing his next project -a scooter type machine
|called the Gazelle, which was launched at the Motorcycle show in November 1951. The new machine was the only all-British scooter on display and was powered by a 122 cc Villiers Mk10D engine, with a fairly conventional scooter layout. Suspension was predictably basic with telescopic front forks, but only the cushioning from the wide low pressure tyre at the rear, though it was reasonably priced at £99. In October 1952 a 98 cc version was introduced and a lightweight sidecar offered for the larger engined model (illustrated left).
|Once again production was short-lived and in late 1952 the project was sold to a Blackburn based company - Projects and Developments Ltd. The new owners set about developing the machine into an exceptionally quiet 197 cc Villiers engined machine with electric starting and greatly improved suspension, named the Oscar. This was exhibited at the 1953 Motorcycle show, but despite much interest the project was dropped. Lawrie Bond's final two-wheeled offering was announced in November 1955 - the Sherpa, illustrated right. It featured swinging arm front suspension and trailing arm at the rear, with power predictably provided by a 98 cc Villiers engine. Once again lightweight construction was utilised, this time with glass-fibre bodywork.
|But despite initial interest, orders failed to materialise and the project was abandoned, with only the single prototype believed to have been built.
|By the late 1950s Sharps commercials also decided to enter the two-wheeled market with their "All-British" offering, announced in early 1958. Intended to compete with the increase in foreign imported machines, the company invested heavily in the project. The initial model was the P1, illustrated left, which was powered by a 148 cc Villiers Mk 31C engine and featured glass-fibre bodywork and single leading arm front suspension, single trailing arm at the rear, both coil sprung with hydraulic dampers. Standard fitting of a SIBA Dynastart unit
|gave electric starting and a 12v electric system. Competitively priced, the P1 received favourable reports in the press & was soon joined by a similar looking 197 cc Villiers Mk9E engined sister the P2, but sales were slow.
|Both models continued in production until superceded in late 1959 by two improved models - the P3 and P4 (P3 example illustrated right). The new models were powered as their predecessors, but featured improved engine access, a redesigned frame, but most noticeably a redesigned front apron with a now fixed front mudguard. Still sales remained low despite vigorous advertising, including entries in the 1958, 59 and 1960 Isle-of -Man rallies with limited success. But the anticipated popularity of the Bond Scooter failed to materialise and with profits
|already cut back to keep the price competitive, Sharp's were left with no room to manoeuvre and had little option but to abandon production altogether in 1962.
For more information on the history of the Bond marque click on the book cover for details