HISTORY OF THE LEVIS

 

THE HISTORY OF THE LEVIS MOTORCYCLE COMPANY

Levis motorcycles (1911–1940), manufactured by Butterfields Ltd of Birmingham, England were for many years one of England’s leading marques of two-stroke motorcycle. Levis built two-stroke machines from 1911, adding a line of four-strokes in 1928, which ran to 1941 when production ceased.

The first Levis was made in the Norton works by designer Howard (Bob) Newey, but James Norton turned it down.

Newey then joined with the Butterfields, Arthur and Billy, and sister Daisy, to set up a motorcycle company (Newey later married Daisy). Their first model had a capacity of 211 cc.

The word Levis comes from a latin word meaning light.The manufacturer found solid success in the lightweight class of motorcycles.

The Levis became popular for a number of reasons. First, they were light enough so they were manageable, but still had a large enough engine and sufficient enough power to carry a passenger without pedaling. Next, they were designed well so they were reliable, required a comparatively low amount of maintenance, and were easy enough for a novice to operate.

 

Image courtesy of the MCN

 

Two-strokes

In 1916 the 211 cc vertical two-stroke engine produced 3 hp (2.2 kW). An enclosed chain from the crankshaft drove the Fellows magneto and drive to the rear wheel was by Pedley ‘Vee’ belt. The machine weighed approximately 120 lb (54 kg).

Their first racing success was in the Lightweight 250 class within the 1920 Isle of Man TT Junior race with a 247 cc machine, repeated in the 1922 TT Lightweight race. They then adopted the slogan, “The Master Two Stroke”.

Levis built 211 cc and 246 cc three-port single-cylinder machines, including sporting versions. Most had 67 mm (2.6 in) bore with a 70 mm (2.8 in) stroke, and there was also a six port model.

Levis Two Strokes

 

Four-strokes

From 1928 onward Levis produced 247 cc (67 mm (2.6 in) bore x 70 mm (2.8 in) stroke) and 346 cc (70 mm bore x 90 mm stroke) four-stroke ohv machines and later added 498 cc and 600 cc ohv four-strokes. For a brief period a 346 cc side valve single, and also a 247 cc sohc single with chain-driven overhead camshaft were available. The company ceased production of motorcycles in 1940 to concentrate on development of Competition

 

 

Competition

By 1920, the company had dialed in the motorcycles’ performance to win in the Isle of Man TT Lightweight class first to third places in 1920, second place in 1921.Levis two strokes, ridden by Geoff Davison, R. O. Clark, Phil Pike and others, won many races including the 1922 Lightweight TT, while the four strokes excelled off road. Percy Hunt rode a 346 cc model successfully in races, and just before World War II Bob Foster gained many wins on a Levis ohv 598 cc bike in trials and moto cross.

After these wins the company adopted the slogan, “The Master Two-Stroke.”

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie on 1930 modelSpeed trials on Sellicks Beach Australia in 1936

 

Levis Advertising

 

Advertising

Examples of Levis promotional literature and advertisements using Levis motorcycles

 

 

Present

In 2014 the Levis motorcycle brand was acquired by David Redshaw of the Auto Crowd Group with a view of keeping the iconic British brand in the UK then in 2017 a deal was agreed and Levis was then acquired by Phil Bevan of Bevan Davidson International. Plans are being made to resurrect the brand with a new image and a range of state of the art motorcycles.

 

Levis Logo

 

Levis Models

1911–1925 211 cc Levis (TS Model ‘Popular’)
1926 246 cc Levis (TS Model ‘K’)
1927 246 cc Levis (TS Model ‘O’)
1928 346 cc Levis (OHV Model ‘A’)

2018 Levis Cafe Racer V6