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Record-breaking Rudge back on track

January 4, 2023

November 25, 2022 marked the centenary of the last land speed record set by a motorcycle at the Brooklands motor circuit in 1922, when two riders rode for a total of 8½ hours in relay, setting new world records of 74.96mph over 500 miles, 71.27mph over 600 miles and setting a new overall speed record of 75.02mph (120.73k/ph) over a six-hour period.

The Rudge in 1922. (Courtesy of The Brooklands Museum)

 

But that date also saw the unveiling of the 1922 998cc Rudge motorcycle which set that record, now in the museum’s collection and freshly restored to its former glory. 

 The world record-setting bike was originally discovered in an orchard in 1956 and the following year it was back at the track for the unveiling of the Golden Jubilee Memorial by Lord Brabazon, the winner of the first race in July 1907. The bike remained in the ownership of Bryan Reynolds, former vice-president of the Rudge Enthusiasts’ Club and founder of the Vintage Rudge Register, until his death in 2019 when it was acquired by Brooklands Museum.

Since then a group of motorcycle team members has been carefully conserving the bike and assessing its condition. After carrying out some remedial work on the frame and forks, the engine was assessed before it was decided that it would be possible to carry out a short demonstration run to commemorate the original runs and pay tribute to Bert Mathers and Bob Dicker, who carried out several punishing long distance runs during October and November 1922.

Gareth Pemberton riding the 998cc Rudge. (Courtesy of the Brooklands Museum)

 

After the run on the iconic Brooklands Railway Straight, team member Gareth Pemberton said: “What an amazing experience! It was great to ride; it’s a fast bike but it was built to break records, so it’s what you’d expect. I didn’t get out of first gear, mainly because it was going fast enough in first – and the brakes are barely existent – but the controllability was very good, and the result is exactly what we had hoped for.”

The Rudge will be back on display at Brooklands Museum at Weybridge early in 2023. Visit brooklandsmuseum.com to learn more about what’s on and to book tickets.

Gareth after the run. (Photo by Martin Gegg)

 

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