Despite being hand-built by only two designers and one test-rider, the Williamson Flat Twin would become one of the fastest production motorcycles that the world had ever seen.
The Williamson Flat Twin never benefited from the wonderful manufacturing facilities granted to other motorcycle models by larger companies. Instead, the first Williamson Flat Twin was hand-designed and hand-built by William Williamson and his friend William Douglas.
Williamson had been working as the managing director at Rex Motorcycles in Coventry when he decided to go out on his own. After leaving his job to focus on his dream, he and William Douglas founded the Williamson Motor Company in 1912.
Williamson added motorcycles first, then automobiles to its production line-up in, both in 1913. Despite the firm’s meteoric rise, it quickly began to flounder. Automobile production ceased only three years later, in 1916, and motorcycle production didn’t last through the end of the year in 1920.
In the early 1900s, motorcycles were not known for their speed, rather their affordability and utility for inner-city travel. Williamson aimed to change that.
By stuffing a 964cc water-cooled engine into a bicycle-style, steel frame, the Williamson motor company managed to create a flat-twin motorcycle capable of speeds ten percent faster than the previous world-record holder for the fastest production motorcycle.
Doomed to Fail
Despite the revolutionary engine design used in the Williamson Flat Twin, the company was never on perfectly sound footing. After only eight years, the Williamson Motor Company was to go under, never creating a second generation of the Williamson Flat Twin.
- Williamson Flat Twin (1913-1920)
The Williamson Flat Twin proceeded the Scott Two-Speed as the fastest production motorcycle in the world, maintaining that title until 1914, at which point the Pope Model L would overthrow it.
With 8 horsepower and a water-cooled, flat twin engine displacement of 964cc, the Flat Twin was, by today’s standards, hardly powerful enough to power an electric toothbrush.
But the standards of the 1910s, this motorcycle had almost triple the horsepower of the previous record-holder for the fastest production motorcycle in the world.
Updates on the Williamson Flat Twin
Today, even though the bike is practically useless in comparison to any modern superbike, motorcycle, or scooter, the Williamson Flat Twin still has incredible value to collectors. This is mostly because of the pivotal role that the Williamson Flat Twin played in the history of motorcycle manufacturing.
Despite this motorcycle’s sizable impact on motorcycle history, there have been virtually no mentions, references, or portrayals of the Williamson Flat Twin in popular culture, film, or TV.
Rather than looking for a social group dedicated to the Williamson Flat Twin, you might find it more effective to hunt down social groups dedicated to the broader topic of classic motorcycles. This page in particular focuses on all kinds of classic motorcycles and has almost 60,000 likes.
The Williamson Flat Twin – the Fastest Pre-War Production Motorcycle
Until 1914, the Williamson Flat Twin enjoyed its status as the world’s fastest production motorcycle.
With top speeds of 55 miles per hour, a “whopping” eight horsepower, and a sizable 964cc water-cooled engine, the Williamson Flat Twin might not seem like much, but in 1913, this motorcycle was heralded as the beginning of something new in motorcycle history.