A Brief History of HRD Motorcycles
Howard Raymond Davies became an apprentice at the AJS company when he left school.
During World War I, Howard became a British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilot. He was shot down and captured by the Germans in 1917.
After the war he returned to AJS where he became their racing manager.
At the Isle of Man TT Races of 1921, Howard came second in the Junior Race and he won the Senior Race.
He rode both these races using the same 350cc AJS engine but in a different frame for each race.
After 1921, Howard did not have any further luck in the TT with AJS machines.
Howard teamed up with E.J. Massey to form HRD Motors Limited in September 1924.
Premises were acquired in Heath Street, Heath Town.
The plan was to build high quality motorcycles at competitive prices.
Howard assembled a team of talented engineers, including his old friend Albert Clark, to help him to produce HRD machines ready to show at the Olympia Show in November.
Four models were exhibited at the show, all featuring JAP engines.
These were the 500cc HD90, the 350cc HD80, the 350cc HD70 and the 500cc HD70/S which was available with an optional sidecar.
The machines were finished in black and lined in gold.
1925 was a good year for the company.
HRD entered four machines in the 1925 Isle of Man TT Races.
There were two 350cc machines and two 500cc machines.
Howard came second in the Junior Race, beaten by Wal Handley on his Rex Acme.
Harry Harris finished in fifth position.
Howard won the Senior Race in 3 hours 25 minutes and 25 seconds at an average speed of 66.13mph.
Harry Harris did not finish the race on his HRD.
Shortly after the 1925 TT success, an increase in orders followed.
On 18th September, just before the Olympia Show, Bert Le Vack entered his HD90 at Brooklands and gained a world speed record of 104.41mph for his class of machine.
HRD moved to larger premises in Fryer Street, Wolverhampton in October 1925.
HRD were busy trying to fulfil orders, move premises and produce new machines for the Olympia Show, which was over a month earlier than usual.
At the 1925 Olympia Show, HRD displayed five models, which were much the same as those displayed the previous year.
The HD70 was dropped, but the HD70/S was retained, both in its original form or with a 600cc engine and a larger petrol tank.
The original 500cc solo model was still available.
The HD80 was unchanged whereas the HD90 was modified to make it as close as possible to the TT winning machine.
Top of the range was the HD Super 90, similar to the HD90 but fitted with a new 500cc twin port engine. Its top speed was around 100mph. The machine was fitted with a Smith’s speedometer and Lucas electric lighting.
Although sales were on the increase, the company was still not profitable.
HRD road tests were published in ‘Motor Cycling’ and ‘The Motor Cycle’ in February 1926.
The machines were highly rated in both magazines.
In 1926, HRD entered two machines in the Isle of Man Junior TT Race.
The machines were ridden by Eddie Twemlow and Kenneth Twemlow.
There were also two privateer entrants on HRD machines.
Kenneth Twemlow was the only HRD rider to finish the race. He came eleventh.
In the Senior Race, HRD entered five machines. These were ridden by Howard Davies, Eddie Twemlow, Kenneth Twemlow, Harry Harris and Clarry Wood.
There were three privateer entrants on HRD machines.
Clarry Wood came 5th, Sidney Jackson, one of the privateers came 8th.
Kenneth Twemlow came 9th and Ossie Wade, another privateer came 21st.
I believe Harry Harris finished in 16th place however, I need to confirm this.
The other HRD riders did not finish the race.
For the 1926 Olympia Show, the HD90 was replaced by the HD75. It retained most of the original features of the HD90.
It had a 500cc overhead valve JAP engine and was capable of 75mph.
The HD70/S remained and a de luxe version was also produced. The new machine was the HD 600 De Luxe. It was powered by a 600cc sports, side valve, JAP engine.
The HD Super 90 was now also available with a 600cc engine.
The HD80 remained and was joined by two new 350cc models.
The HD60 was aimed at the lower end of the market. It had a sports 350cc side valve, JAP engine and a top speed of around 60mph.
The other new model, the HD65 was more or less identical to the HD60, but was fitted with a standard 350cc overhead valve, single port, JAP engine. Its top speed was around 65mph.
Although 1926 sales figures were up on the previous year, the company was still running at a loss.
Riding for HRD in the 1927 Isle of Man TT Races, Freddie Dixon won the Junior Race at an average speed of 67.19mph.
He came 6th in the Senior Race.
Despite the TT success, sales in 1927 were down on the previous year and losses were mounting.
The company went into voluntary liquidation in January 1928.
Early in 1928, Ernie Humphries of OK Supreme Motors bought the HRD company in order to acquire the Fryer Street factory.
Humphries sold the remaining stocks of spares, tools, etc, including the HRD name to Philip Vincent.
The Vincent HRD Company Ltd. was thus formed.