With the phrase ‘The World’s Fastest Standard Motorcycle’ a fact not a slogan, it was a point of honour that the lowly Vincent Firefly did not insinuate itself into the history of the marque Vincent HRD Co Ltd. Nevertheless, retrospection relishes perversity, so it is the Vincent Firefly that is treasured here.
But it is a little known fact that there was even a commercial variant within the Vincent HRD stable.
The Vincent Firefly was also paired with the Gundle tradesmen’s bicycle, to create …The World’s Fastest Standard Tradesmen’s Bicycle?
Phillips brought out a similar double carrier, with the designated model number TC11, to compete with Gundle. Phillips also supplied bicycles through the trade to be fitted with cyclemotor attachment engines. The motorised Gundle Handymotor was not a sales success, so it’s unlikely that either Gundle or Phillips sold many motorised double carrier tradesmen’s bicycles. Hence the appeal now, if a collector is able to obtain one of these rare double carrier bicycles, to add a Vincent Firefly engine.
1957 Phillips Low Gravity Double Carrier
‘Model T.C.11’ Commercial Delivery Bike
Ready to fit with a 45cc Vincent Firefly engine
(The Vincent Firefly Handymotor was the only commercial variant of the Vincent Motorcycle)
26″ rear wheel; 20″ front wheel
Fitted Wicker Baskets
ex-Wessex Aviation & Transport Museum (now closed)
Double carriers are rare items …even though I have two of them! I bought them many years ago when it was much easier to find rare old bicycles. The Phillips you see here has been sitting in my storage since I bought it in 2010, waiting for me to get round to fitting it with a Vincent Firefly engine to create a ‘Handymotor’. Now that I’m about to move my storage I will offer it for sale, including the Firefly petrol tank and various Firely engine parts so that a fellow enthusiast can finish it off.
I first saw this bicycle in an auction in 2008. However, a young lady was bidding on it and, as a gentleman, I thought it polite not to compete. Two years later she decided to close her bicycle shop (in Hackney, London) and contacted me, so I ended up with it after all.
Cosmetically, it appears to be an old-time restoration. The handlebar has a Phillips logo on it. Somewhere I have a nice set of pedals with the Phillips name on the rubbers. There’s also a front stand to go with it, though it’s not fitted to the machine – if an engine is attached, a front stand would be deadly if its catch opened and it dragged onto the ground.
1957 PHILLIPS TRADESMEN’S CARRIER CYCLES CATALOGUE EXTRACT
THE GUNDLE MOTORISED CARRIER CYCLE
The cycle that Gundle used in its advertising for the Handymotor was the ‘Model T’ seen below, with a small front wheel. As a motorised machine this model was not as stable at speed as the ‘Model RR’ with equal size wheels featured on this page. If you look closely at the illustration you will see that it was not a finished example. There is no rear brake; the normal rod brake to the rear could not be used as the engine was fitted to the same place; a bowden brake was used instead. Also, the front stand illustrated could not be used as it was too dangerous if it fell out of its housing while rattling along at speed.
In fact, the main reason that so few were manufactured was because they were not actually suitable for carrying much more weight than a normal bicycle: the increased speed made them extremely dangerous when fully laden!
MY VINCENT FIREFLY PARTS
BOX 1 (2 photos)
BOX 2 (2 photos)
1950s PHILLIPS MOTORISED
GUNDLE RR DOUBLE CARRIER v PHILLIPS LOW GRAVITY DOUBLE CARRIER