The New Imperial Maybe the main reason that I fancied the New Imp; was that my Dad; who had spent the whole of the war away in the army; was a motorcyclist and the keeper of a scrapbook; in the scrapbook, were pictures of all kinds of Motorbikes and especially New Imps, Broughs and Gold stars, but he was never able to afford any of them; but he did have a pre-war BSA side-valve, before the war; So it would seem, that it would be my duty and destiny to own these Bikes.
The design of this New Imp; typical of the later range from this maker; is a little radical and daring for its time: There is no doubt that they were on the right track; by making design innovations, that we now recognise as methods of making machines more reliable and longer lived; such as Unit construction; Gear primary drive; Coil ignition and Rear spring frames; but these innovations were viewed with much suspicion by the buyer at the time, as he needed to spend his hard earned money very carefully.
My Bike was made at the very end of the original N.I. Factory story; as the whole enterprise was in difficulty and as some historians have said of this period; they were just emptying the shelves and making parts-bin specials: which may well be the case; because my Bike; bearing in mind, that it is, at the cheaper end of the range; has some rather refined fixtures and fittings.
The Girder Forks are from Webb; the throttle is of the straight pull, helix design; the Brake and Clutch levers are of solid Brass; the Advance-Retard; De-compressor and Choke controls are of a very complicated design; having the lever tension controlled by a worm and wheel system; made by Doherty; not unlike a Sunbeam S.7-8 shaft final drive: the Ammeter has a convex glass, and a hole on the Headlamp reflector shines through to light up the Ammeter from underneath at night:
The clutch is driven by Helical gears; the dynamo is gear driven, off the clutch and all live in a very well designed and oil tight cast alloy housing: the ignition is run from points on the end of the dynamo, which incorporates a manual advance/retard; and runs at engine speed; so uses the wasted spark system.
The rear hub is of the Royal Enfield design and incorporates a Cush-drive. All these refinements on a bottom of the range model, points to a rather fastidious maker of quality products.
The New Imp, is quite a small bike and a little cramped for a tall rider; the gear-change lever gate, digs into your right knee and the bars feel a bit close to the rider; but the controls are positioned just where you need them; The Gear-change 3 Speed 1st up and 2&3 down, is immediate and silent.
To start the Engine the ignition is turned on using the combined lighting and ignition switch; the brass, Amal horizontal carburettor (which is used on all models) because, some were fitted with a Maglyta which is tall and needs more room; is flooded, and the choke left open: Retard the ignition and give it a swing: it immediately reminds me of a Sports Tiger Cub; With almost square cylinder dimensions of 67x70. It is quite sharp, with little flywheel effect; Ticks over erratically; needs to be driven on the advance lever, revs and pulls with enthusiasm, with a lovely sharp crackle from the Exhaust.
The handling is light and quick; you can flick it about and trail the Footrests on the road with confidence and the brakes are a pleasant surprise; they really do encourage you to push on. On a long run; I normally cruise at 50 MPH. and it will climb the 4 mile 1:12 gradient Holmfirth road at 45 MPH. in top gear. This is the Jack Russell of the duo:
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