Rudge ‘Rudge-Ulster’ was originally formed in 1929 and continued to produce motorcycles up to the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939. The Rudge Radial 250 dates from 1934, and includes some custom made parts from the era which suggests this bike may have been used for competition racing.
The Rudge motorcycles were considered to be one of the best pre WW2 racing bikes around at the time, where Graham Walker (the father of the famous Murray Walker) won the 1928 Ulster Grand Prix at a speed of over 80mph. Unfortunately for Rudge these bikes were trying to be sold within the great depression of 1993, which lead to Rudge being purchased by EMI (the well known record company) in 1936. With WW2 looming, the now Hayes based bike manufacturer slowly ceased as the EMI parent company focused on producing equipment for the war effort, which included Radar and more mundane items such as typewriters.
This is a genuine barn find motorcycle, however not typical because the previous owner had started a restoration over 30 years ago which never completed. As you can see from the paint, it is good condition after being protected by a layer of Vaseline applied by the previous owner. The various cycle parts and engine cases have some corrosion, as you would expect for a bike which has sat idle for over 30 years.
The gearbox goes into gear and the engine turns over, however no attempt has been made to start the bike. The bike currently doesn’t come with any documents, however these should be easy to obtain for original plate or age related plate.
Restoring your Rudge Radial Barn Find
Find parts for these bike is notoriously difficult, and you’re best route will be the classic bike owners clubs. Where spares parts are no longer available, some owners clubs have commissioned new castings or reengineered to fit parts from other bikes. Although these bikes were no longer made after WW2, the bikes that survived were often kept going with scrap parts from other bikes in post WW2 Britain.
The Rudge Enthusiasts Club would be a good place to start if you are looking to validate the originality of some parts, and the potential racing history of the machine. The club also advertises a wide range of reproduced spares, which should help your restoration and keep you on the road for years to come.
If you are planning to take on the restoration yourself, you may want to get your garage or workshop organised for the obvious complete strip-down service and restoration this bike ideally requires after being sat for 30 years. We created a workshop article to provide a few ideas on tools and layout to help new restorers get a feel for the types of tools which could be useful.
If you are bidding on this lovely Rudge Radial 250, please let us know your plans for the bike and what inspired you to bid for the bike. You can keep in contact on our social media sites where the community shares lots of information and links to interesting bikes.
We like seeing classic bikes being ridden on the road and not shut away in collections. As the world moves towards electric vehicles the ability and interest in riding these bikes will potentially become less, and whilst they essentially represent the past, they also signify a time of great optimism for the future through advances in technology and making the world smaller through owning a motorcycle.