Hildebrand and Wolfmuller established the very first motorcycle company in 1894. That's the year production began, and it hasn't stopped since. It's estimated that today, there are around 200 million motorcycles in the world, which evens out to be about 33 bikes per 1000 people. While some markets, such as India, Indonesia and China claim the most riders, other markets are just as viable. The motorcycle wasn't a fad, wasn't some metallic Hula Hoop that would only grasp the publics attention for a few years. No indeed. So, for an item to become a part of our lifestyle, it would need to be fed ideas from ingenious and creative designers, and one of those engineers was Alfred Alfred Scott and his bikes, the Flying Squirrels. Today we celebrate the backstory of the 1939 Scott Flying Squirrel:
Alfred Angus Scott
Alfred Angus Scott is known as creating some of the best motorcycle innovations in history. Examples of his creative innovations include caliper brakes, two-speed transmission, rotary induction valves, a fully triangulated frame, the kick start, monoshock suspension, drip-feed lubricators, center stands and more. In fact, between 1897 and 1920 Scott secured over 50 patents for his inventions, with most dealing with the design and development of two-stroke engines. Scott received his engineering education from Abbotsholme School. His first foray as a professional engineer was making boat engines, of which he proved very successful However, it wasn't until 1904 when Scott patented his designs for a two-stroke, liquid cooled, parallel twin. Then In 1908 Scott crafted his own 450 cc, two-stroke cylinder engine motorcycle on a triangulated frame, his first Flying Squirrel. Other features of his first cycle included an all-chain drive and two-speed foot-change gear. All of these features and more are what made his first bike one of the most original and cutting-edge bikes ever designed and created. This bike was light, agile, powerful and had a low center of gravity. But that wasn't all 1908 had in store for Scott. He also started his very own Scott Motorcycle Company.
The Flying Squirrels Prove Their Worth: The Tourist Trophy
Things were not slowing up for Scott. Indeed, in 1912 Scott decided to take on another challenge: the Isle of Man TT. Scott, the father of the two-stroke, parallel twin liquid-cooled engine, was set to make a new record. The Isle of Man TT or Tourist Trophy race is a yearly racing event, and Scott knew one thing: If he wanted his bike designs to be taken seriously, then he needed to back their design with some racing experience. After all, If his bikes performed well on the track, they'd automatically gain respect and acceptance from the motorcycle loving community. But why the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy? The answer is simple, the TT is known as one of the most dangerous race courses in the world. The Mountain Course is 37.73 miles of hell, designed to test the bond between both man and bike. If his little 'Flyer' could handle the TT, then they'd just proven themselves worthy of ownership by a cycle-hungry public.
When Scott entered his bike in the Isle of Man TT, people stood up and took notice. After all, his design was by far the smallest and lightest, hosted a two-stroke engine, a first time for this race as his competitors sported 4-stroke engines. As you can probably guess, his little bike ended up winning the Isle of Man TT, going at an average speed of around 48.7 mph. Those with the 4-stroke engines didn't quite think that entering a two-stroke was fair as they were just too fast. It seemed that Scott knew what he was doing when he used racing to score sales for his bikes. For you see, in 1913 he entered his bike in the TT again and won. As a result, sales for his little bike made some significant jumps. It was because of this, that Scott was able to secure funding to construct a new factory in Shipley.
1939 Scott Flying Squirrel or The Clubman Special
In 1925 Scott unveiled the Flying Squirrel at the Olympia Show in two models 498cc and 596 cc. From 1925 on the Scott Flying Squirrel underwent more than its share of upgrades. These upgrades included larger brakes, a duplex frame, detachable cylinder heads, magneto-platform Pilgrim oil pump, a foot change gearbox and Brampton forks. each alternation gradually transformed the Scott Flying Squirrel into a touring bike. With the advent of WWII, most if not all motorcycle manufacturers were called upon to stop manufacturing their production models for the public. Instead, direct their resources toward the war effort. However, the 1939 Scott Flying Squirrel model returned again after the war, and was called by some, the "Clubman Special", and enjoyed a tight knit group of fans. By this time, the 1939 Scott Flying Squirrel's design was heavier than its predecessors who won the TT in the early 1900s.
As can be seen, Scott was an imaginative, innovative and unconventional man, and he made the best of those attributes when designing and developing his bikes. He took the concept of the two-stroke engine and created the first bikes to finish a TT course. The 1939 Flying Squirrel was also known as the 1939 Scott Clubman Special. When we consider the Scott Flying Squirrel of 1939 and observe Scott's contributions to the motorcycle world, we can get the true scope of his work and how it affected the development of the bike. The 1939 Flying Squirrel came in with a curb weight of 400 pounds and was designed to include a full frame tank if so desired. Its 2 cylinder, 596cc water cooled engine was so finely tuned ,that it could power the bike to hit 90 mph, in spite of the high curb weight. Other features included a triangulated frame, rotary induction, unit construction and kickstart.
When all is said and done, it's quite simple to see how A.A. Scott entered and changed the world of motorcycling for everyone. His thirst for innovation and invention fed his desire to always move forward, to create a better bike. If you're wondering if there are some 1939 Scott Flying Squirrels around today, the answer is 'yes', there are a few. However, this is still a very rare make and model. To get an idea of what one looked like back in the day, Youtube channel, jlmclassiccar uploaded one of their 1939 Scott Flying Squirrels here. As you can see, this is a large, heavy bike. Yet, it is said to have gone up and over 90 mph due to its efficient. In effect, one could say that the 1939 Scott Flying Squirrel is the capable grandpa of today's modern sport tourers.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith