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Levis (motorcycle)

A Levis motorcycle with the distinctive belt drive.

Levis motorcycles (1911–1940), manufactured by Butterfields of Birmingham, were for many years one of England's leading manufacturers of two-stroke motorcycles. They built two-stroke machines from 1911, and added a line of four-strokes in 1928, that ran to 1941 when production ceased.[1]

The first Levis was made in the Norton works by designer Howard (Bob) Newey, but James Norton turned it down.[1]

Newey then joined with the Butterfields, Arthur and Billy, and sister Daisy, to set up a motorcycle company. (Newey later married Daisy.) Their first model had a capacity of 211 cc.[1]


  • Two-strokes 1
  • Four-strokes 2
  • Competition 3
  • Models 4
  • References 5


In 1916 the 211 cc vertical two-stroke engine produced 3 hp (2.2 kW). An enclosed chain from the crankshaft drove the Fellows magneto and drive to the rear wheel was by Pedley ‘Vee’ belt. The machine weighed approximately 120 lb (54 kg).[2]

Their first racing success was in the 1920 Lightweight 250 class within the 1920 Isle of Man TT Junior with a 247 cc machine, repeated in the 1922 Isle of Man TT Lightweight race. They then adopted the slogan, "The Master Two Stroke".[1]

Levis built 211 cc and 246 cc three-port single-cylinder machines, including sporting versions. Most had 67 mm (2.6 in) bore and 70 mm (2.8 in) stroke. There was also a six port model.[3]


From 1928 onward Levis produced 247 cc (67 mm (2.6 in) bore x 70 mm (2.8 in) stroke) and 346 cc (70 mm bore x 90 mm stroke) four-stroke ohv machines and later added 498 cc and 600 cc ohv four-strokes. For a brief period a 346 cc sv single, and also a 247 cc sohc single with chain-driven overhead camshafts were available.[3]


Levis two strokes, ridden by Geoff Davison, R. O. Clark, Phil Pike and others, won many races including the 1922 Lightweight TT, while the four strokes excelled off road. Percy Hunt rode a 346 cc model successfully in races, and just before WWII Bob Foster gained many wins on a Levis ohv 598 cc bike in trials and moto cross.[3]

Other Two-Stroke manufacturers include Scott and Villiers.


  • 1911–1925 211 cc Levis (TS Model 'Popular')
  • 1926 246 cc Levis (TS Model 'K')
  • 1927 246 cc Levis (TS Model 'O')
  • 1928 346 cc Levis (OHV Model 'A')
  • 1938 496 cc Levis (OHV Model 'D-Special')

(TS = Two Stroke)[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Ian Chadwick, British Bikes 1, retrieved 2006-11-26 
  2. ^ Levis motorcycle, 1916, ScienceAndSociety, retrieved 2006-11-26 
  3. ^ a b c d Erwin Tragatsch (ed.) (1979), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles (1988 Revised ed.), New Burlington Books, pp. 193–194,  
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