Scott Squirrel

Alfred Angas Scott, founder of the Scott motorcycle company, was one of the great innovators of motorcycling’s early years. It was Scott who patented a form of caliper brake as early as 1897, a fully triangulated frame, rotary induction valves, unit construction, the first motorcycle kick­ start and much, much more.

Most of all, Scott pioneered the liquid-cooled two-stroke parallel twin with which the Scott name will forever be associated. Yet for all this ingenuity, once Scott had hit on their favoured engine layout, they stuck to it through thick and thin until the company collapsed almost half a century later.







top Speed

Years in Production

liquid cooled 596cc two-stroke twin

30 bhp @ 5000 rpm


tubular steel triangulated twin cradle

drum / drum

85 mph

1926 – 1939

The epitome of Edwardian endeavour, as well as being a gifted inventor and engineer, Scott was an accomplished artist and painter. As early as 1904 he patented his first engine, a vertical twin two-stroke, inevitably – which he fitted onto his Premier bicycle (and occasionally into a small boat, the Petrel).

In 1908 he began motorcycle production, initially using the Bradford facilities of the Jowett brothers, later famous for their cars. T he first Scott’s used a patented frame which was to survive substantially unchanged until 1930; and a new 333cc liquid-cooled engine.

Although the engine shortly grew to 450cc, with later versions displacing 498 or 596cc, all were of the ‘classic’ Scott design; two-stroke, using overhung two­ bearing crankshafts with the drive taken from a central flywheel. This layout allowed for a large diameter flywheel which was effective with out excessive weight. Coolant was circulated through the large honeycomb radiator (another Scott paten t) by natural thermo-syphon effect, rather than pumped.

By the time the company moved into new premises at Shipley in 1912, the ‘yowling two strokes’ had a string of competition successes behind them. Scott’s twins had proved, 55 years before the Japanese demonstrated it again, that the lightness and simplicity of the two-stroke twin were potent features. As well as innumerable wins in trials and hill-climbs, Scott machines won the Senior TT in 1912 and 1913.

Early Scott’s used a simple, but effective, two­ speed transmission. The first three-speeder, the legendary Flying Squirrel, appeared in 1926. T his was produced in both 498 and 596cc forms. However, four years earlier Alfred Scott himself had died at the age of just 48, from pneumonia contracted after a pot-holing trip. With his departure much of the initiative went out of the company, which was having increasing difficulty competing with the ever-more powerful four­ strokes. In 1931 the official receiver was called in.

Scott Flying Squirrel

A Liverpudlian, Albert Reynolds stepped in to save Scott, but the under-capitalised company never fully recovered. Plans for a 650cc twin never reached fruition. An even more exciting prospect, Bill Cull’s three-cylinder two-stroke design, originally of 747, later 986cc, was shown at  the 1934 Olympia Show but never reached production. 1938 brought a 596cc Clubman’s Special whose 90mph-plus top speed aroused considerable interest, but the War intervened.

Production of the 596cc rigid framed Flying Squirrel continued after the war, initially with girder forks and later with Dowty telescopics. In 1949 coil ignition replaced the more familiar Lucas Magdyno. However, sales were poor and production ceased less than 12 months later. However, the story did not quite end there. In 1956 a new generation of Scotts were built in small numbers, basically  Flying  Squirrel  engines  in  a contemporary swing-arm frame. Sadly the project was short-lived, as was the later Silk, essentially a Scott in a sophisticated racing-type Spondon chassis. Exquisite though it was, it was under­-powered and expensive, and flickered only briefly.

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