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Omega History

Over time there have been several motorcycle manufacturers that used the name "Omega" for their products. The most succesfull one is without doubt the English Omega, founded by W.J. Green in Conventry. This is the Omega brand where my motorcycle is from.
Most sources state that this firm has existed from 1919 until 1927. However, I have some copies of advertisements from 1915, and in the register of the English Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC) even a 1914 Omega has been registered. So the firm must have been established in 1914. Omega has built motorcycles at least until 1927, so the brand has existed for 12 years.
Let's look at a short overview of Omega's motorcycle production:

Omega started to built motorcycles with 225 and 350cc 2-stroke engines. The 225cc probably came from Veloce (later Velocette), but the 350cc was an own Omega engine. First they were only available with direct belt drive, but from 1915 on the 350cc could be delivered with 0, 2 or 3 gears.

From 1916 on mainly 300cc 4-stroke engines from JAP (J.A. Prestwich) were used. In 1921 there was also a model with a 500cc Blackburn engine and Sturmey Archer 3-speed gearbox, and a 680cc JAP V-twin. The V-twin had a saddle tank instead of the flat tank that was still usual at that time.

In 1921 Omega expanded it program with 2 new types. First the lightweight "Omegette", equipped with a 269cc Villiers 2-stroke engine and no gears. It was also available in a special sidecar edition, equipped with a 2-speed gearbox. The other type was a strong motorcycle with a 5/6 hp JAP V-twin engine.

In 1922 Omega came with a new own 350cc 2-stroke engine. It was available in a special wide "duplex" frame with extra shields to keep the driver clean. This model had a newly developed front forks of the telescopic type - altough certainly not the first, still very modern for that time - which was also an own Omega development.

In 1923 Omega again came with a new type of front forks. This time a more common paralellogram type of forks, but with a spring that is stretched instead of compressed when the forks are compressed. This is the type of front forks in my Omega, and this indicates that my bike is probably from 1923.
In the same year the Omega Junior was introduced, a 170cc lightweight motorcycle. Also this type had an own Omega front forks, but moving more in the horinzontal plane by a pivoting point underneath the headstock.
The 270cc 2-stroke Omegette and the V-twin models were not built anymore.

In 1924 Omega modified the frame. The new shortened frame had a sharper bend in the upper frame tube, and this made a newly shaped tank necessary. Due to the shorter wheelbase the motorcycle appeared more compact. Another novelty were drum brakes. Up to then only pully brakes were used, acting on the driving belt pully, and a special brake pully in the front wheel.
Regarding engines a new type was introduced again: the special Barr & Stroud sleeve valve engine - a 4-stroke that did not work with normal valves but with sleeves in rotating cilinders.

In 1925 again a new engine type was introduced: the 350cc oil cooled 4-stroke from Bradshaw with overhead valves.

In 1926 the engine palette was reorganized. The 350cc 2-strokes were abandoned by Omega, and also the Barr & Stroud and Bradshaw 4-strokes. What was left was JAP as 4-stroke engine supplier and the Omega 170cc 2-stroke engine in the Junior models.
A completely new development was a 3-wheeler, equipped with a 980cc JAP V-twin engine. It had 2 wheels in the front, and 1 in the back, with the engine driving the back wheel. Just like the well-known Morgans and BSA's.

In 1927 more or less the same model program was available as in 1926. Omega's financials were not very well, mainly due to a price war with Morgan which was lost by Green. In the end of that year Omega as brand was probably terminated.

A more elaborate overview of all models, were possible illustrated with pictures and other images, will be made over the coming months.

In 2009 an interesting article (in Dutch) about the English Omega has been publiced in the Dutch classic motorcycle magazine "Het Motorrijwiel", no. 99 (june 2009). The author of this article was triggered by my question for more information on Omega. Click here for a PDF-version of this article (with special thanks to Het Motorrijwiel for permission, and for supplying the PDF-file).

 

  

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