"I got into Dot motorcycles in 1999 when I acquired a 1954 Earles forked model - which turned out to have been sold to the Villiers Engine Company for them to use in their London Showroom to highlight their engine.
"My current Dot is a 1962 Demon, scrambling machine. It sports a trials style exhaust pipe as I want to run it on the road (the original Scrambler pipe is far too loud).
"I bought it along with another example about 5 years ago and started to restore it. Along the way I also picked up a Dot Mancunian; this was a rare foray into the road market by Dots.
"The frames are very similar in that they are very simple and easy to work on. The Demon was built with the (then) new square tubing frame and an all welded construction. Prior to 1962, Dot used a more traditional cast lug and brazed tubing fabrication. The square frame is significantly lighter than its predecessor.
"All bikes used the trusty Villiers motors in various engine sizes. I have run another Demon for about 5 years, using it to green lane and plod along the small back roads of Essex.
"It was a short step from here to becoming the membership secretary for the Dot motorcycle club.
"If you own a Dot motorcycle, or are interested in them, get in touch with us. We're an active club and are always looking for new members."
Dot was founded at the turn of the century by Harry Reed (1875-1950) initially trading as H. Reed & Company, Engineers. His adverts often referred to the firm as "Makers of The Dot motorcycle". The firm subsequently became Dot Motors Ltd; Dot Motors 1926 Ltd; and Dot Cycle & Motor Manufacturing Company Ltd.
Primarily a competitions motorcycle manufacturer, and based in Manchester, DOT built their first machine in 1903 (but the name DOT did not actually appear until 1907). Originally, engines were Peugeot and Fafnir, but later models used engines from Blackburne, Villiers and JAP.
In 1908, Reed won a World Championship for the Flying Kilometre. That same year he won the Multi Cylinder Class in the Isle of Man TT riding a 5hp, 680cc Peugeot V-twin. In 1924, he rode a 348cc Bradshaw-engined Dot in the TT sidecar class and finished second. The company also saw TT successes (but not outright victories) in 1928 and 1929.
During that decade, Dots used Bradshaw engines to a lesser extent and switched to JAP and Blackburne powerplants of capacities ranging from 246cc to 986cc.
By 1926, however, Dot was in some financial difficulty and Harry Reed retired. But in the wake of a rationalisation programme, the company continued as a relatively small scale concern until motorcycle production ceased in 1932, largely as a result of the depression. However, general engineering work and the production of a range of successful industrial three wheelers carried the business through WW2.
By 1949, Dot was back on two wheels, now powered by 197cc Villiers 6E engines and under the control of Burnard Scott Wade. And two years later, the firm won the Manufacturers Team Prize in the Ultra Lightweight TT class.
In the early 1950s, the company increased bike production and began fielding a road-riding three-speed model using a 248cc Brockhouse sidevalve engine. By 1953, a new scrambler joined the fray and swinging arm rear suspension was introduced.
Soon, Dot found themselves with a large variation of bikes identified by the combination of the letters commonly referred to by Dot aficionados as the "Manchester alphabet" (see below).
The range was trimmed in 1954, partly by dropping the road models, and the 197cc Villiers 8E made its appearance. These early 1950s Dots featured telescopic forks as standard. But an Earles-type leading link fork was an optional extra. Various changes were made to the range throughout 1954-55 when a road-going model using the Villiers 9E engine was launched. This machine, known as the Mancunian, featured leading link forks as standard.
In 1957, all Dot motorcycles employed the 197cc Villiers 9E engine, and another bike joined the line up during this year; the Works Replica Trials Model. From then on, leading link forks became the rule rather than the exception.
During the 1960s, Dot fitted a variety of engines including the Villiers A-series and RCA (Richard Christoforides and Associates) and were highly competitive, often seeing off more battle-hardened machines of the major marques. But despite Dots punching well above their weight, production slowed and became patchy through the 1960s, and by the early 1970s the production of motorcycles came to an end. However, the company still exists at the original location and supply spares to a large number of loyal DOT owners worldwide.
And what of the famous slogan "Devoid of Trouble"? That was dreamed up in the early 1920s purely as a marketing device. The name "Dot" is said to have been a gift from Harry Reed to his daughter, Dorothy. However, it appears that Harry Reed had no children. Other theories suggest that Dot was named after the daughter of "Pa" Cowley—a Manchester based competitions rider. However, this particular Dorothy was, apparently, born after Dot motorcycles was founded.
Lastly, there has also been some loose talk that Dot motorcycles were named after HMS Dreadnought, the world's first ironclad battleship. Supposedly, the name "Dreadnought" was contracted to form the world "Dot".
However, HMS Dreadnought was launched in 1906, three years after the first Dot motorcycle was built. So the jury is still out.
Joining the Dots
Dot has a large and confusing system for naming its
models. The following "Manchester alphabet" list might
help clarify things.
D = Direct lighting
S = Standard (i.e. not competition)
S = Scrambles
C = Stripped competition model (scramblers only)
H = Rear suspension (Hydraulic)
P = Pivoted front fork (Earles type)
WR = Works Replica (trials bikes only)
Top Dot links
Dot owners club: www.dot-motorcycle-club.co.uk
Help and advice for all Dot motorcycle owners and aficionados.
St. George’s House, 36 Ellesmere Street, Hulme, Manchester, M15 4JW
Telephone: 0161- 834 5472