Sprite (motorcycle)

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File:Sprite Sachs Trials 1970.jpg
1970 Sprite Trials with Sachs engine and road number-plate on rear mudguard

Sprite was an historical British brand of off-road motorcycle, built by Frank Hipkin, of Hipkin & Evans, trading as Sprite Motor Cycles, initially at Cross Street, Smethwick, Birmingham[1][2] and later by Sprite Developments Ltd., Halesowen, Worcester (1965–1971). The Sprite slogan was "Built by riders—for riders". Frank Hipkin died in August, 2012.[3]


Sprite manufactured trials and scrambles frames which were usually available as a kit-form motorcycle to avoid UK Purchase Tax.[2][4] The first machine was developed as a scrambler with Alpha 246 cc two-stroke engine and a modified Cotton frame, followed by their own Sprite-framed version and a slightly larger frame-only (without engine) option to use a 490 cc Triumph unit construction engine/gearbox for the larger class of scrambling. The trials machine was developed for production in late 1964 using a Villiers 36A/37A 246 cc engine with iron barrel or at a higher cost, a Greeves light-alloy cylinder, and a Miller magneto.[1][2]

The frames were easily distinguishable from one another; the trials frames had twin, narrow, almost parallel down-tubes, whilst the scrambles frames used splayed tubes which also carried the oil where necessary, avoiding the need for a separate oil tank. A fibreglass fuel tank, mudguards and seat/tailpiece/race number plate were all available as required. The trials version had an extended tailpiece with mounting for a road number-plate necessary in Combined trials which had timed road-stages linking with the several-to-many Observed Sections which historically could be scheduled as a typical part of a traditional UK trials event.[5]

Under UK Construction and Use Regulations, competition machines intended for road-use were required to comply with statutory basics of sound engineering, a test certificate, mudguards, seat, audible warning device and number plate. Lighting was not required, but if fitted had to be complete and working.[6]

The frames were initially available with AMC and Norton telescopic front forks and British Hub Co. (Motoloy) brakes front and rear.[7] The pivoting rear-forks on all models were fitted with Silentbloc bushes.[1] A later option was Metal Profiles (REH) front forks.

They were later built for 123, 244, and 405 cc two-stroke engines.

The Sprite marque should not be confused with the older British Spryt, a small-capacity two-stroke engine produced by Excelsior in Coventry and fitted to the historic Corgi minibike.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Motorcycle Sport, September 1964, p.360 Sprite Motor Cycles advert, 103-104 Cross Street, Smethwick, Birmingham. Accessed and added 2014-06-06
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Motor Cycle, 16 July 1964, pp.258-259 More Sprites. . Accessed and added 2014-06-08
  3. Trials Central Retrieved 2014-06-06
  4. Guardian. UK Purchase Tax replaced by Continental VAT in 1974 Retrieved 2014-06-06
  5. Video of 1954 Invicta MCC (Ramsgate) Combine Trial Retrieved 2014-06-08
  6. Motor Cycle 21 February 1963 p.243 Help Club. "Machines which are not used after dark are exempt from the lighting regulations. A machine equipped with lights must have them in full working order by day or night." Accessed and added 2014-06-29
  7. Motor Cycle 19 November 1964 p.30 Advert Motoloy Brake Hubs. Proved in scrambling, racing & trials, single and twin leading shoe brakes. The British Hub Co. Ltd. Brmingham 3. Accessed and added 2014-09-27

External links

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