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Moped Miscellany - No6

The Hercules Grey Wolf

First a word of explanation: there are two makes of moped called "Hercules", one British, one German.  The German Hercules is part of the Fichtel & Sachs group of companies and still produces cycles, both powered and unpowered.  The British Hercules name is, after a succession of take-overs, now owned by the Raleigh cycle company.  The moped described here is a product of the British Hercules company.

The Hercules Cycle & Motor Co Ltd of Rocky Lane, Aston, Birmingham launched its moped at the Earls Court Show in November 1955.  The Grey Wolf was a truly British machine, unlike many of its contemporaries.  Although many British companies were selling mopeds with their names on, in many cases these were re-badged imports from continental Europe.  Other companies used German or Italian engines in their own frames.  The Grey Wolf, however, had a British made engine, an engine that carried the name of a long-respected motor cycle engine manufacturer: J.A.P.

This 49cc two-stroke engine was unusual for a moped in that it was mounted with its crankshaft running fore & aft.  In the front was a Miller flywheel magneto, and behind was a clutch and two-speed gearbox.  A pair of bevel gears turned the drive through 90°.  From here a conventional chain took over and transmitted the power to the rear wheel.

HCM moped - manupacturer's photograph

The frame followed the usual sweeping lines that were popular at the time.  The main frame members were two large D-shaped tubes.  These were arranged back-to-back to give the appearance of a single round tube; they ran from the headstock to above the bottom bracket, where they divided to become the chain stays.

A distinctive feature of the Grey Wolf way its front suspension.  This was of the short leading link type, the suspension medium being rubber in shear.  A parallelogram arrangement took the torque reaction from the half-width front hub brake.

The name "Grey Wolf" was soon dropped in favour of "Her-cu-motor" - often abbreviated to HCM.  Presumably the change was made to allow the use of more flamboyant colours than the distinguished grey of the original models.  A reminder of the first name remained in the Wolf's head that appeared in the centre of the tank badge.

HCM Badge

First published - May 1997

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