•Rare and historic bike •Comprehensively restored •Distinctive looks
In 1882, Ernie Humphries and Charles Dawes founded OK, in Birmingham, as bicycle manufacturers. They experimented with powered bicycles in the early years of the 20th century, before making a two-stroke motorcycle using a Precision engine in 1911. Before World War I, they produced motorcycles with Precision, De Dion, Minerva, and Green engines.
Their first entry in the Isle of Man TT came in 1912, but the company had to wait for its finest hour until 1928, when OK-Supremes filled four of the top six positions in the Lightweight race, Frank Longman scoring the marque's solitary TT victory.
After World War I, OK produced a 292cc two-stroke motor of its own but also produced models using other engines. When Charles Dawes departed to set up his own bicycle company in 1926, Humphries continued making motorcycles using the name OK-Supreme.
A new 250cc machine with the cams fitted to the vertical tower (with an inspection window to see if oil was reaching the cams - hence the name "Lighthouse") made its first appearance at the 1930 TT, where it broke the lap record from a standing start. A road version was made available the following year, but the Great Depression killed it and the last Lighthouse was completed in early 1933. It was only available as a 250 although a handful of experimental 350s were built. The engines were built by Williams and James of Gloucester.
The vendor acquired this model around three years ago, from the estate of the owner of a private museum in Chertsey, Surrey. It is believed that the bike was in the collection for more than ten years prior to the owner’s demise. Sadly, the vendor has not been able to establish any details of the OK-Supreme’s previous history.
It’s clear that at some point in its life the bike has been comprehensively but sympathetically restored, although the vendor (and internet research) suggests that it might originally have had black wheels rather than the current chrome ones.
The vendor has no paperwork for the OK-Supreme. Manufactured for racing, the bike has not been registered for use on the road. As it’s not registered the OK-Supreme is MoT-exempt.
The OK-Supreme looks great from any angle, and has clearly been subject to an extensive and very sympathetic restoration. As far as one can tell the component parts, with the exception of the wheels, are all original. All the engine components appear to be in extremely good condition. The fuel tank looks fantastic with its black-and-silver paint job and OK-Supreme logos. The tyres are in very good condition, with plenty of tread left on them.
Since acquisition, the vendor has not run the engine but he says that it turns over, so isn’t seized. As the bike was previously in a museum, it is likely to have been a long time since it was run and the new owner will need to be cognizant of this.
Visually, everything appears to be in order but it’s difficult to establish the condition of the engine without hearing it run. Similarly, we cannot verify whether the brakes or any other mechanical parts function as they should, other than to say that they all look to be in very good condition.
This is clearly a rare example of a motorcycle made, in very limited numbers, for only a short time. The ‘Lighthouse’ tell-tale window (made to be able to check that oil was reaching the cams, with oil pumps at the time not to be relied upon) was an interesting development, and the model’s TT history makes it a significant milestone in British motorcycle history.
It’s difficult to establish how many examples of this rare bike are still around, while internet searches find few other examples of this model either for sale or previously sold, and none in condition like this. For the collector of historic motorbikes, this OK Supreme ‘Lighthouse’ has much to offer.
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