Ooh La La: A Rudge-Whitworth ‘bitsa’ from France

Rudge-Whitworth ‘bitsa’ by Jean-Claude Barrois
This remarkably elegant vintage motorcycle is actually a bit of a mongrel: it’s a Rudge Whitworth ‘bitsa’ built by Jean-Claude Barrois, who also restored the Honda CB450 we’ve featured before.

This bike has had a chequered life, starting out as a 1928 Soyer—a French brand that produced motorcycles between 1920 and 1935. Like many French makes of the time, Soyer used a variety of engines for their motorcycles, including 
JAP, Sturmey Archer and Chaise. This particular Soyer 07S had a JAP engine but the frame was wrecked, so Barrois built his own frame—and eventually replaced the JAP motor with the 500cc Rudge unit you see here.

Rudge-Whitworth ‘bitsa’ by Jean-Claude Barrois
All unnecessary parts have been removed to make it lighter—including the front brake—and a new quarter-gallon tank has been added, along with a “suicide knee” gearshift. Since this photo session two small fenders have been added, and the tires have been changed for modern high-speed Avons.

After optimizing the ignition system to gain a better spark, Jean-Claude packed the Rudge into a container and flew to Salt Lake City for the Bonneville Speed Week. The photos, if you haven’t already guessed, are from Guerry & Prat—who can always be relied upon to deliver beautiful images of unusual motorcycles.

Rudge-Whitworth ‘bitsa’ by Jean-Claude Barrois

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