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Scott Flying Squirrel: '50 years ahead of its time'

Published: 25 October 2017

For those coming of age as road riders in the early 1980s, the bike we all wanted above all others was a Yamaha RD350LC, the two-letter acronym denoting Liquid Cooled. This, we thought in our youthful naivety, was some fresh technological innovation. But a liquid-cooled two-stroke parallel twin was no new thing.

Indeed, founder Alfred Scott patented a two-stroke parallel twin engine in 1904 and a frame to accept it in 1908, the year his first bike appeared, a 450cc two-stroke parallel twin with a liquid-cooled head – water-jacketed barrels came later – boasting such other patented innovations as a two-speed transmission and a kickstart.

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Scott entered race bikes in the Isle of Man TT from 1910 to 1914, and they set a number of records as well as winning in 1912 and 1913. These machines used rotary valves to control induction, something else later generations in the 1960s and 1970s were led to believe were the latest thing, albeit these were disc rather than rotary as in the Scott.

Their model for which they are best known went on sale in 1926, the sporty Flying Squirrel available in two capacities, 498 and 596cc. The ‘Yowling Scott’ sobriquet applied to the Yorkshire firm’s machines speaks loudly of the bikes’ character, and indeed of all the great two-strokes that followed them.

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