The Rudge Ulster was based on the Rudge Multi. The latter machine - launched at the start of the 20th century - boasted 21 gears! Hence, the 'Multi'. An intricate pulley system auto-adjusted the bike's final drive belt. The ratios were selected via a long gear-lever located to the left of the fuel-tank. Early Rudges sported spring-up stands. Back mudguards were hinged - facilitating wheel removal. The Ulster sold well - no doubt due, in large part, to these subtleties of engineering.
A racing version of the Rudge Multi went on to win 1914's Senior TT. And - for Rudge - there was plenty more race success to come. It was in 1928, though, that the firm secured its place in history. When a Rudge won the Ulster GP of that year, the accompanying road-bike was named after the illustrious Irish race. It had fallen to Graham Walker - Rudge's sales manager - to pilot the Ulster to victory.
The roll-call of Rudge's technical innovation went on and on. While the Ulster was only a 500cc single, its engine sported four valves. They helped to output around 30bhp. A dry weight of just 290lb did the rest. The Ulster featured Rudge's linked braking system. The foot-pedal retarded both drum brakes - while the hand lever applied added front-end bite. On the racing front, Rudge continued winning well into the Thirties. However, financial woes came to a head in '39. The proud name of Rudge was no more. But - up until then - the Rudge Ulster was the best-known bike from one of the most forward-looking firms in motorcycling.