Gus Kuhn 1920
Page updated 02-Aug-2011

On Saturday March 27 the Essex Motor Club organised their second open event at Kop Hill near Princes Risborough. Kuhn, on the 2¼ hp Levis, and Milner (2¾ hp Diamond) were faster than many 3½ hp machines. Milner won Class A (Solo up to 350cc) and Gus was third. He was 11th in class D (up to 1,000cc) on the little Levis. Full report Click here.

In early April, the little Levis returned to Kop Hill. On form, Gus gained three seconds with a win in the Class D event. He was certainly a glutton for the motorcycle sport for the following day we find him competing in the Sangster Cup Trial, a Birmingham to Barmouth trip which included the notorious Bwlch-y-Groes test hill on which with other riders, Heath, Dalby and Duke, Gus made a star solo climb. [Cyril May]

Applebee, Kuhn & Clark - Start 1920 Junior TT.
The Levis team at the start of the 1920 Junior race.
In the 250cc class Frank 'Pa' Applebee (13) finished third, Gus (14) finished 2nd and R O Ronald Clark (25) was the winner. [Many thanks to Bill Snelling for this info]

The two-stroke Levis was given an outing on the sands at Weston-super-Mare in the Bristol Clubs Speed Trial in early May. [Cyril May]

On May 27 the little 2¼ Levis took second place in the 350, 500 and 750cc events and first in Class D in the Kop Hill Climb, which - until the ban came in 1925 on all speed events held on public roads - remained one of the most famous of all British hill climbs. [Cyril May]

The TT was revived in 1920 after the traumas of World War One and the 1918/19 influenza pandemic. "The entries are this year much smaller than usual, as a result of the declaration made some months ago by certain prominent manufacturers that they would not compete because participation would involve interference with production." [Times 15/6/20]

"The Nisbet motor-cycling trophy has been awarded to Mr. F W Applebee, a Londoner, 58 years old. The award is offered to the rider in either of the Tourist Trophy races who gives the best display of pluck and endurance. Mr Applebee refused to be beaten by ignition trouble in the Junior race and made many adjustments, riding magnificently in order to finish the course." [The Times, June 19, 1920]

Gus Kuhn on Levis with unknown Trophy.

A Gala week of events was staged on the Isle of Man during the TT and on Friday June 18th. "Thousands of spectators witnessed some exciting speed trials over a flying kilo on Douglas promenade. The competitors had only a narrow track on which to ride. The weather was fine and the cement track a fast one." Gus won the up to 250cc class on the Levis in 42 secs at 53.26mph. He also won the 250cc race for machines that had competed in the TT. [Times 19/6/20]

In August came the toughest reliability trial of the year, the ACU Six Days Trial, held mainly in Yorkshire. Forty different makes of motorcycles were represented in this great annual event. There were 133 starters which included Gus Kuhn on the Levis with F.W.Applebee and F.Porter riding identical models of 247cc and entered by the manufacturers, Butterfields Ltd. This trio formed the Levis team and no trial would be complete without such a team, their machines having the same engines as used in the TT.

Organised by the Birmingham M.C.C. the Olal Lightweight Trial, the course of which was six circuits of the “Farlow Loop”, was won by Gus on his customary Levis. And his award – quite an unusual one – was a sideboard! Its value: 26 guineas. You'll see the start of this particular trial in the accompanying picture. [Cyril May]

Right from the commencement of the 919 mile trial, the hills were severe in the extreme. Though the arduous course did not favour the lightweights, they put up some superb performances. Gus Kuhn and team-mate F.Porter each won a Gold Medal. 'Pa' Applebee, third member of the Levis team, unfortunately retired on the penultimate day's run of 204 miles. This particular "super-endurance" trial was without doubt the most severe in the history of the Six Days. To have won a Gold Medal - as Gus Kuhn did (now 22 years old) - proved an award of which he was justly proud. [Cyril May]

In September Gus marries Eva Maud Crowe (21) a clerk of Meteor Street, North Side Clapham Common at the parish church of St Barnabas, Clapham Common in the county of Surrey. On the marriage certificate Gus's profession is shown as motor mechanic.