ENGINEERING MAGAZINE dismissed motorcycling as a “form of entertainment that can appeal only to the most enthusiastic of mechanical eccentrics…we think it doubtful whether the motorcycle will, when the novelty has worn off, take a firm hold of public favour”.

AN ORIENT IN the capable hands of factory rider Ralph Hamlin won the first West Coast motor-cycle race on the one-mile Los Angeles horse track. He beat three other bikes to win the 10-lap race in 18min 30sec (about 32 mph). The 2hp Orient went on to set an American one-mile record of 1min 10sec (though at the stage US records were not recognised in Europe). Orients sold well, leading Marsh to abandon bicycles to specialise in motor cycling, sensible chap—an Orient was the first motorcycle to be exported from the US to Europe. An Orient also won the first road race in the US, between Irvington and Milburn, New Jersey (a distance of 10 miles) at an average speed of 31mph. The company decided to concentrate on producing a ‘horseless carriage’;  founder Charles Metz left to set up the Metz Motorcycle Company. His friend and employee, Albert Champion, a champion French bicycle racer who had arrived in the US in 1899 to becoming one of the first professional motor cycle racers, went on to establish the spark plug company that still bears his name: Albert.

The Orient earned success on the track and was the first colonial mount to be exported to the motherland.
Ralph Hamlin clearly knew how to handle an Orient.

ALSO IN THE US, the Thomas Motor Company began to sell complete motor-assisted bikes and trikes under the name Auto-Bi and Auto-Tri. Before long it was advertising its bikes in Japan, with some success. That country’s first race, in Tokyo, featured an Auto-Bi, an Auto-Tri and a French-made Gladiator quad. They did 22mph, 15mph and 18mph respectively.

Two, three and four wheels in Japan’s first motor cycle race.

THE MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE (this being the US magazine of that name; the Blue ‘Un, if course, did not arrive till 1903) announced: “The California Motor Co has been organised at San Francisco…While automobiles are in view, the immediate purpose of the company is the manufacture of a motor bicycle invented by RC Marks, formerly of Toldo, Ohio.” Motor-cycle production lasted only three years but in its final year a California was ridden across the USA. You’ll find a contemporary report in the 1903 features section; it’s a ripping yarn. The name survived for a while back in Toledo as the Calfornia-Yale which, of course, evolved into the Yale.

The 1901 California. One of these powered bicycles carried George Wyman clear across the USA.

STOP ME AND buy one – the disc brake was patented by Frederick Lanchester.

CL HOROCK DEVELOPED a telescopic shock absorber, using a piston and cylinder inside a metal sleeve.

JOHN ALFRED PRESTWICH  would put Tottenham on the map with his world-beating JAP engines. He designed his first engine in 1901, but it wasn’t built until 1903.

“IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to predict the future of these vehicles or the extent to which the objections…may be overcome by expert riders, and by those to whom their comparatively low cost is an advantage. They offer…lightness, easy steering, single-wheel track and occupy small space. It is, however, felt that considerable skill is required to start most of them—and that in the case of sideslips and traffic they are heavy to deal with in emergencies, and are in that disadvantageous position of a rider dismounting in unpremeditated ways and suddenness.” [What a wonderful euphemism for ‘crashing’!—Ed.]

THE STANLEY SHOW which was, of course, a cycling show, featured 105 motor cycles; most with French or Belgian engines. So it comes as no surprise that The Autocar reported: “Perhaps the feature of the year is the motor bicycle. This form of mount, although not taking to the eye, appears likely to be frequently met with on the road next season. Most of the leading cycle makers have taken up the manufacture of motor bicycles, and it is quite obvious that they have much to learn—or perhaps unlearn—before a mechanically perfect machine will be produced. The prevailing idea at present amongst makers is to take the safety free-wheel bicycle and clamp to one of the members of the frame a petrol motor of about 1.5 brake horse-power. From the shaft of this power is transmitted by means of either a chain or belt to a pulley or large chain wheel secured to the rear wheel; to another member of the frame is secured a tank for storing the petrol—usually about a gallon—and hidden away as far as possible under the saddle is a storage battery for igniting the mixture of gases in the cylinder of the engine. No change gearing is provided. When the rider wishes to go slowly he must stop his motor and pedal “for dear life. The weight of one of these machines is usually shout 70-80lb. Of course, there is a startling array of levers and taps, which appears to fascinate the unwary purchaser and gives him the idea that he is getting a good deal for his £50 or so. Altogether the result is not so satisfactory looked it through the engineer’s glasses. Makers would do well to discard some of the principles underlying the construction of the bicycle and build from the motor, or include it in their general scheme, as one or two firms have already done. Then smaller wheels than the standard bicycle wheels might be found advantageous, and give a more efficient ratio of gearing. With the type of motor for the purpose little fault can be found. Enthusiasts are not wanting who maintain that the motor bicycle will eventually become as common on the roads as the ordinary bicycle is to-day. Although we are not disposed to agree with this glowing prediction, this form of machine, we must admit, does certainly offer great facilities for travelling long distances in a short space of time, with slight effort and with a minimum of expense, a gallon of petrol being roughly sufficient to carry a person close upon one hundred miles on fairly good roads, and we shall watch its development with some interest.”

1901 L&C
Parisian bicycle manufacturers Lurquin & Coudert fitted a motor (according to their 1914 catalogue) in 1901.

UNDER THE SOMEWHAT PATRONISING heading “L’automobile du pauvre” (The poor man’s car) La Vie au Grand Air reported on the motor cycle class of the motor races at Parc des Princes in Paris. Ace rider Henri Cissac, completed the 100km event in 1hr 34min 25.2sec on a 3hp Chapelle motorcyclette, ahead of Barret on a Bruneau. The Sydney Morning Herald reported: “As a means of popularising the motor bicycle, and showing that the single track machine is a really practical instrument of locomotion, a race of 100 kilometres was organised on the Parc des Princes track. No machine was allowed to run that weighed more than 50 kilogrammes, and a second category was arranged for bicycles weighing 30 kilogrammes and less, and there were again sub-divisions in bicycles that run with and without the auxiliary aid of pedals, while prizes were also offered for the machines using alcohol. The race proved to be a one-man affair, for the bicycle ridden by Cissac, who won the motor bicycle event at Deauville, simply ran away from the others. Cissac’s [Chapelle] bicycle has a 2-horse power motor placed at the bottom of the frame, while the belt passes over a pulley on the rear wheel. The machine ran with remarkable regularity, doing the kilometre in slightly less than a minute. He covered the 100 kilometres without pedalling in 1 hour 34 minutes 25.2 seconds, which is a world’s record for this class of machine.”

Weighing in at the Parc des Princes—bikes had to weigh less than 50kg.
Cissac (Chapelle) won the “Critérium des motocyclettes”. Also racing at the Park des Princes was this Werner—with its engine over the front wheel and no sign of brakes this was not a bike for the feint hearted.
A gold medal won by Henri Cissac.
Jolivet (Pecourt) took 2hr 24min 4.6sec to do the 100km; Barret (Bruneau) was runner-up in 1hr 46min 6.6sec.

“IN THE 327½-MILE MOTOR RACE from Paris to Bordeaux the first eight motocycles were tricycles, and their times varied from 8hr 1min 0.6sec to 11hr 34min 52sec. The two motor bicycles in the race finished within 20 minutes of each other, the first in 12hr 30min 55sec (over 40mph). The fact that the tricycles beat the bicycles so badly is due entirely to the difference in power. The latter were fitted with 1¼hp motors, while the tricycles employed abnormal 8hp affairs totally unfit for ordinary usage.”

After a gruelling 8hr 3min run Georges Osmond was runner-up in the motor cycle class of the 327.6-mile Paris-Bordeaux race. At this time trikes like his de Dion-Bouton counted as bikes and dominated the racing scene.
Another shot of Osmont in action, on a Griffon…
…and here’s Osmont completing a measured kilometre in 38.2sec to win the Deauville Cup. He had a busy season, going on to break the 100km/h barrier at Achères, where he’s pictured (right) relaxing with a Gauloise after doing a mile in a record breaking 58.6sec.

FROM THE AUTOCAR: “Considering the growing popularity of the motor bicycle, and the rapidly increasing number of riders of these machines, I am strongly of opinion that the time has come when a club for motor bicyclists is needed. There can be no doubt that the motor bicyclist requires to be specially catered for. He is undoubtedly out of his element among riders of ordin­ary. cycles, and, as regards joining in runs with motor cars, he is looked upon as being very small fry in the motor world. Feeling sure that there is a great future for the motor cycle, I shall be glad to hear from any riders who are disposed to form a club, so as to arrange a meeting at an early date to discuss the pros and cons.
T Underwood, Bayswater, W.

A SMALL GROUP OF motor cycle enthusiasts got together at Frascati’s on Oxford Street and decided to form a club devoted to the new pastime of motor cycling. They formed a provisional committee and, presumably after much soul searching, decided on a name for the first motor cycling club: The Motor Cycling Club. Two thoughts. Primus, Frascatti’s was a popular watering hole among aristos and London glitterati, reminding us that, at its inception, at least, motor cycling was not the reserve of the hoi polloi. Secundus, following the tradition set by the British Army, in which the oldest regiments take precedence in line of march, every motor cycle clubman on the planet should defer to bikes ridden by members of ‘the’ MCC on the road. [The MCC is thriving and still runs long-distance events including the Exeter, Land’s End and Edinburgh long-distance trials. I joined in 1920 and while I’m not an active member am proud to wear the badge.]

Frascati’s opened, in London’s West End, in 1892: it hosted the first bike club meeting (which some sources claim was held “in a cafe”. Some cafe!).
At the time of writing the MCC is 121 years old.

GERMAN EMIGREE ALEXANDER LEITNER of Riga, a successful bicycle manufacturer, launched the Russian motorcycle industry by building a handful of De Dion-engined trikes in 1899; now he made some motorbikes, fitting 2hp Fafnir engines into reinforced bicycle frames, using a design licensed from the Werner Brothers. He marketed them as Rossiyas (‘Russias’) and claimed to have produced 350 within a year. According to a contemporary advert: “In view of Russia’s poor roads we have ensured that the frame is of extra strength, made using the best seamless tubes; it encloses the engine in a loop beneath the crankcase. Ignition by electric battery. Automatic belt tensioning. Free wheel with backpedal brake. Front wheel by stirrup brake. Low overall ratio for easy pedalling if engine has failed. Speed 6-40 versts per hour (4-26mph). Water-cooled engine optional.”

The Fafnir-engined Rossiya (‘Russia’) was built in Riga, which was then part of the Czarist Russian empire.

CLEMENT’S FIRST motor cycle was the 1¾hp Autocyclette.

THE MINERVA engine was enlarged to 211cc/1¾hp and was capable of propelling a bicycle at about 30mph with a consumption of 150mpg. It powered the first models from Royal Enfield, Coventry-Progress, Phoenix, Quadrant and Ivel.

The first Royal Enfield motor cycle sported a Minerva engine over the front wheel, a la Werner.

EVIDENTLY THE MINERVA INSPIRED three Dutch lads, Frans, Anton and Adri Otten, to build a motor cycle in their dad’s workshop in Breda. They built a dozen bikes, including what might well be the first ladies’ model; their sister Petra, according to her mum and dad, disgraced the family name by riding it in public—but the plucky lass rode it regularly for the next six years. The Otten competed in races on a local cycle track where it was said to have done almost 45mph.

1901 OTTEN
The Otten looks very much like the Minerva which inspired it, but the saddle looks more comfortable than the typical bicycle saddle of the time.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN REPORTED: “The Paris-Berlin motor carriage race was the most interesting ever held, although it cannot be said it was the most important for the industry, as the vehicles used in the race were not of a type which it is particularly desirable to advance…The precautions adopted to protect the lives of spectators were most elaborate. For weeks the course was placarded with notices of the coming race. Soldiers and mounted police were picketed at short intervals throughout the whole distance, and all the towns and many of the villages were neutralised, every competitor being piloted by cyclist marshals at slow speed until the outer limit was reached. For a couple of weeks before the race, Paris was made almost unendurable from the odor (sic) of petroleum, and day and night were made hideous by the puffing of cars and the tooting Of horns. The automobile has never been popular with many of the inhabitants of Paris, and the peasants detest it, for these wild races from one end of France to the other are almost sure to mean maiming or death to some one, and the Paris-Berlin race was no exception to the rule, a man and child having been killed and a number of spectators and automobile drivers hurt and seriously injured…There were 170 vehicles entered for the race, and 110 made the start and 30 finished. Some of the carriages made from 70-75mph; Fournier’s the winner’s net time from Paris to Berlin (744 miles) being 16 hours 6 minutes, or about 47mph. The distance was divided into three sections, the first day’s trip being from Paris to Aix-Ia-Chapelle, 282 miles; the second day from Aix-la-Chapelle to Hanover, 276 miles; and the third day from Hanover to Berlin, 184 miles…The enthusiasm at the West End race course, Berlin, at 11.46am when Fournier arrived, was almost beyond bounds. His friends broke through the line of troops, surrounded the car and cheered him loudly. The band played the Marseillaise, and the Germans carried him on their shoulders to the judges’ stand and thence to the prize platform, which, like the winning post, was decorated with both French and German flags…It may well be asked if the limit of speed in racing vehicles has been reached…It is almost impossible for even a trained chauffeur to carry on such sustained high speeds for days without physical collapse, the nervous strain being intense.” Charles Jarrott, a founder-member of The Motor Cycling Club, made his racing debut in a Panhard and reported: “It was a particularly happy idea of the French Club to hold a race between Paris and Berlin. The bitterness of

One rider, three bikes. Laurin & Klement works rider Narcis Podsedníček with the L&K Slavia Type C and the V-twin Type A, clearly photographed in the same studio, and (right) on the Type B he rode from Paris to Berlin.

the struggle of the seventies [the ‘struggle’ being the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1] was still existent, and it seemed almost impossible that even in a sporting event the two nations could fraternize to the extent of opening up their roads for a race between the two great cities.Of the many wildly enthusiastic scenes which I have witnessed in connection with automobile racing, none were more enthusiastic than the finish of Paris-Berlin. There were thousands of people there, and on my arrival I was dragged out of my car and embraced in a most affectionate manner by dozens of people I had never before seen or heard of. The grime on my face was looked upon, I think, as a mark of honour, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that I could get away to obtain a very welcome wash. Fournier had won the race, and as he explained to me afterwards, it was only with the greatest difficulty that he had saved himself from being torn to pieces by the highly delighted Frenchmen and Germans at the finish. Huge laurel wreaths were laid on the cars, tied with the French and German colours, and altogether the scene, apart from being historic, was unique in regard to the enthusiasm displayed by everybody concerned.” Fournier won the Kaiser’s Cup and ‘the prizes of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg’. Maurice Farman, who finished fifth, won King Leopold’s cup for the best time to the Belgian frontier. Giraud, who finished 14th, won ‘the prize of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg’. They all drove off in “a grand procession into Berlin itself. The big Brandenburg gates, only opened on great national occasions, were flung wide” and the drivers sat down to a slap-up feed. You wouldn’t know it from these reports but motor cycles had a go too and one completed the course. Narcis Podsedníček rode in on a Laurin & Klement Slavia B but by the time he staggered in at 3am the crowds had gone home and the timekeeping office was closed. Local cops confirmed his arrival but the organisers refused to ratify his class victory and handed the trophy to a De Dion trike. But words spread: Laurin & Klement built some fine motor cycles.

NSU LAUNCHED A motorcycle named after its Neckarsulm factory (Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union). Having evaluated Minerva and Werner engines NSU settled on the 234cc/1¾hp Swiss-made Zedel—in Nurenberg Victoria chose the same engine.

1901 NSU
The German post office was clearly proud of the NSU.
1901 OPEL
Opel joined the rush to power with a 2hp model or, for a little extra, 2½hp.
1901 OEC + RACER
Fred Osborn of Portsmouth, that’s him in the picture, built a racing motor cycle by bolting a 4hp Automoto engine on to the front downtube of a racing bicycle.We’ll meet him again after the Great War as OEC (for Osborn Engineering Co—accurate if not imaginative).

NEW IMPERIAL motorised a bike. It flopped, but the marque would be back in 1910.

RALEIGH POWERED up with a German Schwan engine over the front wheel; FN powered a bike with its own 133cc/1¼hp engine.

BILLY AND HAROLD Williamson set up the Rex Motor Co, making final-drive V-belts and, before long, motor cycles. Their first bike, ‘The Mountaineer’, was produced for the International Motor Co.

PEUGEOT’S 198cc/1½hp MOTOBICYCLETTE debuted at the Paris Exhibition. Its engine was mounted nice and low in front of the pedals, but it wasn’t as successful as the New Werner.

While the New Werner sited the engine where the pedals used to be, Peugeot left the pedals in place and clipped the engine to the front of the frame.
In Belgium Sarolea, which had been making bicycles since 1892, fitted a bike with a 247cc 1½hp engine.
In France Terrot made its first bike, powered by a Swiss-made 2hp Zedel lump.

BEFORE THE BIRTH OF Motor Cycling, in 1902, or The Motor Cycle, in 1903, there was The Autocar. It appeared as early as 1895 when there were only a handful of cars in the kingdom and took an interest in two- as well as three- and four-wheelers. Under the heading “Land’s End To John-o’-Groat’s on a motor bicycle”, The Autocar reported: Mr Hubert Egerton, of Weston Rectory, Norwich, has successfully accomplished a ride from Land’s End to John-o’-Groat’s on a motor bicycle. This is the first time that the journey has been made upon this type of machine. The bicycle used was a Werner, of standard pattern, and of 1½hp. It was fitted with an extra large oil tank, and carried sufficient petrol to run 120 miles without replenishing. The start was made at five o’clock on Saturday morning, August 3rd, from the Land’s End Hotel. Exeter was reached after a capital run, and the journey continued via Bridgwater to Bristol, the last- named city being entered early in the evening. About twelve miles before reaching Bristol the inlet valve seat of the machine, which is rendered gas-tight by a copper washer, blew out, and Mr Egerton found, to his dismay, that he had no spare washers with him. He, therefore, had to ride his machine with the engine working at only a quarter of its power, he doing the rest of the work with the pedals, over about the most hilly ten miles of the whole course. At Bristol he experienced a delay of twelve hours before a supply of asbestos string could be obtained, with which he temporarily stopped the leak. Leaving Bristol at 10.10 on Sunday morn­ing, he ran through Gloucester, Worcester, Bridgnorth, and Wigan to Preston. Here he stayed a few hours, and, leaving early on Monday morning, rode via Shap Fell, Carlisle, Moffatt, and (over what is called the new road, but which has by no means so good a surface as the alternative route) to Edinburgh, where he took the last ferry boat at Granton at 7.15pm. Immediately after landing at Burntis­land rain fell heavily, and continued all the forty-one miles to Perth, this part of the journey being got through in darkness, and over very wet roads. Mr Egerton collided with the pavement just outside Perth, owing to his becoming dazed by the electric light, although going very slowly at the time. This collision carried away his brake lever and ad­vance sparking device. Next morning (Tuesday), having fixed up the brake, he departed and travelled to Blair Athol, ascending the famous pass of Killiecrankie at a fine speed. Up the ascent of the Grampians he had a most exciting race with a train on the Highland Railway. He headed the train unpedalled for the greater part, and beat it with ease with the aid of the pedals, until the summit of the pass was reached, when, of course, the train got away easily. Passing through Dalwhinnie and Inverness, Mr Egerton lost a good deal of time by availing himself of what he had hoped would have been the advantages of Kessock Ferry…After crossing this and the Michael Ferry he made for Golspie. Experiencing a severe gash in the back tyre of the machine two miles after leaving Golspie, he was forced, on account of impending darkness and the greasy nature of the roads, to abandon his intention of riding straight through to John-o’-Groat’s that night (Tuesday). On Wednesday morning, rising early, he rode over the Ord of Caithness, through Berridale and Lather­ton, to Wick, where he arrived at 9.30am. From Wick a telegram was despatched to the makers of the machine prophesying a speedy arrival at the journey’s end. However, Mr Egerton’s worst ad­venture was to come. Just after passing the second milestone beyond Wick, a cyclist, travelling on his wrong side, held his course too long, and, despite Mr Egerton’s attempt to avoid him, crashed into the motor machine, taking seven spokes out of the front wheel and cutting Mr. Egerton’s leg nearly to the bone in two places. A friendly cycle agent came along very opportunely and carried the motor cyclist and his machine, which was incapable even of being wheeled, back to Wick. Here Mr Egerton took the damaged wheel out, and, whilst it was being re-spoked, got his leg bound up. After this painful experience, he managed to mount his machine again, and safely reached John-o’-Groat’s, four days eight hours from the time he left the Land’s End Hotel. In addition to having accomplished this performance, which is a record of its kind, Mr Egerton was the first to traverse the journey on a steam car, and was also the first to attempt it in winter.” Hubert later gave a first-hand account of his adventures. You’ll find it, with some more pictures, in the 1911 Features section under the heading ‘On the run: End-to-End, six-day records and riding round the outside’. Enjoy.

“The arrival at John-o’-Groat’s House.”

“IT IS NOT ONLY, IN THIS country that the motor bicycle is receiving increasing attention (The Autocar reported). “It is the same in America, where one firm of motor bicycle makers report that within sixty days they received upward of five thousand inquiries regarding their machine, a fair proportion of which developed into orders.”

“THE SINGER TRI-VOITURETTE AND CARRIER: We (The Autocar) had a short but enjoyable run the other day on one of the new ‘Tri-voiturettes’ which are being put on the market by the Singer Cycle Co. The machine is a clever adaptation of the Singer motor tricycle, and can be had either with a most comfortable seat at the back, or with a carrier, which can be used either for personal luggage or for travellers’ ‘samples’ up to 200lb in weight. It is also made, and this is a great point in its favour, so as to be convertible from one to the other, or for use as an ordinary Singer motor tricycle. It is the most easily convertible machine made. The steering wheel is also the driver, as it is fitted with the well-known Singer motor wheel. The machine has been well tested, and has come through several trying runs with­out a breakdown of any sort. We were very pleased with its speed and hill-climbing powers, and also with its freedom from vibration due to the comfortable seat and good distribution of the load. Its total weight is about 170lb with the chair, and 150lb with the carrier. We are informed that a commercial traveller has used one of these tricycles constantly for the past two months, during which time he has covered upwards of 1,500 miles, often carrying from 70lb to 80lb of samples, and reaching many out-of-the-way places in half the time that it would take to get to them by rail. Mr E Perks, the designer of the machine, gave us an account of an excellent run he made with his wife in the chair, and a little daughter perched up behind, as shown in the photograph. He started from Coventry to pay a visit to friends at Smethwick on a Saturday afternoon, and ran to Birming­ham without a stop. After oiling the engine he passed on to Smethwick. The next morning he went round Rowley, Halesowen, Hagley, Clent, Bromsgrove, and thence again to Smethwick, and from there back to Coventry later in the day. This district is one which is far from being free from hills and bad roads, but the motor went through without a hitch. The total weight of machine and riders was about 500lbs, but all gradients were taken with ease. This is the machine which a member of the Birmingham police force swore was travelling down Broad Street at from eighteen to twenty miles per hour on this particular occasion, when Mr Perks was coming through Birmingham back to Coventry.”

The Singer Voiturette was, possibly, the first dual-purpose trike.
The Wearwell-Stevens took to the Streets of Wolverhampton. It comprised a heavy-duty version of the Wearwell bicycle and a 2½hp engine made by the Stevens Motor Manufacturing Company. The Stevens engine was mounted above the front down tube; it featured accumulator ignition, a surface carb and a twisted leather belt drive.

THE AUTOCAR REPORTED: “THE MITCHELL is the name of a new motor bicycle of American construction which is being introduced into this country by Messrs Davis Allen and Co, of Singer Street, Tabernacle Street, London, EC. The motor is of 1¾hp, running at 1,800 revolutions. It is supported above the lower cross tube of the frame, and drives the rear wheel by means of a strap. The frame is specially strengthened for the work it has to do. The weight of the machine complete is 104lb. Over 150 of them are said to be already in use in the United States.”

IN THE USA THE CYCLING GAZETTE announced the Fleming “gasoline motor for bicycles, having 1.25 horse power”. It was 13in high and, with aluminum crankcase, weighed 23lb. With the intake and exhaust valves opposite each other, “the makers are enabled to use extra large valves without having a large, clumsy cylinder head”; ‘ jump spark’ ignition eliminated the “noisy and complicated moving part which are necessary when the contact or wipe spark system is used”. Engine speed could be varied from 500-2,500rpm. by adjusting the timing giving a claimed top speed of 25mph. In addition to complete engines (there was a 3hp option “for tandems and light car­riages) the Fleming Manufacturing Co of Brooklyn supplied manufacturers with castings and working drawings. Cycle Age reported that Fleming was “a devout believer in the desirability of front drive for motor bicycles”, not least because the complete front end could be “readily attached to any strong bicycle”.

The Fleming was claimed to be the first front-wheel-drive bike on the US market.

MEANWHILE, ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND, the American publication Bicycle World and Motocycle Review was recording the evolution of American motor cycles (or, in colonial parlance, motocycles) and keeping an eye on doings in Europe. These excerpts from that fine magazine include the birth of some soon-to-be-famous names, starting with this image of Mitchells  under test…

“While some of the big makers are full of hesitancy and doubt on the subject of motor bicycles, the accompanying illustration will serve to emphasize what is already known that the Wisconsin Wheel Works is not of the number. The picture is that of the “testing gang,” which puts through the paces every Mitchell motor bicycle turned out. The roads around Racine are quite enough to complete the 100 miles test to which every bicycle us put before it is shipped. Four of the bicycles in the photograph are designed for shipment to the Mitchell representatives in England. It is the first installment of a large order, which includes a full nickeled machine for exhibit at the show.”

GEORGE DE WALD OF BROOKLYN (he later claimed) built and sold the first in a series of six shaft-drive motor cycles. No pictures survive but, writing to Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review in 1908, DeWald said it had a 3½x4in (630cc) engine geared at 4.25:1 and was “quite a success”. If true this seems to have been the first shaft-drive motor cycle.

“TO A MOTOCYCLE BELONGS THE honor of being the first gasolene-driven motor vehicle admitted to Central Park, New York. Although this permission was granted in December, 1809, the knowledge of its existence has just come to light. The motocycle in question is the property of Charles T Dugro, a Princeton student and the president of an automobile club recently organized at that university. What is much more to the point, however, is the fact that he is the son of Justice Dugro, who occupies one of the most prominent seats among the elect of Tammany Hall. Any request made by either Justice Dugro or his son is very likely to be granted by the Park Commissioners. Commissioner Clausen of the Department of Parks, who issued the permit, evidently feels called on to make some very elaborate explanations of his action: ‘I inspected his machine, and believed it free enough from the objections which I find in gasolene automobiles to warrant its trial as an experiment…Mr Dugro’s machine, however, is a motocycle, not an automobile. It is light, like a bicycle, and more easily controlled than gasolene carriages are. It makes less noise, too, and is generally less objectionable…When a permit is sought for a gasolene automobile which is free from these objections I shall be pleased to grant it. Meanwhile, though the machine used by Mr Dugro is of a very different nature, I shall certainly revoke it if the manufacturers of other gasolene vehicles feel that I have made an unjust discrimination in its favor.'”

“LONDON, MARCH 20—TRULY THE elements have combined against the motor trade, and particularly the motocycle trade, during the present year. Here we are well within three weeks of Easter, and still the roads are inches deep in mud and the snow and sleet continue to descend.”

“MR FRANK I CLARK OF BALTIMORE has the honor of making the first motor bicycle century within eight hours, the time limit, which included time for lubricating, replenishing gasolene, and repairing a punctured tire. The last two miles being made in five minutes. The actual running time for the 100 miles was six hours, against a strong head wind, under unfavorable conditions, over the rough and steep hills of Maryland, without a mishap to the motor. The enthusiasm of the officials of the Century Bicycle Club, who accompanied him, was unbounded.”

“ROLLIN ABELL, OF BOSTON, MASS, has constructed in Brooklyn a wonderful steam motor bicycle; how wonderful it will be understood when it is known that the motor is claimed to be one of 2hp, weighing but 15lb, and being but 2in wide. With this marvellous motor the bicycle will travel at the rate of 25mph on the road and 40 on the track…The three-cylinder, single-acting engine is provided with a rotary valve which operates the three cylinders in rotation, with but one moving part…The motor is so narrow, being but a trifle over 2in wide, that it can be attached to the sides of the frame of a bicycle, instead of, like other motors, having to be placed in the middle of the frame…The whole bicycle complete, with everything on, weighs but 85lb which is lighter by at least a good many pounds than any other motor bicycle upon the market per horsepower.”

Great claims were made for the Abell steamer.

“ACCORDING TO THE RETURNS FOR 1900 there are in France 975,878 cycles and 11,252 motocycles. In 1899 the total was 838,856. Of the total for 1900 the Department of Seine (Paris) accounts for 212,510 cycles and 3,449 motocycles.”

“PARIS, APRIL 1—SOME CLEVER people have got it into their heads that the motocycle is doomed. They reckon that this type of machine is a makeshift instrument at the best and that when the public see that they can ride more comfortably in a small carriage they will give up the motocycle for the vehicle. But things have not got to this stage yet, and I don’t think they will for a long while to come.”

“THAT THE TRADE IN MOTOCYCLES is growing there is no shadow of doubt. We have only to look at the returns of the inland revenue department as to the number of motor machines declared for taxation to see the popularity of bicycles, tricycles and quadricycles propelled by mechanical means. In 1900 the number upon which taxes were paid was 11,252. This number does not look very big beside the 976,000 pedal cycles in use in this country, but still, if one works out the ground that would be covered by the motocycles if they were brought together you would get a pretty good idea of the wonderful way In which the new industry has been developing during the past two or three years.”

“DOWN AT NICE THE MOTOCYCLISTS have been taking part in races held there and entered in the events for racing and touring vehicles which, so far as the motocyclists were concerned, were equivalent to the old classification of professional and amateur. There were six tricycles in the big race of 393 kilometres, four of them De Dion tricycles, one a Perfecta with a Soncin motor, and the other a Gladiator with an Aster motor…Demester on his Gladiator tricycle covered the distance in 6hr 54min 56sec…In the mile competition on the Promenade des Anglais, Osmont, with a De Dion tricycle, did the standing mile in 1min 22.6sec. Boucquet, on a Werner bicycle, covered the mile in 1min 56.6sec. These are remarkable times, and show to what extent the motocycle has been improved as a speed machine.”

“THE EMPLOYMENT OF A MOTOR bicycle in the English military manoeuvres points to a field of future usefulness rich in possibilities. The work which the speedy little vehicle performed must impress even the most phlegmatic.”

“ENGLAND’S EASTER: OF MOTOR BICYCLES I only saw about half a dozen, and it seems that, at present at any rate, this class of machine is not regarded with much favor here. I saw three or four of the Singer motor bicycles and a couple of Werners, but these were all. On the other hand, motor tricycles were very numerous, and at nearly all the well-known cycling resorts two or three of these machines were to be seen.”

“THINGS ARE REALLY BEGINNING to get serious in the motocycle trade in England owing to the continuance of bad weather…although we are past the middle of April the hedges do not show the slightest sign of budding, and the leaden skies and cold winds make one think of November…Practically the only English firm which is doing really well with motocycles is the Ariel Co, Ltd, and this is no doubt in a measure due to the fact that the Ariel tricycle has so many good points. The motor being in front of the main axle is not the least of these, as the position tends to prevent the tendency to lift the front wheel.”

“WHENEVER THERE IS DOUBT or faintheartedness regarding motor bicycles, the array of testimony which the ER Thomas Motor Co presents in their advertisement in this issue will go far to supply the necessary backbone…When the motor bicycle attains that position which it does not seem that it can escape, no name will be writ higher or in more glowing letters than the name ER Thomas. This may sound fulsome praise, but it is richly deserved.”

“TESTS OF ALCOHOL VEHICLES took place on Monday, between Paris and Roubaix, when four motocycles competed—two De Dion quads and two Werner tandems. One of the De Dion machines was driven by Cormier, who showed his skill in the manipulation of motors by getting the lowest consumption in the gasolene trials between Paris and Meulan last year, and on Monday he was equally successful, and covered the course with a consumption of only 12.74 pints of carburetted alcohol, consisting of 50% of alcohol and 50% of benzine, for 172 miles [108mpg], of which 50 were over some of the worst roads imaginable…he took nearly 15 hours to ride the distance, and only got this remarkable result by nursing his motor, admitting just enough spirit to produce the required power.”

“TO ADMIT THAT IT would be a good thing to have standard nuts and bolts, etc, is easy, but to determine which shall be the standard is quite another matter.”

“LONDON, APRIL 24—THE NUMBER of motocycles to be seen on the roads in this country is so far disappointing, yet many riders of these machines are met with, more particularly at motor meets…at the last week-end run of the Automobile Club there were several motocyclists, including the veteran FT Bidlake, who rode a Singer motor bicycle. This machine is not apparently a very fast mount, but it is speedy enough for ordinary purposes and wonderfully simple to manage. There can be no doubt that it is by far the most popular motor bicycle now offered to the public in this country, although this is not saying much, as the motor bicycle has not as yet ‘caught on’ with the public…the decision of the magistrates last week that so long as the motor is at rest, and the plug connecting the current is removed, the vehicle is not a light locomotive, and that it can be left for a reasonable time unattended, has been received with no little satisfaction…The police will cease prosecuting the owners of unattended cars or motocycles under the Light Locomotives act, but will take proceedings for obstruction, basing the said proceedings on the fact that a motocycle or a car frequently causes a crowd to collect, and that this is an obstruction for which the owner of the vehicle is responsible.”

“There is now a Thomas Auto-bi Club in Buffalo, the home of Thomas and the birthplace of the Auto-bi. All of the machines used were new, and several of the riders were as new as their machines; and that they were able to ride and ‘keep up with the procession’ is evidence that the riding of a motor bicycle is easier than is generally imagined.” One-make clubs have flourished ever since.

“MAKING ALL CYCLES MOTOCYCLES: Since the motor bicycle attained prominence not a few inventors have schemed fortune-making devices designed to enable any man to readily convert his pedal-propelled bicycle into a motor-driven one. Without expressing an opinion of the article itself, it is fair to say that none of these many efforts have taken such a compact and attractive form as that shown by the accompanying illustration—the Motosacoche, as it is styled by its makers, the Dufaux Freres, Geneva, Switzerland. The motor, battery, carburetter and other mechanism are all contained within what resembles a tourist’s case, which is securely bolted into the frame; only the driving belt and pulley are exposed. Just how the mechanism is distributed or how it operates, the Dufaux description does not make plain. The motor is claimed to be of 1¼hp, the mixture and speed and compression being controlled by one lever. If the device proved practical, much effort would not be required to create a considerable demand.” That effort included adverts promising “the maximum in terms of reliability, average speed, power and economy” with an assurance that the Mototsacoche would provide “instantaneous speed variation from 6-40km/h” with a cruising speed of 30km/h at 140mpg. Potential buyers were assured that it “is always at the forefront of international events, whether it is a sprint, endurance or fuel economy trial”.

Motosacoche made it easy to make your bicycle into a ‘motocycle’.
The 1¼hp clip-on engine was neatly covered, leading a wag to dub it ‘engine in a bag’ or, in French, Motosacoche.
Here’s what the Motosacoche looked like sans sacoche; and (right), here’s the new concern’s striking logo.

“REALIZING THE FORCE OF WHAT The Bicycling World recently pointed out—that the fitting of motors to tandems would do much to re- popularize the two-seater—the Patee Bicycle Co, of Indianapolis, have thrown themselves into the breach and announce that they will make a specialty of rebuilding tandems and equipping them with 3hp Patee motors. The accompanying picture shows one of the machines so remodelled…the Patee people say that it has proven faster than any motocycle met with, and has climbed all grades met in a day’s outing.”

“Fred Patee, the head of the company, and Joshua Morris, the inventor of the motor, Patee being the man with the dimples, at the rear of the machine.”

“LONDON, MAY 15—FOR SOME REASON the Werner appears to be first favorite, but I fancy that the Singer is not far behind, and in the end will become the more popular of the two on account of the extreme ease with which it can be manipulated. Indeed, any rider with sufficient nerve can master the machine in five minutes. The sales of ladies’ motor bicycles of this type have not been so good as they might be, but I feel sure that this is only owing to lack of confidence, and that, as the ease with which the machine can be handled becomes appreciated, many of the fair sex will venture upon it. At present it appears to have only been attempted by the more expert lady riders, and in every case with success. Only yesterday, for example, a lady correspondent took a trial trip on the machine with complete success, and is shortly going to ride it on the road.”

“MESSRS SINGER & CO, LTD, HAVE just put upon the market a machine which they called the ‘Tri-Voiturette’. In this they employ their motor-wheel, and, in fact, the whole production is simply a slight modification of the motor tricycle made by the firm. A basket seat is attached to the rear, and this is said to be more comfortable than the seat placed in front of the ordinary quad. The drawback seems to be that the driver is rather boxed in, since he cannot dismount easily, owing to the presence of the seat and passenger at the rear of the machine. The firm also make a modification of the device, in which a carrier basket takes the place of the rear seat, so that the machine can be used by tradesmen for the delivery of light goods.”

“LONDON, SEPTEMBER 17—SO FAR AS motocycles are concerned, there is no doubt that there will be a very large display of these machines at both the forthcoming cycle shows, more particularly at the Stanley. It is now certain that practically every cycle firm of note has at least one pattern of motocycle which it intends to put on the market next season…nearly all are using one pattern of motor, the Minerva, the manufacturers of which must be doing a roaring trade. It is a good little motor, but might be improved upon considerably…My recent bad sideslip with a machine with the motor in front gave me rather a poor opinion of motor bicycles, but recently I have tried one of these machines with the motor fitted in the frame and driving the rear wheel. There is no doubt that this type is much steadier on grease, and the liability to sideslip is not nearly so great. This may in some degree account for the extraordinary popularity of this class of machine among users of motor bicycles.”

INDIANS! ONE OF THE GREAT MARQUES debuted, and Bicycle World and Motocycle Review was there to see it: “Few, if any, bicycles have been launched more auspiciously and with better judgment than the one which Oscar Hedstrom has builded for the Hendee Mfg Co of Springfield, Mass. With quiet confidence, but unpreceeded by large, and unhealthy claims of great speed, the ‘launching’ occurred in Springfield on Saturday last, and not on a track or level stretch of road, but where the most should be made of a motor bicycle—on the stiffest hill available in this case, what is known in Springfield as the Cross Street Hill, a 19% grade, 350 feet long, and with a loose and yielding surface…advance notice of the occurrence in the local papers served to attract a, crowd of 400 or 500 people to the scene…With Hedstrom himself in the saddle, they saw the machine crawl on the level at 5mph, then speeded to perhaps 25mph for a short distance, and finally go up the hill without a waver at what was not less than a 12-mile pace. Hedstrom then coasted down, and for good measure made a second ascent…near the top, he advanced the speed lever, and the bicycle jumped forward, showing an abundance of reserve power…The bicycle looks equal to its performances. It is well and cleanly built, and is even more attractive and eye-pleasing than its pictured representations. Hedstrom has been quietly engaged in perfecting it for many months, and is quite competent for any task of the sort. He not only rode as a pacemaker, but designed and built several of the motor tandems in use on the track during the past two years, and is really one of the handiest men about bicycles and motors to be found anywhere. The Hendee people are uncertain how the bicycle will be marketed. They may make it themselves or organize a separate company for the purpose. Although the [213cc] motor, which is of the usual gasolene 4 cycle type, is rated at 1¾hp, the machine scales but 75lb. As will be seen by the cut, the engine is placed in the centre of the frame, a method of construction which permits the use of a wheel base of the usual length…the head-on view is almost indistinguishable from that of an ordinary bicycle.”

This is Hedstrom’s baby before it was christened….
…and here’s the ‘Camelback’, as presented to the colonial motor cycling public.
When the good folk at Hendee motorised a bicycle they didn’t have far to look for a suitable logo.
Before there was Indian there was Hedstrom. Charles Henshaw and Oscar Hedstrom are pictured on a “Hedstrom Motor-Pacer”.

“LONG EXPECTED, THE KEATING motor bicycle has come at last…Keating is rather hard on the motor bicycles that have preceded his invention. He refers to them as ‘so-called motor bicycles’. His, he claims, is ‘the only motor bicycle, and not a bicycle with a motor attached…The carburetter has a capacity of two quarts, which amount of gasolene is sufficient for 35-40 miles; if required, an auxiliary tank with a capacity of two gallons can be placed above the mud guard…the 211cc motor runs up to 2,400rpm, corresponding to 27mph. The bicycle has 28in wheels and weighs complete 79lb. The experimental machine, Mr. Keating states, has been ridden some 6,000 miles over all sorts of roads in all kinds of weather, and given perfect satisfaction; it has also climbed an 18% grade without perceptible decrease of power.” …And here’s a PS. When I come across an obsolete marque I’m in the habbit of checking to see if it’s on the excellent  A-Z of motorcycles at ozebook.com/wpaz. The Keating wasn’t so I shared and Murray, who runs the site, also published more pics and the following fascinating yarn: “Keating was a bicycle manufacturer in the USA, who first began manufacture in 1890. The factory Keating built is known today as the Remington Rand building after its namesake typewriter manufacturer. It was one of the first factories in the country operated entirely on electricity, and there Keating built early electric automobiles and created one of the first motorcycles by putting a petrol motor into the frame of one of his bicycles. Keating’s first motorcycle was patented June 18, 1900. This patent was replicated later by Harley-Davidson and Indian. Keating would take both manufacturers to court for patent infringement, winning both settlements.” There’s a lot more good stuff at Ozebook; well worth a visit.

The Keating: “The only motorbicycle.”

“WE KNOW HOW TO MANUFACTURE,” said one of the Marshes [of the Motor Cycle Mfg Co, Brockton, Mass], “and are in the business to stay until motocycles are succeeded by flying machines. We were among the first in the country to build a motor bicycle, and it cost us a great deal of time and money to learn that a chain driven motor bicycle is only fit to run a few miles and then pose for its photograph. We say further that if any concern is so foolish as to put out machines in which a chain is used to convey the power from the motor to the rear wheel they will prove to be a blessing to the repair men and a curse to the rider.”

“IN ADDITION TO THE MARSH MOTOR bicycle, the Motor Cycle Mfg Co is also selling parts and fittings to those who prefer to build their own motocycles. The Marsh float-feed carburetter is made of aluminum, and weighs less than one pound. It is designed especially for air-cooled motors between 2in and 3in bore, ‘and not for every size and kind of motor on earth’, as the Marsh people express it. They guarantee it to be absolutely reliable, and, in case it fails to work satisfactorily, agree to take it back and refund the money—which is pretty strong evidence of their faith in it.”

Like other nascent manufacturers of motocycles, Marsh was happy to sell components to DIY enthiusiasts.

“SINCE THE ROYAL WAS FIRST unostentatiously shown by its clever inventor, Emil Hafelfinger, at the New York Cycle Show, in January last, when it created a distinct sensation, down to date it has not ceased to be talked about and referred to whenever motocycles have been discussed. The illustrations show the perfected model, but, good as they are, it is simple justice to say that they do not flatter the bicycle; it is even more attractive and beautifully made than pictures can well portray. If it but bears out its appearance and initial performances its future is not uncertain. The feature that will distinguish the Royal motor, which is carried in a truss forming part of the seat post, is the vertical cooling flanges. They run up and down the cylinder, instead of around it, as usual….one gallon of gasolene will, it is claimed, run the machine 100 miles over ordinary roads…A special two-speed gear is employed, allowing the machine to be run at the lowest pace desired in the crowded streets or in climbing steep hills, while the high speed, it is asserted, will take it at thirty miles an hour over a good road through rolling country. The two-speed gear also affords a free wheel, allowing the adjustments of the gasolene feed, and the motor to be tested indoors or before mounting the machine.”

1901 ROYAL
The Royal: “…even more attractive and beautifully made than pictures can well portray”.

“WHEN THE MERKEL MFG CO EARLY this year succeeded to the plant of the Layton Park Mfg Co, Milwaukee, Wis, they stated that motor bicycles would be made a feature of their productions. ‘We think we have as good a machine as is now on the market,’ they say; ‘in some respects it is, perhaps, a trifle ahead of the others.’ The cylinder is made of cast iron, with the ventilating ribs integral with the body. The crank ease is of aluminum, with two lugs cast on, which clamp the motor between the lower bar and seat mast. The carburetion is effected by means of a neat little device which is described as ‘a cross between a mixing valve and a carburretter, embodying the good features of both’. The frame of the bicycle is used for the muffling of the exhaust. A suitable connection conducts the waste gases to the lower bar, which in turn carries them to the seat mast, in which the muffler is located. The exhaust gases escape to the open air through a series of small holes in the back part of the seat mast.”

Birth of the Merkel—the 316cc lump was also used in the Indian; the frame doubled as the exhaust system.

“WHEN GREAT SPEED IS KEPT on tap, the turning of a lever being all that is necessary to produce it, the temptation to do so is sometimes too great to be resisted by the average man. In such cases the remedy is the strong arm of the law. It was applied this week in New York to two motocyclists, who were each arrested and arraigned at different times for fast riding. One was dismissed with a warning, it being his first offence and he promising to be more careful in future. The other was accused of being a persistent violator of the statutes, and he was held for trial. Both men Used motor bicycles.”

“ONCE THE HABIT OF BEING a pioneer takes root it is difficult to eradicate it. Dr Doolittle, of Toronto, Canada, exemplifies this. Not content with being a pioneer of the boneshaker, the high wheel and the safety, to say nothing of having invented the back-pedalling brake, he is now pointing the way to the motor bicycle. Only a week or two ago he rode a double century, his mount being a Thomas Auto-Bi. The distance, slightly over 200 miles, was covered in 15 hours, the road being very bad in places. Having bought a Thomas Auto-Bi last April, the doctor has been using it steadily in making his professional visits, and these have several times taken him to points many miles distant from town. He states that his machine has now carried him over 2,300 miles without any repairs being required, and he estimates that on the average a gallon of gasolene has been sufficient to drive him from 125 to 140 miles.”

“LONDON, AUGUST 28—IT WOULD APPEAR that a good many people are becoming dissatisfied with the look of the average motor bicycle and are demanding something which shall not seem to the casual observer to be merely a bicycle with a motor clipped to some more or less convenient part of the frame. No doubt also a considerably increased efficiency would be obtained by building the motor into the framework of the machine, but against this plan there is the consideration of complications arising in the event of a breakdown…For some reason the police and the public do not seem to take so much notice of high speeds on motor bicycles as they do when motor tricycles and quads are concerned. It may be that the appearance of the motor bicycle looks so much like the common safety that it excites but little attention, or that bicycle traffic is now recognized to be much faster than the ordinary vehicles that a bicycle has a certain license…So far as motor bicycle engines are concerned, there can be no doubt that the manufacturers of the Minerva are doing a large trade. It seems rather curious that the De Dion people do not make and push a small motor specially for two-wheelers, because it must be admitted that there is every possibility of these machines rivalling, and perhaps exceeding, the motor tricycle in popularity. With the outcry of the speedy brigade for more powerful engines it would have been supposed that some of the old pattern 1¾hp motors, which must surely be in stock, would have been sold for motor bicycles.”

According to a local newspaper: “The one and only ‘Slinger’, with a 4½hp De Dion engine was built by an electrical engineer to his own design.” The sparks, W Slinger, by name, lived in Setle, Yorks; the engine was water-cooled with the radiator surrounding the cylinder.

LONDON, SEPTEMBER 4—IN THESE DAYS, when nearly all the high-speed motors are bought from the De Dion Company, it says a good deal for the opinion which some of the English manufacturers have of the future of the motor bicycle, to find that at least two firms have announced that they are now making motors of small power, especially suitable for these machines. The Century Motor Company, Ltd, have just put such an engine upon the market, and it must be remembered that this company has been one of the most successful in the manufacture of small cars, which have so nearly resembled motocycles in outward appearance that they have confused witnesses in the law courts. Mr Begbie, who is an old road-racing cyclist, has control of the company, and he should know what the motocyclist requires. It must be remembered that it is the old and worn-out speed man who takes most kindly to the motocycle in this country up to the present, and he sets the fashion, which others will follow later…The Simms Manufacturing Co, Ltd, have also a motor specially suitable for bicycles. This engine follows much upon the lines of the firm’s ordinary type, which is used occasionally upon cars, and is such a good pattern that it is deserving of more attention than it receives. Both the small and larger motors are fitted with the ‘Simms-Bosch’ ignition, which dispenses with the use of batteries or accumulators and is a great saving of trouble on this account.”

Having tried their luck with compressed air (in 1896), messrs Joseph Raders and Edward Dickerson Jnr were back with an acetylene-powered bike. What’s more it was to feature a three-pot radial engine. Cycle Age commented that the idea “does not bear the marks of carefully studied design”. Not least was the lack of carb, ignition or exhaust.

FOR YOUR DELECTATION, some of the adverts that graced the pages of  Bicycle World and Motocycle Review in 1901…


...and from the Continent…