ENTREPRENEUR CHARLES Garrard imported 160cc Clement engines which were fitted into bicycle frames by James Norton and marketed as Clement-Garrards. Before long the first Norton motorcycles appeared, also powered by Clement engines and marketed as ‘Energettes’. Adolphe Clement was a bicycle manufacturer who had been working on developing engines since 1897. He also produced pneumatic tyres and owned the French Dunlop patents.
THE COURTS WERE beginning to deal with motoring offences. In Somerset one Alfred Nipper of Weston Super Mare was hauled before the beak summons for the way he was riding his 1898 Werner: “Then being the driver of a certain carriage (to wit a motorcycle) on a certain highway there situate called Bristol Road unlawfully did ride the same furiously thereon so as then to endanger the lives and limbs of passengers on the said highway.” He was fined 7/6d; worth about £40 today.
JAMES, WHICH HAD been making bicycles since 1872, fitted FN engines; the first Triumphs and the first Ariels both used 2¼hp Minervas; Brown Bros branched out from parts and accessories into complete bikes marketed under the Vindec banner.
MOTOR CYCLING WAS a global obsession—the first bike arrived in Tasmania.
BOSCH LAUNCHED a high-voltage magneto and spark plug. The mag included a condenser which enhanced its reliability. Other technical developments included a water-cooled engine from US manufacturer Steffey; a V-twin engine from Zedel which was used on (French) Griffons; and a practicable drum brake, invented by Louis Renault (a less-sophisticated version had been used by Maybach the previous year).
OTHER NEW MARQUES included Montgomery, Brough (WE, George’s dad), Bradbury (with a 1¾hp Minerva clip-on engine, from Oldham, Lancs), Simplex (in the Netherlands), Merkel, Metz and Yale (USA) and Victoria (Scotland) – not to be confused with the German Victoria, which was designed by the memorably named Max Frankenburger. In the US Marsh built a 6hp racer that was said to do 60mph.
IF MATCHLESS (which was now fitted with a 2¾hp MMC engine) was making Woolwich famous, the De Dion-engined BAT would do the same for Penge. BAT’s Model No 1 used a 2¾hp De Dion. Did BAT stand for ‘best after test’? That was the firm’s slogan but, more prosaically, the founder was Samuel Batson.
HAVING FINALLY put the Holden into production, Harry Lawson’s Motor Traction Co launched an optimistic ad campaign claiming: “1902 will be a motor bicycle year”. It was indeed, but not theirs. Few pioneers wanted the heavyweight obsolete fours and production ceased.
DEBUT OF THE Stanley Steamer; two years later the Stanley Rocket set a world record of 128mph.
ERNEST H ARNOTT, Captain of the MCC, was the first rider to complete a timed Land’s End-John o’ Groats run, in 65hr 45min, on a 2hp Werner. This went a long way towards ending the perception that the motor cycle was a toy. For less determined riders the club arranged a weekend run from London to Brighton and extended an invitation to all motor cyclists to join them. only about a dozen bikes made the trek but this, let it be noted, was the first club run. For a comprehensive review of the End-to-End, six-day and coastal record record rides check out the 1911 Features section.
CLARENDON, JAMES, Quadrant, Bradbury, Rex, New Hudson and Phoenix were among British manufacturers to follow the New Werner’s lead by mounting their engines vertically at the bottom of the frame. Ditto Continentals such as Peugeot, FN and NSU. Light Motors produced a lightweight clip-on engine.
TEMPLE PRESS launched Motor Cycling and Motoring magazine (the first issue, produced by the staff of Cycling, was dated 12 February). After a few months the new magazine reduced its motor cycling content to concentrate on cars but Motor Cycling would return in 1909.
Here are a few images from the launch issue of the world’s first motor cycle magazine.
THE MOTORCYCLE UNION of Ireland was formed and staged Ireland’s first motor cycle race.
FREDERICK SIMMS founded the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and became its first president. Well, it was his idea after all.
A PATENT WAS GRANTED to George DeLong of New York for a motor cycle frame in which each of the three major tubes served as a container. The top tube served was the fuel tank; the down tube extended below the bottom bracket and contained the coil and battery; the seat tube housed the carburetor, below which was the engine. The Horseless Age reported that the half-gallon tank gave a range of 50 miles. The rider could choose between pedalling or motoring using a clutch fitted to the cranks. This also allowed the crank to be locked, providing a firm footrest. According to The Bicycling World after six months on the road DeLong’s prototype had “rendered excellent service”. It was said to weigh 60lb with a top speed of 25mph. De Long found backers set up the Industrial Machine Company to manufacture his machine but it never made it into series production.
ONLY A YEAR AFTER it was set up Belgian firm Sarolea went racing and carried Martin Fagard to victory in the Belgian championship of speed at the Liège velodrome. Fagard went on to run the company.
OPERA SINGER Wilbur Gunn built Lagonda bikes powered by De Dion-style engines.
STANLEY WEBB developed a rubber and canvas drive belt.
GEORGE HOLLEY rode one of the motor cycles he and his brother Earl were producing to victory in an endurancer race from Boston to New York. A local newspaper reported: “His control of his machine was superb. Neither mud, dust, sand, ruts, hills nor anything else fazed him. Once when another rider complained of the roads Holley smiled.” Despite their racing successes Holley motorcycles did not sell well so George and Earl switched to cars and began making Longuemare carburettors under licence. Holley carburettors later became hugely successful, producing hundreds of millions of carbs for cars, CVs, boats and aircraft—but not motor cycles.
MARCEL RENAULT DROVE ONE OF HIS CARS to victory in the 615-mile Paris-Vienna race at a respectable average 39mph. But while cars dominated the event trikes and bikes made their mark. Georges Osmont finished 45th on his De Dion trike; the first bike home was a Werner ridden by M Bucquet. They both beat dozens of four-wheelers to Vienna and Michelin was so pleased by Bucquet’s efforts that they displayed a rather fine fresco of the man, his bike and their tyres at the company’s London office. Three other bikes finished: another Werner ridden by M Labitte was 58th; Herren Krieger and Podesenick finished 66th and 67th on Laurin-Klements.
GLENN CURTIS began manufacturing motorcycles when his former employer asked him for a self-propelled bicycle to help him commute—his route included a hill that was giving him trouble. Curtiss ordered an engine kit from ER Thomas in Buffalo, NY; what he received was a set of rough castings without a carburettor, ignition system or instructions. With the help of a local engineer Curtiss produced a working 130cc 1½hp using a carb adapted from a tomato soup can containing a gauze screen to pull the petrol up by capillary action.. The ignition came courtesy of the family doctor, who supplied a medical electroshock generator. The bike was dubbed the Happy Hooligan; not surprisingly it was crude but learning fast, Curtiss built better and faster. By year’s end one of his machines made the fastest time at a Labor Day road race in New York; within five years he would become the fastest man on earth.
JUDGING BY THIS COMIC CUT, from the Anerley Bicycle Club Gazette, little love was lost between two-wheeled folk and the authorities: “At the closing run concert, Long Crank Marshall sang a song about a ‘Happy Land’. Being fond of adventure, I obtained from him the exact address, and from here I am in a land where ‘coppers cease from troubling, and the perjury gets a rest’. How I got here, never you mind. It’s all right. Cyclists and motorists in this ideal country have a gorgeous time. They are looked upon as men and brethren; and not treated as criminals and vehicular pariahs, as you poor souls are in good old benighted, obsolete, manure manacled England, where any person with advanced ideas on locomotion is pounced upon by uniformed chawbacons, lectured at, and fined in and out of season, reason, and commonsense, by fossilised senile dunces with a hazy sort of notion that they can stem the march of progress by sitting on a bench and prating about public safety. These mis-guided duffers apparently cannot see what is obvious to everyone not blinded by prejudice, namely, that they very class of persons they now delight to harass and maltreat will within a short period of time arise in their might and cause them and their rotten system to be swept away as a disgraceful, disgusting menace to the public at large. But you must work your own destiny. This is the place for me. You go any place you like here. On the other hand, you find yourself mistaken if you think you can bash in the front of a person’s face with a bludgeon for five pounds. A man who tries this on is scalped, and they take it off level with the shoulders. The main roads here are nowhere less than two hundred feet wide, beautifully graded with easy curves, which can be taken at full speed. The surface is composed of some material resembling compressed cork with a dull green colour, so that it looks just like a freshly-ironed billiard table. Needless to say, sideslip is absolutely unknown, and owing to the beautifully smooth surface pneumatic tyres are not used, but solid rubber tyres of wide crescent shape. The cars are built with a system of spiral springs and rubber buffers, which make for luxuriousness and comfort to a surprising degree. There are permanent longitudinal lines ingrained in the roadway, dividing it into four stripes of fifty feet each—two for up and two for down traffic. The ‘slows’—that is, cars and cycles travelling at thirty an hour or under—have the strips next to the footway. The two centre tracks are for ordinary traffic, which averages about 120 per hour. The footpaths are fifty feet wide and railed off much in the same way as the promenade at Brighton, with the addition of a wire screen from rail to ground, so that it is almost impossible for any child, old person, or ordinary pedestrian idiot to dodge off the pathway suddenly under the wheel of a cyclist, and cause him to dismount profanely upon his nasal appendage. There are gates in the fence, of course, in charge of officials who are old cyclists, and know the game. Cows, horses, dogs and other disgusting insects, together with any antiquated forms of conveyance, such as trams, ’buses, bath chairs, and ‘beano’ juggernauts, are relegated to the subways, which are of ample width, lighted with luminous paint, well ventilated, and in all seriousness very much too good for them. Numerous sloping entrances to these subways give access to the surrounding country roads. No cycle or car is allowed to proceed at less than ten miles an hour on the main roads, but there are side bays for those desirous of stopping. No lamps are needed after dark, as the track is illuminated throughout on the electric diffused sunlight system which forms a complete and continuous dome of soft, sunny daylight overhead. When it rains there is no inconvenience—it is simply wet, not slushy; when it ceases raining, it is dry underfoot—not slimy glue; all owing to the excellent material of which the roads are made. The roads are in charge of engineers—not perjury experts—and they patrol in splendid cars which are in wireless telephonic communications with depots, so that in case of need a breakdown gang can be summoned from any spot, and parts being standardised to a marvellous degree, you have only to name the defective portion of your motor, and it is brought along by the workmen quite as a matter of course. No waiting about for six weeks while they send abroad for something that ought to be made at home if the authorities would give the game half a chance, eh! Every mile or so there is a fine bridge over the roadway, festooned in a most artistic manner with creepers and blooming flowers, and the sight is very beautiful. There are no fogs, and here again London is all behind, as it was discovered in this part of the world at least fifty years ago that fogs were caused by the local emanations from beasts of burden, and since horses have fallen into comparative desuetude, fogs are almost unknown here. Therefore, if you want to cure London of its fogs, get rid of all the horses and their effluvia (fugh!), and instate mechanical (and sanitary) locomotion. Take a tip from me: The ‘wicked city’ has got ten years in which to scramble up to date. If she has not done it by then, there will be no London. Cars may not drop oil around on the floor, but have to carry fenders underneath to catch any overflow or waste discharge. Petrol can be obtained anywhere on the slot system. You stop at a standard—I don’t mean a sewer ventilator, there aren’t any here—connect a flexible tube to your tank, drop your money in a slot, and your tank is filled. No screw caps, empty cans, funnels, spilling petrol up your sleeve, or any of that bother. Goggles are not to be worn, as there are no flies owing to the avenues of stately trees lining the thoroughfares being treated at the roots with McGlue’s patent injection, which has the effect of causing all the branches and leaves to exude a glutinous film to which all insects are stuck fast. Birds, therefore, instead of dashing hysterically about, sit up aloft, with the tables always spread, and warble sweetly. There is no dust, as the surface of the roads is not being perpetually polluted and pounded by horses, torn to rags by skidpans, or cut to pieces by iron-tyred vehicles. Each section of road is being constantly covered by a car fitted with a huge kind of Bissell carpet sweeper, which wafts along and gathers up any foreign matter, and oh! joy!! there are no water carts!!! Silencers really ‘silence’, which may strike you as funny, but it isn’t. A simple piece of mechanism—which I wonder I haven’t thought of myself—extracts the noisy part of the sound as soon as it is formed, and the slight residue which discharges into the air makes no more noise than a maiden’s sigh; and as it passes over a scent sachet, you have a perpetual nosegay. It’s lovely! So different from the paraffin-oil-stove sort of smell you are used to. If by some oversight a pedestrian does leak into the roadway, you simply drive straight at him, scoop him into the mancatcher in front of the car, copy the number of his licence off the soles of his boots—all pedestrians have to be licensed to walk about—and then whilst going at full speed, at the first opportunity, by pressing a spring at your side, you project him bodily into one of the overhead wicker baskets provided for the purpose. The attendant in charge gathers him in, dockets him, and dumps him into a rack. He’s then charged at the next Petrol Parliament (which consists of paid experts, and sits every day—not unpaid noodles who might sit all year round and not hatch any sense worth having) upon the count of ‘furious walking’. If found guilty he is fined ten pounds and costs, has his licence to walk about endorsed and is confined to subways for six months. A second offence means twice the fine and two hours’ infliction of the ‘bastinado’ [“punish or torture by caning on the soles of the feet”], but applied higher up than usual, and from the rear. All this is as it should be, and I am applying for the post to wield that bastinado, as I owe those pedestrians one.”
“A CURIOSITY IN MOTOR-BICYCLE DESIGN: The machine illustrated is the speciality in motor-bicycles brought out by Motor Wheels, Ltd, Euston Road, London. It departs entirely from convetional practice in design, the whole of the motor gear being carried by the front forks. The motor is a Simms, fitted with magneto ignition, and the drive is by a Crypto gear to the front wheel axle. The petrol tank, carburetter, coul and accumulator are supported on a bracket attachment carried by the forks. A stout flat spring fixed between the handle-bar and stem reduces the vibration considerably. Whether or not a machine of this type would be liable to side-slip badly is a doubtful point.”
“SIR,—YOUR PAPER [MOTOR CYCLING] HAS been a great success, and must have helped many. I notice a contributor says that “two seasons ago the motor-bicycle was almost unknown as a practical and reliable machine.” It may well have been—to him—but it is not true that it was unknown. There were plenty in France, and I myself rode 2,000 miles on my Werner in England in that year—1900. It was very practical and very reliable.
Algernon L Bennett.”
SIR,—AS AN INSTANCE OF ADVANCE in the reliability and simplicity of motorcycles,I thought I would send a few lines to tell you of a capital run I made the other day on a new Singer motor-tricycle. It is exactly 103 miles from my house to this town (Bath) and, leaving at 10am, I actually accomplished this journey with only one stop, that being 51 miles out—for lunch. I therefore made two absolutely non-stop consecutive runs of 51 and 52 miles respectively, each run taking 2¾ hours. I used exactly one gallon of petrol and half a pint of lubricating oil from my oil pump tank. I did not experience so much as a misfire that I could detect, and must say that I have fallen in love with magneto ignition.
HUMBER OFFERED two models; one with a 1½hp clip-on engine hung from the downtube and driving the rear wheel via belt drive. The other was made under licence from Phelon & Rayner (later better known as Phelon & Moore) so the 2hp engine served as the downtube and drove the rear wheel by chain in two stages. They were raced by the work’s riders JF Crundall and Bert Yates.
THIS SELECTION OF CLASSIFIED ADS, dating from November 1902, gives a taste of the market. “1901 Werner, English built, 26in frame, £40…Coventry Humber, 2hp, chain driven, £45…190? Rex, 2hp, splendid hill climber, two Lincolna belts, spare parts, £35…Phoenix, 1902, 1½hp, complete, £25 lowest, seen and tried by appointment…Motor-bike, fitted with Brown’s motor, BSA fittings, sacrifice, £17 10s…Holden motorcycle, as new, only ridden few hundred miles, four-cylinder, water-cooled, 3¼hp, faultless, buying car, will demonstrate, no offers, £55…Excelsior, 1½hp, all latest improvements, ridden very little, £31…2hp Simms motor-bicycle, magneto ignition, Progress special frame, back-pedalling and front rim brakes, Johnstone carburetter, special petrol tanks (200 miles), Dunlop motor tyres, special silencer, etc, complete machine new, run about 100 miles, complete set of spare parts, Forman spray carburetter thrown in, £40 or nearest offer, photo free…Primus motorcycle, new this season, complete with spares, horn, etc, 18 guineas; trial allowed…Minerva 1½, nearly new, gold lined, extra finish, fast machine, horn, lap, tools, two rim brakes, £32. Motor spirit, accumulators charged…Caswell’s Imperi 1½hp motorcycle engine, including silencer, sparking-plug, float spray carburetter, battery and induction coil, petrol tank and oil reservoir, all necessary levers, wires, driving belt and rim, £9…Brown motor-bicycle with BSA fittings, £15…Hewetson 1¾hp, magneto ignition, spare tank, run about 600 miles, all accessories, £36; Greatest bargain ever offered! Brand new Werner, rear driver, special extra powerful engine, guaranteed complete and perfect in every detail, superb special English finished frame, and every other modern improvement, accept £37.10s; Werner’s price £50…Lady’s Ivel motor-bicycle 1½ Minerva, Clincher tyres, as new, genuine machine, bargain, £28, Mrs Kennard, The Barn, Market Harboro’ (I have included the seller’s name as Mrs Kennard was a high-profile pioneer of motor cycling for women). Below these ads was a public health warning, “The Following are Trade Advertisements.” Among them was some engaging Edwardian copywriting: “ADVICE free again; but don’t despise it because it’s free. It may save you pounds, Let’s hear, you say? Below. Well, here ’tis! Go to the shows if possible. Splendid things, very educating (to some) look around etc. Read below. BUT don’t, don’t fix up until you have seen or written Wilbee, Rickmansworth, for prices, cash, instalment, exchange. Understand? Stamp.” So have bikes become more expensive in real terms? On-line conversion guides indicate that £1 in 1900 equates to about £100 today. On the other hand the average labourer’s wage in 1900 was about £100 compared with about £25,000 today. So a £50 bike in 1902 might be anything from £5,000 to £12,000 today.
And here’s a selection of the display ads that were temptioning enthusiasts that year: