1904

SPRAY CARBURRETORS were replacing wick-in-a-tin ‘surface’ carbs (which, let it be noted, were known as ‘bubblers’). Rubber and canvas V-section belts were replacing  twisted rawhide belts and mechanical inlet vales (MOIV) were replacing automatics (AOIV). Tyres were growing from two to three inches wide. Other innovations included high-voltage magnetos, Bowden cable controls, clutches and sprung forks.

1904 SURFACE (DEDION)
This De Dion surface carburretor doubled as a petrol tank.

THE FIRST MOTOR cycle in India was dubbed ‘shaitan-gari’ or ‘devil-carriage. The rider lived 1,700 miles from the nearest petrol.

RACERS WERE routinely exceeding 60mph.

WITHIN SIX months 21,521 motorcycles and 18,340 cars had been registered (lower cost made two wheels more popular than four). Just 770 motorcycles were exported; 979 were imported.

INDIAN ADOPTED twistgrips way ahead of the pack, though Werner had pioneered them for racing.

FRANCE STAGED THE first Coupe Internationale race, at Dourdan, for motorcycles weighing up to 50kg over five laps of a 34-mile course, with entries limited to three per country. Britain was represented by a JAP, a Lagonda and a Quadrant. They took on three Griffons from France, three Progresses from Germany, two Laurin-Klements from Austria-Hungary and a Humber-based Jurgensen from Denmark. Nails scattered on the course created havoc. The French took top three spots and one of those fragile 110-pounders achieved 76.5mph. But when the Brits protested about the nails and other irregularities the race was declared null and void.

1904 L&K MOVIE
This snap of a 1904 Laurin-Klement is taken from an early chase movie. So while the bikes that raced for Austria-Hungary in the Coupe Internationale would have looked like this, it’s a fair bet that the riders didn’t wear boaters. L&K also built an in-line four, but soon dropped bikes in favour of cars.

GERMAN EMIGREE Johannes Gütgemann adopted the name John Taylor (later changed to Goodman) and, with his partner William Gue, produced Hampton bicycles. They took over the Begian firm Kelekom Motors and developed a 2hp powered bike which they marketed as the Veloce (Italian for Speed). It was not a success, but Veloce would be back.

TRICARS AND forecarriages were outselling trailers so instead of eating dust hapless passengers served as an early form of airbag.

1904 GRIFFON FORECAR
Forecars, this survivor is a Griffon, were just thing for carrying a passenger the rider didn’t like.

THE MCC HOSTED the first 24hr London-Edinburgh trial: 46 started, 21 made it to Edinburgh within 24 hours. It rammed the message home that motor cycling was a serious mode of transport.

ALFRED ANGUS Scott patented a vertical twin two-stroke engine of advanced design.

THE FOUR SONS of motoring pioneer John Knight (see 1895) acquired a 1¼hp engine and built it into a trike frame made of two planks of ash, lengths of angle iron from their dad’s scrap pile and the rear wheel of Knight Snr’s historic car. They incorporated rubber-block front suspension and made a surface carb from a Bath Oliver biscuit tin. Knight’s oldest son reported: “It is a fact that for a whole week we tried to get that engine to go, but a few spasmodic explosions were all we could get! At the end of that period, my father designed a carburettor embodying another biscuit tin containing coils of lamp wick wound on a wire frame, the petrol rising by capillary attraction up the wick, and thence evaporating very readily. Then at last the engine not only ran, but drove the machine…”

1904 KNIGHT JNR TRIKE
The Knight Junior: Built from scrap parts by teenagers, but it ran.

TORAO YAMABA made Japan’s first vehicle–a steam-powered 10-seater bus.

GLENN CURTISS took one of his bikes to Ormond Beach, Florida where he set a 10-mile record for 10 miles on the hard-packed sand and did 67.3 mph. After a Curtiss beat an Indian in an endurance race from New York to Cambridge, Maryland, Hendee rep EH Corson went to check out Curtiss’s Hammondsport base and was startled to find the entire Curtiss motorcycle enterprise in the back room of Curitiss’s modest shop.

1904 SAROLEA KERRY
Most British manufacturers got their start with imported engines; the East London Rubber Co went further by importing complete Sarolea motor cycles from Belgium, tarting them up and selling them under the Kerry banner, so the newly adopted British racing green livery was a tad cheeky. As Britain caught up production was transferred to the Abingdon factory, where the engines were made too.
1904 ADER
The French 250cc V-twin Ader Cardan: this was among the first shafties; time was when ‘cardan drive’ was a synonym for shaft drive.

FOLLOWING THE  FIASCO at the French International Cup race it was clear that international sport could only be governed by an international organisation. With this in mind enthusiasts from the British Auto-Cycle Club and its counterparts from Austria, Denmark, France and Germany met in the Parisian cafe Ledoyen and set one up. As they were in France it seemed only fair to give it a French name: the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme.

1905 FICM LOGO
The FICM was set up to regulate international motor cycle sport.

WATCH AND INSTRUMENT manufacturer Samuel Smith moved into the automotive sector with the the Perfect Speed Indicator. The first example was delivered to Edward VII for the royal Mercedes. Smith’s speedos would dominate the British motor cycle industry.

“THERE IS NO novelty in seventy pound machines; they were made two years ago, exhaustively tried, and found wanting, and one of their first defects was excessive vibration. The motor bicycle can be, and will be, lightened, but the first aim should be—and it has been with the majority of makers—efficiency and a reasonable margin of strength. The lightening process will be gradual, and not seventy pounds at a time. Weight is a great drawback, but it is at present the lesser of two evils.”

1904 DRs
“Three motor cyclists were employed as despatch riders on the staff of the Duke of Connaught at the 1904 manoeuvres.”

THE AUSSIES HELD their first long-distance race; it was won by a 2hp Minerva.