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.

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.

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.

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

ALFRED ANGUS Scott patented a vertical twin two-stroke engine of advanced design [and you can read an account in his own words in the 1914 Features section].

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…”

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.

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.

THE CONCOURS D’ENDURANCE pour Motorcyclettes de Tourisme was hosted by the Autocycle Club de France, at Dourdan. It was open to 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.

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.

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.

THE MOTOR CYCLE PRESENTED A FIFTY-GUINEA CUP to the Motor Cycling Club “for competition among teams representing clubs of Great Britain”. Each club entered a team of six riding four solos and two ‘passenger machines’ over a 100-mile course between Bicester, Aynho and Deddington, Oxon. Ixion reported: “A twenty-five miles out and home course was originally fixed upon, to be covered twice. However, as in the team trials a checker to each mile will be necessary, since each rider is to score one mark for every mile covered without a stoppage, it became clear that a twelve and a half miles out and home course would be ample even for this short stretch about a score of reliable marshals will be requisitioned.” The course included four climbs, the steepest of 1 in 12. Five clubs entered: The MCC, Coventry MCC, Guildford C&MC, Peterborough &DMC, and the Southern MC. Riding for the MCC were F Hulbert (3½hp Hulbert-Bramley with Minerva engine) who went on to become works manager at Triumph and Billy Wells (2¾hp Vindec) who was Hendee’s UK manager. The Coventry team included RW Ayton (2¾hp Triumph), the original patentee of aluminium cylinders with steel liners. And the Guildford riders included AW Wall (3½hp Roc and trailer), who invented the Roc gear and the Auto-wheel. Most of the passenger machines were trailers or tricars—only one of the new-fangled sidecar outfits was entered. The Coventry MCC won the cup, ahead of the MCC, Peterborough, Guildford and Southern; the team trial would become a popular annual event—as would the MCC’s London-Edinburgh Trial. Of the 46 stalwarts who started on that first outing  21 made it to Edinburgh within the required 24 hours. In later years a cup was competed for by riders who, after a night’s sleep, made the return run south.

Competitors in the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race: Messieurs Canale et Bannard…
…and Fonion and La Foudre. Fonion rode a Bruneau powered by a Zedel engine; the following year Bruneau started production of its own 498cc vertical twins. Riders started two at a time at one-minute intervals.

“LAST WEEK WE HAD THE PLEASURE of a trial spin on the new Triumph motor bicycle. The machine is fitted with a vertical air-cooled 3hp engine, and weighs complete about 140lbs. The frame, which is built from seat tubes of 22in and 24in, is made from stout gauge tubing, and is specially reinforced where required. The wheelbase is slightly longer than the majority, namely, 53in from centre of front wheel to centre of back wheel. This, Mr Schulte explained to us, had been done to provide for increased storage accommodation for oil and batteries, and to steady the machine in grease. The wheels are 26in diameter, shod with 2¼in diameter Clincher motor cycle tyres, extra stout spokes being fitted. The engine has a bore of 75x80mm [353cc] and develops 3hp at 1,800 revolutions a minute. The petrol is vaporised in a Longuemare spray carburetter, the exhaust valve being fitted with a governor and valve lifter. The governor is worked by a lever fitted on the tank, and causes lesser or greater lift of the exhaust valve according to the speed required. In addition to control by means of the exhaust, there is a combined switch and exhaust lift lever on the handle-bar. One of the special points of the Triumph motor cycle will be the improved design of tank, which is made of a special stout gauge acid-resisting metal having only one longitudinal seam. This should prevent any possibility of leakage, besides rendering a somewhat delicate part of the machine less liable to damage through falls or other accidents. The capacity of the tank is one and a half gallons of petrol and two pints of lubricating oil. Two accumulators are firmly fixed in the tank by means of a special clip, which is both neat and prevents any possible short circuit through the terminals touching the metal of the case. The accumulators are connected up to a two-way switch, and to prevent any possibility of damage to the batteries an automatic cut-out is provided. Brook’s B90 saddle and two toolbags complete the equipment of one of the most up-to-date motor cycles that we have yet examined.”

The 1904 Triumph developed 3hp at 1,800rpm.
1904 ROUX
Among the exhibits at the Paris Salon was this remarkable powered front wheel, courtesy of a designer named M Roux.

To conclude the year, an advert from England…


…and a couple from the States.

1904 GEER AD