JOSEPH BARTER’S LIGHT Motors, which had already produced a conventional single-cylinder engine to power a bicycle, developed a 200cc in-line flat twin marketed as the Fee (French for Fairy) which was soon anglicized to Fairy. It was (probably) the first flat-twin.
INDIAN CAME UP with a 500cc V-twin. It was a good year for V-twins; they also came from NSU of Germany, Puch of Austria—and Indian’s compatriot Glenn Curtiss. He put his twin to good use by riding it round the one-mile Syracuse dirt track in exactly 61 seconds to set the latest in a series of records.
THE AUTOMOBILE CLUB of Great Britain and Ireland staged a week of races on Brighton seafront after local resident Sir Harry Preston persuaded the local council to lay a motor racing track using the newly invented Tarmac between the Palace Pier and Black Rock. [Since 1909 this stretch of road has been called Madera drive. It is still the home of the Brighton Speed Trials and is the destination of The Sunbeam MCC’s Pioneer Run.]
NOT ALL TWINS were of the V-persuasion. The Paris Show featured vertical twins from Werner and Bercley (a new Belgian marque) and a 363cc in-line four from FN with a Simms-Bosch high-tension magneto, shaft drive running through a frame tube, leading link forks and a drum rear brake.
THE AUTOFAUTEIL DEBUTED with small wheels, an enclosed (427cc) engine mounted below the ‘fauteil’ (armchair) and an open frame – in essence the ancestor of the motor scooter.
THE AUTO CYCLE CLUB staged a 750-miles Six Days Trial: 31 bikes started, 21 finished and six won gold medals.The course included Birdlip Hill which was scaled by one superman who pedalled his Ariel trike to the top. But two P&Ms astonished the competition by cruising up thanks to a two-speed transmission.
TO GET ROUND the British ban on road racing the ACC staged selection trials for the Coupe Internationale on the Isle of Man as part of the Gordon Bennett car races (the secretary of the Automobile Club’s cousin was Lord Lieutenant of the Island). Six bikes built to comply with the Continental 50kg racing limit started the ‘high speed reliability trial’; two made it to the end.
ROYAL ENFIELD ADOPTED the P&M two-speed set-up; Werner used a similar system with a rocking footchange.
FOLLOWING THE FIASCO at the French International Cup 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 andset one up. As they were in France it seemed only fair to give it a French name: the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme.
WILLIAM C CHADEAYNE, Captain of the Buffalo Motorcycle Club and a director of the Thomas Auto-Bi Company, rode one of the company’s bikes across the United States in 44 days, 23 hours and 50 minutes to set a transcontinental record. It was only the second coast-to-coast run; the first man to do it was George Wyman in 1903 [The full story is in the 1903 Features section]. Chadeayne’s Thomas Auto-Bi was a 2½hp 440cc single. He described the roads even east of the Mississippi as “unspeakably vile…seas of mud or oceans of sand” and was forced to ride along railway tracks for more than 600 miles.
FREDDIE BARNES JOINED Zenith as chief engineer and patented the Gradua variable-ratio belt drive transmission. It changed the effective diameter of the crankshaft pulley to alter the drive ratio, while simultaneously moving the rear wheel forward or back to maintain belt tension.Control was via a rotating lever on the fuel tank, The company was not shy of innovation, witness the Bicar, with hb-centre steering, based on the three-wheel Tricar.
BSA MADE ITS first motor-cycle, powered by Minerva.
SVANUS F BOWSER invented a petrol delivery pump. There’s eponymous for you.
THE USA PRODUCED 2,295 motor cycle, up from 159 in 1900. Among them was a new 4hp V-twin Orient .
BY YEAR’S END there were 21,521 motorcycles registered in Britain.
BRITISH IMPORTS OF motor cycles rose, to 1,700. Exports fell, to 688.
A GROUP OF enthusiasts met at the London Trocadero to set up the Automobile Association. Its prime aim was to help motorists avoid police speed traps.
MOST OF THE motor cycle clubs springing up around the country were named for their home town; a small group of enthusiasts in Oxford showed more imagination, setting up a ‘semi-private’ club and calling it the Boanerges MCC. As biblical scholars will know, Boanerges was, allegedly, a nickname Jesus gave to his disciples John and James to reflect their fiery natures; it was later used to describe any ‘fire and brimstone’ preacher. So why use it for a bike club? Because it also translates as ‘sons of thunder’ and that’s how they were generally known (until they adopted the name Bocardo MCC a few years later). The Sons of Thunder MCC… clearly ahead of their time.