The Zenith Bicar, described as “a revolution in motorcycles” had a novel frame, with the main tube running from the rear wheel to the front wheel spindle. A 3hp Fafnir engine was suspended from the frame to cut vibration; it boasted hub-centre steering, a two-speed transmission and a drum brake. Four fours debuted at the Berlin show: the German Durkopp, Gluser and Burkhardtia, and the Austrian Bock & Hollander.
WH King set an Aussie record by riding his 7hp Peugeot twin from Launceston to Hobart in Tasmania (121 of rough going) in 2hr 53min—an average of 42.5mph—despite about 6min delays at two railway crossings. The 22-year-old was born in Sleaford, Lincs. A UK correspondent noted the feat “shows the interest taken in motor cycle matters by our antipoidean brethren”. However, Charlie (Matchless) Collier was distinctly unimpressed: “With reference to the extract from an Australian paper describing an Australian motor cycle record by WH King, in which comparisons were made of the respective performances of Mr King in his record ride and myself and brother in the English Eliminating Trials of 1906, I should like to know if in his ride he had to encounter V corners which necessitated slowing down to about 10-12mph every few hundred yards or so? Also, if his 80×98 twin engine, as compared with my engine of 76×95, was restricted to a weight of 110lbs? Regarding the query as to Mr King’s ride being a world’s record, I should like to recall such performances as that of Wondrick in the 1905 International Race or of Bucquet in the 1905 Circuit des Ardennes, both riders averaging over 54mph on roads anything but perfect, and with machine® weighing under 110lb.”
The RAC organised a series of speedometer trials.
The Druid spring fork was launched as front springing appeared on all but the cheapest utility mounts. Rex launched a tidy telescopic fork; Triumph opted for a horizontal spring giving its forks a rocking motion.
Sidecar outfits outsold tricars for the first time.
The Norton range included a 700cc Peugeot V-twin–French ace Henri Cissac rode a 110lb, 16hp (2,500cc) Peugeot-engined motorcycle at a world record 87.3mph. But away from the race tracks the once-dominant French industry was beginning to stagnate.
Delegates from Britain, Austria, France, Germany met at a race meeting in Bohemia to suspend the FICM–only the ACU kept the flame alive.
Exactly 1,747 motor cycles were imported into Britain, 739 were exported. And exactly 26,792,687 gallons of petrol were imported (up from 18.658,391 in 1905 and 11,972,459 in 1904.
From a show report: “A machine that is worthy of special mention is the 3½hp Phelon and Moore. As a thoroughly up-to-date motor bicycle possessing all modern requirements the 3½hp Phelon and Moore stands pre-eminently in the first class. The frame is so low that the rider’s feet can easily reach the ground; the engine also, which should be of ample power for the most fastidious rider, is suspended low down in the frame. No pedals are fitted, nor are they needed since the machine is fitted with the firm’s well-known two-speed gear and chain drive. The handle-bars are long, the saddle is set well back and good footrests are provided; consequently, the rider’s position is most comfortable. Gas is supplied to the engine by a Vapp carburetter (sic) fitted with two throttles, one over the spray chamber, and the other—a Bowden—is an auxiliary one controlled by a twist handle. Two good brakes are fitted, the rear one being a large brake band controlled by a pedal and the other a good-sized rim brake on the front wheel. Excellent spring forks are also provided. The workmanship and finish are of the highest order and leave nothing to be desired.”
Harry Martin snapped up world records from 100-200 miles aboard a Kerry at the Canning Town track.
The rider of a 3½hp Minerva who wanted to take his pal on a tour of France found a novel alternative to a trailer or sidecar: “We fell back on the idea of having a kind of glorified luggage-carrier, which should be strong enough and large enough to carry a twelve-stone passenger. It was fastened in the usual way to the back stays of the machine. The back struts were of heavy gauge tubing, flattened at the end and drilled so as to slip over the ends of the back axle. A couple of pedals from an ancient 1893 Rover bicycle were fitted below the bottom stays at 4 1/2in from the ground, and formed excellent footrests. Narrow handle-bars were fitted to the saddle pin. When starting, the modus operandi was this. I mounted the machine, and was pushed of by my chum. As soon as the engine started he jumped aboard and away we went. The extra load of passenger and luggage made surprisingly little difference to the running of the machine.”
The Federation of American Motor Cyclists awarded a gold medal to the members who covered the most miles and rode in the most states. ME Topel of New York won the mileage medal with 3,069.5 miles; FW Hoienburg, also of New York, won his medal for riding in six states.
The first ACC Land’s End-John o’ Groats trial attracted 73 starters. Only 13 managed the required 15mph average. But of the 52 bikes that started the MCC’s London-Edinburgh trial 34 finished within the target 24 hours. Hillclimbs and other special sections were introduced to sort the men from the boys. J Van Hooydonc, trials secretary of the MCC, sponsored a prize for “the most meritorious performance in club competitions”. Winner was Arthur Reynolds who, in the Schulte Cup competition, rode from London to Edinburgh and back (nearly 800 miles) in 48 hours.
While riding through Pershore, Worcs a rider crashed when an urchin threw a stick into his bike’s rear wheel. The local cops took his complaint seriously; the lad was hauled before the magistrates and bound over for 12 months in the sum of £6. The court “severely admonished” the parents.
Ixion wrote: “I quite expect that by 1909 I shall sit a mount that fears no hill, can do 45 miles per hour on the level, and run very smoothly, while not exceeding 130lb all on. In course of time the petrol turbine may come, and we shall obtain the same attractions on a mount sealing 75lb.”
“Spring frames are still few and far between, and it is a matter of surprise to us that more makers have not turned their atten- tion to springing both the front and the rear of a motor cycle. Spring frames will be standard some day, we feel sure, but for the present we must console ourselves with the excellent spring front forks now almost general.”
Germany ended the year with some 16,000 motorcycles, including 254 “for commercial purposes”. UK registrations totalled 45,735.
A good number of riders were on and about on Christmas Day when, according to a contemporary observer: “Riding conditions were perfect.”
“THE GOAT…THIS ANIMAL WAS A 5HP TWIN TRICAR with two speeds, solid chain drive, bucket seat, wheel steering, and accumulator ignition. The owner—whom we will call ‘G’—asked me to be the passenger from a place near Nottingham to Ledbury in Herefordshire. I, foolishly, jumped at the idea. I had never been in a tricar before, nor, I may say, have I been in one since. Our route was to be Nottingham, Ashby, Leicester, Rugby—this was afterwards changed to Coventry—Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon, Evesham, Tewkesbury, Ledbury. We started about ten o’clock in the morning on a Friday—ominous day—in July. Nothing worse than the throttle control coming adrift happened in the first few miles, but half-way between Nottingham and Ashby we ran over a patch of unrolled stones, which brought the driving chain off. It was a mild foretaste of things to come. We had hardly passed Ashby before we began to lose power until we crawled along on low gear, and had to get out and run up every slope. We arrived at our lunch stop at 3.30, and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find out what was wrong, and after tea we again took the road, but not before we had spent half an hour in trying to start. However, by the time we reached Leicester—a distance of five miles—the Goat gave it up altogether, and we pushed it to the nearest garage, where we were greeted by a supercilious youth, who said there was nothing wrong, and injected paraffin, on which, strange to say, the engine immediately started, and we got through the town before it once more gave it up. We pushed back to a near garage to find only the proprietor—and him nearly prostrate with fatigue, having just got back from a London-Edinburgh run, from which he had retired with a bad smash. I should like to say in parentheses that he was a sympathetic fellow, but wildly enthusiastic about a low-tension magmeto with which his machine was fitted. I have often wondered since how long that enthusiasm lasted. But to return to our muttons, this optimistic fellow promised to set the Goat on its somewhat tottering legs by eight the next morning, and so we sought an hotel. We, to tell the truth, rather doubted the fulfilment of his promise, and, sure enough, on arriving at nine o’clock next day we found the cylinders off and one piston with a huge hole in its head—no wonder we had lost power. A neat patch was screwed on, and at two o’clock we once more started, and had far and away the best bit of our trip, for we completed the run to Coventry in two hours! Here we left the Goat in a garage for a general tightening up while we replenished the inner man, having had nothing but twopennyworth of chocolate since breakfast. All went well till we reached Warwick, when, as we were leaving the town, the driving chain came off; this performance was repeated eight times before we reached Stratford, where once more we sought a garage, and investigation showed that the whole engine had shifted an inch in the frame. We rectified this with an iron bar and a hammer, and
then discovered that the clutch operating pedal—an awful contraption about 2ft long with three right-angle bends—was cracked nearly through. We decided to dispense with it altogether, as the gear could be changed without it quite easily, so it was strapped on behind, and about 10.30pm we left Stratford. All went well till we reached a village on the Avon, where there is a distinct slope down the main street. We arrived about eleven o’clock, and the public houses. were just emptying—the place has the reputation of liking its beer too well!—and so here the Goat took it into its perverse head to run away. I do not profess to understand how it happened, but the switch on the steering wheel refused to act, and I suppose everything else jammed, but anyway G could not stop it, and we charged gaily down the street, far faster than we had ever gone before, yelling at tipsy yokels. At the bottom of the slope G managed to reach the switch on the accumulator, and our one and only ‘blind’ ceased abruptly, and we decided to go no further that night. We therefore marched into the hotel demanding supper and beds. We could have the former, we were told, but the latter was out of the question as they were full up; however, they would try and get us beds in a cottage next door if we liked. We were too tired to go elsewhere, so we agreed on the assurance that the beds were ‘very nice’. Oh! that night. The beds may have been very nice, but their numerous inhabitants were very much the reverse. Let us discreetly draw a veil over the busy scene. Next morning, after a short overhaul, we started in fine form, and gave a 2hp Minerva quite a race till we reached a slope, up which we had to push. A minute or two later I heard a horror-struck voice over my shoulder, ‘The oil pipe has broken,’ and so we went on in momentary expectation of a seizure until we reached Evesham, where, being Sunday, it took us two hours to find a man who could do the necessary soldering. We then went without mishap as far as Tewkesbury, but as we were leaving this town we discovered that one of the two long screws which fastened the ‘make and break’ was missing. We screwed the other up—we had to repeat this perform- ance every mile or so—and proceeded gingerly. About ten miles from our destination one of the exhaust pipe unions broke, and so we ended the journey sounding like a Maxim gun, the gases exhausting on to the only place where G could comfortably put his right foot. For these last ten miles, I, being well known in the district, remained discreetly goggled, in the hope of not being recognised! Hence many ribald jeers from G. We arrived at four o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, having taken since ten on Friday morning to cover the 160 miles. I can only say that the Goat must have foreseen my ill-luck with motors, and was doing its level best to dissuade me from having anything more to do with them—anyway, that is the most charitable view of its performance. Poor old Goat! G accepted £10 for it, in part exchange for a new model, the very next day. I often think of it now when anything exceptionally exasperating happens—as, for instance, when, the other day, I broke my throttle wire at the foot of a steep hill in Cornwall, and had to push to the top to get a repair. No misfortune has ever deterred me: I am still an enthusiastic motor cyclist, and—‘though I say it as shouldn’t’—I am a nailer at diagnosing obscure troubles, even if I cannot cure them!”