THE PIERCE COMPANY of Buffalo, NY was well known for making bicycles and cars, came up with a ‘vibrationless’ motorcycle powered by a (425cc) four-pot engine based on an FN that the company owner’s son had bought during a trip to Europe. The frame was made of 3 1/2in tubing, copper plated on inside, which acted as a fuel tank with a capacity of 1.45 gallons; the front forks had coil-spring and air suspension. Claimed consumption was about 100mpg with a claimed speed speed range of 5-60mph.
“AMERICAN CROWDS are more than unruly. Neither police, special constables, nor volunteers with unloaded rifles served to keep the throng back [at the Vanderbilt Cup Race]. But a few motor bicycles continually driven as fast as possible with cut-outs open, at anyone who happened to be in the way, were he spectator or constable, worked wonders. The effect was quite wonderful, and the crowd just melted away.”
JAP STOPPED BUILDING complete motorcycles to focus on its engines.
“THE 1907 STANLEY SHOW has made it quite clear that a really efficient lightweight, low-powered motor bicycle must be in future added to the popular and successful classes. This is a great advance, and it is obtained by two parts of the machine. The engine is a great deal more efficient, and very light and efficient magnetos have been substitute for small batteries…Several of the light machines now on the market are thoroughly reliable and efficient touring mounts.”
“WE ARE DECIDEDLY of the opinion that French grey is the best colour for motor cycles,” the Blue ‘Un opined, “as it does not show the dust or dirt anything like black enamel or aluminium. A motor bicycle nicely finished in French grey looks just as smart as any other colour…we have seen several new motor cycles finished in French grey recently.”
FREDDIE BARNES used a JAP V-twin in the Zennette (soon renamed Zenith) Gradua. It had an effective variable-speed transmission. A ‘coffee grinder’ handle on the tank opened and closed the split engine pulley and simultaneously slid the rear wheel backwards and forwards to maintain drive-belt tension. This gave the Gradua such an advantage that some organising clubs banned Graduas from their hillclimbs. Zenith gleefully adopted a prison-bar transfer with the legend “Barred!”
TO PROVE ITS advantages in urban traffic Zenith’s MD, WG Bower, rode a a 3½hp Zenette, followed by a Motor Cycle staffer, “through the densest traffic we could find, without stopping his engine or leaving the saddle. The trial was one of a nature which had never before been attempted by a motor bicycle.”
FOR THE FIRST time the value of British motor cycle and component exports exceeded imports.
TORAO YAMABA, who had built Japan’s first car (a steamer) in 1904, built himself a motorcycle from scratch. According to legend Yamaba, who ran a small garage, was almost run down by a red-headed American on an imported motor cycle and decided he wanted one of his own. He couldn’t afford to buy a bike so he read everything he could find about motorcycles and made his own. Tagagikyo Siekan Co made a bike using an imported Precision motor. Narazo Shimazu built a 400cc two-stroke and installed it in an adapted bicycle frame. A four-stroke followed and 20 bikes were sold under the NS logo. Japan was making motorcycles.
NORTON BEGAN selling bikes with its own engines. Model No1 was a 633cc SV single it called the Big Four; this model, with one or two modifications, would stay in production until 1954.
THE 2¾hp DOUGLAS sported a two-speed gearbox based on the back gear of a lathe.
PEDALS WERE BANNED from the TT (not least because Charlie Collier, an experienced racing cyclist, had made good use of ‘lpa’ during his 1907 TT win). Silencers were mandatory, and were tested before the race; fuel consumption was limited to 100mpg for the
singles and 80mpg for the multis (from 90 and 75mpg in 1907). Imported entries included two FN fours and two NSU twins. In the event Jack Marshall’s sv Triumph beat Collier’s ohv Matchless by two minutes in the single-cylinder class at an average 38.7mph with another Triumph third, ridden by Captain Robert Arbuthnot RN. Triumph capitalized on this success with the first ‘TT replica’. H Reed on a Peugeot-powered DOT averaged 37mph to lead WH Bashall (Bat-JAP) home in the multi-cylinder class with RO Clark (FN) in third place. Background stories, correspondence amd a fuller report on the 1908 TT with lots of pics will be included in the ‘1908 features’ page.
AFTER SIX YEARS’ development work Alfred Scott launched his 333cc water-cooled two-stroke twin with open duplex frame, kickstart, all-chain two-speed transmission and foot-operated gearchange. Scott was soon picking up hillclimbing trophies—the yowling two-stroke was condemned for being “overly efficient” so when racing four-strokes it was given a capacity handicap. Like Zenith, Scott’s advertising would make the most of this implied endorsement. Initially it was made for Scott by The Jowett Motor Manufacturing Co of Bradford but within a year he would set up his own factory.
HAVING SET THE pattern for modern motorcycles Werner Brothers stopped making two-wheelers to concentrate on cars. Ironically a new design V-twin Werner won the final Circuit des Ardennes.
“AMONG THE BATCH of enquiries received last week was one from a motor cyclist in Arabia, who complains that he is unable to obtain petrol for his machine, principally because he requires it in such small quantities.”
“DUDLEY R CLARKE appears to be the only British track rider to adopt the sensible Continental idea of wearing a ‘casque’ or leather helmet, his head-gear being a familiar object in races throughout the season. There is no doubt that the casque affords excellent protection to perhaps the most vulnerable part of the rider in the event of a fall.”
THE PITTSBURG GLOBE reported that Harry Ryan, the six-year-old son of a Pittsburg cycle manufacturer, won a two-mile motor cycle race.
THE DUBLIN SHOW featured bikes from from FN, Minerva, Roc, Moto Reve, Minerva, Zenith (and Zenette), Fairy and Motosacoche. NSUs were on display at a local dealer.
“MISS MURIEL HIND’S performance in the recent [ACC] Quarterly Trials has been the subject of much comment in motor cycling circles. Even hardened riders did not feel at all comfortable on the atrocious roads… but the intrepid lady stuck gamely to her task, and capped all by making fastest time on both test hills. The 5hp Rex she rode was a new machine only delivered the week previously, and is fitted with a Roc free engine clutch.”
GLEN FULTON MAY have been the first rider to fit a windscreen. He explained: “Before I fitted the windscreen I was greatly bothered with my eyes, as I am compelled to wear eyeglasses, and did not like goggles. The wind screen is fitted to the top bar of the frame… the screen can be fixed at any height or angle.”
TOP THREE PLACES in a 53-mile Spanish road race went to Peugeot, NSU and Griffon.
THE LIGHTS ON Vehicles Act came into force on 1 January, requiring lights to be carried on all vehicles at night.
ARTHUR BENTLEY, riding a 3½hp Triumph, made the 886-mile run from John-o’ Groat’s to Land’s End in 41hr 28min, beating the previous record by 7hr 8min. He even beat the car record of 42hr 5min. Bentley’s recollection of the run with more pictures will appear in the 19011 Features page.
MOTORCYCLISTS WERE BEING recruited by the Great Yarmouth command of the Legion of Frontiersmen. (the league was founded by Roger Pocock, a former constable with the North-West Mounted Police and a Boer War veteran in 1905 in response to fears of an impending invasion).
THE ASL (AIR Springs Ltd) lived up to its name with airsprung forks and an air-filled seat. An ASL rider noted that when the forks leaked, as they generally did, “the beast steered like a crab”, but he praised its White and Poppe engine.
IN A SINGLE issue of The Motor Cycle optimistic advertisers offered a talking cockatoo, a gun, a gold watch, a drawing and bedroom suite, a piano, a brazing forge, a gramaphone, a violin and a fretwork machine in exchange for motor cycles.
THE PREMIER MOTOR Co of Birmingham launched the ‘Premier Searchlight’, “made of brass with magnifying lens at the back. The front glass is dissected in such a manner as to diffuse the light and avoid the glare common to the usual big searchlight. It has a separate carbide generator… [and] is claimed to be capable of projecting the light fully sixty yards, so that the general grumble that motor cycle lamps are insufficiently powerful is likely to be a thing of the past.” The Premier was competing with electric lights, but acetylene lights would survive for years to come.
THE MONEY COLLECTED by county and borough authorities for vehicle registration of motor cars and motor cycles was in limbo because the Act requiring vehicles to be registered did not say what this money was to be used for. The Motor Union circulated a nationwide petition calling for money derived from vehicle taxation to be spent on the roads.
THE RAC MADE a deal with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for a 99-year lease “on the old War Office in Pall Mall for conversion into new club premises. A swimming bath, a Turkish bath, and a gymnasium will be provided, and it is intended, if possible, to have 150 bedrooms for the use of members.”
A MOTOR CYCLING fashionista advised: “Once away from the machine there is no necessity for anyone to know that the motor cyclist has been conveyed to his destination by a mechanically propelled bicycle. Strong macintosh overalls (falling well over the boots) and a coat can be slipped over ordinary walking attire; these with the aid of gloves and a silk neckerchief to keep the collar clean enable the motor cyclist to present a clean appearance at all times.”
A SOUTH AMERICAN firm marketed a speedometer based on centrifugal force. A ball was threaded loosely on one of the spoke of the front wheel and held towards the hub by a light coiled spring, which was also threaded on the spoke. As the wheel revolved centrifugal force caused the weight to travel outwards and along the spoke. The weight had a bright ring around it; a graduated dial was attached to the mudguard stay. From the winter issue of The Military Cyclist: “The motor, both as cycle and car, is now becoming such a useful asset to an army that we have decided to open our pages to the military side of motoring. We shall appear next issue as The Military Cyclist and Motorist.”
THE GENERAL ACCUMULATOR and Battery Co of Milwaukee came up with ‘Decarbonizer’, “an oily compound which, in conjunction with combustion, volatitizes carbon and all resinous matter. It removes all such substances from piston head, piston rings, valves and valve stems through exhaust–keeps entire power system clean and in prime condition and adds 20% or more power to any engine and doubles life of same…one trial is proof or its magic power. ”
IN THE STATES THE Marsh Co of Brockton, MA merged with Charles Metz’s firm to form the American Motor Company; their motor cycles were badged Marsh & Metz or MM. Their first major project was the first 90deg V-twin in the US. MM also sold engines to other manufacturers including Peerless, Arrow and Haverford (but only until 1913 when the company closed and Charles Metz turned to automobiles).
THE FIRST POLICE motor cycles were bought by the Detroit Police Department; they set a trend by choosing Harley Davidsons. A New York paper reported: “After the 1st of March the automobile speed merchants had better keep their weather eye open for the new motor cycle squad within the New York City Limits,for on that date the department will be equipped with 16 low racing type motor bicycles capable of doing 60mph, which will be driven by the best motor experts that can be picked from the motor squad now in the department. In addition to these, there will be two twin-cylinder bicycles to be used by the sergeants in charge of the squads in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The squad will then be a total of 50 members.” Newburgh PD
issued Officer William Tuthill with a Marsh & Metz (MM) Special capable of 55mph. Within 10 days he’d issued $50 worth of speeding fines which was more than half thevalue of the bike. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but before long the Boston PD bought 17 MMs “to check scorchers” and the Massachusetts State Police were issued with 13 “for the suppression of furious driving”. Back in Blighty the Cheshire County Constabulary recruited 40 extra PCs “due to the complaints respecting inconsiderate driving of motor vehicles”. But they would have to rely on stop watches and hidden speed traps; British bobbies would have to wait some time for motor cycles.
HARRY MARTIN, RIDING Charley Collier’s 1907 TT winning 3½hp Matchless-JAP, set a six-hour record of 244 miles and 1,650 yards at the Canning Town track. The previous record (228 miles and 250 yards), set by FW Chase at Crystal Palace, had stood since 1902. Martin also set a 200-mile record of 4hr 42min 3sec (almost 41mph), beating his own 1906 record of 5hr 4min 12sec. It was bitterly cold with a strong NE wind and several hailstorms; at one point, during a stop to tighten the drive belt, Martin was rubbed down to restore his circulation. Despite all Martin’s courage a sheer grit he didn’t keep the record for long. OC Godfrey went to Canning Town with his TT model 5hp Rex and extended the record to 268 miles 25 yards.
AN ENTHUSIAST OFFERED some advice “for lighting a lamp on a motor cycle which may prove useful to a rider who is unfortunate enough to have neither matches nor cigarettes when lighting up time arrives. If he is not near any house let him remove the sparking plug, take off the lamp, turn on the water, prop up the plug in a suitable position, jack the back wheel up, and pedal vigorously with spark lever advanced, and he will find the spark strong enough to ignite the gas.”
“HAVING BEEN A constant reader of The Motor Cycle for the past three years, I beg to take exception to the article in the issue of January 1st, “Motor Cycle Records, 1907”, compiled by Mr J Sinclair. Since H Rignold made his world’s record for one mile flying start at Brighton, July 20th, 1905, in 46.5sec, I broke this record on the 14hp Simplex- Peugeot at Ormond Beach, Florida, on June 25th, 1907, covering a mile (flying start) in 44.6sec. On August 2nd, at Providence, RI, during the FAM Meet, I covered a mile on the same machine in 44.6sec, nearly equalling my Florida record. In the 500cc class for single- cylinder machines, an American machine evidently holds the world’s record for one mile straight away (flying start) in 56.5sec. As American records should have the same recognition as other records, I hope to see my letter published in an early issue of The Motor Cycle.”
Wm H Wray, Jun, New York, USA
[The ACU subsequently told Mr Rignold that it did not recognise records created in America, so his record stood.]
THE NEW ERA GAS Engine Co of Dayton Ohio started production of the New Era Auto-Cycle, to a design patented by EL LeFevre. Its 3 1/2hp engine had a starting handle in place of pedals with a two-speed transmission and free engine. The manufacturer pointed out that this allowed “the motor to be started while the Auto-Cyle is stationary and in cases where the motor is not working perfectly and the rider wishes to ascertain the cause, he can do so without mounting.” The throttle, choke, spark advance/retard and valve lifter were all controlled from the handlebars and a stand “supports the machine while repairing a tyre”. These were all unusual features on the American market. The pressed-steel padded seat, mounted on three coil springs, “is anatomically correct in principle, rendering saddle-soreness or saddle fatigue entirey unknown to the rider of the New Era.”
FOR THE SECOND year running northern bike clubs gathered at Richmond, Yorks. Some 200 clubmen rode in (up from 150 in 1907) representing the Newcastle, Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Sheffield and Hallamshire, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool MCCs. Instead of a simple social gathering the clubs held a conference in Richmond Town Hall; the main topic was the northerners’ relations with the ACU. They decided to make the Richmond meeting an annual event. Before long clubs in the South and Midlands were planning their own regional rallies.
“THE SUGGESTION IN The Motor Cycle, viz, that a small tank might be fitted to a convenient part of the frame to contain paraffin and a small pipe with a tap led from it to the compression tap for the purpose of injecting paraffin without having need to use an oilcan, appeared to me to be so highly practical that I at once took steps to have it carried out on my 3½hp magneto machine, with which in this cold weather I experience some little difficulty in starting. The ‘tank’ was formed out of an empty cocoa tin clamped to the down tube below the saddle, and a small copper pipe about 1/8in bore runs from the bottom of this along the lower horizontal tube of the frame, with fastenings thereto, below the petrol tank to the compression, tap. A brass tap is placed immediately at the base of the paraffin tank, and the whole arrangement looks exceedingly neat, besides being a great boon from the utility point of view. The first day I had it on the machine I was returning from Dunstable to London, and when about two-and-a-half miles on the farther side of St Albans I came to a standstill with an empty petrol tank. It is a long and trying climb into St Albans, and I should have had to pay the penalty for my neglectfulness but for the presence of the little paraffin supply. By means of letting about a thimbleful or so of the paraffin drip into the cylinder through the compression tap, and then jumping quickly into the saddle, I was enabled in a series of sprints interspersed with injections of paraffin between each to ride up the hills instead of painfully toiling up them pushing the machine. The cloud of smoke given off from the engine was only a temporary inconvenience, and much to be preferred to the painful alternative. Each sprint took me about one hundred yards, and the power was ample.
“ALMOST AT THE dropping point from loss of sleep, bronzed and weather-stained but exceedingly jubilant, BA Swenson dashed into Chicago…” Swenson had just ridden his Indian 1,112 miles from New York in 49hr 40min. Bob Stubbs, on a 5hp Indian, set a world 200 mile record in 1hr 47min 44sec on a mile dirt track at Birmingham Alabama. “With great satisfaction we record the establishment of a new world’s motorcycle record for 100 miles by a Yankee rider on a Yankee machine. May we continue to build the machines here that can turn the trick so neatly.
IN THE US The Motorcycle Illustrated looked back two years to its first issue: “Motorcycles, crude and noisy machines that they were, did not appeal to the public, but as improvements were made and nuisances abated the populace began to notice the littlebrother of the auto…now there are some dozen or more fully capitalized and equipped manufacturers in the field…” The magazine listed them, cautioning its readers, “The order in which the machines are pictured has absolutely no reference to their merits or worth.”: Manson (used Thor engines); Thor; Crouch; Torpedo; Apache (Thor engines); Thiem; Harley Davidson; Royal; Auto-Bi; Armac; Erat; Merkel; Excelsior; Triumph (Thor engines); Curtiss; Indian; Geer; Hilamen; Mayo; Reading Standard; Light; Marsh & Metz (M-M); Yale; Wagner; Reliance; and Styria. They faced European competition from Vindec, FN, Minerva and NSU.
“HAVING MADE SEVERAL French tours with a passenger mounted over the back wheel, I was especially interested in a photograph of a passenger carried on an impromptu seat on the rear luggage-carrier, with no handle-bar or footrests, beyond the steps. I am sure he would have derived a lot more comfort and pleasure had he been mounted upon a proper tandem attachment, with a handle-bar, pedal rests fitted lower, and a roomy, well-sprung saddle. As it is, I wonder how the carrier stood the strain. I believe I can claim to be the originator of this method of passenger carrying, as six years ago I designed a simple and easily-detachable tandem seat. This my local firm built up at a cost of 25s, using ordinary Chater-Lea lugs and ‘bicycle’ tubing. It has been on four machines, and is in use today… Not only is it a much more comfortable and safer seat than a carrier, but after a little practice the passenger can mount or dismount at any speed up to 20mph. My passenger has made more than one flying leap in the case of a tyre burst, thereby perhaps saving a spill. Two speeds are unnecessary, owing to the passenger being able to assist in starting. I have started half-way up Westerham and similar hills quite easily in this manner, with pedalling and a vigorous push from the passenger.
LOUIS STEINHAUSER was described as “the new aspirant for racing honours” after his debut performance at the Philadelphia MC’s Point Breeze meeting on a standard 3½hp Bradley. Having won the five-mile novice race Steinhauser was runner-up in the 10-mile ‘strictly stock machine’ race, second again in the 10-mile, 500cc ‘Australian pursuit race’ and an honourable third in the 25-mile unrestricted race.
MAGNETS “AMONG THE most successful mechanically propelled bicycles in Germany”, arrived in England. A 5hp ohv twin came with two magnetos; its 3½hp stablemate was available with a sidecar “and a special form of supplementary handle-bar to enable the driver to sit in the passenger’s seat and control the machine when he so desires”.
“THE MOTOR CYCLE TRADE in America appears to be flourishing. The NSU Motor Co has recently opened American headquarters at 206, West 76th Street, New York, and Minerva motor cycles have been added to the list of Continental machines represented ever the water.” Indian had boosted annual production from 2,500 to 3,500.
REM FOWLER MADE a brass model of the Peugeot V-twin engine that powered his Norton to victory in the first TT. It measured 7/8×3/4in complete with moving engine pulley, cams, and valves. Rem had it gilded and fitted with a ring for attaching to his watch chain. “The whole was turned on a clumsy brassfounder’s lathe with 6in. centres, the parts being so small that at times Mr Fowler says he could hardly hold them for working, and several of them got lost. The exhaust valve springs are made of hard drawn German silver wire. The carburettor is an exact imitation of a Brown and Barlow, and there is a chain sprocket on the half-time shaft for driving the magneto.”
CAVEAT EMPTOR: “Never imagine that you can obtain an article for £5, the market price of which is £10. If you see advertisements offering well-known makes of machines or accessories at absurdly low prices, ie, about half what you have previously understood to be their market value, do not part with any cash without first of all examining the articles…machines have been offered at a ridiculously low figure, and on investigation the description has been entirely wrong.”
A MOTORCYCLING LAWYER warned: “Should anyone know of a police trap in his district he would have been quite at liberty 12 months ago to warn the unwary motorist of the same, as the Court has decided that by so doing a person did not obstruct the police in the pursuance of their duties, but a phrase from the lips of Lord Chief Justice Alverstone, which was pregnant with meaning and suggestiveness, is worthy of note, viz, ‘That the obstruction of a constable in the execution of his duty need not necessarily be physical obstruction.’.”
GAMAGES MARKETED the Eyquem sparkplug. “The central core terminates in a five-pointed disc, which forms the gaps across which sparks jump to the body of the plug. The central core is hollow, so that on turning the [integral] wooden handle the compression tap is opened and paraffin may be injected into the cylinder…an iron wire attached to the spindle of the tap may be turned downwards, so that the current passes direct from the high tension wire to the frame, thus cutting out the ignition, preventing unauthorised persons from starting the machine”
IXION NOTED: “Some youthful riders take a delight in swaggering along at high speed with one hand on the throttle, and only holding the steering bar straight with the palm of the other hand. This is courting a sudden and rather abraded exit from this world of trouble.”
REX ADVERTISED FOR “experienced mechanics for a night shift to cope with demand”.
“A FRENCH ARMY OFFICER, Commandant Pein, has caused somewhat of a sensation in sporting and military circles in France by announcing his intention of crossing the Sahara on a motor bicycle.”
HIGHLIGHT OF THE Berlin Cycle Club’s silver jubilee celebrations was motor cycle stunt riding by the Luders Brothers. The act included one Luders standing on the other Luders shoulders and riding in a circle side by side with both riders seated backward. Their chosen mounts were Motosacoches.
“I HAVE A BONE to pick with your wicked paper. Some three years ago I was a happy and contented man, but then ill-luck caused me to listen to the idiotic talk of a motor cycling friend, and to read various numbers of his copy of The Motor Cycle. The result was a 2hp ———— (second-hand) which gave me all sorts of trouble, and ought to have cured me once for all of this madness, but I still read this evil paper and a 3½hp was the result. Dirty hands, electric shocks, bad temper, came on as before, but I still read on, and a ——— sidecar added terribly to my agonies. I became everybody’s slave, and a ‘paying’ chauffeur for every wretched visitor. Still, I read your collection of infamies, and invested in a two-speed gear. Then life became a burthen, and I was compelled, and, alas! am still compelled, to drive ladies about wherever they want to go, take them shopping, and escort male visitors to and from the station, sometimes with heavy bags, through all weathers. I take good care that nothing goes wrong, but now and again one must get a new belt, which stretches, as you know, and when going to or from the station I have to get off, and with muddy, frozen fingers shorten the belt and listen to the compassionate remarks of passengers about the bother of motors. Then, ah! then, it is difficult to refrain from saying and doing regrettable things. Now you will say your victim is escaping; he will sell his accursed omnibus and be happy once more. Alas! No! He is waiting with impatience for the arrival of a 5hp twin, which only the fortunate lack of funds will prevent being fitted with a magneto, two-speed gear, and handle-bar control. Thank goodness, your power ends with motor cycles, and when some day—may it be distant yet—I am seated on a 9hp twin, with sidecar, and furred and goggled passenger by my side, driving at awful speeds through mud, and snow, with every appliance that diabolical ingenuity can suggest fitted, then you will be satisfied. And so shall I.
Mohun A Trenchard.”
LAUNCHED AT THE Turin show, the Laviosa Autocicletta featured stabiliser wheels which were raised by depressing a pedal once it was under way. It featured a two-speed transmission, optional fan cooling and handle starting.
“WATEVER MAY BE the preferences of a scant handful of individuals, one has only to peruse The Motor Cycle Buyers’ Guide to see that for motor bicycle purposes, apart from the haulage of a passenger, the belt has altogether ousted the chain, and this is by the united verdict of both manufacturers and users.”
“IN THE BICYCLING WORLD and Motor-cycle Review a reference is made to the spelling of the title of our governing body, namely, “Auto-Cycle” Club. This New York journal, which is apparently rather badly upset that the English press and principal British motor cycling bodies will not accept any promiscuous record that is sent over from the USA, finds great fault with the manner in which the name of the club is written, namely, in three separate words. Surely this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Had we been asked our opinion as to how the American Club would have spelt it, we should imagine it would have been printed ‘Ortosycle-klub.’ As a matter of fact, the names as spelt ‘Auto-Cycle’ Club and ‘Automobile’ Club call for criticism from the etymological expert, but an American editor can hardly be expected to be a sufficiently good authority on either grammar or etymology to detect exactly where the fault would lie in this direction.”
THE CHICAGO SHOW was, apart from Bosch magnetos, all-American. There were 44 bikes on display including the mighty 40hp Curtiss V8 and an Auto-Bi open-framed model weighing in at 140lb complete with a bucket seat, sprung frame and forks and a 6hp four-pot engine mounted behind the rear wheel. According to the firm’s blurb: “The unique transmission occupies a circular space about three inches in extent and employs no gears, shafts, chains or belts. A speed of 7-40mph may be obtained by use of the transmission alone, the engine speed remaining practically constant.”
“A NOVICE USUALLY wonders whether he will ever be able to get on to his motor bicycle. It is best to practise mounting by pedal or footrest down a falling grade, with the belt removed. The art is soon acquired, and becomes perfectly automatic. I invariably mount clean off the ground, which I consider much safer than feeling for a pedal or footrest. If the rider is nervous he may momentarily raise the valve or switch off while swinging himself into the saddle, but unless he learns to jump on cleanly with the engine running, he will only be able to start on the flat or downhill. Starting by sitting in the saddle and pedalling is the slowest and most tiring method of all, and no rider should rest content until he has mastered either the clean jump or the pedal hop. With a variable gear there is no need for any exertion at all. Simply inject paraffin to free the rings, sit athwart the machine, engage low gear, set levers, raise valve, give two smart pushes against the ground, one with each foot, drop valve, and engine should start.”
A SURVEY ABOUT the ideal bike revealed that most riders wanted a single-cylinder engine of about 450cc with a ‘change-speed gear’ and free-engine clutch, pedals and an all-up weight over 150lb.
CB GRIMSHAW OF Sunderland designed and built “one of the highest powered motor bicycles used on English roads” using JAP’s 90° 1,320cc twin rated at 20hp which was designed for racing and record breaking (it was put to good use by Matchless and Vindec, among others). Mr Grimshaw clearly scorned such pastimes; note the touring handlebars and substantial horn.
“IT IS ABSURD to suppose that a motor cycle is the frequent cause of accidents. Reference to statistics will prove that accidents caused by motor cycles are of very rare occurrence indeed, and infinitesimal when compared with those caused by other vehicles. A motor cycle is more amenable to control than any other road vehicle. Raising one lever and gently applying the brakes will bring a machine travelling at legal speed to a standstill in an incredibly short distance, so that the risk of an accident in that direction is considerably minimised. Of course, a stupid hen (and hens are stupid), a dog, or a nervous horse may cause hasty dismount, but in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred it will be found that the accident was not caused by the motor cycle, but the other party ir the case, and accidents of this nature are just as liable to occur to the pedal cyclist as to the motor cyclist.”
HUMBER ‘ORDINARY’ £1 shares, which had been down to 1s 6d in 1905, were changing hands at £2.50.
“A MOTOR BICYCLE depends for safety rather on the pluck and personality of the driver than on the nature of the machine and roads. Anyone can hold up the modern belt driver if he makes up his mind to it. Difficult machines to handle over grease are those with chain drive, high frames, and high gears. A non-skid band fitted with either rubber or steel studs on the rear tyre is less liable to skid… It is a great mistake to have too good a silencer. A motor bicycle catches the eye far less than a car, and a silent motor bicycle is likely to be concerned in accidents. If a really good silencer is fitted, the horn will have to be used ad nauseam…The so-called ‘racing’ position renders one less master of the machine on grease, looks ungraceful, and removes necessary weight from the front wheel. A trailer is an unsatisfactory method of conveying a passenger, and under no circumstances should any trailer not specially built for motor work by a reliable firm be attached to a motor bicycle. I have twice had breakages with special motor trailers, and in addition they are easily upset, and the driver may pardonably forget how much room he needs when seeking a fissure in the traffic. They are very shaky, and the passenger gets the full benefit of all dust, noise, and smell. It is prudent for the driver to shout once in every mile, ‘Are you there?’.
NSU CAME UP WITH an anti-skid device comprising eight pairs of hooks fixed to the rear rim to which leather bands could be attached incorporating square steel plates with projecting studs. It was claimed that “safety on greasy roads is assured, and danger of slipping on stone setts minimized owing to the amount of rubber exposed being greater than the amount of studded leather”.
“THE BEST OUTFIT for all motorists is a roll-up looped strip, with pockets for oddments in the end. The touring kit should include:
One 8in wrench.
One small adjustable spanner.
Special open-ended wrenches for all inaccessible nuts.
Trembler coil or magneto spanner, if either is used.
Small pair of flat-nosed pliers.
Short, strong screwdriver.
Valve spring remover.
Half-round file with cover.
Contact file and case.
Tyre repair kit.
Paraffin or petrol can.
Copper wire, thick and thin.
Sparking plug, valve cap, and compression tap washers.
Two spare valves complete.
Three spare plugs complete.
Belt punch or drill.
Two spare belt fasteners.
Fine wire for clearing carburetter jet.
Sundry nuts and bolts.
One or two spare nipples for Bowden wires if used.”
ESNAULT-PELTERIE of Paris produced a 20hp V5 motor cycle version of its 30hp V7 aircraft engine to power a bicycle pacer. Instead of the V7’s one-carb-per-pot layout the bike engine relied on a single Claudel carburettor. “My mount is fitted with very comfortable footboards, big saddle, long wheelbase, and very long handle-bars, and I have never felt the slightest fatigue after being in the saddle all day; but I venture to say I should not feel as fresh after riding a lightweight for the same time. I found there was no comparison with the light machine when riding over the same roads on my own heavy twin.”
“LONG LOW FOOTRESTS are dangerous when taking corners at fast speed, as was proved at the ACU Hill-climb at Sutton Bank. One or two competitors had long footrests fitted to their machines, and during the afternoon the left footrest of one machine caught in the ground while the machine was travelling at 20mph round the bend, and acting as a pivot spun the machine completely round.”
THERE WERE about 25 motor cycles in Madras.
IN THE SAME YEAR that motor cycles first raced round the Brooklands circuit the Americans opened The Clifton Saucer: a steeply banked wood speed bowl with room for only two bikes at a time. Its circumference was under 300 yards, laps typically took nine seconds. One pundit opined: “It is a death trap. pure and simple.”
ROYAL MOTOR CYCLISTS included Prince Albert of Monaco, Price Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and Prince Eitel Fritz, second son of the German Kaiser.
THE WEST LONDON-based New Era Motor Co imported a sturdy German Phenomobile trike, powered by a 440cc/8hp V-twin engine mounted over the (sprung) front fork. A two-speed Nala gearset was built into the front hub. It also featured “an extra air shutter, by means of which the air supply can be reduced for starting in cold weather”. Or as we’d say, a choke.
“THERE IS A tendency to gain advertisement out of town-to-town records on motor cycles, and we hope those responsible for the organisation of such performances will refrain from further exploits of this nature. Motor cycles are gradually but surely gaining popularity…it would be very regrettable if scorching between towns should cause restrictive legislation, as it undoubtedly will do if indulged in to any extent.”
NO NEED TO KEEP grinding paste in stock; the tip was to mix flour, oil and emery powder.
A NORTH LONDON garage mechanic designed and built a V4 engine which, he claimed was the smallest working air-cooled petrol engine in the world with cylinders made from 1¼in steel tube. He made his own minature spark plugs, contact breaker, distributor and coil. It weighed 8lb and developed 1¼hp at 1,300rpm.
HERE’S AN EXCERPT from one of dozens of letters from doctors published in The Motor Cycle following a request for testimonials: “Have used a motor bicycle for four years in my practice and average 10,000 miles a year over hilly country. As regards my own health, I have never been better, and despite the fact that through all conditions of weather there are no spring forks or saddle-pillar fitted to my four-year-old single-speed machine, the vibration (the bogey of motor cycling) over our bad roads has neither unsteadied my hand nor shaken my nerves. I could write from now to next year giving instances where the motor cycle, and the motor cycle alone, has made the difference to the ultimate recovery of serious cases. For four years I have used Palmer tyres, and only once had a side-slip (on ice coming down 1-in-9 on frozen snow).
Charles Patterson, MB, MRCS.”
NINE CLUBS SENT teams to compete for The Motor Cycle Challenge Cup: the Coventry, Yarmouth, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Southern and NW London MCCs… and ‘The’ MCC. The reliability trial was based on Daventry where most of the 54 entrants stayed the previous night. “But,” the Blue ‘Un reported. “the Sheffield ‘blades’ are a hardy lot, and left home shortly lifter midnight for the scene of operations, all duly arriving at 8am.” The idea was to cover the 100-mile course non-stop, the Coventry team won by a comfortable margin and, this being their 3rd win, took permanent possession of The Motor Cycle Club Fifty GuineaCup. Factory teams were entered for the trial including Vindec, Douglas, Rex, Triumph, NSU, P&M, Motosacoche, Moto Reve, Roc, Zenith and Phanomen. The Motor Cycle Club presented the MCC with a replacement cup.
AN ENTHUSIAST LEAVING Britain on a Continental tour wrote: “Modest cottage and noble hall, mead and wold, hill and valley, have ever enduring charms which give interest to the constantly varying pictures of nature that are passed in review by the motor cyclist. Even vile weather and grasping hosts cannot take away the delights of the English countryside—the countryside as seen by him who looks not for the relation between it and those who dwell therein. Even at a season when the prevailing tones are greys and browns and purples no country in the world is quite so attractive in its combined sylvan and pastoral scenes as England. What pleasing mutations of form and combinations of colour. But even these must not detain the tourist too long. Folkestone was set in banks of mist, the Channel was veiled in fleecy vapours, and Boulogne was bathed in the tears of the weeping skies, as we prepared to embark for other shores.”
THE NEW YORK MC’s Decoration Day hillclimb was run up a 1,290ft road in New York City. There were 51 starters; half of them entered on the day which delayed the start by an hour. Indians took top three spots in the 350cc class; first bikes home in the 500cc class were Indian, Marsh-Metz and Curtis. The 800cc multi-cylinder class was won by an NSU, ahead of two Indians (with a British Vindec in 4th place). The 1,000cc multi-cylinder class was headed by a brace of Indians, with third spot going to Peugeot. And top three in the no-limit ‘free for all’ were Indian, Curtiss, Peugeot.
“YOU DO PUBLISH some rot in your paper, the latest nonsense being to advise people that the Stanley belt fastener can be used to lengthen a belt. The difference in lengths of the three sizes is only ¼in. How long do you imagine a new belt will be stretching ¼in? If you give advice, give sensible advice.
“The fastener in question allows the belt to be shortened ¾in as it must be obvious to anyone except ‘FGS’ that more than one hook can be used. When our correspondent has mastered this, we should recommend him to learn by heart, ‘The man who asks questions should ask sensible questions, and ask them civilly.’— Ed.”
And in the next issue: ”I can gather from FGS’s ignorant abuse of your most interesting and instructive paper that he is one of those persons who has sat on the saddle of a motor bicycle, sounded the horn, and aimlessly moved the levers, the machine being on the stand, of course. After this he thinks he has…sufficient knowledge to advertise his lack of reasoning power in print.
“WHERE ARE THE Scouts? We cannot congratulate the AA on its scouting arrangements on the Maidstone and Sevenoaks Road. At present the police are very busy on the Sevenoaks Road, and no sign of a scout is to be seen, whereas on the 18-mile stretch from Ashford to Folkestone no less than four of the AA men were seen on a recent weekend.”
A COMPETITOR IN the Leeds MCC London trial covered 527 miles in 26hr 27min riding time.
A BIRMINGHAM DAILY paper reported that a lightweight race at Villa Park was won on a Mattress. The Blue ‘Un quipped: “Most of our readers will doubtless guess that ‘Matchless’ was the word intended. Winning a motor cycle race is a little more strenuous than lying on a mattress, as many riders can testify.” Ho ho ho.
A GROWING NUMBER of riders were having problems buying tyres because lack of standardisation meant tyres that were nominally the right side simply didn’t fit.
A DUBLIN COURT fined a hapless motor cyclist £10 for speeding in Phoenix Park. A car driver caught speeding in the park was fined 3s 5d.
“DETROIT HAS WOMAN Motorcyclist: The unique distinction of being the only woman motorcyclist between New York and San Francisco is claimed by Mrs HG Smith of Detroit, wife of the president of the Detroit MC.”
THE ACU 24-HOUR trial from London to Plymouth and back, based on the Angel Hotel, Thames Ditton, attracted 29 starters who rode overnight via Guildford Winchester Salisbury to Yeovil for breakfast. From Yeovil to Honiton was a special section of 30¼ hilly miles which had to be covered in between 1hr 29min and 1hr 35min on both the outward and homeward journeys.
It wasn’t an easy run. CH Barfield (3½hp Triumph) had to deal with six punctures; Martin Geiger (6hp NSU outfit) ran into a bridge and broke a wheel near Yeovil; WJ Newman (4hp Roc) had gear trouble at Yeovil and found three teeth chipped off a pinion. He phoned a garage, was allowed to use its workshop, repaired the pinion and caught up with some of the other riders at Exeter. WT Smith (2hp Moto Reve), having slogged through the trial on a lightweight, was among the non-finishers and wrote to The Motor Cycle about it: “Mr Smith sends us a sample of puncture material which he picked up en route. This consists of a piece of iron 2in. long, 1¼in. wide, and about ½in thick, with
several sharp edges. Mr Smith informs us that this cut the tyre crossways and nearly severed it, sprained his ankle, and caused his retirement.” Twenty-one riders reached Plymouth. On the way home CH Crole Rees (6hp Advance) replaced a broken valve but had to retire “through the head of his cycle breaking”. Freddy Barnes (3½hp Zenette) was delayed by a blocked fuel pipe; Barnes and H O’Hagan (5hp Vindec Special) were misdirected when near home and sent about 10 miles out of their way. Seven more fortunate riders who arrived back at the Angel before the deadline, and had completed the special section on time, were awarded gold medals. For once, there were no speed traps; instead the cops cleared a route through the major towns, where hundreds of locals turned out to cheer the riders on. However, after the event there were complaints that the event clashed with the ACU’s Land’s End trial. Both these events put machines and riders to the test but, thanks to some lousy weather, the ACU six-day End-to-End trial (which was the genesis of the ISDT) turned out to be toughest long-distance trial to date. [A report, results, backround stories and pictures will appear in the 1908 Features page.] According to The Motor Cycle’s correspondent: “Never before in any long distance trial have such wonderful pluck, endurance and skill been seen. If the motor cycling public ought to be grateful to the ACU for helping to develop improvements in motor bicycles, how much more ought the British public as a whole to be grateful to that body for bringing out that splendid doggedness which is inherent to those of our nation?”
AN AMERICAN publication reported on “A British Freak Motorcycle” in uncompromising terms “An English motorcycle designer has produced what is appropriately termed a ‘stand-up’ machine, although its real name is the Max. The wheels are very small, and the machinery is quite close to the ground. There is no seat, and the rider stands upon footboards which are on either side and slightly forward of the point at which the rear wheel comes in contact with the ground. As these boards have a clearance of not more than two inches, a poor or uneven highway might furnish the rider with the surprise of his life. A motorcycle upon which the rider can stand on one foot would seem to be the next problem for designers to attack.”
THE GERMAN CYCLING Federation hosted a 144.5-mile fuel consumption trial round Berlin. There were 30 competitors; marques represented included FN, Phanomobil, Magnet, Goricke, Durkopp, Laurin and Klement, NSU, Wanderer, Progress, Brennabor, Phanomen, and Motosacoche. A 3hp Gorike won the over 2hp class; it took 8hr 51min to complete the course and used 5.9lit. A Motosacoche won the under-2hp class with a time of 9hr 21min and consumption of 3.79lit–111.1 and 119.9mpg respectively.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE ACU’s annual race meeting was a one-hour scratch race, The Motor Cycle Challenge Cup, limited to 76x76mm engines, roughly equivalent to 350s. HV Colver (Matchless) won with a record breaking 52 miles 1,650 yards.
FOLLOWING THE SECOND annual gathering of northern clubs, the Midlanders got together at Stratford-upon-Avon. Some 60 enthusiasts rode in from the Birmingham, Burton-on-Trent, Coventry, Oxford Bocardo, Sutton Coldfield and Worcester MCCs. The six club secretaries got together and decided that, like the Northerners, the Midlanders would meet anually.
“MOTOR CYCLISTS ARE well advised to exercise care when riding alone and after dark in the quiet Kentish lanes. With the exodus to the hop gardens the roads are frequented by dangerous characters. Carry good lamps, as on the surface of dark tarred roads footpads are only recognisable a few yards away.”
“MOTOR CYCLISTS ARE warned to beware of juvenile excursionists from the slums who are transported to country lanes and roads for fresh air, particularly down south. Conversing this week with Mr Sleath, a well-known Leamington trader and a motor cyclist to boot, he told us that when repairing a tyre of his Motosacoche near Brighton the other day he had a 1s 6d touring map, a screwdriver, and his goggies stolen by these juvenile admirers of his tyre repairing efforts.”
RIDERS REPORTED problems finding petrol in one-gallon tins; many suppliers were unwilling to open sealed two-gallon tins for them.
IXION WROTE: “In the course of my motor cycling experience I must have tried practically every form of road clearer ever invented, even including those diabolical echo-wakers which are worked by the exhaust. The most effective in a gentlemanly way that I have tried is the little ‘driveline’ whistle, or mouth siren.” The KD mouth siren, for half a crown, was “guaranteed the best road clearer on the market”. Or, for just a bob, there was the Motorcycle Tambourine, a small drum clipped to the fork which “sounds like a noisy drum”. Riders were assured: “The effect is startling.”
NSU DEVELOPED AN 8hp (800cc) V-twin racer specifically for Brooklands and the Blue ‘Un was clearly impressed: “The machine, to put it briefly, is quite the most perfect high powered racing motor bicycle we have yet seen. Carried on the top bar is a large torpedo-shaped oil tank fitted with a pump operated by means of a Bowden wire attached to a lever fitted to the handle-bar, so that to give a charge of oil the racing man has no need to let go of the handle-bar and fumble for a tap. The engine is fitted with mechanically-operated inlet valves arranged on the overhead principle so effectively carried out by the NSU Co. For the sake of lightness an aluminium crank- case has been provided, which is contrary to NSU practice. The Bosch magneto is gear driven, the gear wheels being enclosed in an aluminium gear case.”
THE GERMAN MOTOR Cycle Association teamed up with the Silesian Balloon Club to stage a ‘pursuit’ in which seven motor cycles chased the balloon, Even though the aeronaut landed in an inaccessible woodland clearing the first bike, a 3hp Phanomen, reached it within 26 minutes. Following talks with the German War Office the association formed a ‘volunteer motor cycling corps’ including military training for would-be couriers.
IN A FIVE-MILE event at the Clifton, New Jersey track Jake De Rosier covered a quarter mile in 13.4sec, half a mile in 27.6mph, a mile in 56sec and five miles in 4min 52.2sec. “These times are certainly wonderful in view of the conditions under which they were accomplished,” the Blue ‘Un reported. “At anything like a mile a minute gait the riders experience a severe shock on the turns.” De Rosier rode a 7hp Indian “driven almost entirely on the spark, which is controlled by the right handle grip, while the throttle is directly on top of the carburettor, and is thrown wide open after the machine is well started. The chain drive is direct from the engine to the rear wheel.” De Rosier’s breakthrough race came at the 1908 Federation of American Motorcyclist (FAM) National Championships ST Paterson, New Jersey. HE was the top rider of the meet and was signed to a full-time racing contract with Indian. From that point forward, De Rosier won races nearly every weekend and soon became the acknowledged king of professional motorcycle racing.
RIDERS IN THE ACU Penalty Run had to cover 72 miles within 3hr 45min and 4hr to win a medal. However, stopping for any reason incurred a 1s fine, as failing to finish within 4hr. Failing to finish within 4hr 30min cost 2s 6d (fines were limited to five bob).
“IDON’T THINK many of your readers know of Ailustite, a liquid preparation for putting inside air tubes to repair punctures. I put some inside mine nearly four months ago, and have never had to blow them up since. The front tyre was punctured when I put it in, and I have pulled out one nail from the back tyre and have not touched it since. I think if End-to-end riders were to use it they would not have any punctures to mend, and so save time and marks.” The US equivalent was called Newmastic; its main ingredients were said to be glue, glucose, and glycerine.
LAURIN AND KLEMENT supplied a dozen 4hp single-cylinder, two speed sidecar outfits to the Mexican post Office.
THE JAMES CYCLE COMPANY was a regular at the Stanley Show. No surprise there; James had started out making penny-farthings in 1880, two years after the show was established by the Stanley Cycling Club and James had made its first motor cycle in 1902.
The show had expanded to display powered vehicles in 1896 and James had made its first motor cycle in 1902. And now it used the (32nd) show to launch its most radical design to date: the Safety model, which it described as a one-track car, not least because it featured hub-centre steering. All the frame tubes ran to the left of the interchangeable wheels,
which sported (metal-to-metal) drum brakes. The fuel tank doubled as the front mudguard, starting was by a handle with a free engine thanks to a sliding engine pulley so the rider could start the engine and pull away without running alongside. Comfort was further enhanced by laminated front springs, running boards and a saddle resting on flat steel and coil springs. Sparks for the inclined (to the rear) 523cc single-cylinder engine came from a chain driven magneto. Concentric valves (exhaust on the outside) were operated by a single ‘camwheel’ with a double cam for the exhaust and a single central cam for the inlet valve (which, thanks to a movable fulcrum on its rocking lever, featured variable lift). Not surprisingly, the one-track stole the show. PS, an American reporter described the Stanley Show as “the greatest of all motorcycle exhibits”. Bat’s show model was more
conventional but state of the art: a JAP-powered 9hp 1,100 V-twin outfit with chain drive, differential and not two but three-speed sliding-gear transmission. Mind you, the transmission was mounted on the sidecar which had two wheels; bike and sidecar front wheels had Bat spring forks and the four-wheeler could easily be taken apart, leaving a single-speed but powerful solo. So actually the Bat was pretty radical in its own right. Humber also launched a new model at the Stanley show, in this case a 487cc, 3½hp sidevalve one-lunger with handle starter; the 500 single was emerging as a staple of the British industry. The handlebars incorporated a crossbar to hold accessories like a speedometer, horn, clock or club badge. The silencer was built into the downtube. A two-speed rear hub was available, with the gears selected by pedals on the left footboard. Yes, a foot operated gearchange.
LMC came up with a twostroke vertical twin mounted off to the right of the frame for optimum cooling It was said to show no sign of overheating despite the lack of cooling fins. The major innovation from Roc was spring forks featuring C-springs.
NOISY BIKES WERE as unpopular in the USA as the UK: “Good, strong, dashing, effective men, rushing to the task eagerly, early, hast thou no pity, no mufflers?”
THE US MOTORCYCLE Manufacturers Association was established; recruits included Reading Standard, Curtiss, Pierce, Auto-Bi, Harley, Marsh-Metz, Indian, Excelsior, Merkel, Thor, Curtis, Torpedo, Auto-Bi and Pierce. Its aims included gaining more prominence at shows and backing the FAM’s legislative and ‘good roads’ capaigns.
ITEMS OFFERED IN exchange for motor cycles in a single issue of The Motor Cycle included a talking cockatoo, gun, gold watch, diamond ring, drawing and bedroom suite, piano, furniture, lathe, gramophone, dynamo, musical box, violin, lantern, brazing forge, fretwork machine, pedal bicycles, a tandem and a motor car.
“THE MOTOR CYCLES on exhibition [at the Paris Salon] are, speaking generally, very far behind the British motor cyclist’s ideal… at present the motor cycle business is in the hands of two or three firms at most, who do not appear to have made any great efforts to keep their products up to date. For instance, it is an uncommon sight to find a machine fitted with a handlebar controlled carburettor…Such articles as stands and luggage carriers are practically unknown, and the saddles are, in the majority of cases, more suited to path racing requirements than those of the touring or road riding motor cyclist…We searched in vain for footrests, and as for pedal applied belt rim brakes, admitted to be the best retarding device for a motor cycle, they were non-existent…The change-speed gear question does not appear to have ruffled the mind of French manufacturers.” Exhibitors had declined from 46 in 1906 and 45 in 1907 to 31; the number of bikes on show was down from 108 and 98 to 79.
WALTER GOERKE on a 5hp Indian won the Federation of American Motorcyclists 10-mile championship at Morris Park, New York, ahead of Fred Huyek and AG Chappie. Goerke’s time was 10min 45.4sec.
A SINGLE ISSUE of The Motor Cycle carried stories and correspondence from New Zealand, South Australia, Tasmania, Ceylon, Vancouver, Nyasaland, South Africa, Canada, Long Island, America, Normandy, Brittany, France, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium.
JOHN WARR OF Leamingtom, described simply as ‘an amateur’ built “a home-made three-wheeled passenger motor cycle” (or as we’d say, ‘trike’) using the rear axle off an old quad with differential, all-chain drive, two-speed transmission and, thanks to its 7hp Peugeot V-twin lump (as used in Rem Fowler’s 1907 TT winner) a top speed of 40mph on the flat. There was a comfy padded seat with backrest for the rider, ahead of a luxurious armchair for the passenger. “My freak is original,” he said, “and I claim nothing for it but that.” Ixion commented: “This type of motor cycle is simply ideal for winter work, particularly with a two-speed gear. It is absolutely immune from side-slip, and, though the steering is diametrically different from that of a bicycle, when once the rider is at home on it, there is no limit of speed as far as safety is concerned.”
THE INLAND REVENUE reported that by year’s end 32,355 motor cycles had been licensed in England and Wales and 3,429 in Scotland. Irish motor cyclists could ride tax free, but that situation was not expected to last much longer.
BILL WILLIAMS, A North London enthusiast designed what he called ‘instantly detachable’ sidecar fitting which he had manufactured by Chater-Lea. To any 21st century combo rider they look like… sidecar fittings. It seems Mr Williams designed the type of telescopic fittings and clamps that became ubiquitous. Well done that man.
IT WAS A GOOD year for inventive designers. The Mabon company came up with a “free-engine pulley and metal-to-metal disc clutch” comprising “a number of
steel discs held in frictional contact by a coil spring”. The clutch was “operated by a Bowden wire connected to a Bowden lever on the handle-bar of the motor cycle. This
lever on the handle-bar is provided with a stop, which holds the lever in such a position the clutch is entirely released and the
pulley remains stationary, while the engine is started by means of a handle, which can be attached to the main shaft of the engine…” The phrases ‘clutch lever’ and ‘clutch cable’ had yet to be coined but it all sounds remarkably modern.
AMERICAN BICYCLE CLUBS routinely staged ‘century runs’ of 100 miles; a ‘road officer’ of the New York MC admitted that “motorcyclists have long been a good-natured joke with the old guard of the Push Bike Brigade”. In response to this he arranged a series of ‘double-century’ runs, predicting: “This should appeal to the majority of motorcyclists and should prove to be a very easy task, as the motorcycle of to-day has reached such a perfect state of reliability.” Of the 28 bikes to complete the first 200-mile run, 17 were imports. The club officer wrote: “Two years ago there were practically no foreign machines in the New York MC. Now almost every experienced rider in the club rides a foreign machine.” The club also planned “the first 24-hour reliability run held this side of the Atlantic”.
THEFAM, AMERICAN counterpart of the ACU, also ran a long-distance trial, which they called an Endurance Run (but, being American, as well as gold medals for perfect scores, the FAM awarded 15 Diamond Medals for “Perfect score plus five points for most consistent running”). The two-day, 354-mile run included a time trial, as well as
hill-climbing and brake tests. FAM vice-president TK Hastings, who had won gold medals in the ACU’s London-Edinburgh and End-to-End trials, did just as well on his home ground by winning the ‘Private Owners’ class. Walter Davidson riding, as you’d expect, a Harley, won the Trade Riders class. Of 63 starters 32 finished. This was described as “a splendid record…the present run has “demonstrated beyond a doubt that there has been marvellous advance in motorcycle reliability”. The first 100 mile included “hills and mountains and some of the men thought they were in flying machines, as they actually bounded from boulder to boulder…there were stretches of four to five miles that bore every appearance of having been mined and turned up by a retreating army…it afforded proof positive that the US Army could well afford to equip its engineer corps and scouts with motorcycles. This was, indeed, a test of tests, and no warrior could possibly meet with worse conditions in the strenuous life of war.” Louis Steinhauser, a rising star onthe track, failed to finish, after he “struck a large boulder, was tossed 15 feet in the air and the machine was entirely wrecked” (Steinhauser walked, or limped, away with minor injuries). Further down the road “the redoubtable Bill Wray, known as the ‘Policeman’s Pet’ because they always pinch him upon the slightest provocation, had his machine suspended by the tracing chains to an apple tree and was trying to make it go… it looked like a huge ornament hunng on a Christmas tree. Wray was all excitement and his mechanical ability was fast oozing out of his fingertips.” Wray was advised to “look at the carbons on the magneto and tape the wire fast”…it worked fine, and he started off at a speed simply wonderful.” Trade riders had support teams: “Messrs Hendee and Hedstrom (Indian) were in evidence every foot of the way and they nursed their men as tenderly as babes.
Reading Standard also had a man on the job throughout the Endurance Run. He went ahead of the run and arranged gasoline and oil at various stations.” It was reported that “the contestants all agree that this was the toughest rider of its kind ever made in this country”. And after all that the official results were delayed by two days because “one of the score sheets is missing. Some idiot has wandered off with it and the chief scorers are hunting all over God’s green earth trying to locate him.”
FROM MANCHESTER CAME the Tesame tyre which was claimed to be puncture proof thanks to a “patent steel woven section which is inserted between the layers of canvas which form the casing of the cover… The makers state that they are quite willing to let anybody strew nails and glass on a road and ride over them.”
THE SPORTSMAN’S SHOW at Madison Square Gardens, New York included a ‘Motorcycle Row’. Stands featured FN (also promoted by the FN Motor Club of America), the Nala two-speed hub, NSU, Minerva, Indian and Thor. An American pundit wrote: “We regret that there were not more American motorcycles represented at the exhibit.”
THE AUSTRIAN ARMY adopted motor cycles for the rapid laying field-telegraph cables.
ADVERTS OFFER A FASCINATING insight into the variety and cost of comntemporary motor cycles, accessories, components and protective clothing. Here’s a sample of the ads that were tempting enthusiasts in 1908…