Rather than an in-depth look at a major event this feature is a miscellany of motor cycling adventures, impressions and advice, including some material which might be on interest to readers from the gentle sex. Let’s drift back rather more than 110 years and start with a ride into a glorious Easter dawn with an enthusiast named Clarence Ponting. Clarence, you have the floor…
THE MAJORITY OF MOTOR CYCLISTS take their rides during the daytime, but did they only know of the delights which await the motor cyclist who will ride early to meet the sun, I fancy more motor cycles would be seen on the roads during the ‘wee sma’ hours’ of the morning. The writer has more than once left a dance at three o’clock in the morning, changed to warmer garments, and set out for a thirty miles round before finally settling down to rest. When the moon is shining full even on a frosty night, such a ride is most refreshing and enjoyable. However, the present ride has nothing to do with moonlight trips. It deals with a short holiday spent last Easter with a motor cycle. The writer, being employed in a bank, naturally wished to visit his people during the Easter holiday. Deciding to motor, the distance being some ninety-five miles, he retired early to rest, with the intention of riding by night and early dawn to his destination. The ride to be attempted was one from Scarborough to Skipton. The machine was a 2½hp lightweight Ariel fitted with all the necessary touring outfit. The machine had run for a distance of 4,000 miles without trouble, and no mishaps were anticipated on the early morning run. By means of the alarum clock the writer was wakened at 3am, and at 3.30 was dressed and ready to start. Everything had been put in readiness the preceding evening. It was therefore only necessary to light the lamp, inject paraffin through the compression tap,and put on waterproofs before starting. From the commencement everything went
well. The lamp burned brightly, and the engine fired first turn of the pedals. At the start there was no sign of daylight, and the bright light shed by the powerful acetylene lamp was much needed and appreciated. After riding about an hour without any sound other than the crisp pop, pop of the engine a peculiar feeling came over me that I could see the road more distinctly, and yet there did not appear to be any more light in the sky. This was really the beginning of the dawn, and about half an hour afterwards the road could be plainly seen. The water of the lamp was then turned off, as the light was not required. As the road could now be plainly seen, and knowing there would be no traps at that time of the day, the spark was advanced and the throttle opened, and a few moments later the machine was flying along, all out. Brighter and brighter became the sky, and the air, which was rather cold at the start, became warmer. Then came the sunrise. I will attempt to describe it, but am afraid I cannot do justice to it. Every where silence. The amber streaks in the sky leaping into crimson flame, deepening as they sailed along to a tawny orange. Within the space of a few minute the whole aspect of the heavens completely changed. The burning scarlet and orange hues had all melted into a transparent yet brilliant shade of pale mauve across the sun slowly floated clouds of vapour green fringed with a soft primrose shade. Now and again the cry of some wild bird, startled by the approach of the motor, was heard, and seemed to intensify the stillness of the morning. To a lover of nature and the picturesque the scene was entrancing, and made one long to stop for a spa to admire the beauties which lay on every hand. Time was, however, progressing, and this glorious scene was soon left behind. The sunrise soon lost beauty, and had it not been for the absence of traffic on the roads and the freshness of the morning air one could have imagined that it was mid-day. Up to this time not a single soul had been seen, and I was quickly approaching Wetherby—that famous control known to so many competitors in the London-Edinburgh run. It was here that the first signs of life were seen. A few men going to work eyed me as I flew past, but otherwise made no remark at my early appearance. On, on sped the plucky little motor, never faltering in its stride, but keeping up its merry explosions with a heart which seemed sound and true. The next moment, however, showed how one cannot always depend on the sound of the engine. Misfiring commenced, and became worse and worse, but, wishing to get to my destination I did not dismount to investigate matters. Finally, the engine suddenly stopped firing altogether, and compression vanished at the same time. The magneto proved correct before dismounting. The compression going suddenly pointed to the valves, and in this case the cotter had sheared. It was the work of a moments to put in the complete valve which I always carried as a spare. During the time I was fitting this valve a tramp came up and proffered assistance, saying that he was an ‘engineer’. He did look not a particularly savoury one so I declined his aid, and completed the job myself, and left him standing watching me until I was out of sight. The lost cotter caused the only stop, and I arrived at my destination in good time for a steaming breakfast, to which I did full justice. Mention might be made of the quantity of game of different kinds which crossed the road on this journey. Pheasants, hares, rabbits, and coveys of partridges were seen, all intent on getting their morning meal. The return journey was accomplished at night, and was a non-stop journey throughout. Several animals crossed the road—in one case a large animal, which I think was a fox—and numerous moles, which can run very fast when they see the light of a motor cycle coming their way. A few rabbits were also noticed, but of human life there was practically none. Such, then, is the brief account of the most enjoyable motor run I ever made. The freshness of the air makes one inclined to shout with delight. When one has also a well-tuned engine throbbing beneath one the sensation of flying along without the least effort must be experienced to be thoroughly appreciated. Those readers who remember the summer weather which was experienced last Easter should make a similar attempt at holiday-making this year, commencing the journey at about 3.30 to 4am.
A correspondent known as Bougie recounted his adventures on a run to the South-West—or, rather his lack of them, which speaks volumes for the way motor cycles had been transformed in only a few years from toys to dependable transport.
IT RECENTLY FELL TO MY LOT to have to undertake a run of 235 miles in the twelve hours, and it was with much trepidation, but an outward show of confidence, that I left the North of England for a run to South Devon. It had been my original intention to leave home at 7am, but the usual delays cut this down to 7.30. For such a journey it was necessary to lose not a moment, so when traffic and other road conditions gave me the opportunity I let my machine ‘go’. My engine was in great form, and I arrived in Birmingham at 9.45, running straight through to Droitwich, where I took on board a gallon of Shell. Worcester I swept through, but got lost in Gloucester, and was miles outside on the wrong road before I found out my mistake. I returned and fairly flew on towards Bristol, where I again shipped petrol. Of all the vile towns to ride through, I fancy this town to be easily first, and I was thankful when I was safely outside. I had the End-to-end ‘strip map’ in my pocket, and this advised me to go via Congresbury, and not Dundry, to Bridgwater. I, of course, took the wrong road, and came in for some severe hill work, which did not in the least trouble my little four-cylinder engine. I sped on to Bridgwater, doing fourteen miles at the average speed of, well, a little more than twenty miles an hour, the road being good and free from traffic. On arrival, I filled up with Carless spirit at the Bridgwater Motor Co’s magnificent garage, and was agreeably surprised at the enormous difference in speed and power which this spirit gives. It is well worth the 1s 7d a gallon which I gave for it. This quantity carried me on to my destination in the near neighbourhood of Torquay, a distance from home of 255 miles, owing to my going astray at Gloucester. Take it all round, I have excellent reason to be proud of the performance of my delightful bicycle. I arrived five minutes after my schedule time (7pm), in spite of the fact that I got lost, took a very severe road, and started half an hour late. I had no engine trouble, nor did I ever touch my tyres. Pump and tools remained untouched from first to last, and the tyres, as I write a week later, are still as firm as when they left; neither is there a scratch on either. The road is far from ideal—first the hills of Derbyshire, and lastly the rough lanes and hills of Devon—yet my petrol bill was only 3s 4d for the whole journey, for I had a gallon in my tank to start with. I appear to have had some luck, for a few days later a small screw came adrift in my high-tension distributer and has made a sorry mess of its interior. This, however, was discovered after the run when cleaning. Though pace was my primary object, it did not prevent me enjoying the rapid change of scenery, and particularly the lovely view of the Severn mouth before reaching Bristol. Somewhere between, I fancy, Taunton and Exeter, I passed a motor cyclist in difficulties, and if he is inclined to think hardly of the rider of the four-cylinder FN who flashed by, perhaps he will remember the circumstances. I fancy he was at work on the belt, and it is with much satisfaction that I recall the fact that I am free from belt and chain troubles, and, indeed, from any transmission worries whatever. Much of the road was dull and uninteresting, and the dullest parts were, fortunately, best provided with a road of good surface. The engine never overheated…I do not believe in severe oiling as a remedy for overheating trouble. If I fear overheating in a hilly district, I never dose my engine with such stimulant, as it merely has the effect of choking it. On my long run I was only once offered petrol unsealed in a wretched dirty little green can, and was told that it was Shell. I refused it, and demanded a sealed can, upon which I was virtually told to go to the devil. I went one better and went to a garage, where I got what I wanted. I find it is not wise to go to the ironmonger or general-store petrol dealer, but to the garage owner or cycle repairer. My uncivil tradesman was an ironmonger, and I only broke my invariable rule in this case owing to the fact that I had barely half a pint left. I found a garage within a hundred yards and was content. The motor or cycle repairer is the person to go to, as it seems hard that he should be robbed of his profit by a man who has other goods to sell.
For a lucid description of riding a motor cycle in those halcyon days before the Great War changed everything, here’s BH Davies himself describing “A trial of a twin Rex”.
“TRIAL” IS A WORD OF EVER-CHANGING MEANING to the motor cyclist. Time was when it meant to me a cautious gambol round Hyde Park previous to a rash purchase. Then the hill-climbing bugbear loomed larger, and I felt no trial was complete that did not include the ascent of Westerham. Then racing theory infected me, and my trials took the form of an early morning run at double legal limit, and as prolonged as might be. Then, again, I learnt with some machines to use the word trial in a purely scriptural sense; it is a very real trial to travel even a few miles on some machines. But to-day, when practically every machine is speedy, a good hill-climber and reliable, “trial” has been narrowed down in meaning till for me it scarcely includes more than tests of comfort, control, and especially FLEXIBILITY (capitals, please), the old desiderata—reliability, speed and
hill-climbing—being taken for granted. However, the other day, when Mr Williamson put a 5hp Rex Tourist at my disposal, circumstances allowed very complete tests to be made, covering some 250 miles. The machine was the special hill-climbing model, with ball bearing engine, but minus the Rex cantilever seat and the free engine. I trusted myself to the machine in the most childlike fashion, taking it out with no stand, no pump, no repair outfit, no tool kit, no spare sparking plug—in fact, in approved mechanic fashion, with no other outfit than a small King Dick spanner and a screwdriver—and it rose nobly to the occasion, covering the distance with one involuntary stop, due to the stripping of a nut on the saddle clip. Thus the machine proved its reliability. Its illuminated certificate did not err on the side of generosity, for it only certified forty miles an hour, and it would do that comfortably with the throttle only a quarter open, while with a more liberal supply of gas it would romp up all grades up to one in ten without the faintest diminution of speed. Thus the machine proved its speed and hill-climbing powers; in fact, one of my tests was a forty mile spin at a secluded hour, to test it for overheating, and except at corners it was given its head the whole way, plus a charge of Wilburine every five miles, and it finished almost as cool as the proverbial cucumber. This left me with comfort, control, and flexibility to test the machine for. The comfort was frankly disappointing, as the springs of the front fork were decidedly too stiff for my weight, and, in addition, when Nature designed my legs, she had not foreseen that I should ever ride a 20in frame. I felt in momentary danger of being forced out over the back mudguard by the heavy wind pressure whenever I let the machine out; however, it is well understood that this is the speed merchant’s Rex. He who would potter in comfort is meant to ride the heavier mount with the cantilever seat. The control was admirable. Belt rim brakes destroy the necessity for a second brake, and so it never occurred to me to try the hand brake at all. The levers were all delicate in adjustment, easy to handle, and as firm as St Michael’s Mount or the Eddystone, when they were set at any point. Steering with my left hand almost exclusively. I found it awkward to have both devices for stopping the engine on the right grip, so I soon transferred the switch—a most cosy and ingenious little fitment—to the left grip, and the control was then ideal. But it was in my third desideratum of flexibility that I was most delighted with the machine. Other machines have ball bearings to the mainshaft; the Rex has ball bearings to the connecting rods, and as a consequence I am fain to admit I never drove an engine that would pick up with such smooth celerity. Time and again I slowed right down to the balancing point to thread my way through a drove of cows, until the front wheel had to be waggled violently right and left to maintain any equilibrium. A hasty reach forward to the spark advance, a lightning dab at the throttle lever, and anon a more leisurely opening of the extra air, and the rear wheel was felt positively snatching at the roadway beneath one, until in a hundred yards or so it was roaring on at a smooth forty, and albeit taking it so quietly that the pace would never be realised but for the telltale watch on the bar and the frequent milestones bobbing up, curtseying, and vanishing aft. This facility of picking up led me to make some cruel tests—which was not very sultry, when all is said and done. Then I charged a long hill at full steam, and gradually slowed down to a crawl on a stiffish knuckle, until the road speed was too slow for the maximum retard of the ignition, and signs of approaching knock were discernible. Then the throttle was slashed open, the spark ruthlessly dashed forward, and the engine gathered furious pace with a calm, masterful rush, devoid of jerk. The unfortunate wheel and tyre were unequal to its snatch, and I felt the wheel leap and hammer beneath me, but the smooth acceleration of the engine was resistless, and ere the crown of the ascent was reached the machine was tearing up like a Great Western express. I returned the machine with strong envy of the lucky owner who was to receive delivery of it that week.
If only all rides were as enjoyable…
“A MESSAGE TO GO TO MAXWELL’S, SIR.” To Maxwell’s, six miles away, with the roads flooded, and a blizzard blowing dead east! “At once?” I ask. “The man didn’t say, sir, but he seemed in a hurry.” Where is my heavy coat, the one with the storm cuffs, and that fine broad turn-up collar? Here we are. Button it up well. Surely never had great-coat to keep out such weather as this. As I make my way to the surgery to get my emergency case, and a few bandages, the gale howls round the house in a paroxysm of fury, daring me, with gallons of hail and rain dashed against the window panes, to brave its strength and wrath. But the case may be urgent, surely must be urgent, or they would never send for me in this. I must go. I open the front door, and am almost hurled back into the hall. Now out into it, and much ado to haul the door to after me. I reach the garage, where lies my trusty little car, the mud from this morning’s round not yet dry on its green sides and red leather seats. I back it down the slight incline from the coach house door, and the rain holds off a little. Thank goodness, perhaps I am going to have a dry passage after all. Out into the road, and the sight ahead, due west, is enough to appal the heart of the stoutest 6hp tricar. A dark, heavy, swift-coming sky. Not clouds, but a whole storm-sky, black and tremendous. Look, it has burst on the hills a mile away, and you can’t see them; they are lashed and torn by the pitiless gale, as we shall be directly. Tickle the carburetter, and start it up. All well. Now into the comfortable back seat, and tuck the waterproof rug round, so. As I press the lever slowly forward into the low gear, the first great cold drop splashes, hard driven, on to my face. We rattle over the cobbles, through the narrow winding street, not a soul about on a day like this. Now we are coming to the open road, and, leaving the protection of the houses, we begin lo feel the full force of the biting, blustering wind. Once off the cobbles I try to change gear as usual, but the soft explosions, deadened almost to silence by the howling of the gale, are felt too far apart, and the car moves too slowly. No, we must drop down again. Two hundred yards from the village, and now we get it. Rain? No; sheets, buckets, gallons of icy water, hurled not down, but straight at us. I gasp and lower my head for a second or two, pulling the peak of my cap further over my eyes. I must look up here, though. The road narrows, and I pass between a high-walled barn on one side and a louse on the other. A continuous stream from my cap peak is dashed sometimes across, sometimes into, my eyes. I hold on desperately to the wheel, daring only to look ahead at occasional intervals. We meet nothing. We are alone, in the teeth of the hurricane, and no one wishes to share the honours with us. We come to a stretch of road where I know we shall be tried to the uttermost, and we are. The 12ft wall to our right concentrates the wind on the road; to the left only fifty yards of bare ground separates us from the sea. But a full spark and a slightly more open throttle prove equal to the occasion; indeed, as we descend a slight dip further on I try the high gear, easing back the spark the least bit. It takes it well, but I cannot. The quickened pace lifts me through it too fast. I am beaten back from the steering wheel, my drenched garments held against me by a masterful wind-hand. I stand it a few more yards, gasping and quivering, but I cannot look up. My eyes will not open against this awful flying river. I must come down to the low again. I feel blindly for the lever, and push it forward once more. Ah! What was that? A miss, and another. Missing badly, and two miles to go. The water has beaten through and round me. I am sitting in a cold bath. It beats from the footboard backwards. It has reached past me and my waterproof rug, to accumulators, coil, carburetter, and engine. No wonder it is missing. Still we stagger slowly forward. Splash! through pools three inches deep all lashed up by the savage downpour. That last puddle bothered us. We might as well be running through the sea. Miss! miss! miss! Shove forward that spark a bit and close down the air just a trifle. It responds gamely, fighting against the miserable wet that swamps its vitals. Thank Heaven, here is a three hundred yards’ stretch between high trees where we are sheltered ever so little from the stress of the gale. Good! It takes the high gear without a knock. I can stand the pace here, but wait till we reach the worst bit of all, on the other side of this wood. Open country between us and the sea, a slight rise in the road, the full fury of the storm, and—here we are. Now, little Rexette. You’ll want all your six horses here. I dash from shelter, and, still on the high gear, come full up against—a solid wall; a cruel, cutting, face-smashing wall of hail. I grab the lever just in time, and we forge slowly into it on the low gear. Miss! Miss! I huddle back, holding up one arm to protect my face against this wicked, stinging ice. I can’t see where we are going. I can’t breathe. I can only feel. I must stop, and run for shelter. No! By gad, I won’t. As long as the car goes, I will hang on to it. With head down I can still give an occasional glance to either side to keep her straight; and I know the road. But this hill in front; will it take it? Slowly we struggle on. I retard the spark, and this helps it. That last gust was almost too much for it, though. The curving front seat acts as a scoop for the furious wind, and it is full of hailstones. Slower. Slower yet. No, we can’t do it. We are thrashed to a standstill. Wait though. By Heaven, it’s stopped missing! But we are barely moving now, and I am numbed and crushed. My breathing is a mere sob, thin and gasping. Five—ten—fifty yards further, and not beaten yet. Thump! thump! thump! I daren’t slip the clutch, it’ll never pick up again. Hang on! hang on! Up toward the crest—up—up—and now, by the Lord Harry, over it! Hurrah! Well done. I’ll give your chain an extra good soaking in tallow to-night, so I will. We are on the level, and defying the gale once more. Who is this poor creature ahead, her skirts blown back, her umbrella blown inside out, and herself blown to a veritable halt? Surely no one but my friend the post ‘man’ of the neighbouring village would be out to-day. Yes, there she is, holding on to her leather bag like grim death. She cannot hear me coming, and I pull up on reaching her, motioning dumbly to the front seat. She climbs in, thankful for the lift, though it will be but for half a mile or so. Now we sail down hill, and the gale, as if finding itself beaten and defied, slackens, and the hail, too, ceases from troubling, though a sullen rain still lashes us. I stop at Mrs Maxwell’s door, and my passenger alights and trudges off. I cover the tricar as well as I can, and, emergency case in hand, I knock for admittance. “Oh, it’s you, Doctor. I never thought you’d have come to-day. John was in the town this morning, and only called in to ask you to come in when you were passing to vaccinate the baby.”
That admirable sticktoitiveness was recounted by ‘HSG’. Here’s another tricar tale, courtesy of ‘SBS’. The weather’s better (well, a bit), the tricar ain’t.
IN COMPANY WITH A GOOD MANY other motor cyclists, I graduated from two wheels to three during last summer, and my first three-wheeler was a second-hand 5½hp two-speeder of uncertain age, and, this account will show, of more than uncertain temper. It had been in my possession for some weeks before I was able to get a decent run on it, but at last opportunity came for a ride to Chester, and in company with a friend known to his intimates as Pop, who rode a 2½hp Excelsior, I left Northampton at 6 o’clock one fine morning. Fate’s ironies were manifest at the very outset—half an hour after noon we were just 40 miles away, having maintained the noble average of 7.58mph. First the petrol pipe broke, and laid the dust at a cost of 1s 4d per square yard. Then an awful rasp from the gear box saluted our ears, and it jammed up hopelessly, causing the locked back wheel to skid the machine across the road in a a most alarming fashion. This was rather a test for a novice, but we filed an extra notch in the gear quadrant, and when the lever was in this third notch the top gear was well jammed in and the pinions would revolve. By the way, that notch took two solid hours to cut. Then the camshaft of the bicycle broke clean in half. The tricar towed the bicycle till the gear box jammed once more, and Pop came an unholy cropper off the saddle in consequence of an abrupt stop. Waggling the gear lever freed the gears. We reached a garage, made a new camshaft for the bicycle, and went on. Then the tricar gears seized again, and it was the bicycle’s turn to tow the tricar, luggage and all, into Tamworth. Here we took the entire tricar to pieces, and cleared the broken parts out of the gear box (four hours’ work for three men). By this time it was 10.30pm, and we had our first meal since 5.30am—a meal as famous in the annals of that hotel as the breakfast with which the waiter assisted David Copperfield was famous in the annals of another inn. We found the tricar gear box required several new parts, and early next day we loaded both of ourselves on to the Excelsior, and went over to Coventry for them. Seven miles out from Tamworth a storm came on, and, lest we should timidly seek shelter, the back tyre promptly burst! We had no solution, but we had an ancient butt-ended tube. For hours we laboured to make it airtight, but never induced it to bear the weight of two of us. Finally, Pop went on to Coventry solus for the spares, while I set out to walk back seven miles to Tamworth, being assisted by a lift from a passing car for part of the way. At 9.30 next morning work was resumed on the tricar. The mainshaft was wrenched away from the flywheel, and all the pinions were either burred or stripped. We laboured till 11.10pm, with only an hour off for lunch at mid-day, and at that hour all was pronounced ready for the road. At 8.30 next morning we tackled the remaining 80 miles which still separated us from Chester. At 8.35 the back tyre of the bicycle burst again. Pop walked back and bought a new tube, so that by 9.30 we were really off. The tricar control puzzled me not a little, for the more I advanced the spark the slower it went. This was finally traced to an inverted connection to the spark lever, and as soon remedied. It then refused to climb any hills—then the silencer fell off, and before we had made any headway it was half past one. The adjustments which here delayed us were so successful that the next section was covered in flying style; but, unfortunately, we had taken a wrong turn, and each of these speedy miles spelt so far out of our true course. We got right, and passed through Lichfield and Rugeley, reaching Sandon by 3pm, where a long stop for overheating held us up, and incidentally afforded a chance for a meal. All through this nightmare of a ride I never dared stop while the engine kept running, for only heaven knew whether if once stopped it would ever start again. This caution was confirmed at Stone; as we entered the town, the church clock registered 4.45, and ere we got the engine going again after a distinctly involuntary stop, it registered 6.45. At last it suddenly started, rushed 300 yards, and stopped again dead, what time the cheering of the crowd was still audible in the rear. However, it now revealed the trouble. The collar had split off the inlet pipe where it joined the engine; the nut hid the damage, and so I had been unaware I was getting pure air into the cylinder. A length of inner tube plus some copper wire fixed this up, and the tricar maintained a glorious dash—wrong road again. We drove painfully back to Stone. Driving fast after this delay melted the improvised inlet union just at the bottom of a terrific hill. It was pitch dark, we were worn out, had scarcely tasted food, and had still 40 miles to go, while we knew our expectant relatives at Chester would be consumed with anxiety. We got the union hitched up again, and had a fine run at high speed for miles till the road petered out in a ploughed fields—lost again. We retraced our steps, and presently came to three road ends destitute of signposts; however, a sleepy rustic directed us. A lot of climbing faced us, and the tricar engine got red hot. Then came a long downgrade down which I coasted with the engine switched off. Switching on at the foot of the next long rise, the engine refused to fire. Investigation proved that this time the petrol pipe had come adrift, and not a drop of spirit was left. It was now 10pm, and though I had travelled many miles, only 10 of them were in the right direction. Pop was missing—heaven knew where. I had no map, no idea where I was, no sign of a house or a human being, and the tricar was stolidly immovable! Suddenly over the hedge came a voice, “Can I help you?” I surlily ridiculed the idea, but for once luck was in. The voice belonged to a motorist who had petrol close at hand—nay, more, he was an experienced owner of a duplicate tricar the very spit of my own. He played the part of an angel—fed us, mended my pipe, and gave us petrol, for Pop had by now reappeared. There were 30 miles to go and both my petrol pipe and inlet pipe were secured with copper wire and indiarubber, but the knowledge of our relatives’ natural anxiety gave us heart to push on into the night. In five miles the inlet pipe was adrift, and was again mended with aid from a game keeper, a signalman, and a policeman—jolly cheering to find a crowd collect in the wee sma’ hours, however unwelcome they are in broad daylight. Then it began to freeze; then the carburetter began to fall off every five miles, as it had sheared the nut at the other end and was only held to the engine by a bit of hose pipe. Every five miles I tied it on again with string, and held it while I drove. On I flitted through the cold and darksome night, crouched low over the wheel, steering with one hand, holding the carburetter on with the other, and slowing down when necessary by the simple expedient of dropping the carburettor—a form of control that ensures quick stoppages in an emergency! In Tarporley my engine seized up, red hot, and I fell asleep in the bucket seat while waiting for it cool. Pop fell asleep standing up beside and both of us bang in the middle of the road. At 3am I woke, and started the engine. Now the bicycle refused to go, but finally after much dreamy wrestling in an agony of thick darkness we both got away, and our next stop was outside the front door which was our destination…30 miles in four days!When we had recovered from our exertions we tuned up both machines, and a day or two later had a gorgeous non-stop of 50 miles apiece. The next night, encouraged by this, we motored to the theatre in Birkenhead. When we came out of the theatre neither machine would start. Towards midnight not a solitary explosion rewarded our efforts, so we hired a brace of bicycles. Some evil fiend was in attendance upon us for even those bicycles possessed free-wheels uphill and fixed wheels downhill, so we walked much of the way back. Next day we returned to Birkenhead by train, spent the day in vain efforts to make the machine start, just catching the last train home at night. The day after we put new piston rings on the tricar and it started—why, I do not profess to know. The bicycle still refused to go, so we returned to Chester on the tricar, thence back to Northampton by train. Such mockery greeted us here at our failure to motor to Chester and back in the inside of a fortnight that we determined we would eventually bring those recalcitrant machines back by road. We chose the day, and attempted it. The bicycle had meant to have been put in running order by a repairer, and Pop drove it from Birkenhead to pick me up at Chester and, including stops, we actually coaxed those two motors over the 130 miles in less than 12 hours. to the amazement of everyone who knew them. This tale has a moral: Let not the gentle tyro purchase a secondhand tricar without an expert examination. And I will conclude with an invitation: If any gentleman has a regular wreck of a prehistoric tricar which he desires to see coaxed through the End-to-End I believe I could get it through, if any man living could.
It seems somehow fitting that if riders of three wheelers sported three initials, motor cyclists should content themselves with two. In a far-flung outpost of the empire, CH was having troubles of his own.
BEING THE POSSESSOR OF A 3HP CENTAUR chain-driven motor bicycle, which I had just converted to magneto ignition, I was anxious to test if there was any improvement in this form of ignition. The test run proved adventurous, and I will relate what actually happened, in order that readers may compare the conditions prevailing in Burmah with those at home. Starting off with no knowledge of how the magneto would behave, I advanced the spark lever, and, running alongside the machine a few yards, jumped in the saddle, and dropped the valve. The engine started with a roar, and soon I was tearing along at a mad pace, my topee (hat) flying away behind me, held by the chin strap to my coat button. I was making for a quiet open road I knew of, so that I could give my machine its full head, and was just rounding a bend to get on to the road at about twelve miles an hour, when the first of a series of adventures occurred. As I turned the corner a stiff hill of about 1 in 9 came into view, and at the same time a bullock, roused by the noise of my engine, dashed out of the gate of one of the native’s houses thereabouts and made for me, with glaring eyeballs, head down, and tail vertical. A glance was sufficient to show me he meant business, and I immediately adjusted the mixture; but the gradient was too severe for my machine to pick up speed. By this time the bullock’s horns were abreast of my right leg. He was much too close to be comfortable, and continued to gallop alongside of me. I dared not loose my hold to open the throttle, and, to make matters worse, the bull was gradually driving me off the road into a ditch which ran alongside. In desperation I took off my hat, and holding it by the chin strap, slashed the bull on the head with it repeatedly; but after fifty yards of this I could see that the best thing I could do would be to stop, and I was rescued eventually by the owner of the vicious beast. This adventure had left me all of a tremble, although I am not at all a nervous man as a rule. After a few moments’ rest I mounted the machine again, and finished the hill in fair style, the road rising up between an avenue of trees. The roads, being in fairly good condition, enticed me to let the machine ‘out’, which I did, and eventually reached the main road to Prome. Continuing along this road for about five miles, I came to a by-road leading round the Kokine Lakes, a lovely sheet of fresh water, about the best in Burmah, I think. Knowing every yard of the road, and also that it was little used (and oh! you speed men at home, no police traps!), I coaxed the machine to do its best. A liberal dose of oil, throttle halfway open, and the spark advanced to its limit, I flew along till the force of the wind made the water run from my eyes, and my face smart, the chains whistling out a musical hissing at the engine’s regular barks. I covered three to four miles at this pace, when slowing for a bad corner I noticed with disgust that my front tyre was nearly flat. On pulling up, I found a huge horseshoe nail sticking out of the side of the tyre. I promptly got to work to remove the cover—the fizzing of the air around the nail told its own tale and I knew I was paying for my burst of speed on that inviting stretch of road. The road afterwards commenced to rise and fall long stretches, right round one half of the circumference of the lakes, which were visible from time to time. The islands and bridges over different spans of water made a most picturesque scene, the rays of a setting sun lighting up the water like a sheet of gold, and bringing the palms and giant foliage into strong relief which only a great artist’s brush could paint. I had travelled about eight or nine miles after repairing the puncture, and was suddenly turning a corner when I found myself in the midst of a flock of cows and water buffaloes, the first three or four rows dashing helter-skelter to the sides. I came to a full stop rather quickly, the front wheel of the bicycle planted neatly between the hind legs of a cow. It took about five minutes coaxing, shouting, and sounding the horn lustily to get clear of the herd. The road being clear again, and knowing that I was approaching about a mile and a half of straight road through an indiarubber plantation, I hastened along. The sun was already well down, and night falls rapidly in Burmah. But my adventures were not over. I was speeding along at a rare bat, watching the road ahead intently, when with a howl and a yelp, a beastly long-tailed pariah dog dashed out of a pathway along side, and knowing that to try to avoid it might prove serious, I raised the exhaust lifter and gripped the handles firmly, hitting the dog fair and square in the middle. He slunk away, and had no doubt been taught a lesson which would be hard to forget. The homeward journey was on a rising road, with short flat stretches, and the traffic getting thick checked my speed considerably. Four miles of this brought me into the outskirts of the town proper, I had still two more steep hills to climb, the first which, from photographs I have seen in The Motor Cycle, I should liken unto the famous Birdlip, having two sharp bends and a bit of one in seven near the top. Having climbed this hill a good many times I know just how to take it, and I rounded the first bend in fairly good style, and was soon gaining speed on the straight section. I took the second bend at quite twenty miles an hour, and soared over the top of the hill, but was obliged to immediately switch of on account of the wretched state of the road. For the next five miles I proceeded carefully, and, nearing home, the tall spire of the Sewa Dagon Pagoda reared its massive head in the deepening sky, its very beautiful canopy, which is one mass of solid gold filigree work, with pendants of the same precious metal dangling from its several points, which are said to be encrusted with diamonds and precious stones worth several fortunes. The highest point of this wonderful Burman prayer tower is about 250 to 300 feet above road level. About its base are several beautifully domed sea lions standing 20ft high, the breasts and heads being adorned with gold leaf and coloured glass. The front hall or entrance is all splendidly carved teak wood, while hundreds of tiny carved gods, painted in gold and colours to represent the particular goddess required, are placed in every attitude imaginable in tiers all around it. Before reaching home, I called on a friend and was away about five minutes. When I returned a group of Burmans and others were vainly trying to find where the fire was which they thought drove the machine. One man bolder than the rest asked me in broken English to show him. I told him it was in the cylinder, which by this time had cooled down. He promptly put his hand gingerly upon the fins on the cylinder head, and his look of amazement deepened when he found it nearly cold. He then asked me how I got up steam, as he could see no handle, so I called his attention to the sparking plug, and told him to put his hand on it and he would feel the heat gradually coming in it. He caught hold of the plug with a vicious grip, and I forced the pedal down quickly. He jumped, but was quite satisfied, and commenced jabbering away in Burmese to all around him (no doubt cursing me too). The others saw me laughing heartily at the joke and joined in. Thinking it was high time to clear, I hooked up the stand, and was about to vault into the saddle when my foot slipped. The front wheel swerved towards me, I promptly dropped the machine and then measured my length on top of it. Of course, it was only natural that the bystanders laughed to see the downfall of the joker, and if I had only known their lingo I should no doubt have felt hurt in mind as well as body. I found I had done nothing worse than smash the pedal cap, bend the pedal pin, and tear my trousers. I climbed the last hill before reaching home with all levers fully advanced, and in a few minutes had finished a most adventurous day’s run. I should like to mention in conclusion that there is nothing like a magneto for Burmah or India, and, as I have covered 6,000 miles in eight months since the ride described above, and never had a moment’s trouble, I have good reasons for recommending it.
…but not every ride was traumatic. When the Motor Cycling Club wasn’t organising demanding events such as the Land’s End Trial or the London-Edinburgh they were happy to take an extremely civilised run to the seaside.
SHORTLY BEFORE THREE O’CLOCK ON SATURDAY afternoon last the members of the MCC began to muster at Purley Corner for the annual week-end run to Brighton. The weather prospects had been anything but promising, but notwithstanding the unfavourable outlook by about 3.30 some forty members had assembled at the starting place. After going through the ordeal of being photographed, a start was made for
Crawley, where the captain, Mr EB Dickson, had made arrangements for tea at the George. In spite of the rain of the previous night, the roads were found to be quite good, and Crawley was reached in good time. At the George the club found several members of the Brighton MCC awaiting to accompany them into Brighton. The run from Crawley to Brighton after tea was most enjoyable, the roads by this time having completely dried, the only incident worth recording being that one member, forgetful of the ten mile limit at Handcross, was interviewed by the police. Headquarters at Brighton were, as usual, at the Old Ship, where about sixty members and friends assembled for dinner in the evening, the president of the club, Mr Chas Jarrott, being in the chair. With the exception of welcoming the president to the opening run, and proposing his health in a brief and suitable manner, no speeches were made. This allowed the members ample time for a stroll on the seafront. After the good run from town, an excellent dinner, and with the barometer rising, everyone appeared happy and anticipated a pleasant return journey. The morning broke fine and sunny, and after break fast the members assembled outside the hotel for another photograph, after which the homeward journey was commenced via Horsham and Dorking, a stop being made for lunch at the Burford Bridge Hotel. A good lunch was here provided, and after a smoke and a chat the members wended their way homewards to the various parts of London and the suburbs. The week-end run to Brighton and back has always been one of the most enjoyable events of the year, and the captain is to be congratulated upon the manner in which he has upheld this reputation. The hon sec, Mr Arthur Candler, was, unfortunately, laid up on Saturday with a feverish cold. Mr Candler misses very few club runs. Of the motor cycles taking part in the run, there were eight Vindecs, three Triumphs, two Lagondas, and one each of the following: Brown, Bat, Quadrant, Minerva, Motosacoche, Griffon, Rex, and Werner. Of the cars, there were seven Rovers, and one each Phoenix, Deasy, De Dietrich, Riley, and Sizaire. Two members attending the run hailed from Peterborough and one from Coventry. Almost every member made a non-stop run out and home, and punctures were unheard of—an unusual thing at a big club run.
Mind you, some obsessives simply go looking for trouble. As we’re back to three wheels the author boasts three initials, in this case, the culprit is FRK.
MOTOR CYCLISTS NOWADAYS ARE APT TO IMAGINE that their pastime or business has become all cut and dried, with clutches, twin-cylinder engines, and two-speed gears brought to perfection, and to think that experiments have become unnecessary. But, none the less, there are still some daring spirits hidden about the country who endanger their lives (and perhaps the lives of others) in trying to evolve machines that combine novelty with some prospect of commercial success. Unfortunately, the latter element was conspicuous by its absence in the case I am about to describe. The idea originated in the very early days of motor cycling, when a good (or bad) engine commanded a big price.
The Contraption consisted of an extra wheel attached to a framework carrying a 2hp engine, tank, and gearing, which could be joined to an ordinary roadster bicycle in a few minutes by simply screwing up three nuts, so turning the bicycle into a motor tricycle. It was thought that it would be ideal for touring, when, having arrived at one’s destination, the motor attachment could be removed and the push bicycle brought into use for short distances. Unfortunately, before the whole thing was completed circumstances compelled the closing of the factory, and I was requested to store the machine and make it go if possible. I had no leisure to tackle it till some months ago, and then only at the earnest request of an enthusiastic young Frenchman who was spending his holiday with me, resting from the ardours of a course of electrical engineering lecture in France. So we went to view our Pegasus in the disused stable where it stood, and found that it lacked a silencer, oil pump, petrol pipe, brake control levers, coil, accumulators, and switch. The engine, which had a heavy outside flywheel, drove through an aluminium clutch to a small pinion, which was geared into a large fibre wheel mounted on the live axle, communicating the power to both road wheels by means of two cogged wheels, containing free clutches in their centres, and meshing with large toothed rings fixed permanently to the back wheel of the bicycle and the wheel of the attachment. This method dispensed with the necessity of a differential gear, but gave rise to steering complications, which will be described later. A silencer was soon made out of an empty coffee tin. It did not check the noise much, but it looked effectual, and the shine added a nice finish to the rather rusty components. A small piece of copper pipe bent to shape, the ends wedged into pieces of a vulcanite pen and forced into the tank and carburetter, made a splendid petrol-tight joint, which has stood violent shaking with no signs of a leakage. The problem of control levers was more serious. However, with string and pieces of indiarubber we soon overcame the difficulty, but the driver was of no use unless he ‘knew the ropes’, for a pull on the wrong halyard had unexpected results. Batteries were borrowed from our own small motors, but neither of us had a trembler coil, so we rigged up a huge medical coil on a cross-bar of the frame (with string as usual). When turning the engine to see if there was a spark, I accidentally touched the high-tension terminal. There certainly was a spark. We found it impossible to start the engine by pedalling the tricycle, as the free wheels in the driving pinions came into play and the piston did not move, so we got a long leather strap, wound it round the pulley, tickled the carburetter, hauled in the slack. of the control ropes, held our breaths and pulled. There was a fearful backfire, which tore the strap out of our hands, but that at least proved there was life in the machine, and after many adjustments we had the engine running steadily, with a noise like the Dreadnought at target practice. The next proceeding was to see if it would actually go with the clutch in, so we adjourned to a large meadow, and the Frenchman, having made his will and taken a fond farewell of us all, proceeded to mount. I had been positive that as soon as he let in the clutch the front wheel would rise up and the clutch handle would disembowel him, but to my surprise he went off grandly, gathering speed every minute. We all cheered vociferously, but it was soon evident that he was having trouble with the steering, the cows in the field being far too astonished to get out of the way, and the bouncing of the wheels over the mole heaps keeping him up in the air most of the time. He could not stop, for there was no switch or brake, and he had forgotten which string to pull; then to his horror he found that the fiery steed would not steer round to the left, and rather than charge a high bank, he turned the machine incontinent into a big thorn hedge, reinforced with barbed wire, and everything disappeared from view rider, machine, and all. When I could control my laughter I rushed to the rescue, and could hear the engine still roaring away in the thicket; then the Frenchman appeared, all blood and scratches, but anxious only for the tricycle, which we hauled out in good order. He was ejaculating, “Nevaire I see a so foolish silly what I am. If I steer ze ofaire way she is alright.” And it was quite true, for it would steer to the right quite easily at full speed, but once on the camber of the road in order to pass a cart, it was enough to turn one’s hair white to get to the centre again. This successful cross-country journey so raised our enthusiasm that we adjourned to the main road, having taken the numbers off one of our motors and tied them on with the usual piece of string. This time, for safety, I was deputed to run behind with a string attached to the exhaust lifter, in order to stop the machine if we encountered any traffic. Traffic there was in plenty, but I was not there to exercise my restraining influence, for the engine went off with such gusto that the string was soon torn from my hands, and again the Frenchman pursued his fiery way unchecked. With his eyes protruding, and his face set, he grasped the handle-bars with a ‘do or die’ look, but when the speed was getting near thirty miles an hour, the fact dawned on him that I could scarcely be running at that rate, and he managed to disengage the clutch. As the pace dropped he attempted in his pride to turn round and come back to us, but all the wheels doubled up under him and left him standing in the road. By this time our blood was up, and with a few kicks the wheels were made to assume some sort of a round shape; at least they did not touch the frame anywhere, which was enough for us, and we continued to ride till we got quite used to differentiating the exhaust lifter string from the surrounding cordage, and thus could stop the machine without the aid of the nearest bank, as was previously the case. But our difficulties were not over, for the spring controlling the clutch became fierce enough to get a good grip of the aluminium casing, so that the road wheels still went forward, although the clutch was disengaged. In this case, if we wished to turn without stopping the engine (and it took time and two men to start it again) the only way was to dismount and run to the front and push heartily against the machine while hauling the front wheel round. Several times the engine won, and we found ourselves in the ditch with the machine on the top of us, which, I think, gives a good illustration of the power obtained by gearing down. Finally, having successfully undertaken some long outings on it, with no worse fate than striking fear into the hearts of every human being and animal we overtook or met, we concluded that life was getting too strenuous, and relegated our steed to the stable, where it awaits the return of the Frenchman, armed with plans to convert it into an ‘hair-sheep’.
In what might be called a financial adventure, a Brummy salesman took his motor cycle and his wares to the far side of the globe.
MR REUBEN MAWSON, OF BIRMINGHAM, is undertaking a lengthy business tour with the aid of his LMG machine. Mr Mawson is at present visiting Canada, and will go from there to Tasmania, New Zealand, and Australia, calling at all the important cities and towns en route. At the rear of the machine is fitted a telescopic metal sample box, in which are carried samples and other matter in connection with Mr Mawson’s own business. In addition he will make arrangements with colonial firms who may feel disposed to handle the machine he rides, which is made by the Lloyd Motor and Engineering Co, 132, Monument Road, Birmingham. The LMC is an ordinary standard touring model, provided with very strong tyres and a few extra sundries which are likely to prove useful on such a long journey. It is further proof of the reliability of motor cycles when colonial travellers make use of them for lengthy tours.
Women couldn’t vote but the more privileged members of what was routinely called the fair sex could ride motor cycles. Hard riding 21st century women should prepare to feel patronised.
MOTOR CYCLING AS A PASTIME FOR LADIES has glorious possibilities. Why they have been so slow to grasp the advantages offered by the use of a motor cycle, with all its opportunities for enjoyment by indulgence in a pleasant and healthful recreation, and its handiness as a means of locomotion, must be a puzzle to many minds. Motor cycles for men have long passed the experimental stage. It is now quite four years since their machines became practical in every sense of the word—thoroughly reliable, capable of resisting ordinary and extraordinary strains, of withstanding long sustained wear and tear, or sometimes sad abuse, and yet their weight is such that any ordinary man or youth can easily handle and control them. Yet, strange to say, the number of lady motor cyclists can at present almost be counted on the fingers of the two hands. Having been an ardent motor cyclist for nearly three years, it will perhaps be conceded that my knowledge of the subject is born of practical riding experience—experience of the trials and tribulations of the motorist, as well as her joys and pleasures—and a very little practical experience usually will outweigh much theory. Most people, immediately the subject is broached, cry out, “Oh, motor cycling is not suited to ladies.” Well! Why not? It must at the onset be admitted that a motor cycle is not a fat, shaggy, little pony, nor is its driving altogether an affair of whip and reins. It requires knowledge, constant carefulness, and intelligence, and women are not deficient in these qualities. They may not have the same mechanical aptitude as some men, nor that engineering ingenuity that overcomes insurmountable obstacles. Such genius, however, is not absolutely necessary to good driving; indeed, such traits in the ill-trained amateur mind often become a weakness, leading into the besetting sin of tampering with things that are far best left untouched. Of carefulness and of intelligence woman has her fair share; of mechanical aptness she has as much as is necessary for the purpose of driving a motor cycle. As proof, many ladies drive their own cars—powerful monsters, and clumsy to handle, compared with the humble, handy motor bicycle—and they can drive these leviathans with ease and pleasure so why cannot they drive the smaller machine? How many thousands of women today ride ordinary bicycles, and propel them every yard of the way?—a weary, ceaseless grind that surely requires far more strength and energy than the management and control of a self-propelled cycle…When convenient start on the downgrade, and when out with a friend demand a push; a slight push will not be a trouble to him, and will be of great assistance to you…Going uphill open the gas a little more; downhill or on level road slightly close it again; going down a steep hill the exhaust valve may be raised; but usually on an ordinary main road mile after mile can be ridden without giving heed to the levers at all, and in any case handle-bar control is now becoming universal, there is no necessity to let go of the handles at all. The work of control also soon becomes almost automatic, and is performed sub-consciously. I myself have often ridden over 100 miles a day and have been fresh enough at the end to go for a walk after tea. Does it look well? This is a question of first importance to every woman, excepting perhaps a few of the extreme suffragettes and ‘ultra-blue-stockings’. Every woman who has a womanly mind wishes to look nice, and would turn hot and cold with horror at the bare idea of adopting the ungraceful attitudes or going about with oily hands and dirty face in the manner of some of the enthusiastic amateur male mechanicians one sees at hill-climbs and other competitions. Let me assure you there is no cause for alarm: oily stains, characteristic poses, and technical jargon, though they may be the hallmark of genius, are not detrimental to a full enjoyment of the pastime. Some can yet remember how bitter was the contest when ladies first took to bicycles, and how many parents and other authorities condemned the awful innovation…but in
the end good sense gave its verdict in favour of a suitable machine and progress triumphed, as it will again; for motor cycling is a really womanly pastime, it is exhilarating, it is healthful and beneficial, and, above all, it is exceedingly graceful. Frame must be of dropped pattern, with ample forward clearance, for ease of mounting and dismounting. The machine should be light, for ladies who desire to ride a motor bicycle are not Amazons, but ordinary English ladies, and machines often require to be handled; withal they must be strong—strong enough to feel solid and rigid, not vibrating unduly to the road shocks or in unison with the engine…Without speed there is no exhilaration in the pastime; without power there is much chagrin and hard work. Light pedalling on the hills spoils many a glorious sunset…when a lady rides a motor bicycle she needs enough speed to enable her to quickly shake off the scorching clubman cyclist. I digress to grumble. It is not without good cause that I say these young athletes, especially near London, are absolutely without manners; yet what they lack in manners they amply possess in impudence. From every other section of the community I have always received the kindliest consideration, but these smart City youths—they are contemptible. A fast machine is needed to quickly leave them far behind, panting after their long-sustained manly exertions.
Before we move on, pause a moment to consider the phrase “It is now quite four years since [motor cycles] became practical in every sense of the word.” These were formative years. The good news is that ladies interested in these new-fangled contrivances were assured of sound advice from the formidable Mrs Kennard.
What does the lady rider want?
By Mrs Edward Kennard [This was published before ladies were allowed to have names of their own].
SUPPOSING I COULD AFFORD A NEW MOTOR BICYCLE for another year,what would I like? Although the possessor of an up-to-date Advance, fitted with spring forks, a spring seat-pillar, and a first-rate machine in every respect, I nevertheless found my- self asking that question as the new year approached. Well designed as was my mount, rigid and reliable, it still presented the usual female bugbear, WEIGHT, spelt in large letters designedly. Whenever I approached a big firm and modestly hinted at my wishes and opinions regarding a suitable machine for my own sex, the manager invariably pointed out the unremunerative nature of the task proposed. It would not pay. They did not care to depart from their standard models, etc, etc. After much thought, I ultimately decided (mentally, be it understood, for the sinews of war were lacking for the moment) that a feminine rider required a 3hp engine, fitted with a two-speed gear, a clutch for starting purposes, and a free engine. I set to work to make enquiries. The gears I fancied, and which had demonstrated their capacity and reliability in public, entailed the abolition of pedals. And for pedals I entertained a decided predilection, recalling many an occasion when they had served me in good stead. Several other gears proved free only in name, and consequently failed to solve the starting difficulty. No, my ideal bicycle should have pedals, and the rider should be able to mount from a standstill, and start the engine with a clutch lever close to her right hand, preferably on the handle-bar. But alas! a two-speed gear meant extra weight and complication. I was still pondering over the problems presented by the motor bicycle for women, and thinking how hard it was that men with their superior strength had only to pick and choose, whilst we poor women, with our feeble force, were expected to push and pedal inert mechanism weighing anything from a hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds, when Fate directed my wheel to the Clyde motor shop in Granby Street, Leicester. There I saw something which induced a complete volte face. That something was neither more nor less than a Motosacoche. A real bicycle, with a small 1¼hp engine attached; not a fine, massive, powerful cylinder, framed round with tubes in the shape of an ordinary motor bicycle. My eye at once perceived the difference. The Motosacoche weighed seventy-five pounds. Its lightness, handiness, and simplicity were apparent to the veriest tyro. But was it a mere freak, as had been suggested to me? After following its career both abroad and at home, I scarcely believed this possible. A day or two later, through the extreme courtesy of Mr Wait, he allowed his representative, Mr Farrer, to ride the Motosacoche from Leicester in order to let me see what the little thing could do. We live on the slope of a hill about half a mile in length, and whose upper portion has a gradient of 1 in 10. Many a 3hp bicycle have we seen jib at it. Imagine our surprise when the sturdy little engine buzzed quite merrily to the very top without the smallest assistance from the pedals! It was a marvellous performance. Then, by simply lifting the rod actuating the jockey pulley, the belt could be released in a second. How nice for traffic and tight corners! The machine was so light one could pedal it precisely like an ordinary bicycle. The control seemed the acme of simplicity. There, were no levers in the ordinary sense of the word. An exhaust lever on the left handle-bar advanced the ignition to the full when dropped, and in conjunction with it was a small handle which actuated the throttle. The Motosacoche would crawl along at three miles an hour or speed away at thirty. Mr Farrer assured me he could always maintain an average of twenty-two miles an hour. It flashed across my mind that here was the very thing for lady riders. A light, simple machine, easily mounted, easily pushed, easily pedalled. In fact, just what they wanted, and which would induce numbers to take to the fascinating pastime of motor cycling. But—Oh those horrid buts—they were not made for ladies, only for men. “Why not?” I persistently queried. “Oh! the difficulty,” came the customary answer. “Nonsense!” I ejaculated. “There is no such word as impossible. Impossible is a sign of dulldom, of want of intelligence and progressiveness. Any local cycle maker could build up a frame with tandem lugs and strong enough tubes to carry an engine attachment weighing only thirty-five pounds all told.” In a short time, and if properly pushed, I believe the Motosacoche will boom as a lady’s mount. I look forward to possessing one some day, if only to enjoy the day journeys of seventy to eighty miles I delight in taking, whenever able to indulge in a holiday. It would be interesting if riders of the Motosacoche would give their experiences in The Motor Cycle, and tell me if my opinion is correct as regards its value for lady cyclists. By doing so, they would confer a great favour on the small band of female enthusiasts, who labour under the disadvantage of physical weakness and mechanical weight. The complete lady’s Motosacoche at the Stanley Show was admired by all. If it fulfils all its claims, I predict for it a great and immediate success among feminine votaries of the sport. It is what women want. A mount they can manipulate without male assistance; of moderate heaviness, and in case of a breakdown, with engine removed, as easy to pedal as a safety. Fitted with a three-speed gear hub, and with some light assistance, from what I personally saw of the wonderful little engine, it would take a very stiff hill indeed to bring it to a standstill. The high tension magneto machine with which the Motosacoche is fitted will reduce ignition troubles to a minimum. We have been so handicapped hitherto that it would be indeed a joy to discover a machine thoroughly suited to the requirements of the average lady cyclist, who loves cycling, but who finds toiling up hills in the heat of the summer sun a somewhat arduous task. She could pay distant calls in the country without having to think “Shall I be able to get on again without assistance?” In short, she will be absolutely independent. And the greatest pleasure loses half of its enjoyment when one is robbed of one’s independence. To those who have male companions willing to give a friendly push on occasions it does not so much signify; but many of us have either got to ride alone or not at all. To them I feel sure the Motosacoche will prove a boon and a blessing. Still, I would much like the opinions of riders of the machine.
Inevitably, Ixion had his say (and again, be prepared for a somewhat prehistoric view of the gentle sex).
I AM RATHER SORRY TO SEE the majority of our few lady riders still attached to the 3½hp 160lb type of machine. Granting that there are a few sturdy unconventional girls, used to managing a powerful horse, to playing hockey, and other exercises demanding muscle and stamina, the majority of girls funk the weight of motor cycling more than anything else. Now that there are first-rate little 1½hp engines on the market, it is possible to get a lady’s mount of ample strength and stability scaling no more than 84lbs.
Female motor cyclists had a problem: open frames were few and far between and, if they preferred top ride a standard motor cycle, trousers were verboten. Waterproof split skirts and weatherproof bonnets were coming onto the market, but chaps had plenty of choice. Novices facing their first winter awheel could always rely on The Motor Cycle for advice…
TIPS FOR WINTER RIDING: 1. Nailed boots are useful for starting the machine on grease. 2. No matter how many pairs of gloves are worn, the top pair should be leather or rubber. Wool gives a miserable grip on metal. 3. The bottom-most pair of socks or gloves should be silk. 4. Start warm. 5. Earflaps are very little good. The best ear protector is a pair of pads or rolls of cloth, which shoot the wind over the ears, and are held by elastics passing over the forehead and under the chin. 6. A very thick cap is necessary, or a roll of wadding should be slipped under the peak of the cap. 7. ‘Snowshoes’ (overboots) are very cheap and comfortable. 8. If a reefer jacket is worn, its flap will be too short to adequately protect the abdomen when in the saddle, and a cholera belt will prevent chills. 9. Goggles are necessary, but should be left on the peak of the cap for the first hundred yards after each fresh start, until the wind has cleared them of condensed moisture. 10. A pair of footless stockings may with advantage be worn over the ordinary stockings under the gaiter. 11. ‘Whipcord’ lined makes an excellent winter riding suit. 12. Don’t forget the Thermos flask. It alleviates wayside troubles in the frost. 13. Alcohol only warms for the moment, and then leaves you colder than ever. 14. When the fingers are numb, circulation is more quickly restored by swinging the arms in circles than by using the cabman’s cross slap. 15. It is more necessary than in summer to overhaul belt, batteries, amount of petrol, supply of spares, etc, before starting. 16. If for any reason machine is a bad starter when stone cold, never let it get stone cold; eg, if a two hours stop be made at midday, slip into the shed after one hour and run the engine for two minutes on the stand. This will ensure an easier start when the time comes to leave. 17. The addition of a leather waistcoat, lined with wool, camel fleecing, or other similar thick material, will convert a summer suit into a winter suit. The day of the black leather coat and black leather breeches is over. To render the ordinary Norfolk or knickerbocker suit windproof and warm Gamages has introduced a jacket and breeches in chamois leather, which are meant to be worn over the under garments, thus protecting the most delicate portions of be anatomy from the evil effects of the most severe winter weather.