Letters to the Editor

THIS SELECTION FROM the Blue ‘Un’s correspondence pages gaves some fascinating insights into motor cycling in those golden years before the Great War.


“I WAS FILLING my generator the other night from one of these troughs, ladling the water with my hand, mind you, into a paper funnel, when one of these ” unemployed ones ” informed me that he would have to prosecute me for stealing water. I thought he was joking, but he pressed the case, and reminded me of the way the motor ‘bus drivers polluted the water with their oily cans. I granted that this was a disgraceful trick, and pointed out the way I was proceeding, but he said this would make no difference. At last I reminded the man in blue that he would be laughed at in any police court when the matter was explained, whereupon he decided to say no more about it ‘this time’.”
Fred Trigg

“MAY WE TRESPASS on your space to contradict a rumour which we have heard persistently of late to the effect that we intend marketing a 5 or 7hp twin motor bicycle. We cannot imagine what has given rise to this rumour, unless it is that our 500cc single-cylinder engine has developed over 8hp at 3,000 revolutions.
John V Pugh, Rudge-Whitworth Ltd

“IN VIEW OF THE agitation that exists at the present moment against noisy motor cycles, and feeling that the abuse of the cut-out by a certain class of irresponsible motor cyclists is bound to increase this agitation, we have decided to supply our Indian motor cycles in future with the foot lever which operates the cut-out fitted to our silencer entirely removed. We have found from experience that the opening of the cut-out does not materially increase the speed or help the running of our standard touring machines in any way whatever. In fact, we are quite convinced that the long, tapered exhaust pipe which we fit on to our silencer, and which extends well towards the rear of the machine, instead of retarding, tends to improve the running of the engine, inasmuch as it apparently creates a vacuum in the silencer.”
The Hendee Manufacturing Co

IN CONSEQUENCE of the coal strike, a large number of trains in various parts of the country were suspended, and nowhere was this more so than m the Manchester district. As a result, the morning mails from Manchester to Glazebury and Kenyon were interfered with, and as no coaches run in the direction of these places the mails had to circulate via Leigh; at this point the mails were met by the Brothers Timms with their motor cycle and sidecar and conveyed to their destination.
F Timms

The brothers Timms used their combo to carry the mail from Manchester to Glazebury during the coal strike. Motor cycles were also carrying mail in Coventry, where the Post Master had a Humber on a 12-month trial.
Coventry posties got motorbikes, lucky chaps.

“YOU MENTION several ‘Clean Counties’ in which no police traps have been worked during 1911. I would point out to you that the county of Durham should be included in this list. Such a thing as a police trap is not known in this county, and I shall be pleased if you will mention this fact in your next issue.”
WT Walton Jnr
Hon Sec Harlepool &DMCC

“…IF PERMISSION for the [TT] race is refused, the fault will not lie with the Manx authorities or the Manx people, but with the ACU, who know full well the amount of misbehaviour of some of the competitors here in June last, and the way their conduct was annoying—and rightly so—to the people in the island, and neither the ACU nor its Secretary took any steps whatever to stop such proceedings, and “although they had before them the names of some of the competitors who were the cause of all this trouble, the ACU did not either censure or disqualify them from any of the competitions. If the races are to take place in the Isle of Man this year—and Manx peope, after all, are sportsmen—it will only be on such conditions as will give the Manx authorities power to prevent such disgraceful proceedings taking place as took place here in June last.”
George JA Brown

“THEORY IS NOT of much use in dealing with a practical question which must be decided by practical tests. Of course, anyone who has driven both a three-wheeler and a four-wheeler (and the best of each kind) is entitled to give his opinion—which will differ from the opinions of some other riders. But, for those who have not that practical experience, the following facts may be more useful than theories: (1) A three-wheeler won very easily the only cyclecar race yet held, at a speed of about 59mph. The three-wheeler was, in fact, ‘first, and the rest nowhere’. (2) At this speed the three-wheeler was absolutely steady, whereas the only four-wheeler which approached it ‘snaked’ badly and finally turned turtle. (3) No four-wheeler has, as yet, got through an official long distance reliability trial, open to both three and four-wheelers, whereas a three-wheeler has been consistently successful in these trials. (4) So far no three-wheeler with single front steering wheel has entered for any official trial. I may add that I was all in favour of four wheels until I was converted by experience. “
H George Morgan

“I RESPECTFULLY wish to bring to your notice the fact of motor cyclists riding at excessive and dangerous speeds through this borough. No doubt you are aware the roads in and about Leamington are wide, well laid, and offer every inducement for motorists’ comfortable travelling. In addition to this, the local police authorities have laid themselves out to induce motorists to visit this town, without fear of running into any specially laid traps (a practice which I consider totally unworthy of any police authority to recognise). Notwithstanding this, I am sorry to say that a great many motor cyclists who visit this town have no regard for the safety of other people, but go racing through some of our principal streets at speeds varying from 18 to 3Omph. My Watch Committee have had the matter under consideration, and have been forced to the conclusion that the police must take more drastic action with a view of bringing some of the offenders before the justices. I do not know how far you can help me in this matter, but I should be glad it you could intimate through The Motor Cycle in a friendly way a caution to motor cyclists to exercise a little more care with regard to excessive speed when passing through this town, and to take this warning in the spirit in which it is given, and so obviate the necessity of any police proceedings.”
TT Earnshaw, Chief Constable

Before there were tradesman’s outfits you could always stick a churn in a wickerwork sidecar.

ENCLOSED IS A photograph showing the utility of the motor cycle. The owner, Mr Edwards, of Kington, Herefordshire, has been using the 3½hp two-speed Humber and sidecar for the purposes of delivering milk daily. By this means he is able to dispense with a horse and trap, which would otherwise be required.
EM Turner

I AM WRITING in the hope that you will find room for the following statement in regard to the facts leading up to my disqualification in the standard single-cylinder class at the hill climb recently held by the Harrogate and District and Herts County MCCs. It will be remembered that I won in this class, making the climb in 63.2sec. I rode the same machine which I have used throughout the whole of last year, the present season, and also during the winter; it is a strictly standard Ivy machine, and I think I can claim to have been almost religiously careful with regard to its equipment. I have invariably ridden the machine with ordinary up-turned handle-bars, footboards, shield for the magneto, mudguards, tool bags, the machine being, in fact, an exact replica of a standard Ivy. These facts were duly pointed out to the officials, but the only satisfaction I got was a statement to the effect that no ordinary touring engine could climb the hill in the time that I took, so that, presumably, had I made this climb at a slower speed, I could still have won and not have suffered the indignity of disqualification. I now wish to state that the engine was a standard competition Ivy-Precision engine, and that it does not vary in the slightest degree from those fitted to the machines we sell, except in so far that it has seen a good deal more work than most. It seems to me distinctly unfair ruling that a rider should lose the result of his care and experience because of efficiency which is apparently above the normal.
HC Newman

I NOTICE A paragraph in your issue of last week referring to the clashing of the passenger trial arranged by my club—the North-West London MCC—with that organised by the Birmingham Club. This unfortunate clashing was not in any way due to my committee, as the original date of the fixture was settled at the meeting of secretaries at Olympia [in November 1911]. We have always made a point of avoiding interfering with other clubs’ affairs as much as possible, and when, in spite of the date being approved at this meeting, another club fixed a trial for the same day, we applied in January to the ACU to have our date altered to May 18th, which, at that time, was an entirely open date. The permit was granted to my club quite a long time ago, and I trust you will make this clear so that the Birmingham Club will not feel that we have intentionally arranged anything which would be likely to interfere with the success of their own competition in regard to which we wish them the best results. It seems to me that some arrangement might be made in regard to protecting the interests of clubs in such matters. The meeting of secretaries at the Olympia was intended for this purpose, but, judging by what transpires each year, very few feel morally bound by the arrangements.
HJ Pooley,
Captain North-West London MCC

‘EM’ (BRIGHTON) wishes to secure a companion for a long Continental motor cycle trip this year to Japan via Siberia, returning the same route or a different one. Letters addressed as above, c/o The Editor, will be forwarded to the right quarter.

CW Mayer and his 3½hp Humber sidecar.

I PURCHASED A 1911 model two-speed Humber motor cycle at Whitsun last year and have had no mechanical troubles since, although I have done over 3,000 miles in this neighbourhood, mostly with a sidrcar (not by any means a flat countiy, as you know), including one or two) long tours, namely, via Lyme Regis and the coast road to Bouruemouth, Southsea, Brighton and back. On this occasion my brother accompanied me, and we look enough luggage for a fort- night’s holiday. Some months ago I had the engine down and what little carbon there was was removed, and, as an example of Humber reliability and the power developed by their 3½hp engine, I am pleased to say that recently I climbed Haldon Hill with a passenger eleven stones and myself twelve and a half stones, total weight all up over 6cwt. The engine is geared 4½ to 1 on top and 9 to 1 on bottom.
Charles W Mayer

DURING THE LIVERPOOL Auto Cycle Club trial it was my duty as a marshal to stop all the competitors at the approach to Cilcain Hill, and to send them up singly. During my wait there I was approached by the constable placed on the hill and informed that he had heard rumours of a plot by certain members of a chapel congregation in the vicinity to drive a horse and cart down the hill in order to baulk all the competitors on the hill, in spite of the fact that we had made arrangements to send them up separately, to cause no obstruction. Now a cart did turn up, and got in the way of Miss Baxter and others, and just as it was passing me the driver lashed out with his whip, intentionally striking Mr Pollard across the shoulders. I was just going to run after the cart, and obtain the name and address of the driver, when seven or eight competitors turned up, and, as I had no assistance, I was unable to leave my post, but several of the competitors saw the man’s action; which I think most dastardly. If any reader of your paper who happens to be driving through the district and meets with similar treatment will communicate with me, I will see that the matter is placed in the proper quarter to have a stop put to it.
Lionel C Barton,
Vice-president, Liverpool ACC

“OPPOSITE MY HOUSE is a meadow used as a cricket ground by a large local school ‘for the sons of gentlemen’. As the field is not wide enough balls are constantly driven over the road into the opposite property. During previous seasons damage has constantly been done to gardens, windows, and tilings inside rooms, and several people have been hit and injured. One evening recently, as I was riding at about 15mph, a ball came across the road right under my front wheel, bringing me down. I suffered several painful cuts and bruises, besidei considerably tearing my overalls and clothes. Lamp and horn were smashed and machine itself considerably damaged, and engine injured, necessitating partial taking down. The headmaster later expressed regret and thought, perhaps, he was morally responsible, but had doubts about being legally so. I propose to hand him the repairer’s estimate and ask him to settle with me personally at once.”

THE DANGER OF Uncontrolled Dogs: Every week scores of riders get thrown from their machines, with more or less serious injury to themselves or their machines, more often both, and yet this danger on the highway goes on and seems to get worse than ever. I have been laid up in bed for months at a time from this cause, and am deaf in one ear as the result of one of the falls; only a month back I was thrown in Chalfont St. Peter; result damage to machine to the value of £5 and slight personal injuries. I tliink I got off luckily. Why should we be in this perpetual danger from an uncontrolled animal on the highway?
FW Applebee

ON MY ARRIVAL home the other night, after riding from Holborn, via Hanwell and Staines, I was astonished to find a boy’s cap lying on my footboard, within an inch of the driving chain. It had evidently been thrown at the machine in the dark, as I had not notice anything en route. Had this cap moved another inch, it would have been caught up by the chains, and a bad smash to myself and machine would have been the probable result. Could not the AA or ACU circularise head teachers of schools, asking them to point out to the children the dangers of this cap-throwing habit? I generally stop and ‘go for’ the children myself when I see a cap thrown.

IN THE ACCOUNTS of the various trials one sees frequent mention of tyre troubles owing to punctures, while in other parts of your paper one reads accounts of non-puncturable tyres, covers, bands, etc, besides solutions and powders which immediately stop any puncture. Is it because riders do not use these articles or because they do not fulfill all that their makers claim?

1912 WAGER 7UP
“An accident risked to settle a wager.”

A FEW WEEKS ago, after an argument with a friend, a wager was made that I would not succeed in carrying six persons on a standard motor cycle for three miles; this I did, and afterwards I tried with seven, and I succeeded in carrying this load (an aggregate weight of nearly half a ton) for a distance of two and a half miles on my 3½hp Armstrong James, the last mile being to Stonebridge, where I delivered the load safely, demonstrating the fact that a modern motor cycle is capable of standing an enormous load.
Albert Milner

AT MANNINGTREE (ESSEX) on the 20th inst, a motor cyclist was fined four guineas and costs, and also had his licence endorsed, for riding his machine up a wide steep hill at 30mph. The rider was a most careful individual, and it was the first time he had fallen foul of the police. At the same court, a barman, who had stolen many pounds, and candidly admitted it, was bound over to be of good behaviour for twelve months. Is this justice? Anyway, motor cyclists have means of at least showing their objection to such methods by taking out their motor cycle licences elsewhere. [At this time vehicles could be registered in any county. This allowed the acquisition of low numbers for them ‘as wanted them but also allowed vehicle owners to pay their fees where they wished].
J Tippins

FIFTEEN MILES WITH a Broken Valve: The other day I was out for a run on an old 3½ Rex when the stem of my exhaust valve broke, leaving about an inch and a quarter between it and the tappet. I had no tools except an adjustable, spanner, with which I changed over the valves. The inlet now became automatic, and by taking rubber tube from generator, pushing one end of it up on valve stem, which it fitted tightly, and tying it around the contact breaker cover, I extemporised an inlet spring. The machine, being warm, started easily, and I did fifteen miles in an hour and a quarter. Perhaps the tip may save some of your readers a weary push of many miles.
William A Ryan Jnr

THE DANGER OF Uncontrolled Dogs: In this country, where the dog tax is less than in England, only 2s per dog, and 6d for stamp, these curs constitute a regular reign of terror for motor cyclists. A short time ago I was driving my nearly new triumph about 15mph up a slight hill, when a large sheep dog suddenly jumped out of a hedge and charged my front wheel. I was smashed down, and lay with my right thigh pinned between the tank and the ground. Front wheel was so badly buckled that a new one was necessary, and four spokes and cyclometer broken. New lamp and horn broken up, spring forks twisted and broken, and ball bearing joint bent. Number plate and spindle also injured, besides other slight injuries. My coat was torn, and a hole sawed through the toe-cap of one boot by running belt. Fortunately ] escaped personally with some bad bruises. Could you kindly inform me whether 1 have not a claim on owner of this dog? He promised to pay at the time, but I hear since that he is now in a different frame of mind. I have a witness, a push cyclist, who was behind me and saw the whole thing. A few successful prosecutions would do a lot to get rid of this nuisance. I believe the repair bill will amount to about £2 10s or £3. The dog was killed.
(Dr) SA Darcy,
Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland
Our correspondent certainly can claim damages if the dog is known to be vicious.—Ed.

1912 MAD DOG
Mad? Cofused? Or simply misunderstood…

SOME YEARS AGO I was thrown from my Triumph by the deliberate charge of a large dog. I promptly gave the owner notice of my intention to sue him for all damages sustained, and he immediately paid up. All motor cyclists should adopt this course, and do as I should have done if necessary—fight the matter in the courts at all costs. Of my own personal knowledge I can speak of weekly, often daily, spills occasioned to riders in this district (Dudley). The governing bodies of the pastime seem too apathetic to take action. Another phase of the question that has always puzzled me is why the fertile brained imposer of imperial taxes, who has set his seal upon the motor industry and its poor supporters has so utterly neglected so easily exploited a source of revenue. Is there any connection between this attitude and the huge number of mixed-breed curs one encounters in the land of “inteet to goodness, look you”? The tax ought to be at least one guinea per animal. This alone would rid our streets and roads to a large extent of the wholly unnecessary and undesirable cur. Hygienic reasons also ought to dictate a substantial depletion of their numbers. Some definite action ought to be taken by the ACU, as it ostensibly caters for the needs of the motor cyclist in particular. In any event it would be useful if only that type of dog owner who lacks mental balance, and takes a demented delight in seeing his dog chase a motor cycle, could be brought to a clear understanding of what his position is.
Scarlet Pimpernel

I NOTICED IN a recent issue a letter doubting a statement to the effect that a reader can average 110mpg on his 6hp Zenith. It may interest him to know that I have a 1912 6hp Bat, and with this machine I can average 112mpg, and the machine will attain a speed of 65mph on the level, even with this low consumption of petrol. The carburetter is the latest B and B single jet, the gear ratio 3½ to 1, and the jet a No 31. I have filed the extra air intake to admit more air. I am prepared to back up my statements if any reader still does not believe this performance possible.
M Campbell

WE THINK THAT everyone connected with the motor cycle industry should do whatever they can to keep up the wave of enthusiasm which is now being shown for motor cycling generally. A good deal of the interest in the pastime comes from having something to do and somewhere to go to, and therefore competitions and reliability trials, etc, serve a very good purpose. As many of the manufacturers have this year decided not to support the TT races, may we appeal to some of the larger and more influential motor cycle agents that they themselves should enter a rider for these races? We ourselves thought of sending a donation to the ACU fund, but decided that perhaps it would serve the trade and pastime better it we entered a rider, and this we have done in the person of SL Bailey, who, it will be remembered, on his first ride with the Douglas machine which we supplied to him, put up the phenomenal feat of riding over fifty-six miles in the hour. It may savour of impudence, but we have also entered Mr Bailey on a 2¾hp Douglas to ride in the. Senior TT Race. This, we think, will provide a valuable lesson, and the comparison of the speeds of the machines will no doubt prove very interesting. Another suggestion we have to make is that the more important clubs, who are all units of the ACU, should themselves be responsible for entering a rider in the TT Race; that each club vote from their fund, or subscribe voluntarily from among their members, a sufficient sum to enter one of their members in the TT Race. They could pick the best man, pay his expenses, and no doubt the ACU could make a rule to fit the case.
The Colmore Motor Cycle Depot
The above suggestion is an excellent one. It may interest the writer of the above letter to know that in 1907 the Coventry and Warwickshire Motor Club entered a member for the TT Race.—Ed.

PLEASE ALLOW ME to thank you for a short paragraph you inserted in The Motor Cycle asking for help in the solution of a “difficult problem” with an old type engine. Glad to say response was very good. Several came to see the engine. Each and all, separately unknown to each other, pointed their ringer of scorn at the exhaust cam. A new cam was made giving 5/16in lift instead of 1/8in as before, and the results are most “grateful and comforting”. Engine does not now overheat, runs faster on the level, and climbs hills very much better. I was very glad of such spontaneous offers of help from unknown but very enthusiastic motor cyclists, who were ready to write letters, make appointments, call and examine and give advice with no hope of reward except to think they had helped someone out of a difficulty. Again thanking you for the paragraph.
S Whittaker

IT SEEMS THAT certain motor cyclists recently amused themselvesby ‘blinding’ through a meet of staghounds on their low gears, with open exhausts, after which they proceeded to repeat the performance in front of a quiet hotel, which they afterwards entered dripping with mud and rain. They have since boastfully owned to this behaviour, which inclines me to suppose them innocent. Surely the ACU should take steps to investigate the truth of the matter, and, if it be proved, suspend the offenders indefinitely.
CP Symonds

THE ARMING OF Motor Cycle Companies: I have read the military motor cycling notes with great interest, and have nothing but good to wish them. I see it is advocated that each of the motor cycle companies should have twenty-five Rexers, and that the 35 officers, NCO’s and men should be armed with Mauser pistols. This, in my mind, will be a vast mistake, as, unless you have a first-rate fire control—and you can only get that by prolonged and unceasing training—you will find that ammunition will run out and not be easy to replace. I have seen Rexers on active service, and they eat up a waggon-load of ammunition in no time. I would like to see the units armed with the regulation arm, as it is a well-known fact that magazine fire is not half so deadly as single fire—especially with young troops, who will pull away as hard as they can unless, as I said, they have had a long and careful training, and the military motor cyclist, I judge, will not be able to spare the time for this. I should not care to be the man on the saddle with my half-section dangling a Mauser pistol seated on the pillion in the event of an alarm being suddenly given right ahead.
CRL, Zululand

Was a volunteer motor cyclist safe with a Rexer automatic rifle?

I AM BURDENED by an accumulating debt of gratitude for help and advice received on the road due to unknown gentlemen, whom I cannot repay. I am a 1912 novice. I was quite un-familiar with such things, having no mechanical knowledge or experience. Why, I remember the first time the driving belt came off I did not know how to replace it. I have now done about 2,000 miles, and have encountered most of the beginner’s roadside troubles.Never, day nor night, have I been in difficulties on the road but some brother motor cyclists have stopped to ask what my trouble was, and to render practical help, given freely and courteously, and with amazing patience. They have diagnosed the trouble that my inexperience could not detect, and, when the sooted plug, or broken valve, or tappets out of adjustment, or whatever it was, was located, I have been almost pushed aside while the matter was put right for me. When held up in the dark on a country road, a passing motor cyclist took my passenger and myself eight miles to the nearest town. If, sir, there is any other sport where such astonishing decency and good feeling are shown to beginners, I wonder what it is. I thanked all these gentlemen as well as I could at the time, and I thank them again. Each has always said, “That’s all right,” and ridden away. As it happened, in the case of the breakdown mentioned above, that my passenger was an American guest to whom I was trying to show something of our countryside, I was not a little proud that he also obtained such a favourable impression of the good feeling amongst British motor cyclists on the road, and I know he has not failed to take that impression home with him. In conclusion, it only remains for me to say that I am trying to catch the spirit that has been shown to me. It was with peculiar satisfaction the other night that I assisted an absolute beginner to locate his trouble, and diagnosed it right (sooted plug) the very first time. “Amongst the blind the one-eyed man is king!”

A RIDER OF A racing Douglas (judging from its Brooklands crackle) was observed on Sunday morning, while passing through High Street, Bromley, Kent, at a comfortable pace, to place his hands simultaneously into his pockets, bringing forth matches and cigarettes, and then to light a cigarette and redace the before mentioned articles in his pockets without in the least disturbing himself or the control of his machine. This speaks well for the steadiness of the Douglas and the rider’s skill, and he should next try Bromley High Street on a Wednesday evening—after early closing, when he will have an appreciative audience.
Myer B Lee

SOME TIME DURING July, the War Office asked for a number of motor cyclists to volunteer for duty with the Army during the Manoeuvres. I believe they got the required number, and during and also after the Manoeuvres we heard a great deal about how well they performed their work, and what a help they were, but now, apparently, the War Office have forgotten all about them, as no pay or acknowledgment has come along up to date. Now, sir, do you think this is the way to get us another year? I have asked several for their opinion, and they all say, “No thanks”.


Here’s a further selection, included just because I enjoyed them. Where possible I’ve included the publication date.

Motor Cycling 25June 1930
I ENDORSE ‘UNAPPROACHABLE’S’ claim of a 44mph average from London to Leeds a being quite practicable. The Great North Road is a marvellous road for high averages, there being few towns and many long straight stretches. A friend of mine on a 500 ohv machine averaged 46mph from Egdware to York via Tadcaster on a Saturday afternoon, and an Austin Seven did the journey at exactly 40mph. That it would be easy to maintain a high average on a big machine is evident, since on a 250 I have averaged 36 from York to London, the point being that I was doing a steady 40 all the way, and never once exceeded 45. I think that on a 500 ohv in the early morning London to York could be done in four hours, or 50mph.

The Motor Cycle 1903
I REGRET TO SEE THAT you are advocating, or rather countenancing, the adoption of motor bicycle driving by ladies. To my mind, woman was never made for an engine driver, and has not that cool nerve required so often in motoring. I saw a lady motorist riding a Singer lady’s machine for the first time some fortnight ago at Cambridge, and without being ungallant, I don’t want to see another. Her nervousness was pathetically obvious, and her facial expression was an index to the sustained nervous tension under which she was labouring.
I am sure that the natural constitution of the gentler sex is not such that they can extract any pleasure or physical good from such a pastime as motoring, which requires strong nerves, and a cool and ready hand and head. Of course there are ladies who are made of very much sterner stuff than the majority, but I am sure that if motor cycling is indulged in by ladies, they will be a source of considerable danger, both to themselves and other users of the road, and I pity the poor men when the ladies of the household come home from a hard ride ‘a bundle of nerves’. The majority of lady cyclists are bad enough in observing the rule of the road and practising gymkhanas all over the place, hopping off in front of one without the slightest warning, riding three abreast, and doing other funny things, but Heaven forbid the lady motorist.

The Motor Cycle 28 October 1903.
WHEN I PENNED MY RECENT letter to you I quite anticipated a reply from that well-known lady motor cyclist, Mrs. Kennard. I sincerely hope she has not taken my remarks personally, as she is one of the few exceptions which prove the rule, and one admires her nerve in going in for a pastime-even moderately as she does-such as motor cycling. Even Mrs. Kennard must confess (and should be proud of the fact, perhaps) that she is one of those ladies made of “sterner stuff,” to which I referred. With regard to your other contributor, who signs herself “Woman-an Engine Driver,” I really cannot see what to answer to her gentle vapourings, as they are pointless. What has the price of motor bicycles got to do with the principle of the suitability or otherwise of motor cycling for ladies (beg pardon – women)? She seems to have gone to some trouble also to ascertain the number of lady (my mistake, I quite forgot – woman) motor cyclists in the British Isles. It would be interesting to learn how she made her census. I should be very sorry to be forced to the conclusion that “Woman-an Engine Driver,” is a “new woman,” but her concluding paragraph certainly points in that direction. She has entirely misunderstood my letter, and seems to have drifted into the question of that old chestnut, so-called “women’s rights.” I referred to motor cycling for ladies purely from a physical and constitutional point of view. Neither of your correspondents has disproved my contention that motor cycling, ie, the actual driving of a motor cycle, is particularly unsuitable as a pastime for the “gentler” sex. If they can do so, I will willingly concede my point. As a matter of fact, it is with tremulous feelings that I take the audacious liberty of crossing pens with your fair correspondents, and it is only my conviction that I am right which forces me to do so.

The Motor Cycle 1903
YOUR CORRESPONDENT ‘SMTB’ SEEMS very nervous where ladies are concerned. I must say I think he is unnecessarily so. I have ridden over 2,000 miles on a motor bicycle, and only had one accident. This was occasioned by a male cyclist, who ran into and upset me, as well as himself. I ride everywhere alone, doing journeys of one hundred miles and under. I do not consider a motor bicycle is pleasant in thick traffic or on greasy trams, but with the Bowden system of control a lady can manage her mount quite easily, and run comparatively few risks if she rides with ordinary prudence. Dogs are the principal danger, and foolish cyclists (male and female) who possess little or no headpiece. Why forbid the lady motorist? She exists already and will surely increase.
Mary E Kennard

The Motor Cycle 1903
AS A WOMAN, AND A RIDER of a Singer motor bicycle, I would most respectfully call the attention of SNJR to a few facts which he has evidently overlooked. Far be it from me to take up the pained and painful attitude of a brow-beaten Premier; but is your correspondent fair? I think not. Every woman (“ladies” preside at wash-tubs!) can do what her particular nature permits her. There are some women, and also men, who ought not to approach within ear-shot of a motor bicycle; but with motors at their present price, the fact that a woman invests in one with the intention of riding it shows she is not one of these. Practice makes perfect, and if circumstances forced the Cambridge motorist into traffic before she felt sure of her mount, she is to be sincerely pitied, and not made the subject of an appeal to an even higher power than the local Robert—plus stop-watch. There are, I believe, six women motor bicyclists within the British Isles, and there must be six hundred waiting for the right moment and the right machine. As for SMJR, all the consolation I can offer is that, despite my best efforts, it seems probable that there is still some little time between him and the day his nerves seem to dread—the period when absolute equality in all things, subject to an individual capability, will be afforded to all human beings, without regard to the somewhat delicate point as to whether they mote in French boots or Stohwasser’s puttie leggings.
Woman—An Engine Driver

The Motor Cycle 1903
IT MAY INTEREST YOUR LADY readers to know I have been using one of Messers Dunhill’s patent safety pins for motor caps for some time, and am quite delighted with it. I had previously found it most unpleasant in windy weather having to hold my cap (or hat) to prevent it blowing up. I have used the pin on both hat and cap with the same result, and am sure every lady will be delighted with it.

The Motor Cycle 19 December 1938
Power Cycles: The ‘What Shall We Call Them?’ Discussion Continued.
WHEN MR AM RUFF WRITES that the word ‘velocycle’ is “a hybrid of the deepest dye” he slightly exaggerates. The first part is undoubtedly from the Latin, but so is the tail. ‘Cyclos’ is a Latin word borrowed from the Greek ‘Kuklos’, nevertheless it is a good Latin word. I ascertained this before submitting the suggestion, for I agree that two languages should not be blended in one word, though it has been done in the common English word ‘bicycle’. The Greek prefix is ‘di-‘ — ‘bi-‘ is Latin. ‘Velocycle’ does not sound foreign, and it is not foreign. Latin is part of our English language. Anglo-Saxon is one only of many other languages which have been fused into our English tongue. Though away from the point, I would point out that ‘brake’ (Old French), ‘hub’ (origin unascertained, its first traced use was in 1649), ‘tire’ (an abbreviation of ‘attire’, derived from Old French), and ‘frame’ (Old Norse) are not “good old Anglo-Saxon words”, while the ‘foreign’ words ‘engine’ (traced back to 1330), ‘car’ (to 1382), ‘valve’ (to 1387) and ‘motor’ (to 1586) have been long enough in use to have ceased to be foreign. When I wrote that ‘velomoteur’ looks foreign, so that it would be preferable not to adopt it, I had in mind the fate that has befallen the name of the variable cycle gear known as ‘derailleur’. To hear this anglicised is painful, yet speak of a “de-ray-ee-eh” gear and you are either not comprehended, or marked down as trying to be superior. ‘Velomoteur’ is, and looks, alien and would not be gracious to our tongue.
HJ Kendrick, Coventry

Motor Cycling 2 May 1910
THE FOLLOWING FACTS ABOUT myself I thought might be of interest to your journal, as I have been told by lots of my friends that they believe it constitutes a record, as far as it goes. The record is this: my weight is 17st 13oz, and I am at the present time riding a 3½hp Bradbury. I have ridden it for hundreds of miles and have not as yet had to get off at any hills, but the thing which I want to know is, is there another motorcyclist in England whose weight is more than this? I have not yet come across any other rider approaching this weight, and I should be extremely obliged if you would bring this the notice of the readers of your journal, as it is a certainty I shall never be able to establish a record for speed, but I think I can easily establish one for weight.
Jas W Woodhall

The Motor Cycle 1927
BEING CAUGHT BY A SERGEANT two miles from home with the bulb of my rear light burnt out, and being fool enough not to have had a spare one…I had to fall back on the following stunt: I stuck three Gold Flakes in the bowl of my pipe and filled up all air leaks with some plasticine…Then, removing the stem, I substituted a length of acetylene tubing, plugging this up with plasticine and binding it with insulation tape. By strapping the pipe to the carrier with tape and lighting the ‘fags’ I was able to get home past three policemen (including my sergeant). Of course it was necessary to puff furiously through the tubing, and I must say I have enjoyed cigarettes better on other occasions, but it made an excellent red light, and the gaspers were just beginning to make the plasticine frizzle by the time I reached home. The vibration of the bike shook off the ash, keeping the light bright. This stunt is hardly to be recommended for London-Land’s End runs and such like, but for shorter night trips what is more pleasant than to enjoy a smoke and burn a rear light at the same time, killing two birds with one stone, as it were?
Robt L Owen