1900: Hands across the sea

That wonderful American website archive.org has, among its countles files, some volumes of that wonderful American magazine The Bicycling World and Motocycle Review, one of which covers part of 1900. As a result the entry for 1900 has tripled in size; fascinating yarns include a report on Oscar Hedstrom riding the prototype Indian—before it was called an Indian—the launch of the Merkel, the three-cylinder radial steam-powered Abel, the 3hp Patee tandem, the Marsh,  Holley, Hampden, Regas, Fleming…not to mention debutante’s at the Paris show including La Centaure, La Victoire, La Salvator and the Boillod with an in-line twin motor mounted head downwards on its carrier. There’s also engaging coverage of the nascent English and French industries from a colonial point of view (including the arrival of the Singer) and much else besides. Well worth a look. And now I will get back to trawling through a 1921 volume of The Motor Cycle but will doubtless be tempted back to Bicycling World. Not to mention the usual hours in the garage. Lock-down, esteemed reader, need hold no fears for a motor cycle obsessive. Be well.

“Fred Patee, the head of the company, and Joshua Morris, the inventor of the motor, Patee being the man with the dimples, at the rear of the machine.”

Birth of a motocycling nation

While trawling through copies of The Bicycling World and Motocycle Review I was struck by the way the masthead evolved as the new-fangled ‘motocycles’ started as an afterthought, achieved parity and ultimately pushed the pedal cycles out of the way.

From pushbikes to motorbikes: 1900, 1909 and 1910.

1901: An American view

years ago I laid out hundreds of A4 pages in preparation for a print version of this timeline. Wiser heads prevailed which is a God Thing because a website has flexibility. Take 1901. I’d assembled about 3,000 words and a good selection of pictures covering the year and moved on. And then I was pointed at that wonderful website archive.org; specifically a number of volumes of The Bicycling World and Motocycle Review. From it extracted stories and pictures which have doubled the size of the 1901 entry, not least a description of Hedstrom’s first public ride on his new bike—before it was christened Indian. I fear the ongoing expansion of the 1921 entry will be in abeyance while I trawl through further volumes of Bicycling World; watch this space for news of more finds.


1920: All the news from 100 years ago.

January to December, you’ll find a lot to read about in 1920. The first tax discs and logbooks, the first BruffSup, the first fuel station (no petrol run by the AA), combo taxis, magnetos that produced light, tales of adventure, tales of new bikes (including a Superb British four)…oodles of motor cycling miscellania to keep you amused, informed and entertained. Go on, treat yourself.

Cool gizmos from a century ago.


1920: Three trials

Three features have just been added to the 1920 Features section covering the ACU Six Days Trial, the Scottish Six Days Trial and the Anglo-Dutch Trial, complete with shedloads of pics. These yarns give a smashing flavour of motor cycling at the start of the 1920s; enjoy.  Loads more material has also been added to 1920 including a  number of launches and a canoe sidecar.


1920: Damsels of Man

Just posted in the 1920 Features section is a compilation of previews, reports, reviews and gossip from the 1920 TT. There’s a basic report in the main 1920 listing but the material and pics in the feature are worthy of your attention—as well as thoughtful appraisals of the latest technology there’s  an appraisal of the various marques of flapper to be dallied with on Douglas prom. Yep, we’re roaring into the twenties.

“…there are flappers galore…the man who couldn’t suit himself along the front at Douglas would be hard to please”.

A brief return to 1901

There’s plenty more material to be added to 1920 (a feature on the TT is in preparation) but I just came across a report of the first motor cycle ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. Ixion referred to it in his review of the End-to-End run (which you’ll find in the 1911 Features section); now you can enjoy the whole story, as written by the rider. Also added to 1901 is a rider’s call for a club to be started for motor bicyclists, and a roadtest of a Singer Voituretts that was equally at home carrying people or goods, years before the advent of the tradesman’s sidecar.

“The arrival at John-o’-Groat’s House.”

Progress report on 1920

Nearly halfway through 1920; lots of new bikes to take a look at, with a report on the London-Edinburgh, an appeal for helmets to be used by TT riders and oodles of good stuff with more being added daily. I really ought to be spending more time in the garage but a chap’s got to do what a chap’s got to do.

Mass production in Germany…where the 7½hp Mass twin revealed design trends “in the land of our late enemy”.

Roaring into the twenties

You’ll find a fair number of stories in 1920, including Britain’s first proper fuel station (but it didn’t have any petrol); a lightweight that looks more 1950 than 1920; a list of every marque in the Blue ‘Un Buyer’s Guide; a QD topbox; a bicycle powered by the rider’s weight …and a motorbike made by a chap called Guzzi. Watch this space.

“The 216cc Pullin, a machine of striking and original design.”