have a winner,
they don't call him Speedy for nothing!
asked what famous motorcycle company built a car with
doors facing front and rear, and Helmut "Speedy"
Clasen, of Dundas, Ontario, Canada, may have set an all-time
speed record for winning our quiz. It took Clasen, who
is a member of the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame, only
minutes to respond that the vehicle pictured is a Zundapp
Janus, named after the two-faced Roman deity of transition,
beginnings, and endings.
1954, the improving economy and a craving for bigger and
better automobiles sent the German
motorcycle industry into a tail spin, so Zundapp and other
German motorcycle manufacturers turned to microcar production
in response to the changing market. Zundapp brought in
several outside design firms to help bring an automobile
into production quickly, and settled on the unorthodox
design offered by Dornier, featuring a mid-engine and
Isetta-type doors opening front and rear. Power was provided
by Zundapp's 250cc Bella scooter engine. The Janus went
into production in June 1957, but was discontinued a year
later. It was projected that the sale of 15,000 units
would be required to make the project profitable, but
only 6,902 were built. The car was too heavy for its small
engine, and passengers sitting backward, watching the
landscape recede behind them, proved not to be as entertaining
as it might seem.
a side note, we might observe that the god Janus (pictured
here) also represented the middle ground between barbarity
and civilization, which seems appropriate to the whole
brief era of the microcar. For more information about
the Zundapp Janus on Wikipedia, click here.
For specs and more photos on Bruce Weiner's Microcar Museum
web site, click here.
To read about Janus, the Roman god of gates and doors,
beginnings and endings, click here.
And, would you believe there is a musical group called
Zundapp Janus. To decide for yourself whether they are
progressive or retro, looking forward of backward, click
Congratulations, Speedy, on becoming our latest Motohistory
Know-It-All. Your personalized diploma is on its way.
kids, here's another Motohistory Quiz to test your knowledge
of things motorcycling, or even things almost-motorcycling.
famous motorcycle manufacturer built an automobile that
had doors on both ends and an engine in the middle?
Rush to your keyboard, be the first to send us the correct
answer, and we will send you your own personalized Motohistory
your answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.
brief history of
Spyder (pictured here) demo rides were a popular hit at
rallies last year. Harley-Davidson has patented a three-wheel
motorcycle called the Kneeslider, and a Norwegian firm
is manufacturing a similar trike—the Brudeli 625L—with
leaning capability (pictured below). Three-wheeled “cars”
that tilt into corners and operate on both conventional
and alternative fuels are already in production and will
begin to appear on America's
roads this year.
fascination with three-wheeled vehicles is not something
new. In fact, the history of the trike begins with the
first mechanically powered vehicle a full century before
the motorcycle was invented. Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot is
recognized for building in 1769 the first self-propelled
vehicle intended to transport a person (pictured below).
He was also the first to have had a traffic
accident. Cugnot built his three-wheeled “fardier
a vapeur” with two wheels in the rear and a steam
boiler and two-cylinder engine mounted over the front
wheel. Designed to carry gun carriages, it had a top speed
of two miles per hour and stopped every ten minutes to
build up steam.
inspired William Murdock—a former student of James Watt—to
build his own three-wheeled steam vehicle in 1784. After
seeing Murdock's steam vehicle in London,
Richard Trevithick subsequently developed his famous steam
trike in 1801 (pictured here). A Dr. Church built a massive
three-wheeled steam vehicle in 1833 that averaged 14 mph
on its daily commuter run between Birmingham and London,
while carrying 44 passengers (pictured below). This was
a viable commercial enterprise until a law was passed
that limited the speed of steam vehicles to
three miles per hour. It had extremely wide, solid rollers,
arranged in a single line, and the weight of this huge
vehicle flattened the ground it drove over. Church had
inadvertently invented the steamroller.
Copeland developed a steam-powered trike in 1884 that
had an automatic oil-fired boiler mounted behind the two
seats, in front of its rear single wheel. The Northrup
Manufacturing Company of Camden, New Jersey produced Copeland's
machine, and when the company was reorganized in 1890,
it was renamed the Motor-Cycle
Manufacturing Company, thus coining a new word for the
Benz is often erroneous credited with developing the first
car in 1885 (Siegfried Marcus was the inventor of the
spray carburetor, spark plug, magneto, and first successful
internal-combustion auto-mobile in1875), but his auto-mobile
was really a trike (pictured above), configured with two
wheels in back and a smaller wheel in front. While a number
of steam-powered three-wheeled vehicles were on the market
at the time, this was the first with an internal-combustion
engine. The first road trip
for a gasoline-powered vehicle took place when Frau Beta
Benz borrowed Karl's trike one night in 1888 and rode
62 miles to her mother's house in Pforzheim.
vehicles are not a new phenomenon. The first one was built
in 1839. Using the newly invented galvanic lead-acid batteries,
Aryton & Perry built an electric trike in 1881 (it
had electric lights), and A.L. Riker began production
of an electric tricycle in 1895. Riker won the world's
first closed-circuit dirt-track race in Naragansett
in 1896, finishing the five-mile heat in 15 minutes and
one second. Meanwhile, the French were quietly having
impromptu races on the streets of Paris
in their electric vehicles. Competition between rivals
sparked the world's first speed trial, held outside of
Paris, in Achères, on December 18, 1898, with the
benchmark record established by a “Jeantaud” electric
trike that averaged 39.245 mph. Electrics would continue
to hold the world land speed record until 1902.
Albert DeDion and George Boulton had been producing steam
vehicles since 1883, but when they developed their first
experimental internal-combustion engines, everything changed.
They used their ½ horsepower, four-stroke, 138cc
engines to power their first line of tricycles in 1895,
and the licensing of these engines gave birth to the modern
the end of the 19th century, there were so many three-wheeled
vehicles powered by electric motors, steam boilers, and
internal-combustion engines that historians have yet to
compile a complete and accurate list. The demise of the
trike was due more to poor road conditions than any other
factor, because deep ruts for two wheels
made a high and bumpy crest for the third. However, despite
the dominance of two-wheel motorcycles and four-wheel
automobiles in the early 20th century, the trike never
Hendee Manufacturing Company began developing a trike
called a “fore-car” in 1904, so named because it had two
wheels in front and the passenger sat foreword, between
the two wheels. This design could also be equipped to
carry cargo (pictured above), rather than people. In 1906,
this two-wheeled front end was offered as an attachment
for any Indian model, and was called the “Tri-Car.” Each
wheel had coil springs at the steering posts, and leaf
springs for the front seat or cargo carrier. Fore-cars
became popular in Europe
and were produced
by a number of companies from 1903 to 1911. Some, like
the 1903 Diamant in Germany,
the 1904 Bradbury in England,
and the 1907 Brennabor Forecar looked remarkably similar
to the Indian. There were also more massive fore-cars
like the Rexette (1903), the Raleigh Tandem (1903), the
Humber Olympia (1903), and the Kelsey Motorette (1910)
that appeared car-like, complete with running boards,
fenders, and leather upholstered Victorian armchairs for
the passengers. The 1905, the British Quadrant even had
a steering wheel instead of handlebars.
Minneapolis Motorcycle Company introduced its tri-car
in 1911. Instead of a front seat it had a beautiful enclosed
box, designed for making deliveries. The company went
out of business in 1914, the same year that Harley-Davidson
presented a fore-car, a two-wheel add-on that replaced
the front wheel on any of its five motorcycle models.
The Harley fore-car was built for delivery companies,
and a special box was even designed for use by the U.S.
Postal Service. One of the more interesting fore-cars
of the era was the 1914 Dayton Chemical Fire Fighting
Unit. It carried 100 feet of hose, 35 gallons of chemical
fire retardant, two three-gallon hand extinguishers, a
pick axe, crowbar, two lanterns, 12-foot extension ladder,
of both sulfuric acid and soda. Powered by a 9-hp Spacke
twin, it also carried two men and could reach a speed
of 45 mph. However, all of these fore-cars were simply
outclassed by a British “cyclecar” invader, the Morgan.
single-seat Morgan with a Peugeot engine was introduced
in 1911. A two-seater version with the J.A.P. engine replaced
it the following year. The Morgan made a name for itself
by consistently winning races during the 1920s (pictured
above is a Morgan in competition circa 1912). In 1927,
it was upgraded to four seats in a streamlined body, and
during the Great Depression the Super Sport F series was
introduced (1933-37). With its stock 1096cc J.A.P. V-twin
this stylish British machine (pictured here) would go
100 mph. It was not the first cyclecar, nor would it be
the last, but nothing else on three wheels would come
close to a Morgan for style or performance.
the beginning of the Great Depression, a California company
created the Cycle-Tow (pictured below), which was simply
a set of outrigger wheels that attached to an existing
motorcycle. The distance between the rear wheels was 42
inches, the same as for automobiles and, consequently,
fit the ruts in dirt roads. In 1931, Indian
introduced its three-wheeled Dispatch Tow (Model 101 DT),
and a year later Harley-Davidson countered with the Servi-Car.
(pictured below are the 1931 Indian and a brochure announcing
the 1932 Harley.) Both were marketed as economical,
utilitarian vehicles designed to take advantage of the
burgeoning automobile market. The DT utilized the 45 cubic-inch
Model 101 Scout, but also became available with the slightly
smaller 30.5ci Pony Scout (also Model 101) the following
year. In its various configurations, it would be called
“Service Car,” “Traffic Car,” and “Indian Patrol.” From
1950 to 1952, the Indian Patrol would be offered with
30.5 cubic-inch Warrior, the 45 cubic-inch Scout, and
the 80 cubic-inch Chief, but in 1952 it would only be
produced for the New York City Fire Department, using
the Sport Scout Model 651. The Indian
Traffic Car (Model VC-13) was introduced in 1935 as a
45 cubic-inch Scout. This rare version was an enclosed
van with two full-sized rear doors. Built with a steel
sub-frame on which oak flooring was laid, its 20-gauge
steel box had a canvas-covered plywood roof with an overhang
above the saddle (pictured below). A jackshaft had a sprocket
on each side, driving two chains to the rear wheels. The
transmission featured three forward speeds and reverse.
Traffic Cars were always rare and little is known about
the series, but a 1939 VC with a 74 cubic inch Chief is
one of a handful of survivors.
Harley-Davidson Servi-Car also had a 42-inch rear span
with two rear wheels connected by an axle with a differential
gear, and the sprung rear sub-frame supported a covered
toolbox. The 1932 Servi-Car was priced at $450 and was
offered in four models and any color, as long as it was
Turquoise Blue, but most service garages had them custom
painted in their company colors. The line included the
219G (small box and tow bar), 36GD (large box without
tow bar), and 5GE (large box with air tank) models that
first year. The following year, 182 Servi-Cars were manufactured
and two new models, the GA (small box without tow bar)
and GDT (large box with tow bar) were added to
the line. By 1934, production jumped to 546 units. In
1951, it became the first Harley-Davidson model to be
fitted with hydraulic brakes, but there were few other
changes made during the life of the line, which was discontinued
1925, Harley-Davidson had introduced the Package Truck
sidecar, and the Harley Fore-Car was nearly forgotten.
Even during the Great Depression, both Indian's Dispatch
Tow and Harley-Davidson's Servi-Car were simply designed
as inexpensive service vehicles to complement
the dominant automotive market. In Great
introduced its Karryall
motorcycle van in 1929, but the company closed shop in
the automobile was the vehicle of choice in post-war America
(and the bigger,
the better), on the narrow streets of war-torn and gasoline-starved
other alternatives appeared. The three-wheeled Isetta,
with its single front door, was designed in Italy,
but produced under license in numerous countries throughout
the world. The BMW Isetta (1955-1962) became the most
famous of the so-called “bubble cars.” Germany
also had the Messerschmitt
KR bubble car (1953-1964) while England
had Reliants (1952-2000)
and the Bond (1949-1966) mini-car (pictured below). Utilizing
motorcycle engines, three wheels, and
enclosed bodies, these trikes and fore-car designs were
hybrids that never became popular in America,
although over a half-million Reliants were sold in England.
of the great trike success stories is the Piaggio Ape
(aw-pay), named after the bee, because of its sound (pictured
below). Designed in 1948 and built in post WWII Italy,
these little scooters with their front cabs and tiny truck
bodies initially had displacements as small as 50cc. (I've
often contemplated what one could do to an Ape van using
an S&S engine and a raked-out front end.) Today, the
175cc version is assembled under license in Bangladesh,
and Venzuela. It is also built in Pune,
by Bajaj Auto and imported into the United
States. Over 20,000
are sold each year and almost two million
of these three-wheeled vehicles are on the road. They
are sold as rickshaws, vans, and pickup trucks. Vespa
offers a similar design, and the current European rage
is to covert the vans into roving espresso bars.
the 1960s, the unofficial car of the counter-culture was
the Volkswagen, but a cheap, wrecked Beetle could be easily
converted into an ultra-cool trike by welding the rear
suspension and engine to the frame of a motorcycle. Build-your-own
VW trike plans are still readily available, but unfortunately,
old VW parts are no longer inexpensive. However, the Shining
Motorcycle Company now makes something similar: a truck
body welded to a small-displacement motorcycle.
1984, John Lehman built a trike for his wife, Linda (pictured
below). He quickly sold the trike, and so had to build
another to replace it. In the process, the couple founded
Lehman Industries and began manufactured fiberglass trike
bodies for Honda Goldwings. In 1991, Lehman made its first
Harley-Davidson conversion, established
its first U.S.
dealership, and attended its first rally as a vendor.
Last year, Lehman's revenue from the sale of trike conversions
grew by more than 35 percent over 2006. The modern trike
industry had been reborn.
more about Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot and his steam-powered
three-wheeler, click here.
To read about William Murdoch, click here.
For more about Richard Trevithick, click here.
To read about Lucius Copelandand his steam machines, click
For more about Karl Benz, click here.
To read about DeDion and Bouton, click here.
For more history of the intrepid Morgan, click here.
For more about the Can-Am Spyder, click here.
To reach Lehman Industries on the web, click here.
is a freelance writer/photographer with a passion for
history. Best known as a contributor to numerous American
motorcycle magazines, he's also the de facto historian
for the American
and is recognized for his research into the manufacturing
of early 19th century American firearms. "As a watchmaker,
I feel more akin to the technology of the previous century,"
Aiken states. "The 19th century was an era of invention,
and our knowledge of this time has some embarrassingly
large omissions. Little is known about the lives and accomplishments
of some of America's
greatest inventors, but these were men who, without a
political agenda, changed the course of history. Even
the life of the first motorcyclist, and one of the foremost
inventors of his era, that of Sylvester Roper, is almost
unknown. I'm simply seeking the treasure of long-buried
story first appeared in the May 2008 issue of Thunder
Press. It has been revised and republished here with
could make a scholarly argument that history's strangest
vehicles fall into the three-wheeled category, not simply
because they are neither fish nor fowl, but also because
the three-wheel platform seems to attract some of the
most innovative and unorthodox designers.
example, in 1932, James Martin and the Martin Airplane
Company displayed their Martinette at the National Automobile
Show in New York
City (pictured here).
It was a three-wheeled vehicle that utilized aircraft
design principles and materials. It had a wooden frame,
aluminum body, and independent rubber-band suspension
on each wheel. Access to the vehicle is through a single
front door. It was powered by a four-cylinder, 30 horsepower,
750cc American Austin engine with four-speed transmission,
mounted in the rear. Martin claimed the shape of the vehicle
benefited from the company's expertise in aerodynamics,
but to the modern eye the Martinette looks decidedly un-streamlined.
The vehicle never went into production. This sole prototype
is currently on display at the Lane
on loan from the Owls Head Museum of Transportation in
a literal sense, the Scootacar (pictured here) was aptly
named. It was developed in 1957 at the Hunslet Engine
Works in Leeds, Yorkshire. Its designer, Henry Brown,
arrived at its basic configuration by straddling a Villiers
engine while an assistant drew a chalk line around him
on the floor. It has a steel chassis, a 197cc two-stroke,
single-cylinder engine driving the rear wheel through
a four-speed gear box, and a fiberglass body built in
two halves. Entry is through a single door on the left.
The operator sits in a seat and steers with handlebars,
and a passenger can sit behind, straddling the engine
compartment. About 1,500 Scootacars were produced. Curiously,
this tiny run-about came from a company better known for
building locomotives. For more information about the Scootacar,
other three-wheeled curiosities are on display at the
Lane Motor Museum and the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum
in Madison, Georgia. While all of these vehicles are technically
motorcycles, many were spawned during Europe's post-WWII
era of micro-cars, sometimes referred to as “bubble cars.”
For information about the Lane Motor Museum, click here.
For information about Bruce Weiner's Micro-Car Museum,
To read Motohistory's original stories about these two
museums, go to Motohistory News & Views 6/12/2007
Lehman image from the Lehman web site. Can-Am Spyder,
Indian Tri-Car, early Morgan, Martinette, and Scootacar
images by Motohistory. All other images provided
by the author.
BMW built the Brick,
launching the innovative all-enclosed 250cc Leader two-stroke
in 1958, the Ariel factory was planning a bigger version
with a similar frame made of pressed
steel, pictured here. The design, overseen by veteran
engineer Val Page, formerly with JAP, Triumph, and BSA,
would replace the Ariel's famous Square Four luxury tourer,
made in several guises dating back to 1931.
prototype was built with a chassis made on press-tools
installed for Leader production, but made stronger, and
with twin headlamps on the front fairing. The 700cc OHV
wet sump engine's crankshaft lay in the same axis as the
frame, slightly offset to the right, with horizontal in-line
cylinders on the left. Air-cooling was assisted by a fan
incorporated into the flywheel at the rear of the crankshaft,
directing air to a duct over the downward-facing exhaust
ports. A single-plate clutch took drive to the four-speed
gearbox in unit with the engine, and final drive was by
shaft and bevels. A Lucas electric starter was mounted
at the rear of the unit.
road tests, the "Leader 4" proved smooth, pulled
strongly at low rpm, was comfortable, and exceptionally
quiet. However, the fan cooling proved inadequate, leading
to overheating and distortion of the cylinder head. It
also suffered some lubrication problems and a shortage
of horsepower from its single-carburetor. Ariel engineers
believed these snags could be overcome,
and reputedly considered buying-in a suitable small automobile
engine. However, the parent BSA Group was not convinced
of the four's potential in the era of the BMC
and apparently squashed the project. BSA was in the process
of “rationalizing” Ariel: all four-strokes were discontinued
after 1959, production of remaining models moved to BSA's
plant in 1963, and the only Ariel made after mid-1965
was the bizarre and unloved 50cc Ariel Three tricycle
(for more about the Ariel Three, the last of the brand,
the sole Leader 4 survives at the National Motorcycle
Museum UK, near its native city of Birmingham. Though
it is a non-runner at the moment, it still stands as proof
that BMW's K100 shaft drive four of 1983 was not an entirely
original design. To reach the National Motorcycle Museum
UK, click here.
provided by the National Motorcycle Museum UK .
American antique motorcycle movement in America lost one
of its great leaders on June 20 when Bob McClean, 85,
died while returning home from an annual fishing trip
in Canada. McClean was active in the Blackhawk Chapter
of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. He served
on the board of directors of the AMCA from 1976 and was
elected its president in 1983. He served as AMCA
President for 19 years, retiring in 2002. In 1990,
he was honored with the AMCA's prestigious National Recognition
Award, and is also a member of the American Motorcycle
Hall of Fame. In addition to his work with the antique
motorcycle community, McClean was most proud of his service
as a United States Marine. Enlisting at the age
of 19, he saw action on Saipan and Iwo Jima, and was there
when the American flag was raised in victory. For
more about Bob McClean, click here.
provided by the family of Robert B. McClean.
Hall of Fame Museum
much-anticipated new exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of
Fame Museum, "MotoStars: Celebrities + Motorcycles,"
opened with a gala and auction on the evening of June
27. Featuring 51 motorcycles and over 200 artifacts
from celebrities, luminaries, athletes, and entertainers,
the exhibit is scheduled to run through February 2009,
after which it is expected to tour to
other museums in the United States. Motorcycle Hall
of Fame Chairman Ozzie Schofield says about the display,
"Walking among the machines gathered for this exhibit
is a truly remarkable experience. With a range of
celebrities and motorcycles that is inclusive and diverse,
we believe that we offer to the viewer a unique perspective
on the passion of famous people and motorcycling."
the Museum has been acclaimed for its exhibits that appeal
to motorcycle enthusiasts, Executive Director Mark Mederski
explains that one of the objectives of the new theme is
to appeal to
a broader audience. The exhibit was curated by David
as a writer for Robb Report, is well-schooled
in motorcycling among the rich and famous. As was
previous major exhibits at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame
Museum, MotoStars will be chronicled through
a colorful and elaborate catalog that will be available
for sale through the Museum. To read more about
the exhibit opening, click here.
For more informatoin about the exhibit and the
Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, click here.
provided by the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.
and Baird to serve as
Motorcycle Days Grand Marshals
American Motorcyclist Association has announced that 1970
AMA Grand National Champion Gene Romero (pictured here)
and seven-time AMA National Enduro Champion Bill Baird
will serve as Grand Marshals at AMA Vintage Motorcycle
Days, scheduled to take place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car
Course in Lexington, Ohio July 25 through 27. Both
Baird and Romero established their reputations riding
for Triumph, which has been named the commemorative brand
at VMD 2008. For more information, click here.
Romero image provided by the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
opens new exhibit at Hershey
Antique Motorcycle Club of America has been conducting
talks for more than a year with the Antique Automobile
Club of America about permanent exhibit space for motorcycles
at the AACA Museum
above), the only
motor museum in the nation affiliated with the Smithsonian
Institution. Once an alliance between the two organizations
was agreed to earlier this year, the AMCA went into action
to create a display in time for the opening of the 2008
tourist season. Taking advantage of the opportunity required
the creation of a new non-profit foundation, but club
leaders felt further delay was not advisable
because the Hershey region of Pennsylvania
ranks third in the
nation for tourism, surpassed only by Anaheim
Geoff Ringlé, a long-time AMCA member, was hired
as the AMCA's new Business Development Manager and to
curate the exhibit. He completed the job in only five
laughs, “We installed the last bike label in the exhibit
at 12:59 p.m.
on June 7, one minute before the official 1
p.m. opening!” Peter
Gagan, president of the AMCA Foundation, said, “This is
an exciting development for the AMCA. With the Museum
practically adjoining the popular Hershey amusement park,
we have a wonderful location to display the fine motorcycles
of AMCA members.
The AACA Museum
enjoys high attendance,
and Hershey will draw a very diverse range of visitors
whom we can entertain and educate about the history of
is a new 71,000
square foot facility with over 42,000 square feet of exhibit
space. The agreement between the AMCA and the AACA provides
that the AMCA will have permanent exhibit space for 20
years, which the club plans to update on an annual basis.
The arrangement also provides the AMCA office space and
support for its staff as well as free admission to AMCA
members. The inaugural exhibit, entitled “Motorcycles:1884
– 1973,” provides a historical overview of the technical
and stylistic development
of two-wheeled transportation, ranging from replicas of
the pre-20th century Pennington and Copeland motorcycles
to a 1973 Kawasaki Z1, the motorcycle that introduced
the era of the modern superbike. Despite its short lead
time, attendance was brisk for the opening of the display,
and many who showed up were AMCA members. AMCA President
Rocky Halter stated, “It was gratifying when the true
motorcycle collectors arrived today. This was an indication
that we have done things right."
remarked that the exhibit had a bright and clean “Guggenheim
style,” which was no doubt enhanced by the actual exhibit
stands that were used in the final Art of the Motorcycle
Exhibitions staged two years ago in
Memphis and Orlando. Following the closing of The Art
of the Motorcycle, these stands were acquired by John
Parham, an AMCA member and president of the National Motorcycle
Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, who loaned them to the club for
its inaugural display. Forty-one motorcycles, many posters,
and other historical artifacts make up the exhibit. To
read more about the exhibit on the AACA Museum web site,
For more information about the AMCA, click here.
For more information about the AACA Museum,
click here. For
more information about the AMCA/AACA alliance, click here.
the interest of disclosure, I should point out that I
have been asked to serve on the board of directors of
the new AMCA Foundation, as well as the board of the AACA
Museum, and have accepted those positions. – Ed Youngblood
of the very interesting displays in the new Antique Motorcycle
Club of America exhibit at the AACA Museum in Hershey,
Pennsylvania, is a rare Crocker speedway
motorcycle and an equally rare guitar. What could
these artifacts possibly have in common?
before Al Crocker became famous for his limited-production
road burners, he made his name in racing circles with
a speedway machine. Fewer than 35 of these motorcycles
were built. Paul Bigsby, who later became foreman
at the Crocker factory, was very instrumental in the design
and development of all Crocker motorcycles, both for the
road or the race track. Bigsby was also interested
in Western music, which brough him into contact with singer
and song-writer Merle Travis, another motorcycle enthusiast. Knowing
of Bigsby's mechanical skills, Travis asked him to have
a look at a Kaufman vibrato mechanism on his Gibson guitar
that would not stay in tune. Bigsby immediately
identified shorcomings in the design, and built a better
device that eventually became the choice of guitar manufacturers
the world over.
with Bigsby's solution to his problem, Travis came to
him with a sketch of a guitar and said, "Can you
make it?" Bigsby responded, "I can build
anything," and this assertion launched him into the
manufacture of guitars that became the tools of choice
of many of the leading entertainers of the era.
For more about Bigsby Guitars, click here.
is set to grow
its rustic façade—including the derelict Harley-Davidson
Sprint and a lazy gray cat resting on its front porch—there's
a lot of activity going on at Cyclemo's Museum in Red
Out back, a big addition is under roof, and workers are
installing a weathered barn wood interior, aiming to complete
nearly 15,000 square feet of display space prior to the
Second Annual Cyclemo's Antique Motorcycle Show and Swap
Meet, scheduled this coming September 19 through 21. The
ambiance at Cyclemo's is barn-like, reminiscent of a disheveled
pre-war motorcycle shop, and shiny is not much
valued here. The mood of ancient neglect is so well executed,
one must have a pretty sharp eye to detect that the facility
is really only a little more than two years old.
fascinating jumble of motorcycles and artifacts is the
brainstorm of Mike Silvio (pictured here), a Nashville-based
landscape architect who, with his wife Jennifer, sought
out this small village in scenic north-central Tennessee
where he could restore
motorcycles, and where their sons, Mack and Avery, could
benefit from a better school system than they had experienced
in East Nashville.
The Silvios bought their Red Boiling Springs property
in 2005, and started construction of the museum in 2006.
Silvio explains, “In addition to being a nice place to
raise a family, this town is on the edge of the Cumberland
Plateau, and this puts it square in the middle of some
of the nicest motorcycle roads in the nation.” This quality,
Silvio is convinced, will make his
museum a favorite
destination for those who love motorcycles, old and new,
and provide the setting for an annual vintage bike event
that can become one of the largest in the region.
curious name came from Silvio's nephew Andrew, who, when
learning to talk, could not say the word “motorcycle.”
For him, this two-wheeled device was a “Cyclemo,” and
his uncle's fascination with them earned him the name,
“Cyclemo Mike.” In addition to their museum, which charges
no admission, the Silvios run Cyclemo's Vintage Motor
Clothes, a business that does custom embroidery and reproduces
motorcycle apparel from the classic era, including embroidered
patches, leather kidney belts (upsized for the grander
girth of modern Americans),
shirts, and club uniforms. Like the building that houses
these products, they are so well executed that many are
difficult to distinguish from original antiques.
who have studied American motorcycle museums will readily
note that only one other has the casual-appearing but
carefully planned clutter of Cyclemo's, and this is Dale
Walksler's Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley,
North Carolina. This may not be pure coincidence, because
Walksler and Silvio are good friends and kindred spirits.
Silvio states, “When I decided to do this, Dale was the
first person to offer support, even before we had broken
ground.” Among the dozen or so motorcycles on display
at Cyclemo's now are several machines owned by Walksler,
and that number will increase by another dozen later this
year when Wheels Through Time closes its doors (see Motohistory
News & Views 3/9/2008). “This
is a bitter-sweet development for us,” Silvio says, “It
hurts to see Dale close his museum, but it is good for
our presentation because more of his wonderful motorcycles
and artifacts will be moved here to help fill our expanded
space, just in time for our swap meet in September.” He
adds, “I am glad we can be here so that some of Dale's
stuff can remain on display to the public, rather than
go into storage somewhere.”
bug that bit Silvio, eventually resulting in this fascinating
museum, was a 1936 Harley Knucklehead, owned by his great
uncle when Mike was a youth growing up in Chicago. Silvio
recalls, “My great uncle bought it new, rode it for many
years, and finally parked it. At the age of 14, I got
it running, to the astonishment of everyone in our family.
Later, it was covered with grease to protect its original
paint and plating, and tucked away.” Today, the motorcycle
is the front-window feature at Cyclemo's, still original
and easy to start. Other bikes on display
include an elegant, black Harley sidecar rig that bristles
with every accessory an owner could buy from the Motor
Company, and the Speer Special, previously featured in
Motohistory (see Motohistory News & Views 9/23/2007).
Like Wheels Through Time, the collection is exclusively
American. About the only hint of modernity at Cyclemo's
is a projected image on the ceiling (pictured here), right
in the line of sight of visitors entering the museum.
But, of course, it is there to play non-stop vintage racing
footage. To learn more about Cyclemo's Motorcycle Museum
and the upcoming Antique Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet,
wins People's Choice at Gilmore
More than one motojournalist has opined that the Honda
CBX is the Vincent of the future. In terms of relative
rarity, overdog qualities, and unorthodoxy of design,
the comparison seems apt. And, as with the Vincent, the
CBX also has its cult of personality with designer Shoichiro
Irimajiri, whose long career in engineering took him to
the position of CEO of the Honda of America Manufacturing.
Vincent owners might not agree, but recognition of the
CBX as a great classic seemed to be validated on June
8 when one was chosen winner of the coveted Spectator's
Choice Award by the more than 5,000 people who attended
the 13th Gilmore Car Museum Vintage Motorcycle Show in
Hickory Corners, Michigan.
One who attended the event said, “The Vincent guys were
just spitting nails. You should have seen their faces!”
1980 Candy Glory Red CBX that topped all rivals is owned
by Roger Smith of Clarkston, Michigan.
Smith (pictured below) recently acquired the motorcycle
from Columbus, Ohio-based CBX guru Jan Ringnalda, known
in Honda collector circles as “Dr. CBX.” Ringnalda had
the motorcycle in perfect running condition, but Smith
spent weeks detailing the bike to Gilmore standards. He
reports, “I sent some parts to Brown's Chroming in Kentucky
for re-plating, I located a few NOS parts I needed on
Ebay, and I
even dropped the engine a week before the event just to
hand polish the tops of all six carburetors.” The work
obviously paid off when the Honda was chosen over more
than 200 motorcycles in competition, including Vincents,
Indians, Ariels, Triumphs, Harley-Davidsons, and Japanese
With the event becoming ever more popular among motorcyclists
each year, the organizers have created exclusive motorcycle
parking adjacent to the classic bikes on display. Motorcycles
accepted for competition at Gilmore must be at least 20
years old. They are divided into several categories that
include country of origin, customs, scooters, racing bikes,
and sidecar machines. This year's Vintage Bike Show is
only the second time in 13 years that a Japanese motorcycle
has won the Spectator's Choice Award. The first time was
a year ago when another Roger Smith-owned motorcycle—a
1966 Suzuki X6 Hustler—took the prize. Which seems to
beg the question: Is the CBX really the Vincent of the
future, or is Roger Smith, who is on the Board of Directors
of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and serves as
its Marketing Director, just damned good at detailing
a Japanese motorcycle?
more information about the Gilmore Museum Motorcycle Show,
For a full list of winners of the 2008 Gilmore Motorcycle
Show, click here.
provided by Roger Smith.
March, Motohistory announced that the Wheels Through Time
Museum would auction much of its collection and close,
with a plan to possibly reopen with a scaled-down presentation
at a new location at some time in the future (See Motohistory
News & Views 3/9/2008). Owner and curator Dale Walksler
still plans to close the Maggie Valley, North Carolina
facility, but has announced that the auction, originally
scheduled for late September, has been canceled. Rather,
a portion of the collection will be moved to Cyclemo's
Museum in Red
For more information on MotorcycleClassics.com, click
To visit Wheels Through Time on line, click here.
publishers of Retro Moto Magazine
state that it is their goal to fill the
gap between modern media and vintage motorcycles. “What
does that mean?” you ask, and they respond, “Well, basically,
we are going to bring vintage bikes into the computer
age. The bikes may be old, but that doesn't mean that
we have to look at them in the same old ways. While we
are looking to the future in graphics and design, we are
staying firmly rooted in the past and intend on getting
back to basics with
real road and track tests, restorations, and informational
feed your obsession.” To learn more, click here.
outside of Japan are aware of the scale or duration of
Japan's motorcycle industry, which comprised roughly 200
1955. "Japan 's Motorcycle Wars"
examines the historical development and societal impact
of Japan 's motorcycle industry throughout most of the
twentieth century. Through translations of interview transcripts,
industry publications, and company histories, Jeffrey
Alexander examines the motorcycle's introduction to Japan
in the early 1900s, the influence of motor sports on vehicle
sales, the impact of wartime production, and the role
of the motorcycle in policing Japanese cities. Postwar
include the industry's explosive growth in the early 1950s,
the role of private endurance races in the 1960s, and
of driver education and
safety campaigns in Japan since 1970. The book is written
to students and scholars of Japanese history, business,
and culture, as well as to motorcycle enthusiasts. It
is available from the University of British Columbia Press.
For more information, click here.
already written a book, launched an on-line magazine,
and is collaborating on a television show about café
racers, and to this body of work he is adding
a quarterly magazine about café
racers, specials, hybrids, street fighters, and other
high-performance motorcycles. Seate promises, “If it is
fast and naked, you'll find it in this magazine.” For
more information, click
For more information about Seate's new book about café
racers, see Motohistory News & Views 5/10/2008.
creates A Summer of Cycles
for the Arts and
Humanities in Arvada,
has opened an exhibit featuring motorcycles from the local
collections of Harry Mathews and
Jim Dillard. Featuring a wide range of styles and periods,
from vintage classics
to customs to dragsters, the display follows in the style
of the Guggenheim, presenting motorcycles as art while
exploring various aspects of their cultural influence.
Opened June 6, the exhibit will run through September
7. For more photos from “A Summer of Cycles,” click here.
For more information about the Arvada
Center, click here.
provided by Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities.
Museum opens Rare Rides
Putnam Museum, in Davenport, Iowa, has opened an exhibit
entitled “Rare Rides: Americans' Love Affair with Motorcycles”
that is scheduled to run through September 7. The exhibit
was designed by Joe Hines and curated by Putnam staffer
Christina Kassell. Containing 35 motorcycles and
an impressive range of ephemera, the exhibit is dense
with written content, including exceptionally complete
and informative labels about the
motorcycles. Both rare and common motorcycles are
included, many of which were supplied by members of the
Blackhawk Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.
The motorcycles on display range in vintage from a 1912
Yale to 1990s models. Styles and brands are quite
diverse. For example, two of the more rare machines on
display are a Matchless Silver Hawk and a Yamaha Gamma.
addition to a thorough presentation of technology, the
exhibit contains a lot of human interest, including both
written and recorded personal stories enhanced by riding
gear and memorabilia. It would be an understatement
to say that the lighting is subdued. In fact, some
portions of the exhibit are downright dark, which is a
treatment for a subject that is as colorful and technically
complex as motorcycles. Some of the more interesting
motorcycles--such as the Silver Hawk--are quite hard to
see and study.
Kastell believes correctly that the
exhibit is a natural for the Quad-Cities region, pointing
out that for many years Davenport has been the site of
one of the largest antique motorcycle swap meets in the
nation, promoted by the Chief Blackhawk Chapter of the
Antique Motorcycle Club of America. For more information
on the exhibit, click here.
For more information about the Putnam Museum, click here.
under new ownership
the earlier acquisition of Brough Superior Motorcycles
Limited, Netherton Industries Ltd. Has announced the purchase
of Brough Superior Engineering Limited and its assets,
including the patents, the intellectual property rights,
and the exclusive rights to the trademark and logo of
the historically renowned company. The transaction was
executed by Mark Upham, who has been appointed CEO of
the new Brough Superior operation. Upham, 51, a life long
enthusiast of Brough Superior motorcycles, states that
the company's intention is to preserve, protect, and promote
the legend of the prestigious British brand, and that
a full company policy statement will be published at a
future date. For more information about these Brough Superiour
developments, E-mail Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
usual, there is a lot of fascinating stuff on Cyril
Huze's blog, and much is of interest to the history-minded
reader. For example, recent posts include a review of
“One Percenter: The Legend of the Outlaw Biker,”
and a report about Jeff Decker's new sculpture
of a 1930s hill climber that graces the new
Harley-Davidson Museum, scheduled to open July 12 (click
And, on days when Huze doesn't feel like writing anything,
he just might treat you to a clip from the new Rolling
Stones Imax movie. To reach the main blog, click here.
publisher of several popular motorcycle magazines, has
launched a new on-line motorcycle encyclopedia.
Because it is built around Wikipedia-type architecture,
any motorcycle historian, technician, or enthusiast is
able to submit material to the project. Kanter writes,
“It is up and running, but we still have a long way to
go. It is open to all motorcycle information, old and
new. We sure could use the brainpower and knowledge of
Motohistory readers.” To check it out and make your contribution,
bills itself as the first on-line magazine dedicated exclusively
to the cult of café racers. It features bikes,
events, vintage rebuilds, road tests, and reports from
café racer rallies. Its launch has been coordinated
with “Café Society,” an upcoming television special
on Speed Channel, and Mike Seate's new Café
Racer print magazine. To check it out, click here.
was 1959 when Honda launched its international market
by entering North America. With the 50th anniversary
of this important date just around the corner, a post
on the CBRForum reports that the event
will be celebrated with a new Super Cub,
honoring the little motorcycle that has been sold in a
quantity of more than 50 million! Is a new Super
Cub a hoax, rumor, or just wishful thinking? We
won't have to wait long to find out. To read the
post, which includes specs and details, click here.
World flicks hit the road
has presented a favorable reviews of “Brittown” and “Choppertown,”
by One World Studios, and we are pleased to see that both
of these movies are beginning a tour of extensive showings
in both America and Europe. For more on this story, including
a full schedule of showings, click here.
To read our review of “Brittown,” go to Motohistory News
& Views 4/11/2008. For our review of “Choppertown,”
go to Motohistory News & Views 6/10/2007.
reader Tosh Konya sends along a photograph of a motorcycle
he has been unable to identify. We here at Motohistory
are at a loss as well. The word “Limited” appears to be
written in large script on the gas tank. It has a curious
spark plug location, protruding through the fins on the
left side of the cylinder head. The rider's leg obscures
the rear cylinder (if there is one), but the angle of
the front cylinder and an intake manifold extending backwards
strongly suggest that it is a V-twin. Most interestingly,
it appears to have a shaft drive on the left side of the
machine. We have been unable to find a Limited brand listed
in any of our American, British, or German reference books.
Anyone who can help us identify this motorcycle should
write to Ed@Motohistory.net.
Miller, of Metro Racing, is restoring a Redline-framed
Triumph ridden by Don
Castro (pictured below), and is desperately trying to
project in time for the big Triumph celebration at AMA
Vintage Motorcycle Days next month. He writes:
Don rode this bike for a long time, in many different
I am restoring it to the 1972 San
with the Tracy
one-piece fiberglass bodywork. It was only raced once
with this bodywork, because it was supposedly banned by
the AMA. I need some more information on this bodywork
to finish the restoration. I am looking for color photographs
and any documentation that would confirm whether this
type of one-piece bodywork was actually banned. I have
every black and white photo that Dan Mahony had on the
bike. I have known Don Castro for a long time and have
gotten a ton of valuable information from him, but I need
Any Motohistory readers who can help with this problem
should E-mail Miller at email@example.com,
or call 877-746-3876. It would be great to see this bike
on display at Vintage Motorcycle Days.
are more motorcycle cards, distributed with Lambert &
Butler's cigarettes in the United
Kingdom in 1923,
from the Ken Weingart collection.
in a series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
Lea-Francis motor cycle is manufactured by a very old
engineering firm, and the 5 h.p. model as illustrated
is a result of their long experience. It is a proud record
of the manufacturers that their machines have gained gold
medals in every British Reliability Trial of note. In
addition to the 5 h.p. model there is also a 3½
h.p. machine. All models are fitted with twin cylinder
engines and three speeds.
in a Series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
machine illustrated is the Standard Model “T,” and is
probably the most popular of the present range of Levis
two-stroke motor cycles. The engine is the Levis single-cylinder
air cooled two-stroke. The machine is fitted with two-speed
gear, incorporating clutch and kick-starter, and though
weighing only 135 lbs. will be found capable of long distance
about colored leathers
I thought it would, or report about the history of colored
leathers on the race track continues to generate very
interesting information. Paul d'Orleans, author of the
Vintagent blog, writes:
read your article on non-black leathers, and know of an
example of colored leathers long, loong before they became
popular. It took a little digging, but I remembered
reading that the Scott motorcycle company had used purple
leathers at the TT on their 'works' team (Scott used a
purplish color - more fuschia really- on their petrol
tanks). In Jeff Clew's history of the marque, “The Scott
Motorcycle; The Yowling Two-Stroke" (Foulis, 1974),
he mentions on page 36, "Despite kitting out each
of the three riders in a set of purple-coloured leathers,
Frank Philipp, Eric Myers, and Frank Applebee, the Scott
bid to achieve success in the 1922 Senior [TT] race failed
as the result of an unforeseen mechanical problem." --
which was a typical Scott story at the TT!
that Applebee won the Senior TT in 1912 aboard a Scott,
becoming the first rider to lead the race from start to
finish, d'Orleans continues:
important question is, did they wear purple leathers in
1912? I don't find any mention of it. Perhaps the embarrassment
of 1911's mechanical failure prompted a more subdued team
attire. Attached is a photo of the 1912 'team,'
consisting of Frank Applebee and
Frank Philipp in conversation with Alfred Scott himself,
on the porch of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Ramsey, Isle
of Man. I have yet to find a good photo of the purple-clad
1911 team, not that the period black and white photo would
do it justice!
Paul, the conventional wisdom that colored leathers were
made in America
can apparently be put in the dustbin of bad history. Readers
who would like to check out d'Orleans' blog can click
Wright, who has submitted some excellent material to Motohistory,
confirmed d'Orleans' report that colored leathers were
worn in UK road racing early in the century, and reminded
us about Putt Mossman, who predated Sammy Tanner's use
of white leathers by two decades! Wright wrote:
I cannot lay hands on the exact reference at present,
I know that Putt Mossman came from the USA to contest
the 1938 TT in what a report of the time called "leathers
that were once white," and I have seen a photo of
him here in white leathers. I realise that does not quite
answer the question of the first user in USA,
but I guess he wore those same white ones at home. Not
sure of his racing pedigree, as he was billed here as
an American stunt-rider come to contest the TT (rather
than as a racer). Also, Scott 'works' rider Frank Phillipp
rode the TT in purple (Scott color) leathers and in 1922
those of the Rudge team were green.
message made us wonder if it is time to quit procrastinating
and go take that Alzheimer's test, because we in fact
published information some time ago about Mossman and
his white leathers. To read that story, go to Motohistory
News & Views 9/1/2007. Our sputtering memory banks
also now recall that Gus Kuhn's granddaughter Valerie
Davey sent us last year some photos of the 1921 TT BSA
team wearing some very snazzy outfits, though it is not
possible to determine from the photos whether their upper
garments are leather or some other material. To view those
photos, go to Motohistory News & Views 9/14/2007.
Hansen, daughter of great American fast bike builder Bob
Ed. I can't believe you'd write an article about the advent
of colored leathers and matching team leathers without
mentioning my dad, Bob Hansen, and his spectacular TeamHansen
orange and white bikes, leathers, and van. My sister and
I even wore orange and white jumpsuits, embroidered with
the TeamHansen logo and colors! Don't you remember the
team of Swede Savage, Ralph White, Dan Haaby, Yvon DuHamel,
and Gene Romero, among others? I'll never forget the pride
I felt, watching that sea of orange and white on the track.
Perhaps I missed an earlier version with mention of TeamHansen?
Roberta, let me say that I can't even remember what I
wrote on my own web site less than a year ago, as noted
above. I knew when approaching the subject of colored
leathers, it would be a huge topic and that many notable
examples would be overlooked and left out. I guess it
is a great redeeming feature of this medium that we can
carry on, update, and improve the dialogue, and our errors
or omissions are not end-all mistakes, as they might be
on the printed page. So, if you will send us those photos
of TeamHansen (and hopefully of you and your sister in
your orange and white jump suits as well), we will be
more than pleased to publish them as we continue to pursue
this interesting topic.
Photographer Dan Mahony, son
of famous racing photographer Walt Mahony, wrote:
AMA's demand for some color on the leathers was the simple
fact that in those days most horse track half-miles were
lit up with something akin to 100-watt bulbs strung along
the fence, and when a rider dressed in black fell, he
was pretty hard for other riders to see, and a lot of
guys were getting run over.
is right. In our conversations with Neil Keen, Bob Rudolph,
and Sammy Tanner, all noted how dark it was at Ascot,
and Keen expressed his opinion that the use of colored
cloth jumpers, prior to the use of colored leathers, may
have begun because of the poor lighting conditions at
He says it is the first track where he recalls the local
referee requiring that riders wear the colored jumpers.
I think that Dave Aldana's “Superman” leathers topped
the “Mr. Bones” outfit as they came complete with a full-size
cape which Dave removed at the starting line.
don't know, Dan, in my opinion it is damned hard to top
those Mr. Bones leathers, but I agree with you that the
only person who might have topped Aldana was Aldana himself.