Today in Motorcycle History

Veteran Motorcycles

1896 Leon Bollée Tricar, 3½ hp
It would seem that on this year's run, the entrants were numbered by age, so the Dreadnought didn't get Number 1. That was reserved for the oldest vehicle on the run, shown here - 102 and still going strong.
The tricar was quite popular around the turn of the century, as motorcycles at this time were still rather unsafe due to the unlikely engine positions chosen by many designers. This style features possibly the earliest example of a front crumple zone, also known as a "passenger" - this one looks remarkably relaxed, considering the state of the Brighton traffic.

1897 Leon Bollée Tricar, 3½ hp
Another Leon Bollée, showing a bit more detail than the photo of the 1896 one.

1901 Johnson 2½hp, photographed at Banbury

1902 Quadrant 2hp
The second-oldest two-wheeler on the 1998 Pioneer run. Unfortunately I missed the 1898 Werner.

1903 Rex 2¼hp
Another very early two-wheeler - most riders prefer slightly later ones as they are somewhat easier to manage on today's roads.

1903 Rex Forecar 3½hp
Unlike some forecars, eg the Leon Bollée, the Rex is clearly based on a motorcycle. Unsurprising, as the company also made motorcycles, from 1900 to 1933.

The Dreadnought - 1902(4?) 3½hp

This famous motorcycle is one of the earliest "specials". It's pictured here after the 1997 Pioneer Run. I've now tracked down the missing information that I knew I had somewhere, in the second Golden Jubilee Issue of the Vintage Motor Cycle (Dec 1996). The whole article is to be found on the VMCC pages, entitled 'Pocket Battleship'.

1904 Ariel
Early veterans can be recognised by the very deep petrol tank, which on the earliest of all would have had a surface carburettor at its base. This model appears to use a more conventional carb, however.

A Douglas line-up

A row of Douglases - 1998 being the 70th year of the London Douglas MCC, many of the Duggies which took part all parked up together on the front. There are about eight here, more joined later.

There are always quite a few of these machines on the Pioneer run, as many have survived, and continue to give good service. Over 40 took part in this year's run - well over 10 percent of the total entries.

1908 Minerva 3hp
This Belgian company also supplied engines to many other manufacturers

1909 NSU 3hp
A lovely example of an early German motorcycle. Hard to believe that the same company later gave us the Quickly moped.

1911 Royal Enfield 2¾hp
That horsepower rating seems a bit low for this large-looking V-twin, but that's what the programme says. The large footboards were quite common on bikes of this age - footpegs came later on most makes.

1911 P & M 3½hp
Built by Phelon & Moore in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire. In 1924 the first P & M Panther was produced, and later bikes are better-known by this name.

Note the sloping cylinder used as a front frame member (the tube running down and under the engine is the exhaust pipe) - this was a feature of nearly all P & M machines right up to the last Panther in the sixties.

1912 Rover 4¼hp
See the comments under the 1914 Rover pictured at the 97 run. That's a 1904 Hobart behind it, a rather unusual machine that I couldn't get a decent picture of due to overcrowding.

1912 Abingdon King Dick Favourite 3½hp
If you're British you may remember 'King Dick' spanners - in fact if you're an old bike buff you probably have some in your toolkit. AKD also made motorcycles until 1932, and here's a rather good Veteran example.

1912 Triumph 499cc
Another one from the Banbury Run - direct belt drive with no clutch.

1913 Douglas 2¾hp
From the beginning of their motorcycle manufacturing in 1906/7, right through to the end in the late fifties, the Douglas power unit was a horizontally-opposed flat twin (the "Boxer" style). Early models like this had the cylinders in-line; later they switched to the BMW-style transverse engine.

1914 Alldays Matchless 3½hp
This bike is from the Sammy Miller Museum in Hampshire (see Events and Places), and was ridden by Sammy, the former trials ace, on the 1997 Pioneer run shortly after he finished restoring it.

1914 Ariel 5hp V-twin
Another early example of a famous marque, and a change from the ubiquitous 3½hp single.

1914 FN 6hp

A 4-cylinder machine from Belgium. Introduced in 1904, the FN was the first successful 4-cylinder motor cycle, and featured leading-link forks and shaft drive. Also, those forks seem to be the same design as I spotted on a 1904 single-cylinder FN, in which case they're telescopic. There's very little in motorcycle design that hasn't been around since the first 20 years of the century, even if the technology in those days couldn't quite match the innovative ideas.

1914 Lea Francis
430cc 2-speed V-twin. Rather a nice sidecar, eh?

1914 Flying Merkel 8hp V-twin
This is an American machine; the Merkel company originated in Milwaukee in 1902, moving to Middletown, Ohio and adopting the Flying Merkel name in 1913. Production ceased in 1917. Rather more colourful than most of its European and British contemporaries.

1914 Indian 8hp V-twin
Indian actually appeared on the US scene before Harley-Davidson, who are now the world's oldest motorcycle manufacturer still in existence (since 1903). The Indian company was founded in 1901 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and for many years they were Harley's greatest rival. This model has a leaf-sprung rear frame, and was even available with an electric starter, but uses a dated inlet-over-exhaust valve layout.

1914 Triumph 4hp
Another rider looks happy to see the finish line. I think this is the single-speed hub-clutch forerunner to the famous Model H, thousands of which saw service in the Great War.

1914 BAT 7hp
BAT ("Best After Tests", actually named after the founder, a Mr. Batson) offered advanced machines, generally powered by JAP V-twin engines. Note the leading-link front forks; BAT were also among the first manufacturers to use a clutch, and omit the pedalling gear. They also didn't believe that motorcycles had to be black.

Haleson steam-powered motorcycle
Described as 1903-1914, presumably due to ongoing development, this Haleson, pictured at the 1999 Banbury Run, is the only known steam-powered motorcycle in the world capable of running on a regular basis. It looks like it should have a nice low centre of gravity!

Local Triumph and Douglas
Pioneer Run 2000: A pair of local bikes, from Crowthorne, just up the road from me. The 1910 3½hp Triumph was ridden by Keith Hatfield, and the 1914 2¾hp Douglas by his daughter Fiona. The background shows another typically busy Pioneer day at Brighton, with even bigger crowds in this year's excellent weather.

Auto-Fauteuil 1905
Pioneer Run 2000: A most unusual entry from Holland: a 1905 3hp Auto-Fauteuil. It looks remarkably comfortable, but I have no other information about it. (See Auto-Fauteuil Scooters)

1910 Yale
An American bike; I know nothing more about it, but it would appear to have a variable gear something like those used on the Rudge Multi and Zenith Gradua.

1912 New Hudson

1904 James H Smith
Built in Camberley, close to where I now live, this machine is believed to be unique. The company that built it continued in business as engineers until the fifties or sixties, but didn't make any more motorcycles.

1913 Wilkinson Touring Motor Cycle
Razor-sharp! 1913 Wilkinson Touring Motor Cycle, 8hp.
Manufactured by the Wilkinson Sword company, this 848cc in-line four engine layout was rare amongst British makers, though relatively common in the USA and Europe. Water-cooled, too - note the radiator - shaft-drive and sprung rear wheel. You could call this the Goldwing of its day

1913 BSA

1913 Alldays & Onions 3hp