Early steam-powered motorcycles

Early steam-powered motorcycles.

Lucius Copeland 1894

Steam powered motorcycleIn the 1860s Pierre Michaux, a blacksmith in Paris, founded ‘Michaux et Cie’ (“Michaux and company”), the first company to construct bicycles with pedals called a velocipede at the time, or “Michauline”. The first steam powered motorcycle, the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede, can be traced to 1867, when Pierre’s son Ernest Michaux fitted a small steam engine to one of the ‘velocipedes’.

The design went to the USA when Pierre Lallement, a Michaux employee who also claimed to have developed the prototype in 1863, filed for the first bicycle patent with the US patent office in 1866.[4] In 1868 an American, Sylvester H. Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts developed a twin-cylinder steam velocipede, with a coal-fired boiler between the wheels. Roper’s contribution to motorcycle development ended suddenly when he died demonstrating one of his machines in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 1, 1896.

Also in 1868, a French engineer Louis-Guillaume Perreaux patented a similar steam powered single cylinder machine, the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede, with an alcohol burner and twin belt drives, which was possibly invented independently of Roper’s. Although the patent is dated 1868, nothing indicates the invention had been operable before 1871.

In 1881, Lucius Copeland of Phoenix, Arizona designed a much smaller steam boiler which could drive the large rear wheel of an American Star high-wheeler at 12 mph. In 1887 Copeland formed the Northrop Manufacturing Co. to produce the first successful ‘Moto-Cycle’ (actually a three-wheeler).

Experimentation and invention

Butler’s Patent Velocycle

The first commercial design for a self-propelled bicycle was a three-wheel design called the Butler Petrol Cycle, conceived of and built by Edward Butler in England in 1884.[5] He exhibited his plans for the vehicle at the Stanley Cycle Show in London in 1884, two years earlier than Karl Benz invented his first automobile who is generally recognized as the inventor of the modern automobile. Butler’s vehicle was also the first design to be shown at the 1885 International Inventions Exhibition in London.

The vehicle was built by the Merryweather Fire Engine company in Greenwich, in 1888. the Butler Petrol Cycle (first recorded use of the term). It was a three-wheeled vehicle, with the rear wheel directly driven by a 5/8hp (466W) 600 cc (40 in3; 2¼×5-inch {57×127-mm}) flat twin four stroke engine (with magneto ignition replaced by coil and battery),[6] equipped with rotary valves and a float-fed carburettor (five years before Maybach), and Ackermann steering,[7] all of which were state of the art at the time. Starting was by compressed air.  The engine was liquid-cooled, with a radiator over the rear driving wheel. Speed was controlled by means of a throttle valve lever. No braking system was fitted; the vehicle was stopped by raising and lowering the rear driving wheel using a foot-operated lever; the weight of the machine was then borne by two small castor wheels. The driver was seated between the front wheels. It wasn’t, however, a commercial success, as Butler failed to find sufficient financial backing.

Replica of the 1885 Daimler-Maybah Reitwagen

Another early internal combustion, petroleum fueled motorcycle was the Petroleum Reitwagen. It was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Bad Cannstatt, Germany in 1885. This vehicle was unlike either the safety bicycles or the boneshaker bicycles of the era in that it had zero degrees of steering axis angle and no fork offset, and thus did not use the principles of bicycle and motorcycle dynamics developed nearly 70 years earlier. Instead, it relied on two outrigger wheels to remain upright while turning. The inventors called their invention the Reitwagen (“riding car”). It was designed as an expedient testbed for their new engine, rather than a true prototype vehicle.

First commercial products

Motorcycle first commercialIn the decade from the late 1880s, dozens of designs and machines emerged, particularly in Germany and England, and soon spread to America. During this early period of motorcycle history, there were many manufacturers since bicycle makers were adapting their designs for the new internal combustion engine.

Diagram of 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller.

In 1894, Hildebrand & Wolfmüller became the first series production motorcycle, and the first to be called a motorcycle(German: Motorrad). However, only a few hundred examples of this motorcycle were ever built. The first instance of the term “motor cycle” also appears in English the same year in materials promoting machines developed by. Pennington, although Pennington’s motorcycles never progress past the prototype stage.

Excelsior Motor Company, originally a bicycle manufacturing company based in Coventry, England, began production of their first motorcycle model in 1896, available for purchase by the public. The first production motorcycle in the US was the Orient-Aster, built by Charles Metz in 1898 at his factory in Waltham, Massachusetts.

In the early period of motorcycle history, many producers of bicycles adapted their designs to accommodate the new internal combustion engine. As the engines became more powerful and designs outgrew the bicycle origins, the number of motorcycle producers increased. Many of the nineteenth century inventors who worked on early motorcycles often moved on to other inventions. Daimler and Roper, for example, both went on to develop automobiles.

At the turn of the century the first major mass-production firms were set up.

A 1913 FN (Fabrique National), Belgium, 4cylinders and shaft drive
In 1901 English quadricycle and bicycle maker Royal Enfield introduced its first motorcycle, with a 239 cc engine mounted in the front and driving the rear wheel through a belt. In 1898, English bicycle maker Triumph decided to extend its focus to include motorcycles, and by 1902, the company had produced its first motorcycle—a bicycle fitted with a Belgian-built engine. A year later, it was the largest motorcycle manufacturer with an annual production of over 500 units. Other British firms were Norton and Birmingham Small Arms Company who began motorbike production in 1902 and 1910, respectively.

In 1901, the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company, which had been founded by two former bicycle racers, designed the so-called “diamond framed” Indian Single, whose engine was built by the Aurora Firm in Illinois per Indian’s specifications. The Single was made available in the deep blue. Indian’s production was up to over 500 bikes by 1902, and would rise to 32,000, its best ever, in 1913. producing over 20,000 bikes per year. The American company Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles in 1903.

During this period, experimentation and innovation were driven by the popular new sport of motorcycle racing, with its powerful incentive to produce tough, fast, reliable machines. These enhancements quickly found their way to the public’s machines.

Chief August Vollmer of the Berkeley, California Police Department is credited with organizing the first official police motorcycle patrol in the United States in 1911. By 1914, motorcycles were no longer just bicycles with engines; they had their own technologies, although many still maintained bicycle elements, like the seats and suspension.

 

Reference: motorbike utopia  http://motorbikeutopia.blogspot.com/2012/04/early-pioneers.html

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