The Dawn of Motobikes and Truss Rods


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ejlwheels

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Sep 7, 2006
645
155
Minneapolis, United States
#1
This is more of a question than an answer.
And I suppose it is really more about bicycle marketing since I am wondering
not about when bicycles became real motorcycles, but when bicycles became fake motorcycles.

Krautwaggen's suggestion that the truss rods on his mystery fork were an afterthought got me thinking. The rods on his fork
11414624486_e07b84f189_b-1.jpg

11414773863_4c6afe46bd_b-1.jpg

11414637435_630c8b099b_b-1.jpg


and those on my Michigan City Excelsior fork are nearly identical, but the forks, specifically their crowns, are not.
SH105250_zps90452efd-1.jpg


Its seems likely to me that these rod setups were designed to be added to plain forks that builders had on hand so that they could get in line with emerging motorbike fad without a lot of investment. It also seems that motobike frames started appearing first without truss rods and the rods and tanks were added later as the trend became undeniable.




So my questions are:

which was the first Motobike?
which was the first tank?
which were the first truss rods?



The second 2 are relatively straightforward,
but the first question depends upon how you define motobike.
How about two top bars and some kind of marketing reference to imitating motorcycles.




With that preamble out of the way,


I believe Pope had motobikes as early as 1913, but in the ad I saw they did not have truss rods.
sorry, no image


Iver Johnson has a motobike frame in 1914 without truss rods.
1914IverJohnson_zps9e5bff3a-1.jpg

(It has been observed that IJ was conservative in their approach to design, and I have always felt the truss rods they eventually adopted were kind of noncommittal and decorative in the way that they merely look like they are touching the fork.)



By October of 1914, Excelsior has a motobike with a tank and truss rods.
1915ExcelsiorDeluxe_zpse1638222-1.jpg




By 1915, Monkey Wards also has a motobike with truss rods and a tank.
 
Likes: Oldnut

Nick-theCut

I live for the CABE
Oct 29, 2010
1,918
115
costa mesa, CA
#2
Cool topic. Motorbikes arrive in the Ranger Bicycles (Mead) catalog in 1915.
I'm sure 1914 was the first year motorbikes were born, but I bet research will show some cool precursor frame types.
I hope you guys will dig up some killer old motorbike ads for those boys too young/fortunate to ride the big boy toys.

I like observing the handlebar styles used on different bike brands/models. Once they got extremely popular and every model seemed to use the crossbraced bars, California and Tiller styles were used. Cool stuff.
 

2jakes

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 1, 2010
6,812
4,951
Elysium Fields
#3
I agree, great topic.

I went on the search engine with this , "first truss rods for bicycle -Patents.
And this comes closest so far. ( It's only a screenshot)

142wlkz-1.jpg


But this patent 1895 with regards to truss-rods deals with improving the
stability of the bicycle. Not sure of the specific year, but with the popularity
of the motorbikes of the time period. Companies like you mentioned as well
as Davis, Harley Davidson, Indian, Schwinn to name a few. Started to promote
ads for kids, capitalizing on the design of the "Motobike".

You are asking questions that I too would love to know.
Which was the first Motobike ? First tank, or truss rods ?

wuh6c6png-1.jpg

My Columbia motobike

Thanks for sharing & making this a very interesting topic !
 
Last edited:

hoofhearted

Saint Lactose The Tolerant
Jan 20, 2010
3,551
4,439
Fairborn, Ohio
#4
The Dawn of Motobikes and Truss Rods ......

Great Topic !! ... twenty-five .. or so .. years ago I had a fotocopy of an article
taken from American Motorcyclist and Bicyclist Magazine ... or very-similar title
..... dated April, 1914. This date may be deceiving, as there were two publications
per month issued by that magazine.

The particular topic ... Bicycles Created Upon Motorcycle Design ... something like
that ... showed a lot of companies participating in the trend o' the day. Haven't seen
that article in years ... altho' I can't forget it.

...... patric
 
Likes: Oldnut

2jakes

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 1, 2010
6,812
4,951
Elysium Fields
#5
Great Topic !! ... twenty-five .. or so .. years ago I had a fotocopy of an article
taken from American Motorcyclist and Bicyclist Magazine ... or very-similar title
..... dated April, 1914. This date may be deceiving, as there were two publications
per month issued by that magazine.

The particular topic ... Bicycles Created Upon Motorcycle Design ... something like
that ... showed a lot of companies participating in the trend o' the day. Haven't seen
that article in years ... altho' I can't forget it.

...... patric
patric...

Not 100 % on the following....but before 1928....American Motorcyclist & Bicyclist might have
been known as Motorcycle & Bicycle Illustrated

I emailed the Library of Congress librarian .They have an inquiry form online.

Perhaps they can point the way.

Based on the subject, Bicycles Created Upon Motorcycle designs, April 1914
or similar phrasing.

I might be "spinning my wheels" ( pun intended )...but it might be worth a try !

2jakes...
member > S.O.T.F.M. :cool:
********************

Update :

From mcad@loc.gov

Library Question - [#9185378] Today 7:48 AM CST

Library of Congress-Science/Technical Reports has received your question.
You will receive an e-mail message with the answer as soon as possible.
Your question will be assigned to a reference & research specialist who will
contact you with a reply.


Science Reference Services
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540


End of message
 
Last edited:

Iverider

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 24, 2010
3,260
845
Bloomington, United States
#6
This ad was gleaned from the Miami/Flying Merkel Thread. Dated 1913 (No Truss Rods) http://thecabe.com/vbulletin/showth...-Flying-Merkel-Bicycle/page12&highlight=miami
attachment.jpg


Another 1913 Ad from the Merkel thread SHOWS Truss rods!

attachment.jpg


And these Ads are from 1909 The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review. The Double top tube is present, but most other aspects of the bicycles share the design, geometry and general components of their diamond frame counterparts.

11451117313_12f34d1c41_b-1.jpg


I'm fairly confident my frame is Miami built, but can't figure out the fork. Did Miami do a solid crown fork at some point? I'd be interested to see some examples in the early teens if anyone has photos.
 

hoofhearted

Saint Lactose The Tolerant
Jan 20, 2010
3,551
4,439
Fairborn, Ohio
#7
2jakes ... the magazine had upwards of 5 name-changes between TOC and 1960 (+ / -).

So I am told by one of the librarians at one of the Downtown Branches of the Cincinnati Library.

A hunter / gatherer mission to that place (25 years ago) by Bob Charnley .. Thad Pinnix .. Thad's wife,
Kay .. Phil Scott and me resulted in the bunch of us scoring so much lit ... on a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. session ...
that my socks developed a bad habit of going up and down, repeatedly.

My back was killin' me ... the third time I mentioned this to the posse ... Bob Charnley reached in to
the top and back of my jacket and pulled out a 1930-ish wooden clothes-hanger ... that helped !!
Good Form on that ...........


And Krautwaggen thank you for posting those ads ... the ads with the Sterling and the Emblem
bicycles 'could have been' featured in the same 'early' magazine to which I referenced .. but I used
a cheezy and god-forsaken title .........

Am including some Christmas-Gift Wrapping Paper ... 'Amish Outlaws In Custody' ... feel free to print
some of it ... wrap up anything that I typed that bothers you about 'Magazine-Titles' from entry # 4
of this thread. Place your wrapped items in the re-cycle bin. Do Not Use A 3-D Printer !!

More on Solid Fork Crowns from Miami Cycle ... maybe later .. when my meds kick in.

................... patric

“Amish Outlaws In Custody”   wrapping paper .........................................jpg
 
Last edited:

bricycle

I'm the Wiz, and nobody beats me!
Nov 18, 2009
20,705
5,102
Chicago area west
#8
My 2 cents: I am thinking the very narrow parallel bared frames were simply "for added strength" as they do not resemble a moto bike. the wider ones do tho-.
 

Iverider

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 24, 2010
3,260
845
Bloomington, United States
#9
Highly likely! But I'm curious if the idea came from motorcycles. I posted the earlier ads just as a reference to when the evolution may have started. I don't have enough access to the publications of the time to really define when double top tubes began. Of course earlier motorcycles looked more like bicycles with engines added to them, so one COULD say that these were built to look like motorcycles, but are obviously not the same shape as a motorbike bicycle.
 

2jakes

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Sep 1, 2010
6,812
4,951
Elysium Fields
#10
My 2 cents: I am thinking the very narrow parallel bared frames were simply "for added strength" as they do not resemble a moto bike. the wider ones do tho-.
Add my 2 ¢ for total of 4¢....

I totally agree with you .
Based on the long wordy patent @ 1895 . There's reference to it.
Initially they were added for "stability"



patric......

Have you ever written articles or books ?

If you have...please let me know....

If you haven't.... please START !!!!
Every time you write....I'm hooked....& that don't happen too often....

Regards
....2jakes
>S.O.T.F.M.



PS: I just heard a bell & flash bulb just popped...
I hear the splutter...whirrr...klunky sounds of my HP.....

Gotta save all the wonderful input & illustrations you all are putting out !

Muchas Gracias ! :cool:
 
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Likes: hoofhearted

Nick-theCut

I live for the CABE
Oct 29, 2010
1,918
115
costa mesa, CA
#14
Highly likely! But I'm curious if the idea came from motorcycles. I posted the earlier ads just as a reference to when the evolution may have started. I don't have enough access to the publications of the time to really define when double top tubes began. Of course earlier motorcycles looked more like bicycles with engines added to them, so one COULD say that these were built to look like motorcycles, but are obviously not the same shape as a motorbike bicycle.
Enter the 240 cc Shaw Motor...
nudyjata-1.jpg

Here's a 1912 Shaw Motorcycle from Tom Gray's collection found online.
hugequ9y-1.jpg

For more pics and couple more killer ads, check out
http://www.tomgraycollection.com/gallery/?album=6&photo=254&occur=1
 

chitown

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 21, 2010
2,919
718
Prospect Heights, United States
#15
The Pope Motobike made it's debut at the Chicago Motorcycle and Bicycle Accessory Show in Feb 1913 show here in this ad. This is the first time I've seen the word "Motobike" used for a bicycle. I would say that this is the first to use the motobike design with the camelback top tube and straight lower tube.



As far as double tube designs Excelsior lead the way!

The Excelsior "Twin Truss" from 1906 states "Original Design" and "Double forged crown" They may have been sharing with their English counter parts on some of the design aspects. The first Excelsior motorcycle was a Triumph with a very English design utilizing the double top bar design.

8422680934_c423f9de67_h-1.jpg


This 1908 ad also mentions a cantilever truss pattern with I would love to see an example of. I've never seen an early Excelsior before they moved to Michigan City from Chicago.

8486763578_335236eabd_b-1.jpg


The 1913 Merkel could very well be the 1st bicycle to use truss rods, though the parallel top tubes make it more a hybrid than the true motobike design with the camelback top bar and the straight under bar.


Most of the teen era truss forks look like they were converted from normal stock with the braces brazed on. Some more aesthetically pleasing than others. Schwinn made a pretty seamless truss rod bracket that they added to their forks. I think because of the demand for raw materials around WWI there may have been necessity to have these modified fork features with truss brackets slapped on a stock fork. The same goes for some of the lower top tubes that have trumpeted ends. They may have been converted camelbacks from old stock frames. Why else would you have beautiful flush joint construction on all the joinery, except the lower top tube??? The boy scouts movement played a big part in this new marketing strategy for the early motobikes.
 

fordsnake

I live for the CABE
May 12, 2010
1,830
580
#17
We're in agreement the early Motor-Bike or Motor-Cycle, was nothing less then a typical straight bar diamond frame with a motor attached.
EarlyMotorcyclespng-1.jpg


Between 1902- 1914, a new two-wheel paradigm evolved. Bikes had fizzled and lost interest amongst the consumer...almost every bike maker recognized this diminishing trend and had a motorbike, either in production or on the drawing board to recapture brand loyalty.

Machismo, speed and convenience suddenly fell in alignment for the average man with the motorcycle. The excitement and thrill of witnessing a motorbike roaring down a street, or competing for a victory lap around a board track was exhilarating. Many motorcycle competitions and challenges sprang up across the countryl held on tracks, country roads, mud, gravel, rocks, and dirt! For a manufacturer to be a winner, their products had to endure and prevail under these harsh conditions. Hence the need for truss rods, then later the introduction of rear and front suspensions for comfort and stability.

One of the earliest engineer of the front and rear suspension on motorcycles was Joseph Merkel of the Merkel brand. It stands to reason that Merkel (an ex-bike part mfg) would introduced truss supports on his Flying Merkel to replicate its big brother, pre-dating other bicycle makers by a few years? Check out the ad copy featured in 1913.

MerckelMotobikepng-1.jpg
 

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