This week I have a few historical tidbits to share.  There are a couple that explain early conversions and one on early female motorcyclists’ attire. 

Photo by Kim Richards, Alabama Motor Maids meet and greet and seafood lunch  in Hartselle, AL 6-9-12.  Martin and I had loads of fun!

The following is typical of the early attempts to entice women to ride.  All the moving parts on the bike were enclosed in a metal housing to make it safer for women to ride in the days prior to dress reform. Thank goodness I’m not expected to ride today wearing a long skirt. 

Although motorcycling is almost exclusively a sport or means of transportation for men in America, and young men at that, the makers of motorcycles for women are finding a ready sale in England.  The method of inclosing all movable parts on a woman’s motorcycle, so that there is no danger of the skirts being caught or spattered with oil, is shown in the accompanying illustration of a popular model.

This machine is of the light-weight type, and is driven by a 1 1/4 –hp motor, which is sufficient for ordinary requirements.  The heavier machines are, of course, difficult for a woman to handle.

The next tidbit is from an advertisement in the same issue.  It shows how regular bicycles were converted to motorcycles once the technology to motorize the vehicle was available.  Someone who had a bicycle, but wanted a motorcycle could modify it to suit their needs cheaper than outright purchasing a motorcycle.  Initially there wasn’t much difference in the look of the machine after the conversion because motorcycles purchased from dealers still looked very much like a modified bicycle frame.  Such kits are still available today and vendors claim the conversion can be made in an afternoon. 

MAKE A MOTORCYCLE OF YOUR BIKE at small cost, by using our Attachable Outfit.  It fits any bicycle.  Send for catalog.  Send 15 cents for “The Motorcycle Manual.”  It treats of motorcycles; how to get more power, etc.  SHAW MFG. CO., Dept. B. Galesburg, Kan.

Another early modification was adding a windscreen to a motorcycle.  While several sites indicate these came into existence between 1928 and 1940, Popular Mechanics published a piece much earlier, in 1911.  The illustration looks like a two-part window, with the top, smaller, section opening out similar to the opening of an antique interior transom window. 

Nearly all the important accessories of the automobile are being adapted on a smaller scale for use on the motorcycle, one of the latest being a windscreen.  It is suitable for fitting to the handle bars, is made in two pieces, and is adjustable.  A windscreen has not been a common sight on motor-cycles in the past, but as some means of protection for the face and upper part of the body is as necessary on such machines as on automobiles, the coming year will probably find many of them in use.

Source:  Popular Mechanics Feb. 1911. 

 

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