We are slaves to a small farm and are also riders, so any mention of farming and motorcycles is of special interest, particularly articles from the era when motorcycles and automobiles first came on the scene and their use overlapped that of horses and buggies.  It was a transition which took some years to fully evolve and I find the contrast fascinating.

Earlier I posted a piece on George M. Hendee of Indian and his farm in Conn., and while there’s no famous person involved in this piece it does reflect on the use of the earliest motorcycles on the farm.  Why do I have an image in my head of me riding around the place trying to balance a basket of eggs on my head?

“The motorcycle is speedy and inexpensive in operation.  It requires but little storage room and can be used on poor roads.  For these reasons it is adapted to the use of single men on the farm.  On a motorcycle they can go to town easily and quickly after the chores are done; the farmer boy, too, can get away for an afternoon at a ball game or to go hunting.  If a side car is used, two persons may go on a pleasure trip.  In general the motorcycle may be used for pleasure just as a horse and single buggy are used, with the advantage that much greater distances may be covered in a given time.

As a business machine, the motorcycle is of great use when hurried trips to town are necessary.  In sections where hired men insist on the use of a horse, a man who owns a motorcycle is entitled to more pay than others because he needs no horse.  On the other hand, it is well to have a definite understanding with the motor cyclist, so that he may not spend too much time on the road.

The capacity of the motorcycle is limited to 2 or at most 3 passengers even when a side car is used; and unless the roads are good, the side car must be left at home and the 2 persons ride tandem.  The motorcycle can be used but little for carrying produce, though it is a fine thing for the rural mail carrier.  Few women ride motorcycles but the side car can be used by a woman quite comfortably if the roads are good.  For its capacity, the motorcycle gives a great deal of pleasure and is very serviceable.  Its principal limitation is lack of carrying capacity.  The first cost of the motorcycle is reasonable and is the principal one, and if properly cared for, the machine entails but a small upkeep.

Before purchasing a motorcycle, the farmer should consider several factors.  One is, of course, the first cost.  Another is the amount of use he can make of it both for himself and for his family.  If he is purchasing for the boys, he should consider whether they are capable of caring for the machine and using it wisely.  A third factor is the real value of the machine for business purposes.  In some cases it can be used for many trips and for long rides…

Speeding and fast riding cause many motorcycle accidents.  The rider must watch the road closely because his machine is easily unbalanced.  Curves must be taken with discretion, to avoid the skidding of the machine from under the rider.  Mud and sand must be negotiated with care, otherwise a nasty spill may result.

When a side car is used, it must be so fastened that the front wheel is not pulled out of line.

The motorcycle requires careful handling if serious accidents are to be prevented.  One should learn to ride by practicing on little-used roads before he attempts to go where there is much traffic.”

Source:  “Farm Knowledge:  A Complete Manual of Successful Farming Written by Recognized Authorities in All Parts of the Country; Based on Sound Principles and the Actual Experience of Real Farmers”.  Prepared exclusively for Sears, Roebuck and Co.  1918.


© Victoria (Rumble) Brady – vrumblesramblingbikerblog.wordpress.com