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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk



The New York Times
January 15, 1911

Manufacturers of Machines Unable to Keep Abreast of the Demands of the Motoring Public.

Five years ago motor cycling, both as a sport and a commercial utility, was in its swaddling clothes.  The succeeding half decade has witnessed a phenomenal growth in many respects.  Now there are at least a half hundred motor cycle factories in America, while one factory alone devoted exclusively to the manufacture of motor cycles this year increased its facilities to allow the making of 10,000 machines, and even this number has been found inadequate to supply the great demand.  If the truth be told perhaps a score of the leading makers are not a bit concerned over the forthcoming year's sales, or the sales of 1912; most of them are planning already for 1913.

The reason for such widespread interest in the motorcycle is easily explained.  The motorcycle often had been termed the "little brother of the automobile," and the appellation is not undeserved.  A reliable single cylinder motorcycle costs in the neighborhood of $200.  It is easy to travel 100 miles on a single gallon of gasolene, while some machines have gone as far as 208 miles with one gallon.

The expense of maintaining a motorcycle is very small compared with any other vehicle, while it's saving in time is an asset largely to be considered.  Besides the subsequent upkeep is very small, as it does not require a large building or garage to house the machine, and tires and expense in running are cheap by comparison.

Those persons who are interested in motorcycles will find much to hold their attention during the Part II. period of the Automobile Show, to be held in Madison Square Garden, from Jan. 16 to 21.  Eighteen of the leading makers have reserved space at the show, and the list comprises the best there is in the motorcycle world.  The exhibition of motorcycles will be the only affair of its kind to be held in New York this season.

For the season of 1911 there will not be many changes of a radical nature.  The motorcycle of to-day is about as dependable a vehicle as one could wish, and very radical changes are not possible or necessary.  General refinement seems to be the leading tendency for 1911, with low frame construction and self-oiling devices largely to the front.

One of the well-known machines that will be exhibited at Madison Square Garden is the Harley-Davidson—a product of Milwaukee.  One of the changes in the 1912 model will be the new cylinder, which has vertical ribs in the head in place of horizontal, which have been used in the past.  This allows a little better radiation and looks neater.  The head is now made of one-piece stamping made of sheet vanadium steel in place of heavy forging, which makes it lighter but at the same time 50 per cent. stronger.  The strength of the frame also has been increased, and the front fork has not as much rake, which permits easier steering.  The oiling system will be of the semi-automatic type.  The Harley-Davidson will be shown in both single and twin cylinder models in both battery and magneto types.

The manufacturers of the well-known Reading Standard have not made their plans for 1911 public as yet, and will not do so until the show, when they promise to uncover a genuine surprise.  As this machine always has made good on both the track and road, and lately the manufacturers have devoted a great deal of attention to the development of the commercial motorcycle, it is certain that the R. S. booth will draw more than its quota of visitors.

The "Sturdy Yale" will be shown in both single and twin cylinder models.  The chief changes in the twin will be longer wheel base, lower saddle position, a new stand, heavier frame and fork and new frame design, larger tanks and wire grip control, the same modifications prevailing in the single cylinder model for 1911.

Although it is well known in the West and favorably known in the East, the Wagner machine, made in St. Paul, will be exhibited in Madison Square Garden for the first time.  Four single cylinder models will be shown.  The Excelsior changes for 1911 constitute lowered saddle position, new timer on the battery models, and new handlebar lock.  The Excelsior twin will be a newcomer.  The famous M. M. line for 1911 consists of two models—a 4-horse power single and a 7-horse power twin, both with magneto ignition.  The same symmetrical design of the 1910 model has been retained, but the oiling system and motor of both models have been improved.  On the twin the capacity of the fuel tank has been increased, and a separate oil reservoir has been provided.  Otherwise there will be no change in the 1911 model.

The Emblem line for 1911 will consist of a 7-horse power twin, and a 4-horse power and 5-horse power singles.  The five horse power machine will be a brand new model, and is expected to prove a sensation at the show.  It has been brought out for riders who want a machine for track and road riding without spring forks.  This machine will be built low and with a shorter wheel base than the regular models.  It will list at $250, and will be fitted with either V or flat belt transmission, battery ignition.  The fast Flying Merkel motorcycles have not undergone many changes in the past twelvemonth.  The features of this machine consist of its original spring frame, ball-bearing motor, and oiling arrangement.  As it is the only four-cylinder machine made in America the Pierce will attract a great deal of attention. The Pierce will also be shown in a single cylinder type.  The N. S. U., one of the very few foreign machines which has been able to gain and retain a firm foothold in America, will be shown in four models—two singles and two twins. Manager Eugene Kicherer is now in Europe procuring machines for the 1911 market.

One of the oldest and most widely known machines in America is the Indian, made by the Hendee Manufacturing Company of Springfield, Mass.  The Indian has always made good in track and road contests, and has made scores of records.  A comprehensive line of models will be displayed and many surprises are promised for the show.

The Thor IV will be the leading model of the Aurora Automatic Machinery Company, and this concern needs no introduction to the American motorcycle buying public.  The same may be said of the Racycle, made by the Miami Cycle and Manufacturing Company, Middletown, Ohio.  The Marvel, S. D., and New Era, and Reliance again will be shown in several models, and the Detroit will make its debut in the East.  The manufacturers who have engaged space and the machines they will show are as follows:

Hendee Manufacturing Company, Indian; Reliance Motorcycle Company, Reliance; N. S. U. Motor Company, N. S. U.; Miami Cycle and Manufacturing Company, Racycle; Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Harley-Davidson; Reading Standard Company, P. S.; Excelsior Manufacturing Company, Emblem; Pierce Cycle Company, Pierce; Consolidated Manufacturing Company, Yale; Merkel-Lig Motor Company, Merkel's American Motor Company, M. M.; Marvel Motorcycle Company, Marvel; S. D. Manufacturing Company, S. D.; Wagner Motorcycle Company, Wagner; New Era Auto Cycle Company, New Era; Detroit Motor Cycle Manufacturing Company, Detroit.

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