1902 MOTOR CYCLING (May 21st)


By the turn of the century, the cycle industry had become extremely competitive. The ‘boom years’ of the 1890s were over. In the following years, many cycle manufacturers added motorized vehicles to their catalogues, and many new companies were set up to manufacture them, market them, or make parts for them. With Minerva and similar engines now available to fit to bicycle frames, 1902 and 1903 were the first years of production for most fledgling motorcycle companies, and these 1902 Motor Cycling magazines provide interesting insights into that pioneering time. I particularly enjoy discovering adverts for cycle manufacturers of the Victorian era who branched out into early 20th century motorcycle production. The above advert for Bayliss Thomas & Co is a classic example.

Most companies advertising in these magazines are unknown to us today, as the majority only lasted a few years. Of course, compared to cycle manufacture, motorcycle production was expensive. Some engine manufacturers tied up with neighbouring cycle manufactures; for example, Precision and Sun Cycle Co made the same motorcycle, each adding their own badge. The majority of the early motorcycle companies closed down either before or as a result of WW1.