This Day in History – July 29th, 1899

Motorcycle Race 1

Motorcycles are a quintessential part of American culture, so it comes as no surprise that the first ever official motorbike race was held in Manhattan Beach, NY on this day, July 29th, in 1899. The race must have been designed for those with a patient demeanor as none got much faster than a jaunty stroll, but this was the beginning of an entire sub culture.

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This is a restored 1899 Singer, its 4-stroke motorcycle has a maximum speed of barely above what brisk walking would be, and the fuel tank can hold for it to travel a distance of 50 miles at a go. Also the rough terrain of the roads would be felt on this machine, as the shock absorbers seen in most bikes today, are absent on this one. But then, way back in 1899, not even the premium cars had them, and this was more than just a normal cycle.

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When this bike was being created by the pair of Edward Perks and Harold Birch, they showed their keen acumen in designing, by including some subtle modifications to the construction of the frame. The engine for example, was placed within the confines of the rear wheel, which made more comfortable for the occupant to travel on this bike. The central frame only has the green and gold worked fuel tank, which is connected to the engine through a couple of thin pipes.

Not exactly Easy Rider, but then again the Wright brothers were only airborne for 59 seconds on their first flight . . .

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