Pedal-Assist, 1899-Style

Bonhams, the British auction house, are set to auction off this very contemporary-looking motorized bike tomorrow.

The “Motor-Wheel” was patented in 1899 by Perks and Birch, then produced on the Singer frame in 1902-1904.  This particular model was restored in 1999.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

That’s a gas tank hanging from the top bar of the Singer bicycle frame:

The bicycle has a fifty-mile range.  Fifty miles, of course, with a gas tank between your legs, but still . . .   Moving the tank to the top bar made it accessible, as Bonhans notes:

The a.i.v., four-stroke engine, its low-tension, oscillating magneto, a spur-gear transmission and a combined carburettor and fuel reservoir giving a fifty-mile range, were, it must be admitted, rather inaccessible – remedied by Singer, who made the wheel single-sided after taking over production of the design in late 1902 – but worked and worked well.

The motor itself is housed in the rear wheel:

Bonhams estimates that the bike will bring between $31,00 to $37,000 USD, and note that of the few models which have survived, most are in museums, but this one, fully restored, is completely functional, just ready and waiting for a new, private, owner, and a spring tour.  It’s (probably) not too late to bid!

Update:  Sold!  For 26,000 pounds, British, equivalent to 43,000 dollars, USA.

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