There’s something new and exciting happening in the powered, two-wheeled world.
People are taking bicycles and adding small but powerful electric motors to them, thus enabling them to go further, easier, on their bicycle than they previously could.
Somebody might even call it a ‘motorbike’ or even a ‘motorcycle.’
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Which just goes to show how far the actual motorcycle world has gone from what was the original, simple concept, to which it seems there may be some return.
Actually, there appear to be a lot of people interested, which is fairly damning to what motorcycling has become.
So when did ‘motorcycling’ cease to be ‘motor cycling’?
If we return to the pioneer days, clearly every motorcycle is simply a bicycle fitted with an engine. Into the veteran era and that still holds true, really. It is still possible to identify and position all the parts of the cycle within the build-up of the motorcycle.
Into the early 1920s and things are starting to change and the original idea is getting left further and further behind. I think perhaps a case could be made for 1926 being the last year of the motor bicycle – the BSA Sloper was on the cusp of appearing, as were saddle tanks, heavier frames and forks, and so on.
Some may choose 1928 but I think that by 1928, although generally the last year of flat-tanks, the models are generally bigger and heavier, with larger brakes and so on, than a couple of years before.
By 1929 saddle tanks are fairly commonplace across the board, and so frames have changed and are no longer clearly ‘cycle’ derived.
And from that point on, the motorcycle and the bicycle grow further and further apart. Of course, there were still autocycles, mopeds and all manner of what are effectively powered bicycles, but they were not really aimed at enthusiasts, but rather the ride to work crowd, for example.
And so that brings us to where we are now.
Powered bicycles aimed at enthusiasts are making a comeback. And ironically on many of them they are using technology – especially in terms of suspension and braking – that has come from the actual motorcycle world, but it’s like a ‘reimagining’ of what motor cycling is, or has, become.
If you can, have a look at the Bultaco (yes, the same company) Brinco. So it’s clearly a bicycle, with a motor, and still possessed of pedals. Didn’t I see quite a lot of devices like that at Brighton a few weeks ago?
The Bultaco Brinco and the Giant Full-E arguably are closer to a veteran Triumph than a Yamaha R1 is.
*I know I’ve made some sweeping generalisation.