August 23, 2014

1902 Steffey Antique Motorbike

Over the years I have become more fascinated with the very earliest motorcycles, or motorbikes really. This is the lastest one I am fortunate enough to acquire at a very reasonable price – a running, but unfinished 1902 Steffey motorbike.

1902 Steffey motorbike in a shipping crate

I purchased this 112 yea old motorbike from an enthusiast who specializes in them. He did a partial disassembly, crated it up and shipped it to me at the American Iron Magazine office, where I am the Editor-in-Chief.

I took off the top of the shipping carton and carefully lifed out most of the machine in one piece. The seat, front wheel and rear sand were separate and the handlebar was loose on the mounting stem.

Antique 1902 motorbike in “knocked down” condition for shipping. Sort of like a wonderful mechanical jigsaw puzzle.

Once I got it all out of the shipping carton I stabilized it on the removable rear display stand, set the handlebars, remounted the thumb bell and installed the front wheel with interesting front brake. Note the wheels and tires are much newer than the rest of the machine. This allows it to be ridden safely.

All reassembled and almost ready to ride this vintage motorbike.

I mounted the saddle, adjusted the headlight mounting and aligned all the parts and pieces for the photo above.

Other side of the 1902 Steffey motorcycle and my 1941 hot rod Chevy truck,

Basically it is a turn of the century bicycle with the Steffey 2-stroke clip on engine mounted. The fuel tank is mounted on the wodden rear fender behind the saddle.  To start it the rider pedals the bicycle pedals to gain speed, then ease on the wooden handle lever in the middle to add pressure to the belt that transfers movement from the rear wheel to the engine pulley to spin the engine over.

Close up of 1902 Steffey engine and battery box

Ignition is via a battery in the large battery tube behind the engine, fuel is via the tank over the rear fender, and the fuel is delivered by a very primitive mixer (so crude I would not call it a carburetor). And check out the wooden chain guard and flexible exhaust system!

Filed under History, Random Ideas by Buzz Kanter

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