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The History of the Motorcycle Cannonball
Coast to Coast on a Neracar
Written by Rebecca West   

Back in 1918, Carl Neracher designed a lightweight, feet first motorcycle that went on to be known as a Neracar. Unique for its hub-center steering and widely acclaimed for its stability, there were roughly 10,000 of them produced by the Ner-A-Car Corporation in Syracuse, NY, between the years 1921 and 1924. Shortly after production began in the US, Nerarcher licensed his design to the UK’s Sheffield-Simplex, where an additional 6,500 were manufactured for British consumers. By 1926, it was pretty much all said and done for both manufacturers, but this incredibly reliable bike lives on with alternative motorcycle enthusiasts even today.

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TEAM EFFIE (Cris Sommer Simmons #89)
Written by Laura Klock   
Tuesday, 21 September 2010 11:25

Ninety five years ago a young woman named Effie Hotchkiss decided she wanted to travel coast to coast. And what better way to do that than on a motorcycle? She purchased a 1915, 3 Speed V-Twin Harley-Davidson with some money she had inherited and was ready to go. That is until her mother, Avis, told her she couldn’t make that trip alone. There were still cowboys and Indians, and paved roads were a luxury, besides the fact that a woman on a motorcycle in those days was sure to draw much conversation and attention. So the deal was made between mother and daughter that Effie would buy a sidecar, and Avis would make the trip with her.

 

They set out to travel from Brooklyn, New York to the World’s Fair in San Francisco, California. It took them about 2 months, and by the time they were done, Effie had dipped her toes into the water of the ocean on the east coast and the west. The story’s been told that she carried water from one ocean with her and dumped it into the other ocean when she arrived. We know for sure that Effie and Avis made history. Their story is an inspiration to women, and men, even today. Effie lived by the moto that “anything is possible if you put your mind to it.” She inspires me.

 

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Baker Hits The Road
Written by Stephen Wright   
Friday, 18 June 2010 17:16

As a young fellow, E.G. Baker enjoyed many physical fitness activities, including boxing, sparring, wrestling - and motorcycling.  He worked for the United States Tire Company in his home town in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he rose to the position of superintendent of the motorcycle tire testing department, and it was there that he found an outlet for his remarkable stamina.  Baker had an ability to complete fast, long distance rides without experiencing fatigue - a useful skill for testing tires.  On weekends, his love for speeding toward the distant horizon was such that his companions often dropped by the wayside or headed home exhausted, unable to sustain his rapid pace.

"Bake" undertook his first big adventure in January 1912.  He left Indianapolis on a two-speed Indian and covered 14,000 miles in three months, traveling through Florida, down to Cuba and Jamaica, and then to Panama.  He took a steamer up to San Diego where he based himself for a while and from there he competed in several endurance runs in both California and Arizona.  It was during this time that Baker decided he would attempt to break the transcontinental record.

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How I Crossed America on Neracar for Less Than $20
Written by Erwin Baker   
Friday, 02 December 2011 06:36


By “Cannonball” Baker

WHILE I was in Los Angeles last September preparing to go after the transcontinental speed record with the Ace, I happened into Rich Budelier’s place one day and saimagew a Neracar standing there. Although I previously had seen it at the Chicago Show last November, I had not looked it over very closely then. However, there seemed to be considerable interest in it out in Los Angles and most everyone who came into the Harley-Davidson store, noticed it, looked it over and made some remark about it. This rather unusual interest in it, somehow impressed me and I took a ride on the little jigger, just to see how it behaved.

I want to say right now that I was very much surprised with the way it handled. I never had ridden anything like it before; in fact never had ridden any lightweight machine since the early Indians which were in style when I broke into the game. That ride left me with a very friendly feeling for the Neracar and the thought came to me, “Gee whiz! There's quite a kick in this thing. It’s different from a motorcycle and is mighty fine to get around on. I'd like to own one and probably there are a lot of other people who would, if they could try it and find out about it.” I noticed that I attracted a lot of attention from people on the sidewalk and in automobiles when I was taking a jog on it. That showed that people recognized it as something new and different and were ready to look at it anyway. Of course, they joked about it and apparently regarded it as a freak machine, but that was to be expected, because it is so different in looks and in construction from the ordinary motorcycle.

Anyway I got thinking about that Neracar after I returned to the hotel and the next day the inspiration came to me, “Jiminy crickets! I'd like to take that jigger across the continent, not for speed, but to show how cheap the trip could be made.” The more I thought about it, the stronger I was convinced that I could turn the trick. I thought a lot about it for the next few days and nights and when I satisfied myself that I could ride a Neracar from coast to coast cheaper than it ever had been done before, I inquired the address of the factory and wired them a proposition.

They wired back that they were interested and to send them full details of my plan. So I wired them again that I would be in New York soon and would go and see them after I finished my Ace job and talk it over. After I had knocked over Bedell’s five year old transcontinental record for Ace, I went home to Indianapolis to rest up a bit and get acquainted with my family again.
Then, one day I wired the Neracar people that I was coming up to see them. I was met at the train by President J. Allan Smith, Vice President E. K. Gordon, Engineer Carl Neracher and several others, all of whom gave me a first class welcome. They whirled me out to the plant where I met some more of the factory heads and then I went through the place and got a line on the organization and what they were turning out.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 December 2011 19:37
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George Wyman's Long Ride

The California was produced in 1902 by the California Motor Company of San Francisco and its makers stated, "Like California, it's wonderful!" This is a 1903 model with spring forks, which were introduced that year.

 

The motor was clamped to the front down-tube. its ignition batteries were in the container below the seat. The tank under the top tube contained the coil, fuel, and carburetor - a simple fuel-metering system which was described in the specifications as a "mixing valve." A large outside flywheel was mounted on the right side.

 

Motorcycle Cannonball Spoonsors.

A California was the first motorcycle to complete a coast-to-coast journey. George A. Wyman set out from San Francisco on May 16, 1903 and arrived in New York City fifty days later. Discounting time lost for mechanical problems, he was actually on the road for 38 days. Flat tires and drive belt breakages caused him to make many stops, and there were also a few major failures, such as a broken connecting rod, a broken crankshaft, and broken front forks.

 

Toward the end of his ride, Wyman stopped in Angola, New York, to repair his forks. Unhappy with the work done by a local shop, he rode carefully on to Buffalo and stopped at the Thomas Auto-Bi works. E.R. Thomas himself made Wyman welcome and instructed his workers to top-up the fuel and oil. Wyman mentioned his fork problem and Thomas promptly told his men to adapt a set of Auto-Bi forkes to the California. They worked into the night to complete the job so that Wyman could leave early in the morning. Thomas graciously refused all of Wyman's attempts to pay for the work that had been done.*

*From the book "The American Motorcycle 1869-1914" by Stephen Wright. Used with Permission.

 


 

 

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