This month’s and last month’s editorial on how motorcycling began in NY are amongst my favorite pieces that I have written so far. I run both every year in an effort to remind us of how motorcycling began and more importantly of how our ancestors pioneered the way for us to ride proudly today. When you participate so passionately in something, I think it is important to learn all you can about it, especially how it began. Motorcycles are magnificent machines that while for some are a form of transportation, for most, they are part of a culture and make a statement about who we are. The researched information below will take you back over 100 years. What I found to be quite interesting is that from the very beginning motorcycles were stereotyped, but today, this “bad-boy” has managed to win over the hearts of many. More and more folks are starting to appreciate the motorcycle as a form of self-expressed art and less apt to judge those who ride them. Hopefully, one day the negative delusion will disappear completely, but until then we will just have to defend our right to be who we want to be and our right to ride. Ride free, read on and enjoy!
New England has a history all its own, from the pilgrims to the beautiful shorelines. This cluster of states whose dense forests, picturesque mountains, legendary fall foliage and mystic seaports have all collaborated to set the tone that makes this region so desirable to tourism. New England is rich in many things; prevalent among them are history and culture. The people of this colony are proud of their heritage and strive to preserve it. As in all territories, there are many genres of people that make up the population of New England, but of course, you already know that I’m going to focus on the group of people that make up our motorcycle community.
In this editorial, I would like to take you back to how motorcycling began in New England in much the same fashion as I did in last month’s editorial, when I brought the history of motorcycling in New York to you.
In 1899, one of the first ever motorized bicycles, an Orient Aster from Orient Cycles in Waltham, Massachusetts could be seen and undoubtlessly heard – clattering along the roads of New England. This trend was followed in 1900 by the Marsh Cycle Company in Brockton, Massachusetts and by the long successful bicycle company of Colonel Albert A. Pope in Hartford, Connecticut and Toledo Ohio. Although these three companies were one of the firsts to introduce their version of the motorcycle, it didn’t take long for others to see that this could be a lucrative investment. Business men, who didn’t prefer to individually own a motorcycle shop, found that they could receive a decent return if they invested instead. Old money and society folks did see these investments as profitable, but did not want their names associated with the companies, due to the nature of the business. Hmmmm, do I sense the word stigmatism hidden somewhere in their thinking? So, they invested anonymously, which would fit the term we know today as “silent partner”.
New England was certainly a leader in this new found sport and manufacturers were popping up everywhere. New Englanders took to the motorcycle very quickly, especially those equipped with sidecars. Surprisingly enough, the women in this territory were quite liberated when it came to the motorcycle, and could be seen not only enjoying the wind in their hair and the sun in their face from a sidecar, but also enjoyed wrapping their legs around these two wheeled machines from the rear seat.
Those women are the personalities and spirits of women riders today. I imagine that many of them would have loved to take over the handlebars and left their men in the dust, but that kind of behavior in women was considered to be unconventional and not accepted by society – YET. And just for the record, there were quite a few ”wild hearted” ladies, who ignored what was prim and proper and did teach themselves how to ride. Those women pioneered the way for women riders today.
Unfortunately, during this period of time the motorcycle business was slow in coming. But, eventually, Harley-Davidson grabbed hold of the throttle and rode the motorcycle into the major multi-million dollar industry it is today; however, not before New England made its mark in history.
I found researching this topic to be most interesting and educational. My tools consisted of several reference books and the Internet. If you would like to research how motorcycles came to other parts of the USA, go to the web and type in motorcycleshistory.com it will lead you in to a world of information regarding this topic.
So, the next time you visit an antique bike show or museum, think back to this article and imagine our free spirited ancestors putting along the hand-laid cobblestone roads and enjoying the sense of freedom that came with it.
This marks the end of the winter issues until November 2017. The March issue kicks off spring and the beginning of marketing information for April’s new riding season. I’m looking forward to bringing our readers up to date content on new and exciting developments in the motorcycle industry, as well as fun facts and interesting historical events that many will certainly enjoy learning about. We are currently seeking out a new location for our FTM Legendary Bike Night Series. One thing is for sure – the bike night will continue to be held every Wednesday night of the month and this year we’re hoping to hold one in Nassau and one in Suffolk Counties!
April 2nd marks our 8th annual Motorcycle Awareness Run. Our friends from LI ABATE partner with us on this very important event, which includes their annual Bike Blessing conducted by Bikers for Christ MM. For all the information, check out the full page ad and cruising calendar inside this issue. What better way to kick-off the new riding season than with informative speeches/literature on safety and a little blessing from above! Come out and join us for a fun filled afternoon of Motorcycle Awareness and Safety. Speaking of blessings, Riders of Fire MC will be kicking off their annual Bike Blessing on April 9th. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in the wind soon! Spring can’t get here fast enough…
Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Whether you’re Irish or simply Irish at heart, enjoy the traditions of this holiday. And if you plan to indulge in a few cold ones…please drink responsibly.
Live & Let Live
Lee Sheridan, Spike & Chloe’