A Sweet Bike

Submitted 8 months ago
Created by
Matthew Powers

The Marsh motorized bicycle

Photo of Perley Thomas with a Marsh motorized bicycle. Circa 1904. Collection of the Woodstock History Center.

This photo and article is an excerpt from the Woodstock History Center's new publication, The History of Bicycling in Woodstock which will be released this year. Stayed tuned!

"The man in this photo is supposedly Perley Thomas, of Springfield, Massachusetts. Perley was visiting his parent's, Mr. and Mrs. Don Thomas of West Woodstock, with his brother in 1904.

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This photo, located in the Woodstock History Center's archive, showcases the 1904 Marsh motorized bicycle. Marsh was one of the early motorcycle manufacturers on the east coast, starting in 1899. The business was located in Brockton, Massachusetts, where the Marsh brothers built motorized bicycles and manufactured their own engines. In the photo you can see that there are a few added embellishment to the motorized bicycle including a handle bar mounted horn and what appears to be a tire pump located on the frame.

The motorized bicycle had a single cylinder with an intake valve which opened by suction created when the piston was on its downward stroke (called an "atmospheric intake valve") and a mechanically actuated side exhaust valve. The spark plug was fired by a "total loss" ignition system. This meant that there was no generator to recharge the battery. It had to be recharged by an external source. The original production engines produced less than two horsepower, but later models offered six horsepower which powered the cycle to nearly 60 miles per hour. The overall dry weight of the cycle was about 150 pounds.

By 1905, the Marsh brothers had teamed up with Charles Metz and company changed it name to Marsh & Metz. Even though it helped to pioneer the 90-degree V-twin engine, by 1913 the company closed its doors." 


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