Edwardian Wheels

In the time I’ve been learning about my previous life in the late 19th and early 20th century, I’ve really fallen back in love with the look and feel of cars from the Edwardian Era.

Unfortunately, it’s not practical for me to own one.  To get an actual Edwardian car would first be very expensive (about a million for a good one unless it’s a Model T Ford built at Dagenham), and it would probably be a car that is not particularly easy to drive or maintain. 

The next option would be a motorcycle from the same era; however, price is an issue there.  I’ve seen them as low as $30,000, but realistically you could expect to pay several times that for a nice example. And you still have to live with the quirks that 100 years of mechanical engineering have since ironed out of the design, which not just anyone can do.

There are only two options for replicas when it comes to cars: build it yourself which requires expert fabricating skills (which I don’t have), or buy sacrifice a poor, unsuspecting Citroen 2CV and turn it into something that looks like an amusement park ride.

However, when it comes to the motorcycles, there is an easy option.  It seems that with all the various parts for replica board track racers, vintage replica bicycles, and motorized bicycles, I’ve come to the conclusion that you could easily assemble all the required parts to make something closely resembling a 1910 Triumph or 1914 Humber.  I need to refine my estimate with some actual figures, but I’m figuring about $1200-1800 would get you a very nice one in 49cc.

I wouldn’t go with much higher displacement for two reasons.  First, anything higher requires a motorcycle endorsement in my state, and getting one here is too much of a headache.  Second, any higher than 49cc would be too fast to control unless it was heavily governed.  The brakes on an actual bicycle aren’t as robust as modern moped and motorcycle brakes and anything over 60 is really suicidal on a bicycle.  As it stands I predict a 49cc engine will give me top speeds of about 55 miles per hour, much faster than an Edwardian bike with more than twice that displacement.  It’ll also perform better on hills than an Edwardian bike (I once had a 49cc moped that could climb very steep hills, if you didn’t mind doing 20 in heavy traffic).

I think this project is very feasible.  I’ve got a truck and a moped back at my Dad’s place on the East Coast I need to sell before I can do it but if anyone wants to know what I’ve got, leave a comment with your e-mail address because I’ll let both of them go for $1200 and yes, they do run.

I want to build this bike!



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