Take a trip back in time with this bike. Really though, it’s more bike than motorcycle but it’s a stellar collector’s piece if you ask me. Back in the early 1900s, motorcycles were simply motorized bicycles, and they look vastly different from the two-wheelers we enjoy ripping around on today.
This here is a Steffey from 1901. Born around the same time that Triumph fielded its first-ever model, these machines were no more than bicycles with leather belts and motors attached to them. It all started from here, and this is pretty much ground zero for riders.
Before any of the crazy technology available on today’s bikes, it all starts with a motor and a way to get the power down to the wheels. Steffey was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania back in the day, and it offered add-on engines to bicycles to convert them into what was then the pinnacle of motorcycling technology. This particular Steffey is based on a Columbia Model 74 chainless frame and was modified to fit the Steffey motor.
The engine happens to be a 15 cubic-inch unit that is also rebuilt and refurbished. It features an atmospheric intake valve and a cam-actuated exhaust valve. To get all that power onto the ground, the motor is paired to a direct-drive leather belt. Apparently, clutches weren’t really a thing back then, so our motorcycling ancestors had to slip the leather belt. Chains couldn’t be used either without a clutch as they broke, such is the case with Harley-Davidson and their early models.
If you run out of gas, then you’d have to rely on good old pedal power with these old bikes, and if you are interested in owning this piece of history, then place a bid on Bring a Trailer. Currently, it goes for $22,000 USD, and make sure you do so before December 14, 2021.