Motorcycle or Not??
Part 2: Alternative driving mechanisms

In the first part of this series we have taken the legislation as guideline to determine whether a vehicle can be called a motorcycle or not. In this part we will look at the driving mechanism.
Two-wheelers with an internal combustion engine that directly drives one of the wheels are off course no point of discussion.
The first type that deviates from this rule is the growing group of electrically driven two-wheelers. Even the diehards that up to now refuse to put this kind of "mopeds" in their collection will probably start thinking now even Harley-Davidson in their 111th year comes up with an electrical naked bike. Even they will include the LiveWire, a 74 horsepower strong motorcycle with a range of on average 100 mile and a (limited) top speed of 95 mph (almost 153 km/hr) in their collection.

HD Livewire

In mean time more and more of these giants appear with first-class performance, like the Brammo, the Lito, Zero and even the Tacita crossers. No discussion about this category.

Zero DS

Also electric scooters aree put in the album of many collectors without any discussion. Take a look to this issue from Kosovo.

Electric bicycles are another story! Nowadays you can hardly distinguish them from normal bicycles.

Gutter from the Europe stamp issue from Åland

Bye the way, already in 1932 our "own" Philips let built an electric bicycle with an EMI motor and Varta battery. Different Dutch bicycle manufacturers acquired the right to build these cycles. Burgers, Juncker, Stokvis, Simplex built a few of these bicycles, and Gazelle made 117 of them.

Translation of the text: Upper left the electric bicycle from Burgers,
as appeared on our roads in 1932. Its range was 80 km.

The decision whether to collect these cycles or not is off course made by the collector, but if we include a Solex in our collection, why would we leave out a Bambino-version of the LiveWire??

Another mechanism for driving cycles, by far the oldest form of motorization, is by means of steam, although we mostly call them "machines" instead of motorcycles. The most famous were built by inventors/pioneers like Twombly, Copeland, Roper and Perraux.

From now on I will put them in the catalogue without hesitation. Also because they are without doubt part of the history of the motorcycle.

A very strange species is a bicycle driven by a propellor. And don't say "These don't exist", as already in 1914 Iver Johnson built an apparatus like this under the name Aerothrust. It could be installed on every kind of vehicle, but I am not convinced that such a mincer was an ideal solution on a bicycle. Unfortunately there is no stamp of it. But if it comes, it may join my collection.

Obviously people saw also other possibilities for propellor driving, but here with a safety-cage

I don't know any official stamps with rocket-bikes or fuel cell driven mopeds, but it is clear that whatever the driving mechanism may be, we will include a stamp with these items in the catalogue.

Personalised stamp with the "Pyromaniac" Quad with jet propulsion


Hans de Kloet


This is the second article in a series of 4, in which it will be elucidated for several of these dubious cases or/when they are reckoned to be a motorcycle. These guidelines will also be used to decide whether an issue will be included in the new version of the catalogue or not.


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