ER Thomas Auto-Bi Motorized Bicycle

First, the ER Thomas Auto-Bi was an early-era motorcycle/motorized bicycle produced from 1900 to 1912. Some people called Thomas’ creation the “first production-powered two-wheeled motorcycle.” Next, the “ER” stood for Edwin Ross, and the manufacturing plant where he built these antique motorized bicycles was in Buffalo.

Until 1898, ER Thomas worked for the antique De Dion-Bouton tricycle company. But in 1900, he built his first internal combustion engine motorized bicycle and named it “Auto-Bi.” The first two models were for sale to the public in 1901. In 1903, the company was the largest manufacturer of air-cooled single-cylinder engines.

Notably, one reason they made this antique motorcycle was the advent of the safety bicycle. A safety bicycle looks just like the ones we think of today, with both wheels the same size.

1904 ER Thomas Auto-Bi - Clutch-Side1904 ER Thomas Auto-Bi Motorcycle - Throttle-SideER Thomas Auto-Bicycle - Side-ViewER Thomas Motorcycle PlantER Thomas Motorcycle Company Ad

Before safety bicycles, there were penny-farthings/high wheels. These bicycles had a giant front wheel and a small wheel in the back. For many reasons, safety bicycles were a much better design.

Specs for the 1904 Auto-Bi:
-2.5-horsepower four-stroke 442 cc single-cylinder engine
-Air-cooled engine
-Automatic intake valve
-Engine weight 25 pounds
-Frame weight 90 pounds
-Belt-drive transmission
-Top speed of 35 mph (which was fast back then; a Ford Model A’s top speed was 28mph).
-28-inch tires

In 1912, the company stopped making the Auto-Bi motorized bicycle/motorcycle due to a lack of demand. However, ER Thomas continued to produce large engines and the Thomas Flyer automobile. Although the company did not survive, many early-era bikes had small to big changes that impacted future makes and models. These did have a small contribution to biker history.

Two other articles with pictures are the Evil One® girls and a 1952 chopper at the Easyrider’s show. Finally, you can learn more about marketing, motorcycle website SEO, and motorcycle website design in our Marketing Academy articles.

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