At the turn of the century, passenger seating was still to be determined. Motorcycle trailers worked somewhat, as described in our earlier article with some faults. But a very comfortable seat could be had in a forecar. With supple leaf springs, as well as some give from the wicker chair and the padded upholstery, it was easy to coerce a beautiful maiden into a Sunday drive through the countryside. She was able to breathe the fresh air and see the sights, which were two things that a trailer passenger had trouble doing. With a wool blanket on her lap, she may even keep warm during the colder months.
But where are these forecars today? Surely there was a downside to all this beauty, otherwise the forecar would have become the standard method of carrying a passenger… The added weight and dubious handling of the three wheeler was certainly not appreciated by the motorbike, nor by the pilot. But I think that the real Achilles heel of the forecar was that the missus doubled as the impact zone of the vehicle. And that dubious handling meant that forecars saw more than their share of road accidents and spills. And after a crash, surely the lady wouldn’t be apt to give it another go.
An early Reading Standard twin cylinder, with a very light weight wicker chair.
This Quadrant shows some details of the front end of a three wheeler. A special feature of this bike is the tilting and steering front wheels. No other examples of this design remain today. Photo taken on the Pioneer Run a few years ago.
Phoenix Trimo, again from the Pioneer Run. This is a relatively big setup. Note the front brakes and the fan to cool the cylinder head. And the big cover on the front to keep the passenger warm and dry.
Another Phoenix Trimo, and with a two speed rear hub! In 1904, that predates the use of multiple speeds in a motorcycle by a few years. This photo and the next are from the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu:
This a photo of an old Indian and forecar that I found on ebay.
This image of the Coventry Eagle and the next few of the Phoenix, Humber, Rex and Ormonde are all from the book The Veterans with a forward by Lord Montagu. They show some of the typical design details of the frames, seats and suspensions. If you don’t have a copy, it can be found via the link. It is basically a reprint of advertisements circa 1903, with a few details.
We’ll finish with an odd one, the Century Forecar. Featuring a driver’s seat, not a bicycle saddle. And an interesting frame for the passenger seat that wraps all the way around. From the Beaulieu museum.