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 Singer - 222 Motorwheel
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Singer Motorwheel motocyclette motorrad motorcycle vintage classic classique scooter roller moto scooter
Photo ou archives : D. Ganneau

Capacity : 222
Model : Motorwheel
Production : 1900 - 1904
Category : (R) Street Bike


2 1/2 hp Motor Wheel - 1904

First with magneto ignition and first light alloy wheel

In 1898, engineer Edwin Perks started work on a "power wheel," which used a small engine mounted inside a cast and a spoked aluminium wheel (25 years ahead of Bugatti!), and he built nearly 200 before selling manufacturing rights to the Singer Cycle Company of Coventry.

Ingenious Design

Perks's design was ingenious: The 2 hp engine was mounted inside the wheel, and a spur wheel on the engine shaft drove an internally-toothed ring gear, which was riveted to the spokes. The motor wheel could be fitted between either the front or the back forks. It was the first motorcycle to be fitted with magneto ignition: A low-tension Simms-Bosch unit was mounted behind the engine, but the contact points were actually inside the cylinder.

Limited Range

In the original version, the fuel tank was also inside the wheel, and only held enough fuel for 60 miles: It also incorporated a surface carburetor which worked by evaporation. The only fault of the original design became apparent with time: The spur gear drive grew harsh and noisy as wear developed. In mid-1903, Singer brought out a new version of the motor wheel, in which there were spokes on only one side of the wheel, and the engine drove forward by chain to the bottom bracket of the frame and back again to the other side of the rear wheel via a freewheel. Though Singer began phasing out the motor wheel in late 1903, the idea has been revived several times since, particularly in the European cyclemotor boom of the immediate postwar period, and on the Honda P50 of the 1960s.


Engine: 221cc (63.5x70 mm) air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke; Simms-Bosch low-tension magneto ignition

Power Rating: 2.5 hp

Valves: automatic intake, side exhaust

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: chain drive from engine to bottom bracket to rear wheel, with free-wheel

Brakes: rim (front & rear)

Wheels: 28 inch wire clincher (front & rear)

Weight: 115 lb

Maximum Speed: 30 mph

The main photo shows the Singer motor wheel in its last year of production, with chain drive via the bottom bracket; the 1900 pattern (inset) had the engine enclosed within the spokes.

Le fichier Moto Passion réalisé par François-Marie Dumas réunit près de deux mille photos accompagnées d'un historique très complet des machines présentées.
Il sera progressivement mis à jour ici et toute information complémentaire est la bienvenue sur info@moto-collection.org.

Cette documentation unique, qui constitue sans doute l'encyclopédie la plus exhaustive jamais écrite sur l'histoire de la moto, a été réalisée avec l'assistance de nombreux spécialistes dont principalement Didier Ganneau, Christophe Gaime, Mick Woollett, Jean Goyard, Bernard Salvat, Christian Rey, Yves Campion, Helmut Krackowizer, Michael Dregni, Michel Montange, etc. que je remercie ici.

Disponible sur demande :
- Les fiches originales sur papier
- Les photos et archives signées de mon nom en haute définition ou les documents originaux.
Me contacter sur info@moto-collection.org pour les conditions et droits d'utilisation.