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 Yale - 500 4 HP
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Photo ou archives : archives FMD

Capacity : 500
Model : 4 HP
Production : 1909 - 1915
Category : (R) Street Bike


4 hp (500cc) ·1909

First motorbike across America

In 1903, George Wyman rode into New York City on his Duck motorcycle at the end of a fatiguing 53-day trip on often virtually non existent trails. He was the first motorcyclist to ride from San Francisco to New York, a pioneering performance avidly followed by the readers of America's first motorcycling magazine, Bicycling World & Motorcycle Review, which had sponsored the trip.

Enter the Cannonball

Others soon followed in Wyman's tracks. The most famous was Erwin G. "Cannonball" Baker on a l000cc Indian. In 1914, he covered the 3,355 miles from sea to shining sea in 11 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes.

From Duck to Yale

The makers of the Duck were anxious to profit from this success. While they continued to manufacture the Duck-California (1904) and then the Yale-California (until1907), they also sold a manufacturing license to the Kirk Manufacturing Company of Toledo, Ohio....,... already known for the Yale automobile, who built Yale and Kirk motorcycles. With confidence gained from that transcontinental ride, Yale concentrated all its efforts on endurance events. In 1909, three Yales dominated the 600-mile race organized by the Chicago Motorcycle Club, with a winning average of 20 mph. It was the last notable success for the marque, which took place in few contests after that. Motorcycle production was spasmodic, and the works preferred to concentrate on the more lucrative business of manufacturing munitions, ahead of America's entry into WWI. The last Yale motorcycles were built in 1915, among them a well-made 350cc two-speed twin with chain drive.


Engine: 500cc air-cooled single-cylinder fourstroke; magneto ignition

Power Rating: 4 hp

Valves: F-head; automatic intake, side exhaust

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: direct-belt drive; auxiliary pedaling gear

Suspension: leading-links with coil-spring telescopic unit (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: band (rear)

Wheels: wire clincher (front & rear)


This later version of the Yale single is a typical sports bike of the day, with its massive handlebars and auxiliary pedaling gear.

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.