Motorcycle Throwback - The 1913 Schickel

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Motorcycle Throwback - The 1913 Schickel

The time between the turn of the century and the 1920's was a pivotal yet ever-changing time for the motorcycle industry. New motorcycle companies were popping up and then disappearing just as quickly as they came. One of these companies was Schickel Motorcycles. It all started at Cornell University where Norbert H. Schickel designed and built an engine for a two-wheeled vehicle as a class project during his sophomore year of engineering.

Like many of us, Schickel found himself bitten by the motorcycle bug. He spent the following two years at school continuously refining and tuning the engine while designing its concept in a full motorcycle. By 1909 Schickel had the engine patented and the creation of his motorcycle company soon followed.

After a quick bout at Franklin Motor Co., Schickel made his dream of a two wheeled vehicle driven by his engine a reality and showed it to the rest of the world at the 1911 Chicago Motorcycle Show. When the bike received loads of praise, Schickel was persuaded to invest in his own motorcycle company, therefore starting The Schickel Motor Company. The following year Schickel motorcycles were being produced.


The first Schickel motorcycle in 1912 was made with a complete uni-body aluminum cast body, produced a whopping 5 hp getting it up to 50 mph and could have been yours for $225. This 495cc model with a belt drive was then bumped up to produce 6 hp with a chain drive the following year. But its main claim to glory? Not only was the 1913 Schickel was one of the first that made the twist grip control popular, it also was the first two-stroke motorcycle produced in the United States.

In the next few years following, Schickel produced a handful of other models such as the Lightweight Schickel that was revealed at the NYC Automotive show in 1915. While its design was close to that of the first Schickel, this bike weighed only 95 pounds, was able to get 100 miles per gallon all while pushing out 2.5 hp.

Unfortunately, Schickel Motorcycles felt the heat of the competition as motorcycle companies boomed and cars became more readily available to the public. Twelve years and 1,000 motorcycles after its doors opened, Schickel was forced to file for bankruptcy. Since then, only a few of the bikes survive in decent condition, one of which is currently on loan to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Ohio.

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