1904 E.R. Thomas Auto-Bi

In 1898, Edwin Ross “E.R.” Thomas started to design his two-wheeled bicycle powered by an internal combustion engine called the “Auto-Bi.” What inspired his motorized bicycle/motorcycle was the advent of the safety bicycle (a bicycle with both wheels being the same size) in 1896 and his experience manufacturing the De Dion-Bouton tricycles since 1898.

In 1900, his company, the Thomas Motor Company out of Buffalo, New York, produced the first Auto-Bi. In 1901, the first two models for the public were available for sale. His Auto-Bicycle is referred to by some as the “first production powered two-wheeled motorcycle”.

The pictured Thomas Auto-Bi is a 1904 model. This motorized bicycle/motorcycle had a 4 stroke 442 cubic inch motor produced 2.5 horsepower engine that gave the Auto-Bicycle a 35 mph top speed. A 1905 model that was similar to the pictured Auto-Bi broke the transcontinental record by traveling across the US in 48 days.

In 1912, there was not enough demand for motorcycles and the company stopped operations. E.R. Thomas moved on to building larger engines in an attempt to build an automobile company.

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