From the May 1936 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine.
Showing the new model Servi-Cycle, manufactured by the Simplex Manufacturing Corp. of New
The other day there appeared in Los Angeles, just as it did in other cities over the country, an advance copy of a much discussed machine. Although the machine has not been on the market more than a year it has been discussed for the past several years. Everyone has talked pro and con about lightweights. Thus the new machine, the Servi-Cycle, was what might be termed the answer to all that discussion. Anxious to see what the answer was like we rode it.
The surprise from riding the Servi- Cycle is as great as the surprise one gets upon first seeing it. The machine has a distinctly flashy appearance despite its size, and it performs like a good soldier. Sitting in the saddle the rider can give one shove forward and be under way. A throttle control in the right grip and a button convenient to the left grip give neat control for turning corners or angling through traffic.
Top speed is 30 to 35 miles per hour. Used as we are to gunning large mounts and then waiting at signals we fail to realize how much distance can be accomplished at a consistent 30.
Pedal rests supplant footboards; a heel-operated rear brake together with a hand-controlled front brake give the rider complete mastery of his mount.
One ride is enough to show a motorcycle man that the machine has a thousand possibilities, and it does not conflict in any way with the existing setup on big machines. In fact, the Servi-Cycle should be the means of winning a lot of new blood to motorcycling.
We rode all over one end of town and found our steed to be both docile and fiery. In other words it is safe for a child to ride, yet has enough steam to be worthy of commercial use.
Let us consider the mechanical specifications. The motor has a displacement of 115 cubic centimeters-a bore of 2 inches and a stroke of 1 5/8 inches. A float type carburetor is utilized and control extended to the right handlebar. Both main bearings are Timken tapered roller bearings and the lower end of the connecting rod is a double row SKF bearing. The piston pin is 3/4 inch. Pistons are aluminum alloy made in a permanent mold. Lubrication is forced feed.
Handlebars are reasonably wide and well shaped. Grips are a little larger than normal motorcycle grips. Action on the right grip is easy, and all mechanism is enclosed. It is readily accessible and cables can be replaced without dismantling the grip. A chrome-plated lever on the left bar controls the front brake. An identical lever on the right grip controls the compression release. Cables, which do not require lubrication, are finished in bright black and may be kept clean and good looking.
Front forks are wide enough to afford a short turning radius. The frame design (on which patents have been applied for) has double-thickness tubing in the lower loop. The seat-post mast is double, tying upper and lower frame members in rigid juxtaposition and enhancing a general streamline effect.
Gasoline passes through a strainer, has a visible sediment bowl and may be shut off at a cutoff cock.
Tanks are designed to eliminate all sharp edges and give very pleasing lines.
Fenders are made of heavy stock, are wide and deep and carry streamlined flares both front and rear.
The saddle has an all-metal base, is padded all over with soft sponge rubber, covered with black glove leather and gives excellent riding comfort and eye appeal.
A heavy wide V-belt is employed, having perfect traction and long life without the necessity of taut adjustments. It is an expensive belt of a type that should eliminate old prejudices to this type of drive. On a lightweight it is a very desirable type of drive since it is quiet, smooth and clean. When eventually the drive must be replaced it may be done at a cost of $2.00 to the customer
Drum type brakes, front and rear, are standard equipment. The rear brake is controlled by a foot pedal operated by the rider’s heel and the front brake is controlled by a hand lever on the left grip. The drums and hubs are fully chrome-plated which adds to the beauty of the machine. Tests made by the Simplex Manufacturing Company of New Orleans, who are the manufacturers of Servi-Cycle, show that the brakes are 100% larger than is necessary to properly and safely decelerate the machine. Thus the brakes should enjoy an unusually long life.
The Servi-Cycle is designed by a man with 16 years experience in the motorcycle business. Four years of experimentation and research prefaced the introduction of the first models upon the market. After one year on the market public acceptance has been such that all the late features are available without any increase in price which is $137.50 f.o.b. New Orleans, plus Federal tax.
It is always worth while to know what more than one person says about a new product. Though your editor says it is fine and gives his endorsement, what do old-timers say? Well, for one, Orrie Dunham, a veteran who helped split holes in the atmosphere of Muroc Dry Lake in days gone by, says it is quite some motorcycle. Orrie is a lad who turned in records for both solo and sidecar racing.
Says Orrie, “I took a couple of steps beside the machine, turned loose the compression release lever and stepped on as she started. It is the nicest machine to start I ever saw-no effort at all…The steady drone and the pickup was downright surprising for a little job. Smooth as silk and not a trace of jerk or vibration…Came the first corner and she lay into it as pretty as any job I ever straddled. In a jiffy we were doing a neat thirty m.p.h., weaving in and out of traffic of Baronne street and the machine responding to the slightest sway of my body…steady and yet flexible…When I stopped out in the country for a cool drink I was asked by several about the gas mileage, handling, etc. When I told them 100 miles on a gallon they wanted to know where I bought it. Being on a test and not out selling I hurriedly remounted and rode back to town…I have been in the motorcycle game 20 years and have ridden for 26 years and I readily say Servi-Cycle is the neatest, cleanest, snappiest little motorcycle I have ever seen or ridden.”
By way of contrast, consider a statement from Woodsie Castonguay, one of our present-day competition riders who needs no introduction. Says Woodsie, “Have had my first ride on a Servi-Cycle and sure was surprised how easy it handled. One push and away I went over the road. It was a pleasant surprise to find the ‘soup’ in such a small motor. It is sturdy and well built and although I really abused the motor, found at the end of my run that it was just as clean as when I took it out.”
Says a dealer, The Service-Cycle Company, Inc., of Baton Rouge, La.:
“Of the eight machines first purchased from you, six were sold and the other two put into rental service by ourselves. We figured those rental machines, being ridden, would be our best salesmen, and they have proved just that. Incidentally, we thereby accidentally discovered a surprisingly profitable venture-that of renting Servi-Cycles. We rent a machine at 50 cents per hour to boys and girls, and frequently some young man rents two-one for his girl and one for himself. Our records showed a clear profit upon the rental of these two machines of 257.6% on our investment for a two-months period or 128.8% clear profit on our investment each month. The machines are going good, even better than when new, and the only mechanical attention given them has been minor adjustments and the repair of two punctures. To date, neither machine has been wrecked or damaged beyond ordinary wear and tear. When you consider the number of green riders who have rented them it seems to bear out the statement they are entirely safe.
“We have found that Servi-Cycle attracts all ages and classes. One boy who is selling hot tamales is saving his weekly earnings to buy one. The other day a senator’s son was in to try one out. These little machines have been ridden by a range of persons from a ten-year-old boy up to a 270-pound Olympic champion. They have been ridden by all from a boy who never even rode a bicycle before up to a captain of motorcycle police.
“To demonstrate the handling qualities of Servi-Cycle in traffic, we had a race the other day. It was over a course of 5.6 miles, between a Servi-Cycle and a Ford V-8. Each was to obey every traffic law, which of course limited the Ford to 30 m.p.h. The Servi-Cycle negotiated the course in 14 minutes and 35 seconds, beating the Ford by 3 minutes and 20 seconds. This was through all conditions, including traffic and some open spaces. We also tried a contest between a car and the Servi-Cycle delivering packages. Because it was hard for the car to park near the right addresses the two-wheeler beat with a time less than half that of the car.
“We have been selling four machines a month in a city of 24,000 population. At that rate, in this country it should be possible to sell 240,000 machines per year. A quarter-million motorcycles-boy, what a parade.”
One other view and we finish. This is from Mr. Paul J. Thomson, the circulation manager of the Item-Tribune in New Orleans, La. Mr. Thomson made a test with one of his carriers, who had been going through four used cars a year, to see what would happen with a Servi-Cycle.
He says, “The carrier that I gave it to uses up about four second-hand automobiles per year trying to cover this route. We have had this Servi-Cycle on it day, night and Sunday, rain and shine without ever missing a delivery, going on 3 months and the machine today is apparently in as good condition as when I first gave it to him. It is used for a double delivery, morning, evening and Sunday covering about 80 miles per day and forty miles on Sunday or about 500 miles per week on a gasoline and lubricating cost somewhere approximating $1.25, which I believe is about the lowest price mileage cost of delivery that ever has been devised for a carrier. It is not practical for too great a distance. It operates almost fool-proof. It does not have to have a license. It has a basket on the front of the handlebars that carries about 50 lbs. of papers and an arrangement for carrying a load above the rear wheel of a hundred lbs. or more.
“I do not mean to say that it fits all of the circulation delivery problems because it does not, but for certain types of delivery where carriers live far away from the routes or for scattered suburban routes it is the most economical form of delivery I have seen come into circulation operations in many years and I think is well worth while anyone looking into who might also be interested in using it as a prize for boys and while it has a working operating speed of 20 miles per hour and a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, I think that you will agree this speed is plenty fast enough for a boy and will, generally speaking, keep up with traffic.
“I am not connected in any way with this company nor did I have anything whatever to do with the evolving of the machine and I am writing this article for circulation managers after having looked into the machine and putting it into actual service to see what it would do, believing that it will be of help perhaps in solving some of the problems you are frequently confronted with in scattered deliveries over distances beyond bicycle range.”
The Servi-Cycle has been on the market about a year, which means it has endured the test of public use. Today the Simplex Manufacturing Corporation is selling an increased production. That seems to back what the several individuals quoted above have had to say.
After all, seeing is believing. Why not look up the nearest Servi-Cycle representative and see for yourself whether or not we are right in our judgment of the new lightweight.