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Two Wheels For the Farm

The Harvey David & Son Farm Cycle

| April/May 2002

I remember visiting my grandparents' farm as a child. We didn't get to their place very often because they lived so far away, but being a 'city boy,' I always had great fun when we did. My grandfather had lots of interesting old junk lying around, and he always had a story to go with each piece.

I remember one exploration when I came across what appeared to be some sort of motorcycle. It had steel wheels with cleats like a farm tractor and a wood (mostly rotted away) and metal frame. It also had such a big motor I wondered how anybody could ride such a contraption.

I asked my grandfather what this thing was, and he told me that the pile of rust I was looking at was at one time a 'Farm Cycle,' built by the Harvey David & Son Co. and made in the late 1920s. This machine, he told me, was built for people who could only afford one farm engine, but had many chores a long distance from each other.

The Farm Cycle

The Farm Cycle had a wood frame with iron bracing and mounting points. The wheels were steel, about 30 inches in diameter with V-shaped cleats. It used a Fairbanks-Morse 2 HP, Model Z engine, and a leather belt ran from the engine directly to the back wheel for power. The clutch was an idler pulley that pressed against the belt to make it tight (like modern riding mowers). It had no suspension, which made for a bone-jarring ride. The seat did have a spring under it to help some. The water hopper had a special cover to keep hot water from splashing on the rider, but the cover didn't always seal well and some owners would wear leather chaps to keep from scalding their legs. This may have started a trend.

I did some research and found that the Harvey David & Son Co. built the Farm Cycle for only a few years. Located in Velos City, Ohio, the company started out in the clothes hanger repair business. This soon grew into clothespin and safety pin repair. Harvey David & Son decided to branch out into other areas, and the company saw there was a need to transport farm engines from one job site to another. Most people put them on carts and pulled them by hand or horse, which was a lot of work -something needed to be done about it.

The company first tried a three-wheel, pedal-powered bike to haul engines on, but the engines proved to be too heavy to pedal very far. Harvey David decided to put the motor in a motorcycle so it could be ridden to the job site using power from the engine itself.


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