Novocycle’ To Stir Your Interest

By Staff
1 / 7
2 / 7
3 / 7
4 / 7
5 / 7
6 / 7
7 / 7

10-134 S.R. 110 Napoleon, Ohio 43545

These are photos of my ‘Novocycle.’ I am 58 years old
and have been riding motorcycles since the early 1950s. About 16
years ago, I took up another hobby antique engines. My largest is a
1925 Bessemer oil field engine.

A little over a year ago I acquired a Novo single cylinder
‘Rollr’ engine. I think most of you readers will recognize
it. It is circa 1935. It’s a hopper cooled, ‘L’ head
engine of 36 cubic inch displacement that I found easy to start and
reliable. The sound it made was reminiscent of several of my old
British single cylinder motorcycles. And, of the many motorcycles I
have owned, they were my favorites.

I began looking around for a ‘Titled’ frame or
basket-case motorcycle to use to build a bike out of. What you see
in the pictures is what has evolved after about seven months

The frame is a 1970, B.S.A. ‘Rocket three.’ The
transmission is from an early model Triumph, as well as the front
forks, wheel and controls. The engine of course, is the Novo.

The primary drive system is by V belt. The handlebar mounted
clutch lever controls the idler on the bottom side of the V belt.
The pedal seen in front of the brake pedal is a belt tensioner. I
designed it in anticipation of slipping belts, but I have rarely
used it.

The engine was made to be cooled by evaporation from an open top
hopper. It was, of course, not feasible to use it like that in a
motorcycle, so I plugged the hopper with a disc. The disc also
holds 12′ long aluminum rods which conduct heat from the water
to the air stream. In addition to this, I used a heater core from a
Yugo as a radiator, seen in front of the engine. The combination
keeps the water well under the boiling point without having to go
to pressurizing the cooling system.

The bike is licensed and street legal with lights, turn signals,

The frame was cut in two and built back around the engine. The
upper left member of the frame is removable, and with it removed,
the engine can be lifted up to the left and out.

As a motorcycle engine the Novo is slow and heavy, as I knew it
would be. However, it sounds great! It is pleasant to ride in the
country on back roads and it is reliable. I have put on about 350
miles so far. It certainly is no highway burner. It seems to be a
cross between an old British ‘Thumper’ and a John Deere
tractor. The top speed is about 50 MPH, and the cruising speed is
about 35 to 40 MPH.

I am now looking around for a small trailer, so that I can take
it to some of the engine shows next year along with other items.
The Novocycle is not the first bike I built using a non-motorcycle
engine, but it is the first bike I built with an antique engine.
Next, I would like to find a single cylinder diesel engine to put
into a motorcycle.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines