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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sidesaddle: 1929

Sidesaddle: 1929

Washington, D.C., 1929. "Motorcycle" is all it says on the label. This post marks the debut of our new Motorcycles tag. National Photo Co. View full size.

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Side Saddle Riding

When my wife & I were dating she used to ride side-saddle on my 1967 Triumph TR6C (650cc with high side exhaust pipes). She would put one arm around me and one arm around the sissy bar I had added for her. She would carry our college books on her lap. I just had to avoid violent maneuvers. Worked out well for us. Going around corners, the centripetal force was balanced by the inward lean. Riding astride behind me she stayed so balanced it was hard to tell she was behind me.

Got binders?

That miniscule front brake frightens me.

Balance on a motorcycle

As any motorcyclist will confirm, a motorcycle is always in balance while it's in motion. Whether traveling upright in a straight line, or leaned hard over in a turn, the motorcycle and its passengers are always in balance.

No matter which way the motorcycle turns, the position of the riders in relation to the motorcycle does not change and there is no sensation of 'leaning'. So, Miss Sidesaddle is perfectly safe where she sits. And, considering the clothing she is wearing, sitting sidesaddle was her only lady-like choice this time.

My favorite bike!

They used this inline four engine for aeroplanes also. I first thought that poor lady was in for a spine compressing ride until I saw that spring under her. The back side of these early bikes usually had no suspension.

The modern Excelsior plant was just outside of my home area of the twin cities of Minnesota and after a good run is now home to an Italian marble supplier.

That first turn is a killer

All he has to do is lean in to a sharp right turn and Miss Sidesaddle will be face-down in the dirt.

Expert opinion needed

Who can tell us about the cord going from the handlebar to the guy's knee.

What it is

Looks like a 1928 Henderson Deluxe.

Can't tell which model exactly

But appears to be a DeLuxe. There were four different versions made during the '20s. All shared the four cylinder engine and were prized by police departments of the age over Harleys and Indians for their speed.

Sadly the company was closed in 1931 by the parent company, Schwinn, (yes, the bicycle company) despite having a full order book. Ignatz Schwinn was concerned that the Depression would last another eight years and chose to focus on his core business.

I wonder

Did women actually passenger a motorcycle sitting sidesaddle back in those days?

In the Interest of Safety

She should put the cellphone down and hang on with both hands.

Not just a motorcycle

It's a Henderson, built from 1912 to 1931. Ask any real motorcycle fanatic and they will claim it was (is) the best motorcycle ever made, far ahead of others at the time. The company was revived in 1993, made 2,000 cycles and dissolved in 2000. Truly an American classic.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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