1910 PierceIn 1910, few machines could leave an impression like the Pierce Four. After all, most other motorcycles of the time still showed their spindly bicycle roots, with skinny tube frames and diminutive, single-cylinder motors or, occasionally, twins. Not the Pierce. With a massive frame and a beefy, four-cylinder engine, it commanded respect in the fledgling motorcycle world. Its easy to imagine Pierce owners taking pride in motoring past lesser machines on the crude roads of the day.
Of course, its no surprise that Pierce came in at the prestige end of the motorcycling spectrum. After all, it traced its roots to the Pierce Great Arrow Motor Car Co., which made some of the most luxurious American cars available.
A Pierce ad summed it up when it stated, “Pierce motorcycles are not made to compete in price but to surpass in quality. It is a deluxe motorcycle for discriminating riders.”
Spun off from the parent company in September 1906, the New York-based Pierce Cycle Company was started by Percy Pierce, the son of the original companies president, George Pierce. And, true to the firms luxury roots, the motorcycle division wanted to start with an upscale product.
Its likely Percy found his inspiration for this machine in Europe, specifically in motorcycles like the exclusive Belgian-built FN. As the first mass-produced four-cylinder bike on the Continent, the FN had turned heads in Europe and America.
Still, Percy’s company brought some innovation to the four, introduced in 1909. The hollow frame held fuel in the copper-coated upper sections, and oil in the front downtube. The “vibrationless” engine put power to the road with shaft drive, and, beginning in 1910, had a two-speed transmission and multi-disc clutch. Other high-end touches included hidden control cables, and a spring/pneumatic front fork.
By the time the company built this 1910 model, however, trouble was brewing at Pierce. The death of George Pierce, a company bankruptcy, Percy’s resignation and eventual return rocked the company. At the same time, the public’s appetite for expensive motorcycles was rapidly dwindling.
By 1914, the Pierce motorcycle line was no more.
•Engine: Inline T-Head 4 Cyl.
Displacement: 38.48 ci – 7 hp
Bore and stroke: 3.5 x 4 inches
•Transmission: 2 Speed with Multi Disc Clutch
•Drive Train: Shaft Drive
•Frame: 3.5 inch, 18 Gauge Steel Tubes Lined with Copper
Wheel base: 65 inches
Fuel capacity: 7 Quarts
Oil capacity: 5 Pints
Weight: 275 lbs
Top speed: 55 mph
Average Income- $1,136 / 52 weeks = $21.85 per week
New Car- $850
Gas Per Gallon- $ .08
Price of Motorcycle- $325 – $400
This motorcycle was purchased from Bill Hill in 2005.