This weeks Bike Of The Week is a 1913 Reading Standard.
The name Reading Standard (R S) is derived from the town Reading, Pennsylvania, where the factory was. Standard is derived from the popular idea that production motorcycles should incorporate proven industry standards. Their slogan was, “Built and tested in the mountains”.The American motorcycle industry’s so called “Big Three”, Indian, Harley Davidson, and excelsior, were the most successful of all the other companies. Reading Standard could be considered the fourth. They were around from 1903 until 1923, 20 years was a long time in that crowded industry.
In the early 20th Century the motorcycle manufacturing industry was over crowded. Many had tried, many had failed, and few succeeded. When this 1913 motorcycle debuted, Reading Standard hit the decade mark in the industry. The company first appeared in 1903, and they struggled to have their motorcycles stand out in this overcrowded market. It wasn’t until 1906, in Reading Pennsylvania, that RS began building their own motorcycle, but up to this point they had been using Thor engines and Indian knock off parts.
Reading Standard offered Flathead engines, these were the first flatheads offered in America. The V-Twin engine had been around since 1908, which was before the flathead. The first year it displaced 722cc, but when this 1913 model came out RS increased the displacement to 990cc. The R S also had a Prest-O-Lite on the handlebars and a brake light on the rear fender, powered by acetylene gas. The motorcycle also featured a gas shut off valve, gas and oil caps, regulator for oil drip to the engine, and a pump to fill the oil reservoir, all of which were located on the gas tank.
Reading Standard grew tired of the racing scene and decided to sell more motorcycles at a retail level, around 1910, however, it was too late. By 1914 the company was in bad shape, and business was slowing down. In 1923 production came to an end in Reading Pennsylvania. That year all of the assets were purchased by the Cleavland motorcycle company. in 1924 the Cleavland company sold Reading Standard motorcycles before “pulling the plug”. The Cleavland company had no intension of resuming production of R S motorcycles.