Reed Sister’s on Excelsior Motorcycles (1912)

Back in the early part of the last century when the motorcycle was still new and a novelty, it was often used for Kodak moments. Lewis Reed has a number of photographs showing relatives and other unknown people on their motorcycles in the period of the early 1900s through the early 1920s. In a time when you could ride a motorcycle at age fourteen and on the roads there were more motorcycles than cars, sisters Eleanora, Geneva, and Eva Reed also appeared to also enjoy the thrills of motorcycling.

Reed Sisters on Motorcycles, early 1900s

Eleanora Reed, and Lewis Reed’s sisters Geneva and Eva proudly pose on Excelsior motorcycles, 1912. In doing so, they declared their embrace of the new technology. For many, a motorcycle portrait was also a kind of declaration of independence. (Note they are all sitting “side-saddle” as true ladies of the time would have been expected to do).

While women have been enthusiastic bikers ever since motorcycles were invented, they have had to push back against deeply ingrained attitudes. Women in the first half of the 20th century were expected to dress fashionably and conservatively, and above all, remain ladylike. Sitting astride a motorcycle was considered uncouth: the same as riding a horse with a leg on each side. During this time, female pioneers like Amelia Earhart and Annie Edson Taylor pushed the envelope of expectations for women and set the stage for the Roaring Twenties flapper era.

Edgar Reed

Edgar Reed and an unidentified lady sitting side-saddle on an Excelsior motorcycle.

Instead of having a motorcycle as a source of transportation, gentlemen of the days oftentimes used it to spice up their sunny weekends and impress ladies. Outfit relevance dictated a gentleman to be presentable and neat, so when going for a spin, Edgar Reed is wearing a leather jacket, full-length boots, necktie and sporty cap with goggles.

Woman and Toddler on Excelsior Motorcycle

Woman and toddler pose on an Excelsior motorcycle. (The toddler’s sporty little cap and goggles are only for show: she won’t be going for a ride!) The motorcycle seems to be well equipped with extras including: a headlamp, a handlebar-mounted Klaxon horn, and a well-padded passenger seat on the back.

The above photo is, without question, one of the best posed photos on a motorcycle that I have come across in my grandfather’s albums. The toddler’s sporty little cap and goggles make the image. Just imagine how excited she must have been to sit on that big machine.

Woman and Toddler on Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Woman and toddler on Harley Davidson Motorcycle


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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

2 responses to “Reed Sister’s on Excelsior Motorcycles (1912)”

  1. folksnake says :

    These are so great. Thanks!!

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