[MV] Re: [MTV]USAF Simplex Motorcycles

Nelson (aa1mo@nsradio.org)
Sun, 05 Jul 1998 09:24:17

At 09:19 PM 7/3/98 -0700, Ben P. Fisher, Jr. wrote:
>While I was on my walk tonight got to thinking back 40+ years when I was
>in the Air Force and we had a vehicle called a Servicycle. It looked
>like a shrunk down Harley but not as small as a Mod-Ped. It did not have
>a transmission and used a centrifugal clutch.Speed it up and the shoes
>of the clutch engaged the drum and away you went. Does any one out there
>remember them and who was the manufacturer? We had two in our squadron
>to use for transportation on the flight line and around the shops. I
>only drove one once but it was a pretty neat little motorcycle. Wonder
>if any are still in exisitance???
>Ben P. Fisher, Jr. Corona, Arizona (North Charleroi, Pa. Native)
>53 Marine M38A1
>52 Army M38A1

>Hello Ben;
Yes, there are quite a few ex-USAF Simplex motorbikes which have
survived. They had a 125cc motor, an automatic tranny, and did look
somewhat like a baby Harley.
The Simplex was made in New Orleans from about 1938 to the early 60's.
Yes, there is a small booklet out on the bike. Small numbers of the model
"G" were tried during WWII for airborne use. In the Fifties, the USAF used
them for around flight line running around. They were also bought by the
USN (who painted them orange). There was also a trike version that the
navy used, and I believe that one was recently advertised in Hemmings.
I own a 1954 Simplex model "M", which has it's original data plate on
the motor. It still had it's original markings when I bought it showing it
was used at a Stratigic Air Command base ( by a STRAC decal on the bike)
and "MAFB" on the front fender. Reportedly, these ex- USAF bikes do survive
in decent numbers, though finding working motors can be tough. The single
cylinder motor has an unbalanced crankshaft, and the motor could easily
be trashed by over reving.
There are a few dealers selling parts who advertise mostly in
Hemmings. Some of the p[arts were standard items common to many motorbikes,
but many were made by Simplex, and there seems to be little availability of
parts besides those from bikes being used for parts. The author of the
Simplex book, Gary Wollard from Bradenton, FL, also runs an ad on a
regular basis. Classic Motorbooks may still stock it.
The motorbike hobby suffers from the lack of a true national club, so
it's hard outside of the mid-west to find a small motorbike rally where
these bikes may appear. As with many off the shelf vehicles purchased by
the military, there is little info around on their history, use , markings,
etc. Wheels & Tracks did do an article on them several years back.

Nelson Dionne
Salem, MA
MVCC #411


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