The Ner-A-Car was a type of feet forwards motorcycle designed by Carl Neracher in 1918.
About 10,000 of these motorcycles were manufactured in the United States by the Ner-A-Car Corporation under the Neracar name, while around 6,500 are believed to have been produced in England under licence in England by the Sheffield-Simplex company between 1921 and 1926 under the Ner-A-Car name.
|Manufacturer||Ner-A-Car Corporation (United States)
Sheffield-Simplex (United Kingdom)
|Assembly||Syracuse, New York, USA
|Top speed||35 mph|
|Transmission||5-position friction drive CVT, 3-speed manual|
|Frame type||Pressed steel perimeter frame|
|Suspension||Front: Double leading arms with hub-center steering
Rear: none, except for 1926 de-luxe model with swingarm and quarter-elliptic leaf springs
|Brakes||Drum, operated by pedal located on left foot board.|
|Tires||26 x 3-inch non-skid|
|Wheelbase||59 in (1,500 mm) (standard)
68.5 in (1,740 mm) (with rear suspension)
|Dimensions||L: 84 in (2,100 mm)|
|Weight||175 pounds (dry)|
|Turning radius||19 ft 6 in (5,940 mm) turning circle|
The design had several unusual features, including a friction drive transmission, and a low-slung perimeter frame chassisthat was closer to those found on contemporary cars than other motorcycles. It also featured the first production example of hub-center steering on a motorcycle. The low-slung frame, front suspension, hub-center steering, and long wheelbase contributed to the cycle's exceptional stability.
While similar in concept to a continuously variable transmission, the friction drive transmission has five fixed indents corresponding to pre-set drive ratios.
Manufacture and promotion
Neracher licensed his design to Sheffield-Simplex to manufacture Ner-A-Cars for the British and Commonwealth markets before he could find any investors to manufacture them in the United States. Eventually, a group of investors, including King C. Gillette and Crouse-Hinds Companyfounder Huntington B. Crouse, funded the Ner-A-Car Corporation, which began production of Neracars in October 1921.
The Ner-A-Car was marketed as a low cost alternative to a motor car. The advertizers publicized the Ner-A-Car's step-through design and its protection from road grime and engine fluids, both of which allowed riders to wear ordinary clothes, including skirts, cassocks, and kilts, while riding the cycle.
Erwin G. "Cannonball" Baker rode a Neracar from Staten Island, New York, to Los Angeles, California, in the autumn of 1922. The journey of 3,364.4 miles took 174 hours and one minute to complete, with operating costs totalling $15.70 at the time. Baker later started a Neracar dealership in Los Angeles.
The Ner-A-Car won several medals for reliability in long-distance road trials, including the team prize in the 1925 ACU 1000 mile Stock Machine Trial.
Neracar (United States)
The Ner-A-Car Corporation in Syracuse made three models of Neracar. The Type A had solo seating, the original 221 cc two-stroke engine, one headlight, and one taillight. The Type B had a larger engine, two seats, and two headlights. A commercial version, the Type CB, had a pair of headlights, a pair of drum brakes on the rear wheel, and a steel utility box rated to carry 150 pounds.
In the US a 255 cc model was introduced in 1924.
A five-speed Neracar was advertised as a "Christmas Special" for US$175 in November 1927.
Production of the Neracar ended in 1927.
Ner-A-Car (United Kingdom)
British licensee Sheffield-Simplex began production of Ner-A-Cars in 1921 with the original American design with the 221 cc two-stroke engine and the friction drive transmission In 1923 the engine was enlarged to 285 cc, with a 70 mm bore and a 74 mm stroke.
Sheffield-Simplex developed a new version with a Blackburne four-stroke side-valve engine, displacing 348 cc with a 71 mm bore and an 88 mm stroke, driving through a three-speed Sturmey-Archer manual transmission. This version was introduced in 1925 as the Model C, with the earlier two-stroke friction-drive model continuing as the Model B. A Sports C, with an overhead-valve version of the Model C engine, was also offered.
A de-luxe model was introduced in 1926 with swingarm rear suspension controlled by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, a bucket seat with air cushions, and a fairing with an adjustable Triplex windshield and an instrument panel. A countershaft concentric with the swingarm pivot was driven by a chain from the transmission and drove the rear wheel. The addition of rear suspension increased the wheelbase of the de-luxe model to 68.5 inches (1,740 mm)
Production of the Ner-A-Car at Sheffield-Simplex ended in the autumn of 1926.