This is a 1948 Whizzer motorbike. On the back you can see a Cleveland Plain Dealer bag with papers in it, so it must be around 6 or 7 AM on a weekday or a Saturday morning. (The papers are too small for Sunday.) Dave Cartner had a Whizzer just like this one--had a Plain Dealer route, too.
The Whizzer was built on a deluxe Schwinn bicycle and had a 2.5-hp 4-cycle engine. It could get up to about 35 mph and would go about 125 miles on a gallon of gasoline. It was built for one rider, but had enough power to ride double.
There was another model called The Sportsman that had a smaller frame and looked like a light morotcycle. It was slightly faster than the standard model--George (Pat) Webster had one that would do nearly 40 mph while carrying a passenger. Webster's sportsman had an automatic clutch, but still the belt drive.
To start the engine, you flipped a "compresssion" lever on the handlebars to hold the exhaust valve open and started pedaling. Once the engine began turning over, you released the compression lever and the thing would start running. The Whizzer in this picture had a kickstand, but if you fitted it with a rear stand you could start it up without moving. Another technique was to run alongside, pushing the Whizzer. When the engine started, you stepped on the near pedal and hopped on.
As on most bikes at that time, pedaling backwards activated the rear brake. The front brake lever was on the right handlebar.
There was a twist-grip throttle on the right handlebar and a clutch lever on the left. There was no real transmission, however, as the Whizzer had a single-speed V-belt drive. The heart of the drive system was a special intermediate pulley that was really two pulleys side-by-side, one larger than the other. A small pulley on the engine crankshaft drove a V-belt that turned the larger part of the intermediate pulley. A second belt drove a very large pulley fastened to the spokes of the rear wheel. In the picture, the intermediate pulley is below the seat, covered by a chrome-plated metal shield. The engine had a mostly-exposed flywheel--you can see it in the picture--with a magnet set into the edge to energize the magneto when it passed by the ignition coil.
Squeezing the clutch lever simply moved the intermediate pulley against a spring, until the engine belt slipped. There was no "neutral." If you got tired of squeezing before the traffic light turned green, you had to shut off the engine or put down the rear stand.
What you can't see in the picture is that most Whizzer owners replaced the muffler (which really did muffle a little) with a straight pipe that made the most glorious ragged rapping roar when you gave the throttle a twist and back.
Oh, MAN !
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