WHERE ARE THE DELIVERY COMBINATIONS?
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Our Agent-contributor Refers Again to the Potential Demand for Motorcycle and Sidecar Delivery Machines.
ARE our manufacturers properly alive to the existence of a heavy potential demand for motorcycle and sidecar delivery machines? -I am pretty sure they are not, or by this time we should have seen some evidence of a real effort to con.vert it into a real demand by producing the necessary supplies. Several months ago I pointed out to motor agents in these pages the vast field that there is for commercial combination outfits. I had in mind, when I wrote it, that makers of motorcycles must also have realized this fact, and would be laying plans to widen their trade by catering for the small and quick delivery market as represented by thousands of shopkeepers. But I have looked in vain for tangible signs that they are in the least aware that, apart from private individuals, there is a big world of business to be done with commercial motorcycles and sidecars. If they were so aware, it is not unreasonable to suppose thatthey would have grasped the opportunity provided by the last Motor Cycle Exhibition at Olympia to put suitable products before the public ; whereas such exhibits of delivery machines as were shown were, in most instances, obviously sidelines. Nearly all those -vehicles were simply touring combination's fitted with some sort of a parcelscarrying body in lieu of the. passenger body, and, at that, were given no special prominence. It was as though the firms responsible for, the majority of them had said to themeelves:—" Some idiot is bound to ask whether we supply machines for tradesmen, so we had bettor put something on the stand." So far as I can make out, only one motorcycle manufacturer has definitely concentrated on delisery sidecars, and he will not reap the full benefit of his enterprise until other firms join in and between them
bring the market to life. ,
Simplification is Desirable.
After all, the differences between a motorcycle intended for private use and one meant for commercial service are comparatively slight, although important enough in themselves. They amount really to modifications of what has come to he recognized as standard practice for touring machines rather than to entire redesigning. In the main, the changes needed may be summed up by the one word "simplification." The commercial motorcycle combination should be to the touring outfit what the tradesman's push cycle is to the usual roadster. A little extra strength here and there, complete elimination of all frills andegadgets, adequate protection for the rider, and, above all, no nickel plating nor other bright parts.
To my way of thinking, the potential demand would be diminished i considerably if manufacturers seteout to produce :commercial machines that could only be used for commercial purposes. We have to remensberI speak as an agent, in closer touch with the probable buyers than perhaps any manufacturer can ever be—that the greater part of sales would be made to one-man concerns—to the butcher, the fishmonger, the baker, the draper, the greengrocer, the ironmonger, and the rest of the owners of just such, shops as will be found in endless rows in the suburbs of cities and towns and in small clumps in villages. From my point of view, again speaking as an agent, it must always be a big selling argument if a prospective purchaser can be shown that, at small trouble and expense, he or his son can use his delivery machine for joy-riding at week-ends. Never mind the probability that, after a few months, he would aspire to something more ornate and " gadgety " for his private service. We agents know all about that, and we are not averse from killing two birds with one stone by simultaneously turning a non-motor man into a user of mechanical transport and a motorcyclist. But we do not want theestone taken away from us altogether ; that is to say, to lose the advantage which the motorcycle combine tion has over every other kind of mechanically propelled vehicle, in that it can readily he altered to a private conveyance, and not look too much what it really is.
The Market for the Motorcycle Combination.
The three-wheeled pareelcar has a market, and a
large one, too ; but it seems to me that it cannot be so large as the market for motorcycle combinations—at all events, until the perfect three-wheeled vehicle is evolved out of the combination, which, in spite of theoretical absurdities, has been shown in practice to be absolutely servibeable and reliable, if well designed. The parcelcar appeal is to stores and merchandising firms which are a cut above the typical local tradesman, to whom the motorcycle must always, I -think, have the stronger appeal because he is more familiar with it. The carrying capacity of a parcel-car is only slightly, if at all, greater than that of a sidecar ; it has certainly no better record of reliability than has the motorcycle combination.
Whilst on the subject of parcelcars, I should like
to say a few words to those manufacturers of cyclecars who are offering their standard chassis fitted with goods bodies. The lessons of the past have revealed quite clearly that dead goods and live passengers are not-to be classed.alike, weight for weight. A cycleca.r chassis designed to carry two passengers at a pinch is being, put to grave risks if it is asked to carry solid goods, and to be driven for the sole purpose of getting those goods distributed in the shortest possible time, day in and day out, in all sorts of weather, and with scant, care. A motorcycle combination may do that successfully, even without much alteration to the motorcycle itself, for the reason that a substantial proportion of the load is carried on the sidecar chassis which can readily be constructed to take it. It is otherwise in the case of a cyclecar, where the weight affects the whole of the chassis, and I would-earnestly suggest that makers of these vehicles should, if they desire to compete
for commercial prizes without at the same time losing their reputation among private motorists, take up the business seriously and redesign their cyclecars expressly for goods carrying. Touring car chassis built for four and five-seater bodies have been turned info more or less passable parcel vans ; but, unless I am out in my reckocing there is not a lot of hope that a chassis, designed in the first place for a couple of passengers, will give the satisfaction as a carrier of goods that an owner has a right to expect from it.
The Cornmerciol Motor has always discouraged the use of chassis designed for private cars, as goodscarrying vehicles, and this applies just as strongly tr the lighter types, as a live load is quite adifferent. proposition from a dead one, alscsit is probahle5that a machine used for carrying goods will not receive the same attention as it would if used for private purposes.