Pierce Four

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Pierce Four
1910 Pierce Four (1) - The Art of the Motorcycle - Memphis.jpg
Pierce Four at The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit in Memphis
Manufacturer Pierce Motorcycle Company
Parent company Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company
Production 1909–1914
Engine 696 cc T-head inline-4[1] with compression release
Bore / stroke 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 in.
Top speed 60 mph (97 km/h)[2][3]
Power 4 hp or 7 hp[1]
Transmission Shaft drive
Frame type 312 inch tubing[4]
Suspension Front: Leading link fork
Rear: rigid
Tires 28×2.5 in. pneumatic
Weight 275 lb (125 kg)[1] (dry)
Related FN Four, Henderson Four

The Pierce Four was the first four-cylinder motorcycle produced in the United States.[5][6][7] The model is included in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Classic Bikes[8] and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Touting its inline-four engine as "vibrationless", Pierce sold the motorcycle for $325,[2] rising to $400 by 1913, which was expensive at the time, making it popular with "more prosperous sportsmen".[9]

Development and design[edit]

Percy Pierce, president of The Pierce Motorcycle Company, created as a subsidiary of Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, had acquired a European 1908 FN Four and brought it to America to disassemble and study.[10] The company's engineering team used it as a "reference" for at least part of the two years they took to develop the Pierce Four.[4][11] The results were innovative, with a stressed member engine and shaft drive,[6] and a frame that both hid the control cables and held oil and gasoline internally.[12][13] The large diameter tubing is said to have increased strength and reduced parts count for less expensive manufacturing.[14] Unlike FN's engine, the Pierce had a T-head, and cam-driven intake valves rather than automatic (opened by atmospheric pressure).[5]

Early models had no clutch and fixed gearing, like the competing FN Four, but this was soon corrected in 1910 when a two-speed transmission was fitted.[6]

Fate of Pierce Motorcycle Company[edit]

The motorcycle is said to have cost more to build than its sale price and eventually bankrupted Pierce Motorcycle Company after fewer than 500 were built.[7]

Exhibitions and collections[edit]

The Pierce Four was exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum's The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition in Las Vegas.[15] Examples are held in permanent collections of several museums, including the National Motorcycle Museum in Iowa,[16] the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Ohio,[17] the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Alabama,[18]Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum in England and the Dreamcycle Motorcycle Museum in Sorrento, British Columbia.[19]


  1. ^ a b c American Motorcyclist 2005, p. 71
  2. ^ a b Silverman 2013
  3. ^ Duckworth 2012, p. 30
  4. ^ a b Hodgdon, p. 28
  5. ^ a b Hodgdon 1976, p. 27
  6. ^ a b c Dumitrache 2011
  7. ^ a b Clayton 2008
  8. ^ Motorcycle Hall of Fame 2010
  9. ^ Hodgdon 1976, p. 34
  10. ^ Edwards 1997, p. 43
  11. ^ de Cet (2002, p. 360) states that Pierce "did not copy" the FN Four but "its influence...was apparent".
  12. ^ Clayton (2008) states that fuel was carried in the top tube and seat tube. Oil was carried in the down tube.
  13. ^ Motorcycle Hall of Fame states that (steel?) tubes were internally coated with copper.
  14. ^ d'Orléans 2013
  15. ^ 2003 Art of the Motorcycle Show Photo Gallery, Motorcycle USA, retrieved 2013-10-28 
  16. ^ 1912 Pierce Four, National Motorcycle Museum 
  17. ^ Classic Bikes: 1911 Pierce Four, American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame 
  18. ^ "2011 Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum: 1910 Pierce Four", Photo Gallery, Motorcycle USA, retrieved 2013-10-28 
  19. ^ http://www.dreamcycle.ca/


See also[edit]

External links[edit]