Clymer Manuals took a close-up look at Jason Climer’s 1954 Simplex Servi-Cycle Automatic on display at the 2013 HoAME Vintage Motorcycle Rally. Simplex started making bikes very similar to these way back in 1935, and only made small incremental improvements for the next 40 years.
Clymer Girl and the crew didn’t have to go far to attend the HoAME show and rally, as it was just up the road at the Kansas City Airline History Museum in the Downtown Airport. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles including British, German, Japanese, Italian, and American makes, all on display. Manufacturers represented include Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Harley Davidson, Vincent, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Brough Superior, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Puch, Lambretta, MV Augusta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, AJS and more. There were 100% perfect restorations, well worn bikes daily riders, full-on customs, cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers – any type or style of motorcycle you could image. Also on display were vintage propeller driven passenger planes, including a Douglas DC-3, a Martin 404, and right outside the hangar was a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.
Paul Treen of New Orleans, Louisiana, was a Harley-Davidson dealer in the late 1920s when he hit on the idea of a simple low cost entry level bike. With just $25 initially invested he found a motor being manufactured that would work, and built a bike. The initial 1935 Simplex was little more than a bicycle with a 4 horsepower two-stroke motor. There wasn’t even a clutch, and the wheel was direct drive, so the motor would stop when you stopped, and you would pedal away and restart it. By 1941 there was a real clutch added, and by 1953 the belt driven CVT automatic transmission was added. The continued making these bikes until 1960, then stayed in business making minibikes and go karts using similar motors.
Read more about Simplex Manufacturing on Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, Clymer has never made a manual for the Simplex; despite how long they were in production they were never that popular. There are online forums and groups dedicated to these bikes which enjoy some popularity even now for their classic looks and easy of maintenance. We do cover any number of other old bikes in our Clymer Collection Vintage Two-Stroke manual, like Allstate, Bridgestone, Hodaka, Sachs, Villiers, and more.