Tuesday 5th April 1887
Lucius D Copeland of Phoenix, Arizona, US was issued with a United States patent for his steam-powered bicycle and is sometimes classed as an early motorcycle. In 1881 Copeland designed an efficient small steam boiler which could drive the large rear wheel of a Columbia penny-farthing to a speed of 12 miles per hour (19 km/h). Unlike typical penny-farthing bicycles, the Copeland had small wheel at the front, which was turned by the handlebar for steering, and large wheel at the back.
In 1884 Copeland used an American Star bicycle, smaller steering wheel in front, to construct a new demonstration vehicle for the Maricopa County Fair that year. The “Star” was able to cover a mile in four minutes and to carry enough water to operate for an hour. Copeland set up the Northrop Manufacturing Co. in 1887 in Camden, New Jersey to produce the a three-wheeled version, the “Phaeton Moto-Cycle”, which he demonstrated at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C in 1888. The steam-powered engine produced 4 horsepower at 2600 rpm with a 100-pound (45 kg) boiler around the steering column with the water heated by kerosene. A simple leather belt drove the large rear wheel, yielding a top speed of around 15 miles per hour (24 km/h). Copeland carrying Frances Benjamin Johnston on his Phaeton Moto-Cycle at the Smithsonian Institution Building in 1888. Behind are his partner Sandford Northrop, and Smithsonian officials E. H. Hawley, W. H. Travis and J. Elfreth Watkins.