Perhaps the Skootamota I talked about last time looked a bit rudimentary to your sophisticated, yet jaded, twenty-first-century eyes. Perhaps you’d like more comfort, more protection from the nasty winter weather. If that’s the case, let me present to you the Ner-a-car.
It was designed in America after the First World War by Carl Neracher, and was a motorbike built for comfort – just like a car, in fact. The name was a rather forced play on that of its designer, and the fact that it was ‘nearly a car’ (geddit?). If the Skootamota was simple and stripped-down, the Ner-a-car was by contrast the height of two-wheeled luxury.
Built in Britain by Sheffield Simplex, the Ner-a-car was noted for being exceptionally stable. Some said you could ride it ‘hands-off’ (see this Classic Bike Guide feature). It was a lovely ride, but seemed perhaps too unusual for 1920s roads. The firm stopped making them in about 1926, and few survive (ours is in store at Wroughton).
One advertisement stated that ‘you need have no fear of skidding or soiled clothing, nor wear special overalls.’ For this reason, it was ‘equally suitable for both sexes’. With its weather-protection (owing to the huge mudguards) it was quite a hit amongst doctors and midwives who needed to look presentable in all weathers. Their predecessors, such as the woman in this Thomas Rowlandson caricature, would have killed for a Ner-a-car, I’ll bet…