Story: Motorcycles

First New Zealand-made bike (1st of 2)

First New Zealand-made bike

Engineer and cycle dealer Cecil Walden Wood is reputed to be the first person to build an internal combustion engine in New Zealand, used to drive a car on 22 November 1897. Earlier, he had experimented with gunpowder as a fuel. Here he is riding his three-wheeled belt-driven motor tricycle in Timaru in June 1901. The two-seater bike first ran on 20 May 1900. It had a two horsepower engine and was capable of 19 kilometres per hour. Interestingly the steering wheel is a tiller design – like those on boats. Wood was a friend of aviator Richard Pearse.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Steffano Webb Collection (PAColl-3061)
Reference: PAColl-6585-66
Photograph by Steffano Francis Webb

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Motorcycles - Customisation and production', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 11 December 2023)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 11 Mar 2010