Photographs from Inside the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works of Adelaide, Australia

In 1900, Lewis Cycle Works made the leap from bicycles to motor driven vehicles with the creation of the Lewis motor car.  Built in-house, the company soon realized that there would be no profit in hand-built cars, when they could be more easily and cheaply imported from other countries.  The solution was to use their expertise in producing bicycles to start producing motorcycles.  Within a year, they had already unveiled their first prototype.  This first "motorcycle" was nothing more than a bicycle fitted with a Minerva clip-on motor, but it was a step in the right direction.

By 1903, the motorcycle design had been settled upon and production began.  The motorcycles were still powered by a Minerva clip-on engine, but used a new side valve configuration which produced 2 horsepower.  Engine size and power increased slowly for the next couple years, but in 1905, Lewis introduced a water cooled model which featured a "radiator" mounted in front of the gas tank.  It also had three brakes, rim brakes front and rear operated by hand levers and a rear drum brake operated by a foot pedal.  The motor was a vertical single, which produced 2 1/2 horsepower.

The photographs below were taken between 1904 and 1906 at the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works factory, during a time of rapid development for the Lewis motorcycle.  Here you can see how the bicycle evolved into a motorcycle and how much work went into producing motorcycles at the turn of the century.  

Lewis Cycle and Motor Works continued to produce motorcycles until 1925, at which time the company reverted back to producing bicycles.  They would go on producing bicycles another 50 years before closing their doors in 1975.  If your interested in a detailed history of the company, starting with their formation in 1893, then check out The Lewis Project at