1896 Riker Electric Tricycle

Summary

Auto pioneer A.L. Riker built this electric tricycle in Brooklyn, NY in 1896. Its tubular steel frame, wire wheels, and pneumatic tires are adapted from bicycle practice. Lead acid batteries are under the seat, and a 40-volt, one horsepower electric motor powered the rear wheel. Although quite successful at building electric vehicles, Riker sold his company after the turn of the 19th century, and became chief engineer of Locomobile, a builder of high quality internal combustion powered cars.

Auto pioneer A.L. Riker built this electric tricycle in Brooklyn, NY in 1896. Its tubular steel frame, wire wheels, and pneumatic tires are adapted from bicycle practice. Lead acid batteries are under the seat, and a 40-volt, one horsepower electric motor powered the rear wheel. Although quite successful at building electric vehicles, Riker sold his company after the turn of the 19th century, and became chief engineer of Locomobile, a builder of high quality internal combustion powered cars.

Andrew L. Riker (1868-1930) built this electric tricycle in Brooklyn, NY, in 1896 and used it for two years. With its tubular steel frame, wire wheels and pneumatic tires, Riker’s vehicle owed much to bicycle construction techniques of the time. The tricycle was powered by a series of sulfuric acid-lead batteries installed under the seat, and propelled by a 40-volt electric motor mounted at the rear. The motor turned a single rear wheel, which eliminated the need for a differential. Andrew Riker founded the Riker Electric Vehicle Company in 1897 in Brooklyn, New York, and manufactured electric automobiles and trucks. But he sold his firm just three years later. Despite his experience with the electric tricycle and other battery-powered vehicles, Riker concluded that the future belonged to gasoline. In 1902, he joined Locomobile Company of America and began designing gasoline-powered automobiles.

Detailed Description
Artifact

Automobile

Date Made

1896

Driving America
 On Exhibit

at Henry Ford Museum in Driving America

Object ID

30.328.4

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Andrew L. Riker.

Material

Leather
Metal
Wood (Plant material)

Color

Black (Color)

Dimensions

Height: 44 in

Width: 44.5 in

Length: 81.5 in

Diameter: 25 in

Weight: 488 lbs

Specifications

Make & Model: 1896 Riker electric tricycle

Maker: Andrew Lawrence Riker, Brooklyn, New York

Motor: DC

Batteries: lead-acid, 40 volts, 20 cells

Height: 44 inches

Wheelbase: 48 inches

Width: 44.5 inches

Overall length: 81.5 inches

Weight: 488 pounds

Horsepower: 1

Pounds per horsepower: 488

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