1901: Keating Motorcycle Patent Issued

Keating2On this day in 1901, Robert M. Keating received a patent on a new form of motorized transportation: the motorcycle.

In 1897 Keating moved his bicycle manufacturing company to Middletown, forming “The Keating Wheel Company” on Johnson Street. His innovations and patents led him to develop motorized transportation in  the form of electric wagons and motorized cars and trucks.

In the spring of 1901 Middletown residents were witness to the birth of the motorcycle.  In that year Keating began producing one of the first commercially available motorcycles in the United States. Several months after Keating’s motorcycle began production, another model was reported on test runs around the city. This motorcycle was designed by Oscar Hedstrom and would serve as the prototype for the “Indian” motorcycle later produced in Springfield Massachusetts.

Robert M. Keating sued both Indian and Harley Davidson for using patents registered to Keating without his permission. Neither company could have produced such commercially successful motorcycles without Keating’s innovations and patents. Keating won both suits.


Story and illustrations contributed by Gary Keating.

One thought on “1901: Keating Motorcycle Patent Issued

  1. According to Oscar Hedstrom in an article he wrote for “the Motorcyclist”, the Keating motorcycle was not the motorcycle that was the basis for his proto-type. He mentions several manufacturers going from the beginning with Roper and his steam motorcycles to the earliest gasoline motorcycles.


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