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.