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Remembering the 1949 Simplex Automatic

1949 Simplex Automatic

The 1949 Simplex Automatic was manufactured by an American manufacturer called Simplex. Between 1935-1975, Simplex was the only motorcycle manufacturer in the Deep South. After the 1980s, more motorcycle manufacturers emerged, putting Simplex out of business. Despite Simplex not being as active as they were then, their model, the 1949 Simplex Automatic, still holds up today. To understand why this motorbike remains popular, read about its features below.

Bike Category

The motorbike model is an all-rounder. As an all-rounder, the motorbike can practically do anything without any limitations. With this bike, you can comfortably go for long distances. The comfort lies in their fuel capacity and shock-absorbing system. In terms of fuel, you will not need to make many stops at the petrol station due to its huge petrol tank. As for the shock-absorbing system, you can ride on any terrain since it is off-road. That means you can ride on hilly or rocky paths without feeling the impact of the irregular landscapes.

Engine Type

The engine used in this motorcycle is a two-stroke type in a single cylinder. A two-stroke engine requires only two-piston movements or one cycle to generate power. Therefore, two processes occur simultaneously in this engine system: compression stroke and power stroke. In compression stroke, the inlet opens to allow air and fuel. Once the mixture gets in, a piston moves upwards to compress the mixture. When the mixture is compressed, it heats up and pushes down the piston during the power stroke stage. Some of the fuel is used in this stage, and some are expelled out as waste. The two-stroke makes the 1949 Simplex Automatic advantageous in several ways. For instance, the engine type makes the motorcycle easy to start since it requires two stages. Also, its engine has low maintenance and repair costs since it has only one cylinder. Contrast that with other motorcycles with two cylinders since you will have to purchase both. Lastly, the cylinder is light, thereby making the motorcycle less bulky.

Seat Type

The motorcycle has a solo seat with springs. Some bikers think springs are unnecessary in bikes, but they serve a lot of benefits to the user. Before the 1930s, most motorcycles had a low seat since they lacked springs. Since the seats were low, they were unsuitable for short people. The short person would hardly see past the motorbike's handles with a low seat. Simplex tackled this problem by introducing springs that would raise the biker by about two inches. The motorcycle's springs also enable a rider's back to stick to the seat without shifting around. For earlier motorcycles without springs, the rider's back would shift position whenever they rode over a bump or rocky surface. It was a considerable risk to them since there was a chance they could fall off their motorbikes. Depending on the speed they were riding at, their fall could wind up being fatal. Lastly, the springs offer comfort to the rider by acting as shock absorbers. Without springs, the rider would feel the impact on their body each time their bike hit an object on the road. As a result, the springs make the 1949 Simplex Automatic model suitable for off-road terrains.


Some riders prefer small motorbikes. Small motorbikes are ideal for parking in squeezed places. Besides occupying squeezed places, they occupy less space, thus allowing other users to park their vehicles. You need one with a small wheelbase of fewer than 50 inches to get a small motorcycle. For example, the 1949 Simplex Automatic has a wheelbase of 47 inches, hence small. Wheelbase refers to the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels. Besides making this motorbike small, there are other benefits of a small wheelbase. With a small wheelbase, the rider can easily prevent their motorcycle from rolling in case of an accident. In addition, a small wheelbase makes it easy for riders to lower the center of gravity since the wheelbase occupies a short length. Also, its wheelbase keeps the motorbike stable. For instance, the bike's wheels will be moving along a straight path without being misaligned. Misaligned wheels are also another reason the bike would lose control and roll.

Ignition Type

This motorbike model uses a magneto ignition system. A magneto is a small generator; hence the motorcycle generates its electricity to run. As a biker, you will not need to worry about using an external power source like a battery to kick start the motorcycle. The magneto produces electricity whenever the engine rotates it. To generate maximum power, the rotation should be as high as possible. Besides generating power, the ignition system requires less maintenance since it has no battery. However, in a battery ignition system, you must inspect its terminals and clean them regularly. If not regularly cleaned, corrosion occurs on the terminals. The more you let them corrode, the more the corrosion blocks electric currents, causing your motorbike not to move. Also, batteries contain sulfuric acid. When you clean the battery, you need to wear rubber gloves, eye protection, and old clothing to protect yourself in case the acid gets into contact with your body. If some of the acid gets into your body, you will experience a severe burning sensation. Luckily with this model, you do not have to experience a lot of problems that come with batteries.


Although the 1949 Simplex Automatic bike is not popular now, it set the trends in motorcycles today. For instance, nearly every motorcyclist uses off-road bikes. Simplex must have realized that bikers had different hobbies. For example, a motorcyclist may need a motorcycle for racing and work. Unfortunately, a motorcyclist would be forced to buy two bikes since there were no off-road bikes. Fortunately, with this model, the rider could use their bike for any purpose. Also, the motorcycle model revolutionized the way bikes store power. We have already seen how exhausting it is to deal with a motorcycle that uses a battery ignition system. Once again, Simplex offered a way motorbikes could store power without the bike owner charging them. If you wish to see this motorcycle, you may find it in a motorcycle museum near you.

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Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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