History of Simplex
Simplex was founded by Paul Treen, who started the company with
a $25 investment. Paul Treen was a talented draftsman by trade who created the Simplex collection.
in the late '40's, Simplex began producing a three-wheeled version of the Servi-Cycle with a box on the rear. This was referred
to as a fifth-ton truck based on its load capacity. The original "trucks" had rocker clutches. In the early '50's,
the automatic clutch was used with the truck, and quarter-ton trucks were introduced around 1955.
1950's Simplex expanded their product line to compete with the numerous manufacturers that were now selling small, lightweight
motorbikes and scooters in the United States. Among these were BSA, Harley Davidson, Honda, and Vespa. During this decade,
Simplex produced the Model "M", the Automatic, the Wizard, the quarter-ton and fifth-ton trucks, scooters, the Sportsman
models, bicycles and lawn mowers, and more. By 1960, the Servi-Cycle-style motorbike line was on its' final production run,
and Simplex switched to producing go karts and small scooters known as Compact Sportsman models. These used proprietary engines
from Villiers, Clinton, and Briggs.
MODEL "M" AND AUTOMATIC
From January 1952 to 1954, Simplex produced
the Model "M" with the manual rocker-type clutch. There was little difference between the "M" and the
late "L". The winged tank decal was replaced with a new logo (see below), which was then replaced by a simple "Simplex
125" logo soon after. Changes were made to the rocker clutch allowing for three "speeds".
of the Automatic began in April of 1953 and continued until the end of motorbike production in 1960. The Automatic was basically
a Model "M" with a centrifugal clutch in place of the middle drive pulley. During 1953 and '54, both the rocker-clutch
Model "M" and the Automatic were produced. By the end of 1954, demand for the Automatic far outweighed the manual
clutch model, and the rocker clutch was discontinued. In 1954, the stubby exhaust can used since the "L" model was
revised to include twin tailpipes, one running the length of each side of the chassis.
A 1953 flyer announced that
the 1953 Simplex 125 included as standard equipment an ignition lock with two keys. Also, "chromium-covered twin exhaust
pipes" were offered as optional equipment. Other updates included "stronger connecting rod bearings; the crankshaft
is heat-treated chrome-molybdenum steel; larger heavier tires have been fitted on all models; twist grips are improved; kick
starters are reinforced; a sturdier headlight mounting."
In the Fall of 1953, Simplex mailed a Price List
and Order Blank to their dealers, which stated that in order to charge a uniform price for their product throughout the country,
their wholesale prices would include freight and excise fees. The price of a Simplex 125 was listed as $223 dealer and $298
retail. A Simplex Automatic was $234 dealer and $314 retail. Both models were available in Maroon, Blue, Green or Red.
In 1954, due to popular demand, Simplex made the twin exhaust pipes standard equipment on the Automatic, and they came black
with polished aluminum covers. The new brake pedal was rubber covered, as were the floorboards. Again, four colors were offered:
"Rich, lustrous Maroon; Deep, brilliant Blue; Sparkling Green; and Bright Red. Tank decals are Bright Red trimmed in
In the mid to late '50's, changes were made to the engine and chassis. Beginning about 1957, a larger
150cc engine displacement was offered. Items such as a speedometer were added, and the Sportsman was introduced which had
footpegs instead of the familiar floorboards. For a short time, Simplex also provided Western Auto with a re-badged model
called the "Wizard". At the time, most Western Auto products from paint to lawn mowers carried the Wizard name.
This was a short-lived arrangement, and the model was dropped after about a year.
Simplex began producing scooters around
1957, and this lasted only a few short years. A couple of different models were offered with both 125cc and 150cc engines.
Interesting features include solid disc wheels and an exhaust system that incorporates the frame rails as exhaust tubes.
production for 1952 through 1960, including "M", "Automatics", scooters, trucks, and Wizards totalled
approximately 15,000 units, about the same number produced in just three years with one model during 1945-47. The Servi-Cycle
had grown outdated in its design, and the introduction of inexpensive, modern motorcycles and scooters by other manufacturers
signalled the end of a 25 year run.