Side car for R.W. Wengatz

The Flxible Side Car Company in Loudonville custom build a sidecar and trailer for R.W. Wengatz in his quest to see the world in 1915.

LOUDONVILLE -- In 1915, the Flxible Side Car Company helped one couple with their dream to travel the world -- by motorcycle.

In 1915, R.W. Wengatz and wife, of Albany, New York, arrived in Loudonville on the first leg of their trip around the world. They arrived in Loudonville not to sight see, but rather on a mission.

The decision to drive around the world was an adventurous one, especially when roads were perilous and automobiles even more so.

In fact, the average automobile would have cost the Wengatz's nearly $1,000 at the time. Therefore, the couple settled for a Dayton motorcycle, which cost about $200.

Motorcycles, at the time, were much more common for a number of reasons: price, reliability, and the ability to traverse the rough terrain that passed for roads.

A motorcycle, however, does not make for a comfortable round-the-world journey for two. The pair had started out with a sidecar for Mrs. Wengatz and their gear, which proved less than adequate.

The sidecar was rigid, as all sidecars save for Flxible's were, and did not suit the two on their journey. They had set out three weeks prior from Boston, planning to drive from coast to coast and back again before sailing for Europe (if the war subsided, which they were confident it would be over by the end of the summer).

By the first week it had become apparent the trip was not going to succeed with the conventional sidecar rig, and so the couple arrived in Loudonville in July to purchase a Flxible side car. They ordered their new rig and camped out in Central Park until it was finished.

Hugo Young, founder of the Flxible Company, was intrigued by their trip and the difficulties they had already found with their journey. It turned out that in addition to hauling his wife, tent, and other camping gear across the country, R.W. was also hauling 1,600 pounds of experimental radio equipment with him -- something to keep him busy when they weren't driving.

Hugo conceived a solution for R.W., and quickly set his men to building a custom trailer for the Wengatz's. In a few days, it too was finished and ready to fix to the Dayton motorcycle. The couple was thrilled with this one-of-a-kind rig, and set off to finish their trip.

The new sidecar and trailer was quite the eye-catcher wherever they went, and soon the Wengatz's progress was being documented in motorcycle publications.

Reports last show the Wengatz's arriving in Denver, Colorado in October of 1915. Their journey past that point is unknown, although it is doubtful they set sail for foreign lands as planned -- the war raged in Europe for another three years. The armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918.

More information on the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum can be found at this link.

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