1951 Cushman Eagle, Scooter's missing link
1951 Cushman Eagle, Scooter's missing link

Have you ever tried to see take a classic photo? I do, and I have to admit that the results have sometimes been better than the one you see in the header photo. More than anything because if you notice the girl is dressed in vintage, the Scooter is a Chusman Eagle from 1951, in front of him is another one of these rather rusty little wheel artifacts, the car in the background fits the era. But if we look at the bottom to the right of the photo we can see the nose of a huge car (I don't know if all-terrain or mono-volume) that indicates that the photo is current, very current. Which would have won the subject with a little more care when framing!

But since we are not here to talk about photography, but about motorcycles, we are going to take a look at the history of the Cushman Eagle, the missing link of the North American Scooters and that has nothing to do with Vespa or Lambretta, which are the Scooters that we all have in mind when we talk about classic models.

Wikipedia says that Cushman was created in 1903 and until 1936 it was dedicated to making engines for farm equipment. Things like sprinkler pumps, lawn mowers, or even boats. But in 1936 the company turned its production around and started manufacturing Scooters. Those bikes of a somewhat strange shape and with small wheels that were intended to be an affordable means of locomotion for everyone. On its way the Second World War was crossed, although the company knew how to take advantage of the war effort and manufactured Airborne versions of their Scooters. In the style of the British Welbike, the Cushmans were launched together with the paratroopers of the US Army throughout the world. Versions were even made to transport mail on military bases.

Cushman Scooter

The most popular model was the Cushman Eagle, which was in production no less than 16 years. A scooter that was very reminiscent of a motorcycle but on a small scale, with its drop-shaped tank and all. But in his heart he hid a rudimentary mechanics that was the secret of his success. The side-valve four-stroke engine featured a two-speed gearbox and a centrifugal clutch. The change was operated from a lever on the side and the rear brake was operated with the foot. As it was a fully utility Scooter it lacked a front brake, even though some models reached 250 cc of displacement. Stopping doesn't seem to be on the priority list. The same as the issue of comfort, since until the last models manufactured in the fifties no type of suspension was incorporated. Total if a Harley Davidson with your tonnage did not need them so that something so small wanted them.

But the greatest curiosity is found in the throttle grip, which is operated in the opposite direction to the usual. So to make the Cushman Eagle ride you had to twist the throttle in the direction of travel, not against as in all other motorcycles. Another striking detail is the unique way of covering the engine, practically hidden behind a casing on one side and uncovered on the other side, with the exhaust unprotected or anything similar.

At present these Cushmans are priced quite well, because they are already becoming rarities even in the USA which is the paradise of motor rarities. Below you can see a video of a Cushman Eagle "Barrel Spring" from 1951. Not that it is the best video in the world, but we can appreciate quite well how one of these exotic scooters moves.

As a last curiosity Cushman ended up selling Vespa Made in Italy and renamed for the North American market. But its name is still associated with the primitive Scooter with a lawnmower engine.

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