Derringer Cycles: when vintage “hits the road”

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Some objects once entered the realm of legend and have never left it. Because of their quality of manufacture, their performance at the time they were made, their design or even the myth they inspired or that some people who used them – or still do – inspire.

If your knowledge of Derringer is limited to the pocket guns designed and manufactured by Henry Deringer in the 19th century, I suggest you visit their website to discover something much more interesting: their vintage motorcycles.

Derringer Cycles, a name that evokes an era of early motorsport aggression with its vintage aesthetic, presents a modern take on the classic boardtrack racers of the 1920s. Created by Los Angeles-based industrial designer Adrian Van Anz, Derringer Cycles combines the simplicity and aggression of early motorsport with modern technology and efficiency.

The birth of Derringer Cycles

In 2011, Adrian Van Anz envisioned a unique blend of the traditional Schwinn bicycle and the power of a Ducati, giving birth to the Derringer Cycle. This concept led to the creation of a board track tribute machine designed to fill the gap between a standard bicycle and a motorcycle. Equipped with a 49cc engine, the Derringer Cycle can reach speeds of up to 35mph and boasts an impressive 300 mile range on a single 1.8 gallon tank.

Design and specifications

Much racier than a Vespa, much cooler than any motorbike, Derringer bikes capture the simple, stripped-down aggression of early motorsport, offering a modern take on the board-tracking racing bikes of the 1920s while providing a unique experience. It’s no wonder that Derringer’s loyal customers include celebrities such as Philippe Starck and Hugh Laurie, both of whom have customised Derringers.

Each Derringer Cycle is powered by a 49cc overhead valve 4-stroke engine, coupled to a GGB gearbox with centrifugal clutch, and features a 70mm drum front brake and coaster-style rear brake. The bike’s design includes a strutted springer front end inspired by a 1950s Schwinn Jaguar and vintage boardtrack-style handlebars, which are essentially modern bicycle handlebars turned upside down. As well as focusing on aesthetics, Derringer ensures that each bike is practical for urban commuting, capable of a top speed of around 40mph and getting up to 180 miles per gallon of fuel.

So if, like me, you can’t (yet) afford to buy the classic Ford Mustang of your dreams, I guarantee that a Derringer Cycle will help you wait patiently in the meantime. And at $3,500, make sure you display it properly in your living room as the work of art that it is.

Customisation and celebrity appeal

What sets Derringer Cycles apart is its commitment to customisation. The company offers over 250 colour options, allowing each cycle to be uniquely tailored to the buyer’s specifications. This level of personalisation has attracted a clientele that includes celebrities such as Robin Williams, Hugh Laurie and Reese Witherspoon, demonstrating the appeal of these motorised bicycles beyond mere transportation to status symbols.

Public reception and criticism

Despite their visual appeal and the innovation behind them, Derringer bicycles have been criticised for their build quality and price. Some critics argue that while the bikes look intriguing, the actual components, such as the crank and pedals, may not justify the premium price. However, there are those who appreciate the beauty and unique offering of Derringer Cycles, highlighting the creativity and novelty they bring to the motorised bicycle market.

A modern take on a vintage classic

Derringer Cycles is a testament to the innovative spirit that blends the rich history of board track racing with today’s needs and technology. While they may not be for everyone, their unique design, customisable features and nod to vintage aesthetics make them an intriguing option for those looking for something beyond the ordinary in personal transportation.

Technical specifications

  • Engine: Overhead valve 4-stroke engine displacing 49cc, CARB and EURO 2 emission compliance, up to 180 mpg depending on usage. EZ-Start® Recoil
  • Transmission: GGB gearbox with centrifugal clutch and freewheel, Freewheel allows pedals to remain stationary while driven via engine
  • Brakes: 70mm drum front brake, coaster style rear brake.
  • Capacity: Fuel Tank: 1.8 US Gallon, 87 Octane / Engine Oil: .26 US Quart
  • Dimensions
    • Length: 70″
    • Width: 24″ (Board Track Style Handlebars)
    • Seat Height: Varies by saddle and seatpost type
    • Wheel Diameter: 26″
    • Bar Height At Stem: 36″



Photos © Derringer Cycles