By the time the 1913 Reading Standard motorcycle appeared, the Reading Standard company had spent a decade attempting to make its bikes stand out in the congested motorcycle-manufacturing industry of the early 20th Century.
Though Reading Standards first appeared in 1903 as little more than Indian knock-offs with a Thor motor, the company began building its own single-cylinder bikes three years later.
These were the first flathead motorcycle engines offered by an American manufacturer.
V-twins arrived in 1908. Early examples sported a more conventional F-head (overhead intake, side exhaust) configuration, but the arrangement was unusual: The valves were on the left side of the front cylinder, but on the right side of the rear cylinder.
These first V-twins displaced 722 cc, but had grown to 990 cc when our featured 1913 Reading Standard motorcycle was built. By now, the company had converted its twins to a flathead design. Later versions displaced as much as 1180 cc.
Advertised as "R-S" motorcycles, Reading Standards were sold across the country. The company began entering competitive events in 1907, winning its first 1000-mile endurance race the same year.
By 1910, however, Reading Standard had tired of racing, and decided to focus its attention on selling more motorcycles at the retail level. Its decision was perhaps a bit late; by 1914, business had already begun to look grim.
In 1922, Reading Standard sold out to the Cleveland Motorcycle Company, which offered a Reading Standard model in 1923 as a low-dollar alternative to its existing line.
The following year, Cleveland itself went up for sale, and the Reading Standard name slipped into oblivion.
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