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My Grandmother Rides a Flanders 4 Motorcycle!

Updated on May 10, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

The Flanders Four and Other Vintage Motorcycle Photos and History

My mom turned up this photo of her mother during my recent visit. I'd never seen it before. Wow, it's hard to imagine my grandmother in the early 1900s on a motorcycle.

Take a look at that bike! I love what my grandmother is wearing. Her name was Ruth Vining and she lived in Tyro, Kansas. To read more about her life, check out my mother's book, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. It's hard to tell if that's smoke around the back of the motorcycle from the exhaust or just fading or damage to the old photo.

I did some research about the motorbike (the Flanders 4) that my grandmother is riding. I found some fascinating background information on it.

(Photo of Ruth Vining from Gail Lee Martin's family album)


More about the 1911 Flander's Motorcycle

My mom told me the story about this motorcycle. Her uncle, Albert Vining, owned it before World War 1. The family lived in Tyro, Kansas. He had a temper and would get really angry with the motorcycle when it wouldn't start. One day Albert blew his stack, and took a sledgehammer to the bike, destroying it.

I wish she had told me the story earlier, so it could have been included in her book. There was still time and space to put the photo in the book. It's in the back section. The photo shows the motorcycle with her mother, Ruth Vining on it.

Preview the book, My Flint Hills Childhood


My Flint Hills Childhood by Gail Lee Martin |

Make Your Own Book

Original Advertisement for the Flanders 4 Motorcycle

If you'd like to know more about the motorcycle, a reader clued me in that it's a Flanders 4.

I looked more closely at the family photo and you can see the Flanders name on the body. With a little internet research, I found an old ad from 1911 that features it.

Books about Vintage Motorcycles - Great Stuff on Amazon

See a Vintage Flanders Motorcyle in Operation

Turn the sound up, it's a little low. I found this well worth watching if you're intrigued by these old motorcycles.

Video of a 1912 Flanders Motorcycle

More about the History of the Flanders Motorcycle


Zazzle graphic available as a poster: Vintage Motorcycle Bike Scooter Classic Poster by postershoppe

Ads in Old Newspapers for the Flanders 4 Motorcycle

I'm a retired librarian so put my skills to work finding these ads for the Flanders 4. Sure is fascinating to read the original ad copy to see how it was marketed back in those days.

Check back soon, as I plan to add a WWII vintage motorcycle picture from the family album.

We Think This Is Albert Vining with the Motorcycle

I can't be sure. My mom wrote Albert Vining's name on this with a question mark.
I can't be sure. My mom wrote Albert Vining's name on this with a question mark. | Source

Do You Think It Is the Same One That My Grandmother Was Riding?

Vote in the Poll

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© 2010 Virginia Allain

Are You a Fan of Antique Motorcycles?

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    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 3 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I had no idea motorcycles went back that far. Fascinating, and what a cool picture and photo-memory to have of your grandmother.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Frischy: Sure makes me wonder what else I'm missing. I've made a lens about her early days and marriage to show off some photos I have.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      This is very interesting. What fun to find out about this hidden side of your grandmother as a young woman!

    • MrAusAdventure profile image

      Bill 5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Interesting. I am a fan of all sorts of motorcycles, but prefer to ride more modern ones for their safety. But I would love to have a vintage one just to putt around on!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @AlleyCatLane: Give yourself some time to recover from the loss. At some point it will feel right to make some tribute and family history lenses.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      I love how you turn your genealogy finds into Squidoo articles. I need to do the same with the things my father left when he passed away last May. I just can't seem to get it together.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @greenspirit: It would be great if you did a tribute lens to your dad and his motorcycle interest.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      My Dad was a great motor bike enthusiast in the 40's and 50's...I remember watching him as a tiny child tinkering withvarious Vincent's, Royal Enfields and Nortons with love sometimes, and despair and exasperation at others. I don't ride them, but I have a great affection for them. I loved this lens.

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 6 years ago

      That photo of your great grandmother on a motorcycle is priceless. They were fascinating contraptions. I always look at old contraptions with wonder of how they actually worked. Nice lens.

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 6 years ago

      fantastic picturebook!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      didn't flanders go on to make studabakers?

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I really enjoy looking at old photos like this. Neat that the old bikes really did look like bikes!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      LOVE this. Lensrolled to Family legends!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      I've only been on one motorcycle...but it was a short ride. They are cool machines...and your grandmother was one cool lady.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Cool photos. I love bikes and have had my license for 30 years now for motorcycles.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      I'm a fan of most anything antique. What a fun lens. :)

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Your grandma was cooler than I have ever been....

      I will never embark on those "machines".

      I'm too much of a scary cat.


    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      How cool is this, thank you for sharing, old family pictures are just so special and love vintage bikes!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Now that's a cool grandma!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Fascinating. What a unique family legacy.

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 7 years ago

      Another great lens. I had a Bridgestone 175 cc dual twin. Not quite as old as these and still a classic Japanese bike from the 1960s