Bill Jacoby’s 1950 Kennis Motorpace Bike
No, the fork is not backwards. The front of this bike is supposed to resemble the wheels on a shopping cart.
This is a motorpace bike, sometimes known as a “Stayer” or “Steher”, and it is designed to be raced on a velodrome behind a Derny or a special motorcycle (check out the old photos of Willy Appelhans or races at the Newark track elsewhere in our museum for the idea). The reversed fork is one of the design elements that keeps the bike stable at the extremely high speeds associated with motor paced events. The brace under the handlebar stem and the nose of the saddle are similar additions.
Now, the bike has been restored a little bit, the chrome hasn’t always looked this good, but the build quality and the components are really excellent here. Enlarge the thumbnail photos and you’ll see great paint detail and fine lug work. There is an oil port on top of the bottom bracket shell right next to the beautiful skip-link crankset and chain. The adjustable handlebar stem is a thing of beauty with its integrated stabilizer bar.
By the way, track bikes don’t usually have such a big gear combination on them. Since this bike was built for motor-paced events where the racer is drafting a motorcyclist around the velodrome, this track bike would have spent most of the race at speeds above 35 miles per hour. A high gear was in order.
Our friend Bill Jacoby had this bike made in the late 1940’s. H. Kennis cycles was a custom bike builder and cycle shop located in the Merken district of Antwerp, Belgium.
Bill, a Chicago native, is a former bike racer who competed on the track locally and in six-day events around the country and a bit in Europe. When not on the velodrome boards Bill also did some racing on the roads.
After retiring from bike racing, Bill went back to work as a bicycle designer for both the Schwinn and Roadmaster bicycle companies. In the 1970’s while working for AMF Bill supplied Indiana University with the bikes they used at their annual Little 500 race. This included the bikes used in filming the movie Breaking Away which featured a factionalized edition of the Little 500.