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Oriten ten-seater two-wheeled machine

Introduced to public at Waltham Racetrack in 1897

from Velodrome Racing and the Rise of the Motorcycle

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In August of 1897 Charles Metz announced that his Waltham Manufacturing Company was in the process of building a ten-seat machine, which he cleverly named the Oriten (“Ori- ent” plus ten seats equals “Oriten”). Two months later and twelve hundred dollars lighter, the Waltham Company introduced the Oriten to the public on the Waltham racetrack on Labor Day.

Metz designed the frame of the Oriten using features of a popular bridge truss system named for Englishmen James Warren, which produced a zigzag of triangular supports (a rhomboid in geometrical terms) between the upper and lower horizontal bars. This was the secret to the Oriten’s strength and the reduction of stressors throughout its twenty-foot length.

Arthur F. Wisner, a mechanic at the Waltham Company who assisted in  the construction of the Oriten was designated by Metz as the steersman on its “maker’s trial” at the Waltham track.
In an interview afterward Wisner stated, “The sensation of being shot through space like a meteor is highly thrilling.”

The Oriten accomplished what Metz was looking for—tremendous, coast- to-coast coverage in the press. The mega-machine was taken as far as Chicago and was featured in exhibitions all along the East Coast. The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company filmed the Oriten at the Charles River track in Boston on September 25, 1897, and the short film was shown in Biograph theaters around the country.

The Oriten can be seen today in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

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