Yale motorcycles were a byproduct of the Consolidated Mfg. Co. of Toledo, Ohio, acquiring the rights to the California motorcycle. The California motorcycle gained fame for being the first internal combustion vehicle to cross the American continent in 1903. Consolidated put the Yale name on the motorcycle and released it as the Yale California in 1906.
They produced the first motorcycle in 1896. It was the very first motorcycle produced in the United States, and took its inspiration directly from the engine and mechanics of the French-made DeDion Bouton. In 1902, the company received two engine patents, and that same year a rider named George Wyman left San Fransisco aboard a “California Moto Bicycle” for New York City. It took him 50 days, pedaled the last 150 miles, but the completion of this trip earned the California Motor Company considerable fame.
Susequently, Consolidated Manufacturing of Toledo, Ohio purchased the company, and dissembled its factory, moving all assets to Ohio. It was there that they began manufacturing Yale motorcycles, which mimicked the design of the previous models made in California. The 1906 model is considered by some to be the first real Yale made. Through modifications in engine and design, this vehicle was lower and lighter than the models that preceded it, and California was dropped from the previous label of Yale-California, and the now-familiar logo was placed on the bike.
The first actual Yale motorcycle built independent of the California was a 3-1/2 HP, single-cylinder model introduced in 1909. Over the next five years, Yale motorcycles became well-known in the U.S., the most notable being the company’s 950cc V-twin with 2-speed gearbox and chain drive to the rear wheel. This boardtrack racer was built in 1914, and 1915 saw the introduction of a well-made 350cc 2-speed twin with chain drive that sold for $260.
The company remained with motorcycle production until 1915, when just like most other manufacturers, they ventured into building more profitable products for WWI, such as munitions and armament.