Roy C. Marks of Toledo, Ohio founded the California Motor Company in San Francisco. The first motorcycle they produced was 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.
In 1910, a twin was added to the Yale lineup. Most notable in this year was a design flaw which resulted in a large number of broken fames. A 1910 1/2 came out rather rapidly, to remedy the situation. Yale became among the more successful of the early motorcycle manufacturers, and were branded as the “gentleman’s machine”, available in a classy grey hue, and polished nickel.
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.