1912 Excelsior Twin
Engine no. T2158
For the first quarter of the 20th Century, American motorcyclists had a wide range of choices when buying a new motorcycle, with dozens of factories producing singles, twins, and fours of varying technical intrigue. The 'Big 3' factories, though, were Indian, Harley-Davidson, and Excelsior, all vying for the top spot in production, reliability, and racing honors. While the Excelsior factory of Chicago began building motorcycles in 1905 with a single cylinder machine using 'F' head valve operation, by 1910 they had introduced their 'X' series of v-twins of 50ci, which proved fast and reliable, and attracted the public, as well as fellow Chicago bicycle business Schwinn, which wanted 'in' to the burgeoning motorcycle industry. In 1911, Schwinn purchased Excelsior for $500,000, and set about advertising the quality of their product with an aggressive racing and long-distance record-breaking campaign. Board Track racing became one of the most popular sports in the US, and the 'Big 3' battled for top honors in this exciting and dangerous game.
By 1912, the 'X' had grown to 1000cc (61ci), with a new chassis and leaf-sprung front fork. On December 30th, 1912, Excelsior became the first motorcycle to officially exceed 100mph, as Lee Humiston circled the Playa del Rey one-mile oval board track in exactly 36 seconds. The publicity was tremendous, and Excelsior sales rocketed. It's interesting to note that the Excelsior 'X' model is still winning competitions with its reliable and speedy motor; the Motorcycle Cannonball 'across America' rally has been won twice by a 1913 Excelsior very much like the machine offered, still proof of the excellence of their design.
This 1912 61ci single-speed, belt-drive 'X' was completely restored by noted Excelsior expert, the late Carl Vandre, in 1989, and was his personal machine. It is reported to run well and bears a current Colorado title.
- Please note that this bike is titled under its engine number.