Saturday, 23 January 2016

Dazzling 1917 Excelsior

Impressively restored 1917 Excelsior 

One of the dazzling, impressively restored pre-WWII motorbikes joining our big Cronulla line-up for Sunday 20th March, 2016 is this outstanding example of a 1917 Excelsior.

Excelsior was originally a British motorcycle manufacturer. In fact they were Britain's first motorcycle manufacturer, starting with their first 'motor-bicycle' way back in 1896.

Here's the 1917 Excelsior bike that will be on 
static display in the Cronulla Mall on Sunday 
20th March, 2016.
Even further back in 1874, Excelsior was a bicycle manufacturing company making 'penny-farthings' under the name Bayliss.

The name Excelsior has always caused a little confusion for some folks, at least when applied to motorcycle history. 

The problem is that this name was used by three separate companies, one in the UK, one in the US and one in Germany (Excelsior Fahrrad Motorad-Werke). 

The British company operated from 1896 to 1964, while Excelsior in the USA (later to become Excelsior-Henderson) produced motorcycles in Chicago from 1905 to 1931.

The engine for this now Aussie 1917 Excelsior was found in Cuba, and like any other major restoration the rest of the parts were sourced from various overseas locations, including, Germany, USA, New Zealand, UK, and Australia.

If parts could not found in the detailed search, the parts that couldn't be located were manufactured here in Australia.

This Excelsior is powered by a 1000cc twin V twin with a three speed gearbox and clutch, it uses no cables, but has a complicated series of rods and levers instead.

As Excelsior motorcycles gained popularity with their excellent performance and reliability, another famous Chicago company considered entering the motorcycle market - The Schwinn Company.

The classic Excelsior 'X' logo is featured on 
the bike [above] that will be on display in 
Cronulla on Sunday 20th March, 2016.
Ignaz Schwinn's company had been producing cycles for some time, but the downturn in bicycle sales around 1905 (due in part to the popularity of motorcycles) forced him to look at other markets.

However, instead of designing and manufacturing their own motorcycle products, the Schwinn company decided to make an offer to buy Excelsior Motorcycles.

In the day the three big motorcycle manufacturers in the USA, which were Harley Davidson, Indian and Excelsior.

By 1914 the Excelsior brand was proving to be one of the most successful manufacturers of motorcycles in the world. As production had increased to meet the demand, a new factory had become necessary. The new factory was state of the art for the time, and included a test track on the roof!

Excelsior USA was owned by Schwinn and in the depression Ignaz Schwinn shut his motorcycling factory and decided to concentrate on making bicycles, which they still do today.

Show Date: Sunday 20th March, 2016
Location: Cronulla Mall, Cronulla

Free entry for all events

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