It is no surprise that the name Excelsior produces so much confusion among motorcycle enthusiasts, with no fewer than three manufacturers using the name (British, German and American).

This example was built by the American firm begun as the Excelsior Motor Manufacturing and Supply Company of Chicago, a company formed by Ignatz Schwinn, of bicycle fame. Excelsiors were initially sold as Autocycles, as the term motorcycle had not come into popularity. By 1910, three frontrunners had emerged in the US motorcycle industry, Harley-Davidson, Indian and Excelsior. 1910 proved to be a pivotal year for Excelsior, when they introduced their V-twin engine, increasing both size and power. Despite these power increases, braking was provided by a simple coaster brake. 1914 and 15 saw technical advances with the introduction of a two- and then three-speed gearbox. In 1917, Schwinn purchased the troubled Henderson Motorcycle Company, bringing two great names under one roof. Unfortunately, sagging sales combined with the Depression spelled the end to the company in 1931.

Specifications: 10 horsepower, 61 cubic inch, two-cylinder V-engine. Transmission: Single-speed chain drive. Price new: $250.

Accession no. 2011L001

Next Item