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Classic Vintage Motorcycles: Excelsior

1919 Excelsior Model X Antique Motorcycle

Excelsior 'Auto Cycle' Motor Mfg. & Supply Co.

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The Excelsior brand got its start in 1876 as a bicycle manufacturer called the "Excelsior Supply Company" in Chicago Illinois. Their first motor driven cycle was built in 1909, and had a single-cylinder engine with a leather belt-drive, and a top speed of around 40 miles per hour.

In 1910 the Excelsior 'Auto Cycle' Motor Mfg. & Supply Co. introduced its first v-twin engine under the models 'F' and 'G.' The 1,000 cc v-twin motor helped Excelsior win several speed, endurance, and reliability records, and in 1912 the Excelsior was the first motorcycle to reach a recorded 100 miles-per-hour.

1909 Excelsior Single-Cylinder Motor
1909 Excelsior 'Auto Cycle' Single-Cylinder IOE Motor

Early model Excelsior motorcycles were designed by George H. Meiser, who went to work for the short-lived Black Hawk Motorcycle company in 1911, and the Black Hawk design bears a striking resemblance to Excelsior's 'Auto Cycle' design. The 1915 "Big Valve X." with a new three-speed transmission was advertised by Excelsior as "The Fastest Motorcycle Ever Built."

Excelsior Auto-Cycle "Model X"

In 1912 the Schwinn Bicycle Company purchased the Excelsior Company for $500,000. In 1916, the Henderson Motorcycle Company was sold to Excelsior, becoming Excelsior-Henderson. One of the last 1919 runs of a 1920 "Model X" Excelsior was owned by renowned aviator Charles A. Lindbergh.

1913 Excelsior Model 4C - IOE Single
1913 Excelsior Model 4C 30.5 cubic IOE Single

1914 Excelsior 1000cc Engine
1914 Excelsior 1000cc V-Twin Engine

In late 1917, the Henderson Motorcycle Company was sold to Excelsior owner Ignaz Schwinn, and folded into the Excelsior Motor Mfg. & Supply Company.

1919 Excelsior Model X
1919 Excelsior OHC Board Track Replica

 Rider's View of 1919 Excelsior Model X

Excelsior Super X

The newly redesigned "Model K" was introduced in 1920, and the "Super X" was introduced in 1925. Excelsior's Super X constituted a major design upgrade from the 'X,' with its newly designed 1300cc 61 cubic inch motor, and leading-link front forks.

1925 Excelsior Super X
1925 Excelsior Super X

Due to economic pressures from the Great depression, Excelsior-Henderson's parent company Schwinn decided to close down the motorcycle plant in 1931, ending Excelsior's distinguished 55 year history.

1929 Excelsior Model X Hill Climber
1929 Excelsior 'Super X' Hill Climber

1919 Excelsior Model X Engine
1000cc Excelsior OHC V-Twin Engine

1919 Excelsior Model X Gear Drive
Excelsior OHC Drive Gear Assembly

1919 Excelsior Model X

1919 Excelsior Model X

Rebirth of the Excelsior-Henderson "Super X"

During the late 1990s Dan and Dave Hanlon attempted to revive the Excelsior-Henderson marque with the introduction of the Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Manufacturing Company's "Super X."

The reincarnated Henderson Super X had a fuel-injected dual overhead cam, 1386 cc short-stroke V-twin motor; with 4-valves per cylinder. The Super X was priced at $17,950, and the Super X was manufactured at the Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Production of the Super X began in 1998, but in 1999 filed bankruptcy, ending a brief one year run with only 2,000 units being sold.

For a detailed history of the Excelsior-Henderson company go to:

Vintage Excelsior Links

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