Motorcycle Throwback - The 1911 Excelsior
 
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Motorcycle Throwback - The 1911 Excelsior


With the motorcycle hype rapidly growing, Schwinn broke away from bicycles to make the Excelsior.

We all know the name Schwinn. We see it on bicycles everywhere from street bikes to beach cruisers. But would you ever expect to see it on a motorcycle? As the bicycle industry was reeling to grab a hold of this motorcycle fad that was sweeping the nation, bicycle manufacturers started to adapt their bikes to keep up. In 1911, Ignatz Schwinn jumped right on board with this movement by adding a 500-cc De Dion single-cylinder engine to one of his beefy bicycle frames. Shwinn then dubbed this motorcycle the Excelsior.

While this bike was the first Excelsior to be released in the states, it's not to be confused with the Excelsior motorcycles that were released in Germany and England. Shwinn was the first manufacturer to use the name in America but it had been used previously abroad.

Excelsior was best known for the four-stroke singles and v-twins that were released in 1910. These engines operated off of an F-head engine that used an overhead intake with a side exhaust. As most motorcycles of this time were, the Excelsior motorcycles were driven by a wide leather belt and slowed by a rear coaster brake. In 1911, the single came with the option of having a magneto or battery electrical system. Unfortunately, the rigid frame in the back of the bike limited the amount of travel that could be done on it.

Because control cables had not yet been invented, controls were operated off of intricate jointed shafts.   Like most motorcycles at the time, the 1911 Excelsior was driven off of a wide leather belt.
Because control cables had not yet been invented, controls were operated off of intricate jointed shafts.   Like most motorcycles at the time, the 1911 Excelsior was driven off of a wide leather belt.

Shwinn continued keeping his foot in the motorcycle manufacturing door until 1931 when he would revert back to making just the bicycles that we know and love today.




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