When the conversation is going on about old bikes, the two names that you hear most often is Indian and Harley Davidson. The name that should also be mentioned that you don’t hear of often is Excelsior. In the early days of motorcycling with the long distance dirt or board track racing, the Excelsior set numerous records and constantly challenged Indian and Harley Davidson as they all strived to out do each other. The Excelsior still holds some board speedway records that were never broken. It was also the very first motorcycle to go 100 miles an hour and they did that in 1912.
Up until 1916, the “X” only had one color scheme. The bike itself was a pearl gray and had large bright red panels on both sides of the gas tank and tool box. The red panels were surrounded by a wide maroon stripe and then edged with gold striping. There were bright red arrows down the side of the front forks and double lines of dark blue on the rims, frames, and mudguard.
This is another vintage bike owned by Ross Van Etten from Colorado Springs who traded labor and cash to acquire the frame and motor and then patiently restored this bike to its original condition. In his quest to recreate the original paint scheme, Ross contacted a fellow he knew who was a board member for the Antique Motorcycle Club who had an Excelsior that still had the original paint. “He was willing to loan me his bike so I drove to Wichita, KS and I brought it home for about a month to make the measurements I needed and I matched the original gray from the paint under the fenders,” Ross said.
Judged in four categories by the Antique Motorcycle club, this has been ranked a 100 point machine. “There are very few bikes in the country that have received that ranking,” said Ross. Due to Ross’ love of motorcycling and his attention to detail an opportunity to look at this bike up close is as close as you can get now to see one on display in a showroom back in 1916.
This is one of many motorcycles that Ross has restored that are featured at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum. Ross is a dedicated motorcycle enthusiast who through his restoration efforts of these beautiful old machines shares with us what it was like to ride a motorcycle ~ back in the day!