Excelsior 1921 “Series 20” 974cc (61ci) IOE V-twin frame # 4341/1 engine # 107962
The famous American Excelsior motorcycle was produced by the Excelsior Motor Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois from 1907 until 1931, latterly under the ‘Super-X’ brand name.
The first Excelsior was a belt-driven single cylinder machine, the engine of which formed part of the frame.
The engine itself was an inlet-over-exhaust ‘F-head’, a design then much in vogue because, whatever its limitations, it enabled the exhaust valve to be directly cooled by the incoming mixture, a positive advantage at a time when the science of metallurgy was in its infancy.
1911 was a landmark year in Excelsior’s history, for the firm was acquired by bicycle maker Ignaz Schwinn and introduced its first v-twin model that year.
In 1913 the 61ci (1,000cc) twin was offered with all-chain drive, while two-speed planetary transmission and a leaf-sprung, Indian-style front fork were two of the following season’s innovations. By this time the original Excelsior single had been dropped, being replaced for 1914 by a 250cc two-stroke lightweight.
Alongside rivals Harley-Davidson and Indian, Excelsior offered a three-speed countershaft transmission for 1915, at the same time introducing a new frame with curved top tube and smoothly rounded tank, a first for Excelsior.
Deeply valanced mudguards distinguished the v-twin of 1917. ‘Military’ olive green was adopted as the Excelsior livery that year and would remain the only option until 1920 when blue became the norm. During the Great War, Excelsior was together with Harley Davidson and Indian first choice for the US Army to serve the US troops in their home land as well as the battling troops in Europe.
This Excelsior ‘Big Twin’ dates from 1921: a year earlier the model was face-lifted, acquiring the distinctive gold-lined dark blue livery and trailing-link front fork, features it shared with the newly acquired Henderson.
This “Series 20” is unrestored and almost complete.
She will prove to be a rewarding project and the new owner can decide to leave the bike in its patina or to carry out a full restoration.