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Riding a Cyclone

April 10, 2012

Motorcycles were made to be ridden.  Regardless of what people may want to do with them  now, the makers were very clear about this 100 years ago.  Ridden, enjoyed, crashed, broken, repaired, and eventually scrapped and replaced by a newer motorcycle.  I’m sure that Mr. Hendee or Hedstrom, Mr. Pope or Vincent would have a chuckle about how their machines are treated in 2012.  Yes, the machines have a value.  Some have tremendous value.  But I don’t mean their pricing in dollars and cents.  I mean in their ability to carry a person down the road (quickly!) and to do it while looking very good.  Some do their job better than others, but it is still a job, and they are still just machines.  We have emotional attachment to motorcycles much more than we admire the other machines in our lives:  our dishwashers, drill presses, cameras and garage door openers.  I suppose we could put them on a pedestal, and admire them in a museum under a spot light.  And maybe somewhere there is a museum of dishwashers and drill presses too.  But they were made to function.  And in my mind, they are only really alive when they are in motion.  A stopped machine is like an un-eaten sandwich.  It might look really good, but you can’t get full enjoyment until you use it like it was meant to be used.   So eat your sandwich, wash your dishes, and ride your bike!


Lane has had this Cyclone since before I was born.  He rides it occasionally and isn’t worried about the oil leaks or chips in the paint.  Also in the photo is Lane’s son, who used to ride on the rear package rack of the family Excelsior when he was small.

Lane and the Cyclone


The famous Cyclone motor, filled with overhead cams, bevel gears and a bunch of bearings.  We looked at this in more detail in one of the articles on OHC patents.  Click here to read it, or search through the Table of Contents at the top of this page.

cyclone OHC


A view of the left side of the Cyclone.  Just behind the seat post is the vertical leaf spring for the rear suspension.  The innovations of the bike were not limited to the motor, as a monoshock swingarm was pretty novel in the 19teens.  This was not the first one, but it was still a novelty.cyclone left side

The bike always has a crowd around it.a crowd


Stopping at the Cutthroat in Wolf Creek for a cold beverage.IMG_9313 


A top view of the gas tank shape.






Oily motor.

oily cyclone

We’ve mentioned the Cyclone motorcycle a few times before. Click here to see previous articles.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2012 8:45 am

    Great article- I agree wholeheartedly, but I’m curious, is there any video footage of it in action?

    • April 10, 2012 8:51 am

      Hi Dean. I didn’t make any video. I’ve done that a few times while riding, but it is hard to do. My hands are usually busy fiddling with all the levers and knobs to keep the bike going down the road. Maybe I should get one of those GoPro cameras, but I’m too cheap to spend money on one right now. I’ll try to shoot some video of Lane and the Cyclone later this summer.

  2. Jim Abbott permalink
    April 10, 2012 8:49 am

    Heck-fire! My Venom leaks oil better than that! Jim A., Tucson, AZ

  3. Anonymous permalink
    April 10, 2012 9:33 am

    Absolutely Wonderful!!!

  4. Anonymous permalink
    April 10, 2012 9:34 am

    Un-eaten Sandwich.

  5. April 10, 2012 6:35 pm

    Yea there Pete, nice detail shots. Who owns that Excelsior? Sure would be something special to get a youtube of a Cyclone purring along. Thanks as allways, Paul Venne

    • April 10, 2012 6:38 pm

      That X is Lane’s family bike. He brought it to Minden, look back a couple of months in the OL articles and there are some more photos of it. really nice.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    April 12, 2012 9:51 pm

    Never noticed that rear leaf spring before, thanks for the education.


  7. January 10, 2014 10:58 am

    How does the street version Cyclone differ from the race version?, Just handle bars?

    • January 10, 2014 11:04 am

      The street bikes had leaf spring rear suspension, footboards, brakes, etc. If you look very closely at some of the remaining racers you’ll see some with modern welded rear frames, (or adapted Indian frames) and some with Cyclone street rear frames. The leaf spring lug is still on the frame, even without the spring, on the ones with factory road frames.

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