Thursday, May 29, 2008

1914 CYCLONE FOR SALE

I spoke today with Ron Christenson of MidAmerica Auctions, as a flyer for their July 12 auction in Monterey hit my mailbox. Rather discreetly advertised is a 1914 Cyclone Board Track Racer; I don't think I've ever seen one come up publicly for sale, much less at auction, although I hear rumors of them changing hands.
This machine was shown at the 2006 Legend of the Motorcycle concours, and I mentioned then that the Cyclone has to rank in the top 10 most interesting and historically important motorcycles.
Made by the Joerns Motor Manufacturing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, the engine features a shaft-and-bevel driven overhead cams as its most obvious and, for the time, radical feature. The engine presaged modern practice in other ways, including a near-hemispherical combustion chamber, proper caged ball and roller bearings throughout the (when other bikes used uncaged rollers or plain bushes), and recessed mating faces on crankcase halves, barrels, and cylinder heads, for a secure fit. Even with a modest 5.5:1 compression ratio, the estimated output from the engine is 45hp - which is simply astounding for a brakeless bicycle.

Perhaps a dozen of these Board Track Racers were made in the 18 months of the Cyclone's life - the engine, although very successful on shorter tracks, needed further development (especially with lubrication, and the undeveloped metallurgy of the day), and was troublesome on long-distance races. It was already very expensive to build, and the factory didn't have the resources to revamp the engine, so by 1915 the Cyclone passed into legend.

The motorcycle at auction was formerly the property of 'Shorty' Tompkins, is one of 6 known in the world, and one of two which are mostly correct (as the others are heavily remanufactured). The rear section of this frame has been rebuilt; otherwise it's claimed that the bike is original Minnesota metal.

How much can one expect to pay these days for one of the rarest and most desirable motorcycles in the world? I recall speculation at the Legends two years ago - some said the Cyclone Board Track might be the first 'million dollar motorcycle'. I think the owner would be happy with half that, but ultimately, we'll know on July 12th! Stay tuned...

6 comments:

roadboogers said...

thanks for your favorable comments about 1914 pope i restored and 1914 cyclone i bought from shorty tompkins ---------r.l. jones

Daniel Statnekov said...

Shorty told me that he built this bike around the engine which he bought from a man who advertised it in a magazine; the engine had been used for many years as a "door stop," Shorty told me when I visited him at his home in Sacramento. i believe that the bike was constructed around mostly Indian components, such as the frame, wheels, etc. Shorty was a great guy and a very skilled bike builder having worked for Bill Hurrah, restoring old bikes for his casino museum in Nevada.

The Vintagent said...

Hi Dan,
yes it was made clear during the sale that the chassis was mostly Indian; still, the bike stands as the #1 auction price for a bike; $520k. What would a 100% genuine Cyclone fetch?

Enthusiast said...

Was this the same cycle that was stolen today in Bel Air?

The Vintagent said...

Hadn't heard that; a stolen Cyclone could never be sold in the US or Europe...but if it landed in Japan, there's no repatriation treaty. Same with Holland, actually, to multiplexer, although that may have been pre EU...

Anonymous said...

i suspect drug cartel ops from central america ...

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thanks for the pictures.