Yesterday I went to one of the best motorcycle museums I have ever been to, Motorcyclepedia in Newburgh, New York. I found out about this place from a clipping my mother-in-law sent me a while back. Knowing that we would be visiting the family, I planned an afternoon trip (ok, it’s only thirty minutes away, but in rural New York, it’s still a trip), I wish I planned a day.
Now, I know the other day I wrote I was really more interested in Post War era motorcycles than true antiques, and it’s still true. But…after spending the afternoon at Motorcyclepedia, I think a true antique may be in my not too distant future. We saw all kinds of early 20th century motorcycles, motorcycles we have heard of and some we hadn’t; Rambler, Columbia, Tribune to name a few. There were Thor’s, Ace’s, Flying Merkel’s, Pierces and Cleveland’s.
Today is about Cleveland Motorcycles. Cleveland started in 1902 and made it into the 1920’s. Starting off with a simple single, as most did at that time, and eventually bringing a four cyclinde into the market…as did many others of the time. Cleveland was a fairly generic motorcycle actually manufactured by American Cycle Manufacturing. They had been building bicycles but branched into motorcycles as they become more popular. At the time, many companies were really just kit bikes. You got the same motor that maybe two or three other builders had, the same basic frame, you just added your own touches to it. This is a fascinating time in American motorcycle manufacturing.
This morning I found this very nice condition ‘barn find’ Cleveland on ebay. It looks in really great ‘restorable’ condition. When this simple 2 ½ HP two stroke came out, Cleveland was claiming it would get 75-100 miles per gallon using the Brown and Barlow float feed single jet carburetor. This particular motorcycle doesn’t have the original carburetor. The Cleveland used a Bosch magneto for ignition. An interesting thing about the electrical systems on these motorcycles; there was no battery, no lights, no horn, the magneto only powered the ignition.
The bike had a two speed sliding gear transmission and a very interesting braking system. The rear brake was right side foot operated and what it did was tighten a cork (?) lined metal band around the outside of the drum. Picture an oil filter wrench.
I think this motorcycle is in really great condition to be restored by someone with the time and interest in this era of motorbikes. Click on the pics below for a little more info and a lot more pictures.