We Owe It All To These Folks
The early motorcycle industry merged two very diverse camps into one; the daredevil motorcycle racers who wanted to build faster rides and mechanical engineers who were interested in improving the new-fangled self-powered contraptions.
William Harley and the Davidson brothers (Walter, William, Arthur)
These are legendary names in the world of motorcycling who started a company in a small shed in Milwaukee that is known throughout the world and is the ultimate symbol of American motorcycling.
Though much of his fame came from the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, he was also heavily involved in the early development of the motorcycle at his Hammondsport, NY factory. He’s credited with perfecting the handlebar throttle control and also set an unofficial world speed record of 136.36 mph on a Curtiss V8 motorcycle in 1907 at Ormond Beach, FL.
Adeline and Augusta Van Buren were sisters from New York City who became the first women to ride motorcycles across the country in 1916, leaving Brooklyn on July 5th and arriving in San Francisco on Sept. 12th. Along the way, they also became the first women to conquer Pikes Peak on motorcycles.
Oscar Hedstrom - This Swedish born designer and engineer was one of the co-founders of Indian Motorcycle.
George Hendee - As a co-founder of Indian Motorcycle, his business knowledge helped build Indian into the biggest motorcycle company in the world.
J. Floyd Clymer - Born in Indianapolis on Oct 26, 1895 he grew up in Berthoud, CO and at the age of 13 became the youngest Ford dealer in the country. He was also a racer, magazine publisher, racing promoter, an author, and a motorcycle dealer, distributor and manufacturer.
Charles Metz - president of Waltham, MA company which produced the record setting Orient brand.
Albert Champion - An employee and friend of Metz, he went on to develop an improved spark plug.
Jack Prince - He was the premier designer and builder of wooden race tracks in the early 1900’s.
Skinny (Mile-a-Minute) Collins - In 1907, the then president of the Los Angeles Motorcycle Club became the first person to circle a 1-mile track in one minute.
Ignaz Schwinn - A German immigrant, he was a famous bicycle builder who purchased Excelsior in 1911 and grew it into one of the “Big Three” before WWI.
Dudley Perkins - A competitive board track racer who opened a San Francisco Harley-Davidson dealership in 1913.
Roy C. Marks - He was originally from Toledo, OH but moved to California where he was a designer for the California Motorcycle Company in San Francisco and had many motorcycle patents to his name.
E. Paul Dupont - Became head of Indian Motorcycle Company in 1930 when his automobile company merged with the motorcycle manufacturer.
Sylvester Howard Roper - Developed the first American motorcycle in Roxbury, MA in 1867. He died of a heart attack a the age of 73 while racing his steam driven machine.
Bessie B. Stringfield - She was a pioneer who broke down both color and gender barriers as a long distance rider. Her hometown Miami newspaper bestowed upon her the title “Motorcycle Queen of Miami”.
Carl Herman Lang - A Chicago businessman who bought 3 of the 5 Harley-Davidson’s produced in 1905 and became the first dealer for the company.