Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company

The Cleveland Motorcycle Company is probably best know for the little 250 cc two stroke singles they built between 1915-1925.  I actually owned one of these and they are kind of cool, I found it in the back of an antique shop in Sebastopol California.  At first I thought it was a bit flimsy but some people liked them because they were so light.  Remember, when these were being produced riding a motorcycle was not all like it is today.  The roads were horrible and these bikes were easier to manipulate through snow and mud.  Sometimes you had to push for miles through mud so thick it wedged between the fenders and wheel and had to be dug out to even roll.  These bikes set several endurance records and routinely won their division in 100 and 200 mile races.

Later on they built one of the coolest four cylinder motorcycles ever built, the Cleveland Tornado.  Even the name screams speed !  the engine was rubber mounted and they were one of the first bikes to have a front brake.  Back in the day front brakes were considered very dangerous and it was believed that they would throw you over the handlebars if used hard.  Maybe, but I doubt it having ridden some of these old bikes and wishing the front brake would at least slow me down !
The Cleveland Tornado was the peak of the Cleveland line before they went under after the collapse of Wall Street.  It boasted 1000CC and would top 100mph.  In 1929, racer Arthur Fournier rode a stripped down version to a speed of 108 mph at Playa Del Rey, California.

1929 was the last year of production and these four cylinder bikes are rare enough that I will probably never own one.