National Treasures
A look at the vintage motorcycles on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.


1937 Brough Superior SS80

 1937 Brough Superior SS80 

1937 Brough Superior SS80

The SS80 was so named because it was a Super Sports model guaranteed to do 80mph from the factory. It was first built in 1920. The Brough was once described as the "Rolls Royce of Motorcycles." The early models used JAP V-Twin engines, while later versions used matchless or mag engines. The current owner imported this bike from England and it is in running condition.

1937 Brough SS80 2 

This Brough Superior SS80 is on loan to the National Motorcycle Museum by Aaron Mohr of Clinton, Iowa.

1912 Pierce Four

 1912 Pierce Four 

1912 Pierce Four

2.25in bore x 2.25in stroke
4 horsepower
2-speed transmission
Enclosed drive shaft
Pedal crank starting and coaster brake
Original price: $325 to $450

1912 Pierce Four 

An innovative and luxurious motorcycle from the founder of one of America's early premier car builders. George Pierce began manufacturing during the Civil War - bathtubs, birdcages and ice boxes - forming George N. Pierce Company in 1878. High-quality bicycles came next from the Buffalo, N.Y. factory, soon followed by first a steam, then gasoline powered automobile in 1901.

The car business took off with the  Pierce Great Arrow of 1903. Four years later the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was launched. The brand lasted until 1938 as one of America's finest and most prestigious, a favorite of the White House and royalty from Europe to Hollywood.

Percy Pierce stayed behind at the Hanover Street factory and built single and 4-cylinder motorcycles from 1909 until bankruptcy in 1914 having failed to find a large enough market for these expensive premier steeds.

The Pierce Four motorcycle comes top-quality, each component's design re-thought and then hand-crafted in the factory and not bought-in from a catalog as much of the competition was doing, becoming merely assemblers rather than manufacturers. Note the enclosed shaft drive to the rear wheel, the integrated fuel and oil tanks with two filler caps and 2-speed gearbox (uncommon in 1912).

Pierce created only a few thousand motorcycles in the five-plus years' production, and a century later few have survived.

1912 Pierce Four 

1928 Harley-Davidson JDL Sport Solo

 1928 Harley-Davidson JDL Sport Solo 

1928 Harley-Davidson JDL Sport Solo

Major changes for 1928 Harley-Davidson models included a stronger fork and front brakes, which resulted in improved handling and a total-loss oil system fed from an oil tank concealed in the front half of the left fuel tank. The Harley-Davidson JDL Solo Sport had a 74 cubic inch engine.

1928 Harley-Davidson JDL Sport Solo 

1928 was also the first year for optional colors: Coach Green, Azure Blue, Police Blue and Maroon were priced at $24 (about $320 in 2012), while cream and white carried a $27 price tag.  The J series overhead valve V-twin was the basis for all the future 74 cubic inch and 80 cubic inch Harley big twins.

1928 Harley-Davidson JDL Sport Solo 

1951 Sunbeam S7

 1951 Sunbeam S7 

1951 Sunbeam S7

Originally a famous bicycle maker, John Marston produced his first Sunbeam motorcycle in 1913. It was a side-valve single with and enclosed primary. Sunbeam quickly established a fine reputation for high-quality enamel finishes, enclosed chain drives and the sound engineering designs of J.E. Greenwood. Sunbeam motorcycles were made in England from 1913 to 1957.

1951 Sunbeam S7 

1912 Henderson Motorcycle

 1912 Henderson 

1912 Henderson Four-Cylinder

Designed by William Henderson in 1911 with a displacement of about 780cc (later increased to 1076cc), the Henderson four-cylinder motorcycle had opposed valves, chain drive and a tubular frame. It could do 100km/h (62mph) and was soon a popular motorcycle. In Italy it was sold by Lanfranchi. The Henderson four-cylinder was the first bike to use force-feed lubrication for the main and big-end bearings.

This particular Henderson, on loan to the National Motorcycle Museum, is the only known version of the four-cylinder bike that still has original paint. It also has the original tires.

1912 Henderson 

1960 Pannonia 250 with Sidecar

1960 Pannonia 250  

1960 Pannonia 250 with Sidecar

The 1960 Pannonia TLF Deluxe 250 motorcycle was made in Hungary from 1951 to the 1970s. Also made by the Czepel works, the Pannonia motorcycles shared a similarity with Jawa designs. The Pannonia 250 was a 247cc 2-stroke built with either one or two cylinders. It was exported to several European countries. This example has been fully restored and matched with a rare aluminum Duna sidecar. It is on loan to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.

1934 BMW Motorcycle

 1934 BMW Motorcycle 

Some BMW Company History

The German BMW Company started out as an aircraft engine factory in 1916. Then, after making woodworking machinery after World War I, they concentrated on motorcycle engines with the 500cc side-valve flat twin unit designed by Max Friz. In 1923 BMW began designing and building their own motorcycles, the first being to 500cc side-valve R32. The R32 featured the transverse flat twin engine, engine speed clutch, unit gearbox and shaft transmission. The R32 also had a leaf spring front fork with trailing link action very much like Indian motorcycles.

1934 BMW Motorcycle 

In 1930 BMW introduced pressed steel frames and used them until 1933, when they did a redesign. At this time the first oil-damped telescopic front forks were introduced, which was a major contribution to motorcycling technology. BMW can claim to be one of the oldest motorcycle companies in existence and, with their transverse-engined flat twins, to have fostered longest-living motorcycle design ever. (The 1934 BMW pictured here is on loan to the National Motorcycle Museum by John Parham of Anamosa, Iowa.)







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