2010 Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball

Coast-to-coast on pre-1916 motorcycles

| January/February 2011

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    Paul Watts heads across the desert on his 1915 H-D 13 days into the ride.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Alan Travis gets ready to start the “race” on his 1914 Excelsior.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Cannonballers head through the morning mist and into Tennessee on day four.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Locals check out the Cannonballers during a stop on day five in Alabama.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Matt Olsen (who later crashed out) takes off from Kitty Hawk on his 1913 Sears on day one.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Tending to rear wheel problems on Brad Wilmarth’s 1913 Excelsior in North Carolina on day two.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Jeff Decker’s 1914 H-D gets a boost into a truck after experiencing problems in New Mexico on day 11.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Dieter Eckel’s 1913 BSA waits for repairs in a parking lot after the front fork collapsed in New Mexico on day 12.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Shinya Kimura (left) and Yoshimasa Nimi tear into Shinya’s 1915 Indian Big Twin in an Albuquerque parking lot to fix a seized crank on day nine.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    The support crew, all riding vintage H-D knuckleheads, somewhere in Arizona on day 13. From left: Kyle Oanes, “British Tim” Yeates, and Jerry Wieland.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Cannonballers cross into Texas on day 10.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Frank Westfall heads through Arizona on his 1914 Henderson, day 14.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Frank Westfall rolls onto Santa Monica Pier at the end of a very long ride.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    The Cannonball reality on a T-shirt.
    Photo by Michael Lichter
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    Katrin Boehner took Class 1 riding her 1907 250cc JAP.
    Photo by Michael Lichter

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On Sept. 10, 2010, 45 riders roared off from Kitty Hawk, N.C., on vintage Harleys, Indians and other historic pre-1916 motorcycles. Destination: California. Sixteen days later they rolled onto the Santa Monica Pier, 10 of them having completed the entire 3,294 mile route in the 2010 Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball.

Spearheaded by Lonnie Isam of Jurassic Racing in Sturgis, S.D., the 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball was inspired by the historic cross-country endurance runs made by Erwin “Cannonball” Baker before and after World War I. Challenging riders on 95-plus-year-old motorcycles to cover almost 3,300 miles, from Kitty Hawk, N.C., on the Atlantic Coast to Santa Monica, Calif., on the Pacific Coast, it was an idea that bordered on insanity. Yet that didn’t seem to slow anyone down. If anything, it simply inspired them.

Watch a collection of videos featuring footage from the 2010 Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball

Preparing for the Cannonball

Although inspired by Cannonball Baker, the 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball was modeled after the Great Race, a coast-to-coast rally open to all vehicles 45-years or older that ran for many years through 2007; except the Cannonball would run mostly on secondary two-lane roads, and it would be an endurance race rather than a timed race.



Matt Olsen, who helped organize the ride, made the whole thing sound even more unbelievable when, before the race, he explained he would build a 9hp single-cylinder, single-speed 1913 Sears — from scratch, hand-fabricating most of the bike. Were people really crazy enough — and were there enough of them — to take valuable, almost 100-year-old bikes (and one 100-year-old-plus bike) and attempt such a feat? The answer, it turns out, was yes.

As the bikes all had to be of pre-1916 vintage, that brought up the question of what, exactly, does that mean? The rules explained: “The machine must be powered by an original engine. Many things could be changed on a machine, and updates made for safety sake, but the core of the motorcycle must be 95 years old or older.” The rules recommended updated brakes and even adding a front brake if not so equipped, and suggested that for safety reasons riders may choose not to run old-school “clincher” tires. Also, everyone would have modern lighting, not the carbides of the day. The bikes were divided into three classes: Class 1 for single-cylinder, single-speed bikes, Class 2 for multi-cylinder, single-speed bikes, and the more open Class 3 for multi-cylinder and multi-speed bikes that were becoming popular by 1915.






November December Vintage Motorcycle Events

Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride


Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!

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