The History of Crocker Motorcycles

| 10/4/2011 2:54:41 PM

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1940 big tank crocker motorcycle 
Mike Madden's 1940 Big Tank Crocker motorcycle at the 2005 Legend of the
Motorcycle show in Half Moon Bay, Calif., where it garnered Best of Show.

In the period before World War I, at least 100 different American motorcycle brands appeared on the market. In the 1920s, two or three intrepid U.S. manufacturers came out with new bikes. In the 1930s, the only American to commence the manufacture of motorcycles was Al Crocker with the legendary Crocker motorcycles.

Crocker worked for the Indian Motocycle Company in the late 1910s, not long after graduating from engineering school. By 1928, he was the Southern California Indian distributor, but what he really wanted was to go out on his own.              

Crocker bought a machine shop, where he made aftermarket parts such as a steering dampener for Indian Chiefs as a sideline. He would have probably continued his main business selling Indians, had it not been for the speedway craze, a type of short-track racing on a cinder course.

In 1931, racers from Australia gave speedway exhibitions in Southern California, touching off a brief speedway fad across the U.S. Seeing an opportunity, Crocker designed and manufactured special speedway competition cylinders and heads for Indian Scouts. About this time, he met up with Paul A. Bigsby, a patternmaker by trade, who shared Crocker’s love of fast motorcycles. Bigsby soon became an integral part of the Crocker motorcycle operation.

Crocker decided a single would be better for speedway racing than the modified Indian twin, and built approximately 31 hemi-head, overhead-valve, 500cc single-cylinder racers between 1932 and 1935. This was at odds with his working for Indian, so Crocker sold his Indian franchise to Floyd Clymer around 1935. Crocker singles were campaigned by some of the top riders of the era, and were very successful until English-built J.A.P. race bikes appeared in 1935.

Crocker Motorcycle Company
10/17/2011 10:53:59 AM

No Richard, the interview was with only one of the two principals. Can you guess which one? Margie has promoted Karalash numerous times in the past and has never contacted me for an interview to date. I have been the driving force behind the company since year 2000 to date. We would be glad however to provide you with updated information on Crocker Motorcycle Company progress. Feel free to contact me directly for an update. Feel free to check out the Crocker Facebook page as it is updated regularly. Michael Schacht 323 306 0690 or email

Richard Backus
10/17/2011 9:04:19 AM

The information in the companion "New Crocker Motorcycle Company" was current and accurate when originally published in the November/December 2007 issue of Motorcycle Classics. The information was provided from interviews with the then principals of the Crocker Motorcycle Company. The article the commentor is refering to dates from 2007. It is not presented as current nor intended to reflect the current state of affairs at Crocker. This historical record as presented by Margie Siegal is accurate, to the best of our knowledge. We welcome further input from Crocker Motorcycle Company to bring us up to speed on status of the company today. Richard Backus/Motorcycle Classics

Crocker Motorcycle Company
10/17/2011 12:35:53 AM

Regarding the "New Crocker Motorcycle Company" Margie Segal's information is untrue. We are surprised to see a new and current date on this old and well known story. The information regarding the Founder and developer of the Company is not Markus Karalash. Karalash had nothing more then a failed attempt to sell Crocker T shirts at local Ontario Canada swap meets when Michael Schacht entered into the picture with the dream to resurrect the company. Amongst other things, Schacht was responsible for Patterns, Engineering, foundry work and all trade marking and more. After Karalash tried to "wind up" the company in 2007, Schacht purchased it from Receivers, moved Crocker to California, re developed all engineering, patterns, fixtures ect and is currently road testing the first new bikes.

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