While the EX currently doesn't have a front brake, a recent meet 'n' greet with the street via a trip over the handlebars has encouraged Mike to install Simplex brake for the run.
While the EX currently doesn't have a front brake, a recent meet 'n' greet with the street
They were powered by a 70.62 ci Spacke V-twin motor, a proprietary power plant used in a variety of motorcycles of the day. Matt was fortunate to locate Tim Spacke, a direct descendent of the original builders and now the family historian who was able to supply two motors, and a third from his good friend Dale Walksler. "I actually bought my first motor before I found my first frame. Then I found that water had cracked the tubing so I fixed it as a display bike but nothing I would ride because it might explode out from under me. So I cast molds from the original parts and made myself new stout parts including the frame and frontend." Matt will be running the stock magneto and carb but making his frontend a couple inches wider to accommodate a disc brake and running 1920s safety rims for some added protection.
As far as his physical preparation, Matt's been lifting weights and doing a lot of cardio. "After the two Iron Butts last summer, I thought what next. Then Lonnie came up with the perfect answer... the Cannonball Run." (More info about Matt's shop at www.carlscyclesupply.com.)
Mike Vils from the LBC plans to attack the course aboard his 1913 Excelsior.
"I'll be riding a twin cylinder, chain drive, three-speed 1000cc 1913 Excelsior," says Mike from his home base in Long Beach, California. "I'll have the squeeze on it...nitrous...but don't tell anybody." Is he joking? Nitrous oxide on a nearly 100-year old bike? A general contractor for some 30 years, Mike was painting and restoring bikes even before that and is also on the board of directors for the Trailblazer's club from whom he's got major support for his Cannonball participation. His personal vintage bike focus is on the Excelsior, restoring and repopping parts of the bikes for other collectors. Mike poses the question, "Do you know when the first motorcycle race was held? When the second motorcycle was built." Right from the start, we know Mike's going to be a contender. He goes on to add, "The bike runs like a bus. I ride the wheels off the thing. We've got it all cammed up thanks to my friends at Isky Cams who doubled the lift. We're rebuilding the engine for the race and will have tripled the horsepower. Now, remember these engines when new produced 6-7HP so we're talking 18 or so with the upgrades." We said that still could be more than his competitors, then asked if any brake upgrades were planned. "Well, a while back I ended over that bike going down a steep hill doing about 40 mph. The Excelsior has no front brake and a bicycle coaster type brake on the rear, so for the Cannonball I'm running a 5-inch front brake off a Simplex and maybe a perimeter rotor brake on the rear and rolling modern Bridgestone tires."
For a bit more comfort Mike's also adapted a Harley KR seat to the Excelsior. Asked what he's doing to prepare for the physical demanding challenge, Mike laughs and says, "Yeah, I joined the Y. I've got to get my Iron Butt self back. I just sold my rigid chopper that I rode 150,000 miles, often 600 miles a day, so I gotta get back in that shape. But mostly I'm just looking forward to having a lot of fun."