The Mesinger Seat as de rigueur for bikes of the teens thru '20s.
Bob, Bill, and Jeff pour over the table full of documents and Cyclone memorabilia, Bill bringing out one of his own thick "dossiers," evidence of his dedicated research efforts. To call it a "whirlwind" of a meeting might be too close to calling it a Cyclone of shared passions. I get them to pause and pose for a few snapshots, and then it's time for Bob and Bill and their wives to head down the road a bit, a second Cyclone collector is on the day's itinerary.
Can we say that the ongoing Cyclone quest by the father and son team is potential for a definitive book about the Cyclone, America's mighty maelstrom of a motorcycle, even if there are less than a dozen in the world? Sure...quality and quantity, or rather lack of the latter, makes for a worthy project, the "violent yellow" Cyclone leaving a truly indelible impression on the sport of American motorcycling. Oh, and that price tag paid in 2008 for the last Cyclone to come up for auction? $520,000. Handlebars down, that makes it the most valuable American motorcycle.
The Andy Strand engine design featured SOHC hemi combustion chambers.
Jeff's Cyclone vs. The Coffee Can
In the early years of the 20th century, some 300 different "made in America" motorcycle companies flashed and faded in and out of existence. Only a couple survived, Indian and Harley. The vaunted Cyclone disappeared into the history books, at least for a while.
Tracing Jeff Gilbert's bike finds it originally racing in Northern California, then languishing unused for some 10 years before being revived by one Blink Walters who modified the displacement from 1,000 cc to 350 cc by blanking off one cylinder and making a smaller displacement replacement barrel for the other. He then stuffed the motor into a '23 Harley-Davidson short-coupled race frame (itself worth a fortune) and tore up the competition in his class during the '20s. In the '50s the engine was rebuilt back to its original self, the Harley frame retained. Harrah's of Las Vegas bought it for their huge collection of cars and bikes back in the '60s then sold it during one of their sale-offs in 1984. Its owner then advertised it for sale in 1990, at which point Jeff brought it home, now celebrating its 20th anniversary in his collection.
As for his future plans for the most important bike in his collection of important bikes, Jeff sighs and says, "It's a keeper. However when my kids and/or wife kill me, the first thing they will dispose of will be the Cyclone. As for me, they've reserved a large empty can of expensive roasted Italian coffee. It's sitting in the garage now with a sheet of paper taped to it with 'Jeffrey's ashes' written on it plus my cardiologist's business card. Obviously everyone agrees the bike is more important than me. So be it."