The ex-Gene Rhyne & Al Lauer Championship Winning
1930 Excelsior Super X Factory Hillclimber
Engine no. OH103
Pin it and go. Pick your line, wind it up, dump the clutch and see how far up a near-vertical and rough cliff face you can wrestle a motorcycle. Like drag racing in the vertical plain. That’s the sport of Hillclimbing. A popular pastime since the 1920s, it has always drawn thousands of spectators, who are guaranteed to see all kinds of spills, crashes, and backflips. Lengthened swingarms to cartoonish degrees help the bike stay stuck to the hill the right way up, while power was wrung from engines by manufacturers employing every go-faster trick available. As the sport gained popularity, manufacturers started to spend money with better and better machines and employing increasingly successful riders. As Harley-Davidson withdrew from direct racing sponsorship in 1925, Joe Petrali was at the peak of his racing career, and moving to Excelsior, immediately delivered a win at the Altoona dirt-track race in 1926 aboard the new 45ci Excelsior Super X racer. With some encouragement, the company built him a Hillclimber, raced with devastating results, taking the National Hillclimb Championship for 1928 and ’29 and winning 31 competitions in a row. In 1930, Gene Rhyne won the same Championship, even with the equally awesome Indian OHV 45 CI Hillclimber as competition.
The Super X offered here has some staggering history. An alcohol-powered factory racer from 1929, OH103 is a true barn-find. Untouched since last ridden in anger, the bike is in superbly original condition throughout. As part of Ignaz Scwinn’s factory race team bikes, the machine was ridden to victory by Gene Rhyne at the National Hillclimb Championship in Muskegon, Michigan in 1930. In ’31, Schwinn folded the Excelsior company sticking to the more lucrative business of bicycles and so ending an era. After its illustrious, though short, professional racing career, the bike was purchased by successful privateer hillclimber and Indian dealer, Al Lauer. Preferring the Super X over his in-house Indians, he stripped the frame of its paint and replaced the Excelsior green livery with a red Indian front fork and rear fender by way of disguise. To further the ruse, he raced in his Indian sweater.
In his later years, Lauer sold the motorcycle to George Haas of San Francisco in August 1988. George displayed the bike as part of his collection until selling it to our vendor in 2015.
The bike has been part of a very discerning collection and on static display since. It was displayed and will be sold with a rather imposing 44” tall, 36-pound trophy won by Lauer as Hillclimb Champion of 1936, ’37 and ’38. A plethora of period photos and a copy of The Motorcyclist magazine, on which Al Lauer adorns the cover in mid-flip, also accompany the sale.
Offered on a Bill of Sale.