The 1913 Excelsior 7-C motorcycle was one of the emblematic models from the Schwinn Excelsior brand. Excelsior was once a big name in motorcycling, often ranking just behind Indian and Harley-Davidson in popularity. Since the company's inception in 1907 as a division of the larger Schwinn Bicycle concern, its motorcycles were in a constant state of improvement, as there was plenty of research-and-development talent on tap.
In 1910, the company's single-cylinder motorcycle was joined by an 800-cc V-twin. The V-twin soon grew to 1000 cc's and replaced the drive belt with a chain in 1913.
By this time, the old leading-link forks had been supplanted by a trailing-link arrangement activating a leaf spring, but despite the added speed potential, the Excelsior still relied on a simple rear coaster brake. Soon afterward, a three-speed transmission was adopted, replacing the former single-speed unit.
The next advancement was the "Big Valve Motor" using large 2-1/8-inch valves, which brought the company a fair degree of racing success. With it, Excelsior officially broke the 100-mph barrier on a wooden track in 1912.
Since his interest in the world of motorcycles was growing, Ignatz Schwinn purchased the financially troubled Henderson Company in 1917 and expanded his line to include Henderson's inline-four model.
This new acquisition pushed the Excelsiors into the shadows as the big Henderson grew in popularity.
But just as quickly as the inspiration had come, Ignatz Schwinn seemed to lose interest in motorcycling. By 1931, both Henderson and Excelsior had joined the growing number of marques that had blossomed during motorcycling's boom years only to succumb to stiff competition and a depressed economy in the early 1930s.
See more pictures of the 1913 Excelsior 7-C motorcycle on the next page.