Featured Motorcycle 1913 Sears De Luxe Dreadnought Twin


Sears, Roebuck, the once giant Chicago-based chain of department stores, and mail order cataloger, first added a motorcycle to its offerings in 1912. Given that their catalog sales were the lifeline to remote, sparsely populated areas of the country, their product had to be simple, tough and easily maintained by novices. The Sears De Luxe Twin, like the one on display at the National Motorcycle Museum, and its companion single were all of that.

The Sears De Luxe featured top quality components including a 10 horsepower inlet-over-exhaust v-twin engine purchased from F.W. Spacke Machine Company of Indianapolis. This 70 cubic inch engine, shared by other manufacturers such as Dayton, Eagle, Minneapolis and Crawford carries Fred W. Spacke’s brand name, De Luxe, on the crankcase. It had a reputation for speed such that it was also fan-cooled and used in cycle-cars, very lightweight, narrow automobiles popular for a short time in the early 20th Century. The Museum currently has a couple of cycle cars on display. It is said that Sears had their motorcycle made to price, and that they used racing performance proven components instead of funding factory racing programs as their competitors did.

Production of the Dreadnought lasted until 1916 when Sears stopped for unknown reasons. Post WWII, Sears, under their widely used Allstate brand, brought in mostly Gileras and Vespa scooters from Italy, and Puch motorcycles, scooters and mopeds from Austria. A powerfully marketed up to date product offering from Japan is probably what made Sears give up motorcycle and scooter sales altogether in the late sixties. The early Sears twins and singles are interesting and very rare, but in the 1960′s many of us spent our early years on Allstates of every shape and color. If Sears had morphed into an on-line marketing giant like Amazon, might we still be buying our motorcycles via catalogs, but of the on-line variety?

Note: In the 1910′s there were two Excelsior motorcycle manufacturers, and both were in Chicago. The maker of this Sears motorcycle is not the Ignatz Schwinn “Excelsior” that is bicycle and motorcycle associated, not the one called Excelsior Motor Manufacturing and Supply Company.

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