BMW Motorrad Spezial

Excelsior Manxman

Excelsior motorcycle
Most vintage motorcycles look spindly and fragile. Others look bulbous and unbalanced to modern eyes. But a select few—Vincent included—look hunkered-down and purposeful, and strangely modern: their aesthetic balance has endured. Excelsior is a name that can be added to that list, as long as you get the right Excelsior—because there are at least eight motorcycle manufacturers who have used that brand name (meaning lofty, or higher) in the past. The 1937 Excelsior we’re looking at here was produced by Britain’s very first motorcycle maker—the firm of Bayliss, Thomas and Co. The company has an interesting history: after making its name with penny-farthing bicycles, the Coventry-based outfit created the Excelsior motorcycle brand in 1910. Three years later, on the eve of the Great War, it brought out an 800 cc single cylinder motorcycle—the biggest production single ever to be made. Excelsior used engines from the likes of JAP, Blackburne and Villiers, and following the War, took to the racetrack to promote their bikes. After experimenting with a Blackburne-made racing engine, Excelsior created a simpler and sturdier design of its own—the Manxman. This thumper was produced in capacities of 249, 348 and 498 cc, and the machine featured here is the ‘big’ Manxman. The company closed in 1965, but there are still a few early models around. The motorcycle in the pictures was recently sold by the leading Dutch dealer Yesterdays, and described as a “well-restored, super fast machine”. If you have a few minutes to spare and like classic motorcycles, the Yesterdays website is well worth investigating. [Via Ze Last Chance Garage.]

Excelsior motorcycle
Excelsior motorcycle

  • Brian B

    I had seen a similar one for sale at British Only Austria ( and wrote something up for a friend’s webpage (

  • Slider

    Awesome find! I love the look of this bike. If I had it in my garage I’d never look at another bike.

  • Don

    I would agree on the hunkered down and purposeful comment. And, I’d certainly add Velocette cammy and pushrod singles to that list.

  • Brian

    That’s one good looking bike!

  • HC

    simply beautiful

  • philip brent

    drool, drool, drool. The golden age of motorcycles. Sure todays bikes are faster, more reliable, but the style is so lacking. When you see a bike like this you wonder what happened.