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Sears Motorcycle

Steve Braverman

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Hello Steve - Sears never made ANYTHING, except perhaps money, at least they USED TO MAKE MONEY!!!.........LOL... As for the motorcycles they sold in the teens and preteens era, these were "badge engineered" versions of other manufacturers bikes, often times "leftovers" or year old machines built but unsold by motorcycle manufacturers. I believe most Sears bikes had Spaacke motors which were quite large displacement motors (for the time) - i.e. 1200cc - 1.2 liter - 75 cu. in. twins and purportedly VERY, VERY fast for the era - 80 mph machines in an era of single wheel drum or coaster brakes. These were virtually the same motors as used on the circa1913-14 Spaacke cycle cars of which a very few survive. I believe the Excelsior Supply Co of Chicago IL, (not to be confused with the much more well known Excelsior Autocycle Co., also of Chicago, which was purchased by Arnold Schwinn in circa 1909-1910 and lasted until the early years of the (1st - 1929-1941) depression (not to be confused with the 2nd - current depression) nor the english Excelsior firm) was either the main, only or one of the manufacturers that built the Sears badged bikes.

While I do not have a Sears bike (I unfortunately passed on a nice restored circa 1913 Sears twin about 24 years ago - though I did buy a few other bikes from the same collection of a wonderful old bike guy who recently left us - a circa '02 Thomas Auto Bi, an original paint '11 Pierce single, original paint '12 Reading Standard single, original paint '13 Thor single '11 Minneapolis single, '15 (Schwinn) Excelsior twin 3 speed electric with a Rogers sidecar, '14 Deluxe twin 2 speed - manufactured by the aforementioned Excelsior Cycle Supply Co., '11 Arrow single which is a "badge engineered" Marsh Metz and a 1911 Montgomery Ward Hawthorne single (the only American built Montgomery Ward motorcycle known to exist- Hawthorne was their "house brand" name like Craftsman is for Sears and Kirkland is for Costco) which was actually a leftover 1910 Armac. The latter two bikes were, like the Sears, examples of machines sold by catalog houses or jobbers but manufactured by other companies. This practice was very common 100 years ago in many industries including Automobiles and still goes on today in many industries, including business machinery.

In fact, I believe some motorcycle manufacturers of 95-105 years ago would, if you agreed to buy as few as 10 of their motorcycles for an investment in the range of $1500 - $2000, paint and stripe the bikes the colors of your choice and put your name on the tank and on the headstock badge. Ah for a return of the "good 'ol days". Imagine having your own marque of cars or bikes in your own color scheme with your name on the emblems for a few hundred thou now. I could see a mini fleet of all black (deadbeat) Trump supersize SUVs, "green" Clooney, Gates, Alba or Begley Jr. hybrids or electrics and V-12 Leno supercars.

And to answer your question as best I can, I've seen 2-3 other Sears bikes over the years (including one at Hershey I believe a number of years ago) and would imagine 10 or 15 mostly to somewhat complete bikes have survived with a few more perhaps "built up" from surviving Spaacke motors and whatever else one can come up with nowadays. BTW, Dayton motorcycles in addition to the Sears and Deluxe brands also featured Spaacke motors. OK (more than) enuff said on the subject....Herb Singe

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Wow Herb, That's quite an answer! I may have seen the same bike at Hershey years ago, and I've often thought of it. My father has a Sears high-wheeler, and I've always thought the motorcycle would make a neat stable-mate.

BTW, the Sears high-wheeler was apparently made in a Sears factory. At least that's what all the propaganda of the time says. It was later marketed as a Lincoln (no relation to the Lincoln of Leyland design), but I've never seen or heard of a Lincoln high-wheeler.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JO BO</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I know someone who has a nice unrestored one. I don't know if he would part with though. JO BO </div></div>

I don't have any money to buy anything anyway, but it would be neat to see it. I'd just like to learn more about it.

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  • 1 month later...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: olcarherb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">And, of course, Sears sold Automobiles - high wheelers - in the pre teens era </div></div>

Here's some pics from an original catalog of Sears cars from 1910 that I recently sold on Ebay....




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  • 3 weeks later...

How many people are alive today that rode a 1912 Sears Motorcycle in the 1920's?

My Dad owned a Sears Motorcycle. He has told me many stories about his fun with it as a young man. He said it was very fast and had been used for racing before he bought it. I have compiled information and pictures for him on this MC and I will take this to Wisconsin for his 97th Birthday on July 4th 2009. He was born in 1912, the first year of this bike.

I so much appreciate the information, interest and links.

If you have any questions I will pass them on to him.

68 Hot Rod

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  • 3 years later...
Guest Norvilbob


You've got a great collection of early American motorcycles there! I've just bought a 1913 Thor model U twin that I'll be restoring and was wondering if you knew how to contact a Greg Walter who was an AMCA judge and Thor enthusiast? Do you have any literature on the 13 twin yourself? Do you know if anyone is making replica 2 speed rear transmissions (also used on Henderson fours I believe)? These and a million other questions!

I'm also interested in knowing the paint and decal details of 13 Thors - would it be possible to take some detail photos of your bike (including closeups of tank and head-stem decals) and e-mail them to me?

I don't suppose you'd consider selling your Thor single (or any other pre 1915 American single cylinder bikes for that matter)? I've got a hankering for such machinery after buying and restoring a 24 Indian Scout and an 18 F model Harley and sidecar (still under restoration).

Any help or advice will be appreciated.


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Guest pete @ occhiolungo

Hi Steve. There are several Sears bikes still around. There is a V twin that goes on the Atascadero ride in May, not every year, but occasionally. And Matt Olson built up a complete bike starting with just a motor 2 years ago. Here is his build up: Put the Huffle in the Shuffle: post number 133 and check for the earlier 132 pages of build notes. I have some photos of Sears bikes here: 2011 Bud Ekins Memorial Tour, Atascadero, CA part 2 « Occhio Lungo and there is a photo of what I was told is the only remaining Sears single cylinder bike here: Some old motorbikes « Occhio Lungo

I don't really know how many Sears bikes there are left today. Probably a dozen or more, but less than 50-100 seems likely.



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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a restored Sears Motorcycle at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. I saw it just last week.

I didn't note all of the details, but as I recall it had a DeLuxe engine on it. I took some photos, so I'll have to circle back and post a couple of those.

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  • 4 months later...
Guest maysgr

Does anyone know how many Sears Motorcycles were sold during their heyday of 1910 - 1916 and if so,where did the data come from?


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  • 10 years later...

Hello everyone! Just joined, and doing some due-diligence learning about my newly acquired 1911 Sears/Thor Model-4 500cc single motorcycle:



Since there was no history to be had when purchased from a 3rd party vendor, the biggest clue tracking down the heritage was the 1976 AACA National Winner award on the bike:



After purchasing all the 1976 and 1977 AACA magazines, a reference was found to the Sears winning National 1st Junior Class 5-A including a picture in the January-February Hershey results, and another Eastern Division Junior 5-A award in the 1976 May-June issue. The owner of the bike is listed as Carroll Sears, Lake Forest, Ill. A Carroll Sears who is now 89, has a Facebook page, and noted he is the Grandson of Richard Sears, founder of Sears Robuck. Residence history has him living in Illinois in 1976. I left him a message in reference to the bike, but have not received a reply yet.


At the time of purchase, no information was supplied as to originality or previous restoration, but close scrutiny and much experience with vintage original and restored bikes leads me to believe this bike is completely stock and original including paint, but possibly excluding the tires which appear to be the same tires that were in the 1976 Hershey picture.


There is zero wear on any interface hardware like pedal rubbers, handgrips, seat, levers or leather drive. Paint on the body and motor appears to have never been redone looking inside and out, under and over everything, and it even has the original spark plug and wiring. Things like the points cam and follower have none of the wear expected on a vehicle even with modest mileage, and the plating on wear/contact items is also virtually un-scuffed. When purchased, it was assumed it had been very precisely restored, and the realization it was original was earned through close inspection and never assumed.


Fortunately there are plenty of company drawings, catalog renderings, a period manual, and an accessory catalog to compare with, and it's spot on in every respect. OK, this is pure speculation, but this bike may have been set aside by the Sears family back in '11, and carefully stored and preserved since as a family legacy bike handed down to the grandson. It is more accurate than even the 1910 Barber bike when compared to catalog ads and images. All the 1909, 1910, and 1911 Auto-Cycles shown in catalog literature are the same model, A THOR 4hp, Model 13-M with slightly different front suspension. 


I have no intention of re-commissioning the bike, and plan to leave it exactly is-is. Any additional information or history on these early Sears/Thors would be appreciated, and gladly shared; I have pictures! To date, only 3 examples of the 4hp singles (counting this one) have been found; there is no guess how many were produced or sold, except for a couple "very few" type comments.


Also, on another post here on the forum referenced a 1909 Sears motorcycle that sold at the Hartun auction in 2011 and prompted watching the Youtube videos from the sale which did show a Sears/Thor, but it was a 1913~1916 V-twin, a much more common bike; an AMCA member here in Phoenix has one of these early twins.


Thanks everyone who managed to grind through this message - a bit of motorcycle archeology!


Kindest regards,

Warren W.


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  • 4 weeks later...


Great picture - thank you for posting that! 

It sure does look like the same bike. I have a recent picture from the same angle and distance to compare with, and it is definitely a match. The angles on the bars and seat are the same, tank transfer is positioned the same, and the cables are routed and even hanging exactly the same. A give-away is the broken/missing loop-spring on the nose of the seat, missing on both. The spring has been replaced/fixed with a piece of metal strap.


Being from Minneapolis, I always attended the AMCA/Davenport meets religiously, including the Bicentennial in '76 (22 at the time); brought back fond memories of one of the greatest old bike gatherings and especially swap meets ever. The stuff the old-timers chuffed around on was amazing. 


Is that your sporterized Indian Powerplus profile pic? Looks radical =0

Have a '27 Scout myself:



Thanks again for the great pic and Davenport connection!


Edited by Yamanatic (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Hey Midman,

Sorry for the late reply.

Very interesting Indian - thanks for the pic!I do see a sidecar in my future (physical reaons, but not mandatory yet), and an early Indian might be the answer. I was thinking about putting one on the '27 Scout, but with the 37ci, it may not be the best candidate; a front brake would be nice too. I have been watching for a 101or long-frame front wheel, but not in earnest since the bike is up for sale:



best regards,



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