Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Crocker twin....a legend in itself


Al Crocker invented machines that were well ahead of their time in design and function. His bikes were visually pleasing, as Crocker seemed to have a perfect eye for form and balance, for color and simplicity. They were such great examples of fluidity of design that they seemed to be moving, even in still photos. The innovative styling was equally matched by record-breaking performance.

When the first Crocker road machines blasted onto the scene in 1936, it astonished the motorcycling community and "single-handedly caused Harley-Davidson and Indian more grief than any event up to the British motorcycle invasion of the 1950's." (Iron Horse, April 1979 - p. 32) As the first road test results were released, showing cruising speeds of 90-100 mph, the Crocker became an overnight success. Orders for the Crocker Twin exceeded all expectations. It had to be the best motorcycle produced in North America at that time, and riders wanted it.

The Crocker was built heavy duty for maximum performance, custom-tailored to the individual rider's order, and built in Al Crocker's own facility. Each buyer could choose color, degree of chrome trim, and even gear ratio and displacement!

So confident was Crocker with this magnificent machine that he offered to refund the full purchase price to any buyer who was beaten by a rider on a factory stock Harley or an Indian. No refund was ever given..

Crocker introduced motorcycle design innovations that set his V-twin ahead of the Harleys and Indians of the mid 30's and 40's. The transmission could withstand incredible amounts of torque. This beautifully engineered three speed transmission coupled with a unique proprietary engine of Crocker's own design laid shame to anything that dared cross its path. Featuring overhead valves, Crocker's engine was released to the public months ahead of Harley's venerable "Knuckle Head" with more than enough horsepower to keep it ahead of the Harley crowd.

At 3.25 " Bore and 3.625 Stroke, the 61 cubic inch engines were almost square. Cylinders were set 45 degrees apart. The compression ratio was rated at 7:1 on most machines but was known to go at least to 11:1 on some specials. The machine was put together with customizers in mind, too. The cylinder walls were a full 3/8-inch thick to allow for over-boring. This led to the creation of some big-bore Crockers of over 90 cu. in. that blew off anything in their way.

Other heavy-duty features included 1/2 " thick, cast aluminum fuel tanks (big tank models held three gallons; small tanks held just under two). The crank, pinion, and sprocket shafts were also larger than normal.

While other bike manufacturers were moving to larger and larger intake manifolds, Crocker tested and proved his theory that a smaller manifold would allow the engine economy of function and improved airflow for increased throttle response.

The Crocker's zero to sixty mph first gear score murdered all competition. The hemi head equipped stock machines peaked at 60hp propelling the factory produced, stock bikes, to speeds in excess of 110 mph. Even hopped up bikes couldn't come close.

According to Bigsby, Crocker’s foreman about a hundred Crocker Twins were built before the economic climate of the times determined a new path for Al Crocker. Many of the originals are still in existence; some are still running and some are collectors items. Recent, conservative estimates of an original Crocker's value range from $85,000 to over $100,000 U.S.

Although less than one hundred Crockers were produced, motorcycle aficionados will not forget them. They serve as a challenge to today's manufacturers that a classic American V Twin can be both fast and graceful. Nor will Al Crocker be forgotten. He is remembered as the genius who created America's first superbike.

18 comments:

Dr.John said...

Thanks for all of that information. I had never heard of the Bike.

Thom said...

Is this a lot of crock or what? LOL. I never heard of this before. See I learned something. Great information. :)

Webster World said...

I've always wanted to find an old Hemi Crocker in some old shed for a couple hundred bucks. lol Would'nt that be soooo cool.

Lance said...

This bike looks like a pretty modern interpretation of the old skool bikes. The Crocker must have been ahead of its time!

Baron's Life said...

Dr. John...you're welcome...It wa a great American bike...very unique and very advanced for its time.

Baron's Life said...

Thom...live and learn....but I'm not surprised...you guys ride surf boards where you are...don't you?

Baron's Life said...

Webster...I doubt you gonna find one for a couple of hundred bucks...I understand...the ones that are still around are very well renovated and run like new. Most owners won't let go of one.

Baron's Life said...

Lance...this bike (not the model I show on my post) won every race on the track when it was first introduced...it wa a very unique piece of Engineering... You can probably find one today if you had a quarter of a million to spare...

mq01 said...

now that is one sexy bike baron.

Baron's Life said...

mq01..it was actually very much in demand during its short existence and still has a very strong following...it's a delicacy for the conaisseurs

Phivos Nicolaides said...

This is a so cute bike!

Baron's Life said...

Phivo...thank you

Danny said...

I saw a for sale add several months ago for one. I think the starting bid for the auction was $100,000. I don't know what it ended up selling for.

Webster World said...

Oh I do understand the value of a Crocker. Six or so years back one went for over $80,000. Just hopeing for that old gezzer cleaning out the shed. Ha ha!

Baron's Life said...

Danny I've done some reading where they sold some of them for over a quarter mil...amazing stuff when you think about it.

Baron's Life said...

Webster...I hope you find one...you can make a fortune on it...
In 1971 they sold 1941 model at an auction for $ 230K

See Story at this link

Thom said...

Me on a surfboard is like me on a motorcycle LOL

A Lady's Life said...

I sure love this bike and wonder why only 100 of them were made.
You'd think they would make them again.
I always love the low easy rider look.
Thanks:)