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.