Seventy-five years later, brand-new Crocker motorcycles are once again being made in Southern California.
Engine (stock): 61ci (986cc) air-cooled OHV 45-degree V-twin, 3-1/4in x 3-5/8in bore and stroke (82.55mm x 92.075mm), 8:1 compression ratio, 60hp at 5,800rpm (claimed)
Engine (as tested): 68ci (1,114.7cc) air-cooled OHV 45-degree V-twin, 3-1/4in x 4.1in (82.55mm x 104.10mm) bore and stroke, 8:1 compression ratio, 80hp at 4,800rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 120mph (as tested)
Carburetion: 1-1/4in inch (31.75mm) Linkert M51
Transmission: 3-speed hand shift, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, Edison RM magneto
Frame/wheelbase: Single-loop composite cast and tubular steel Keystone frame with engine as stressed member and steel brace beneath the engine/63in (1,600mm)
Suspension: Girder fork with dual central spring front, rigid rear
Brakes: 7in (178mm) SLS drum front and rear
Tires: 4 x 18in front and rear
Weight (dry): 495lb (225kg)
Seat height: NA
Fuel capacity: 3.5gal
Price: Starting at $200,000
Few production motorcycles have achieved the mythical status of the Crocker, of which up to 110 examples were built in Los Angeles, California, between 1936 and 1942, each one unique. The fact that Albert G. Crocker, their creator, was notorious for not numbering his products consecutively means not only that nobody knows exactly how many bikes he actually made, it also gives a hint of the kind of man he was.
Rather than concentrating on paperwork, Al Crocker had a single-minded goal: to create the fastest, lightest, most powerful and most sophisticated street motorcycle money could buy. Unfortunately, it was an ambition that ultimately proved inconsistent with making a profit, thanks to his insistence on using high quality materials and components. Forced to compete on price with the much larger Harley-Davidson and Indian companies, it is likely Crocker lost money on every bike he sold, even though each bike was supplied directly to the customer.
His motorcycle business was subsidized by the profits of his high-tech machine shop at 1346 Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles, which housed the Crocker bike factory. Unfortunately, when America entered World War II in 1941 and Crocker turned his business over to supporting the war effort, there was no room to continue building bikes and he simply stopped making them.
Crocker V-twins were expensive to make and to buy, the 61-cubic-inch De Luxe listing for $515 in 1941. By comparison, the same year Harley EL Knucklehead was only $425. But the payoff was a level of performance that riders of rival machines could only dream of. Crocker offered a refund to any owner who ever lost a race to a stock Indian or Harley, and legend has it he never once had to pay up. It’s believed that just 65 or so Crocker motorcycles still survive today, the majority being the 2-1/2-gallon Small Tank version over the later 3-1/2-gallon Big Tank version, just 38 of which were made before Crocker quit making motorcycles.
Order the March/April 2017 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the Crocker “Continuation” motorcycle. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.