Rarest Motorcycle In The World – The Traub
The 1916 Traub, the rarest motorcycle, discovered buried behind a bricked-up wall in a Chicago suburb 40 years ago, remains a mystery to this day.
This Traub, discovered after 50 years in a dark, secret hiding location, is the sole example ever found. The Traub has raised more questions than it has answered since its discovery. But one thing is sure: this is a one-of-a-kind vintage American motorbike. And, with all attempts to discover its actual identity resulting in disappointing dead ends, we must be content for the time being with the factual evidence gathered by its late owner, Dale Walksler.
For almost 40 years, Walksler had been riding, operating on, and collecting vintage and rarest motorcycles. And in all his years of being surrounded by American antiquities, he has never witnessed anything such as the Traub.
The Origin of The Rarest Motorcyle
Bud Ekins, best known as Steve McQueen’s stuntman, purchased the Traub in 1972 after discovering it in 1968. In the mid-1990s, Ekins sold the Traub to collector Richard Morris, who eventually sold it to Walksler. Walksler’s collection of 240 antique American bikes now includes the Traub as one of its “crown jewels.”
And believe it or not, Dale rode it regularly: he even disassembled the engine to fix a thumping noise that proved out to be a worn-out connecting rod bearing. The only components Dale had to make throughout the reassembly process were the base gaskets. As its engine is so precisely machined, no additional gasket is used elsewhere in the motor. This is conclusive proof that this was not a mass-production machine.
While most of the parts on the bike are handmade, it is the standard components that had allowed Walksler to estimate the Traub’s manufacturing year as 1916. With a Schebler carburetor, a Bosch magneto, a Troxel Jumbo seat, and period wheel rims, the bike’s designer left some tangible evidence regarding the actual machine’s age.
The remainder of the bike is one-of-a-kind. A thorough investigation of the rear brake, for example, uncovers a dual-acting arrangement with a single cam pushing an interior set of expanding shoes, simultaneously pulling an exterior set of contracting shoes. According to Dale, this single-cam/twin-brake arrangement has never been used on another American motorcycle.
A diligent observer will detect two clutch levers while stepping around the left side of the bike. There is a traditional foot-operated mechanism as well as a hand lever on the left side, next to the fuel tank. The shifter lever gate is also distinctive, perhaps running the first three-speed transmission on an American motorcycle. Furthermore, the tranny has two distinct neutral locations, denoted by a zero on the shift mechanism. These may be found between first and second gears, as well as second and third gears.
A masterfully constructed 78ci V-twin engine with a 4in stroke and a 3 7/16in bore provides power, producing an engine capacity of 1,278cc, which was substantial for the time. The majority of the rarest motorcycles’ large displacement motorcycle engines were about 1,000cc (61ci). The top of the cylinders contains a gas priming valve, which Dale observes is not an unusual feature for a side-valve system. The adjustable crankcase breather and engine fasteners, on the other hand, are unique to the Traub and whoever constructed it.
Where Is It Now?
The Traub is one of the attractions of any trip to the Wheels Through Time Museum owned by Walksler, where the Traub is now situated and is admired by thousands of visitors each year. Some of them are fortunate enough to hear it operate and watch it ride about the museum grounds.
The rarest motorcycle, shrouded in mystery, was unquestionably several years ahead of its time. With its remarkable inventions, exquisite manufacturing, and outstanding attention to detail, an American motorcycle this unique may never be seen again.
With no images, no history, and no one claiming to know anything about its origins, it looks that the rarest motorcycle will be kept a mystery for the time being. Perhaps someday, the entire narrative behind this one-of-a-kind motorbike will be revealed. Still, for now, it serves as an intriguing period in the history of the rarest motorcycle manufacturing.
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