What are you thoughts on Excelsior Henderson... | Page 7 | Victory Motorcycles: Motorcycle Forums

What are you thoughts on Excelsior Henderson...

Discussion in 'Victory General Discussion' started by KeepRidin!, Aug 24, 2020.

  1. normthenomad

    normthenomad Active Member

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    Try Court, Jolly, or Rick Till (Rtill) in that order. They may be able to help with the early heads.
    Had occasion to meet Erik while working for H-D of St Pete in the late '90s. Taught the service manager and myself to run the dyno.
    Incredible individual.
     
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  2. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    Yeah, Erik is a humble genius. I had the opportunity to BS with him for twenty minutes or so at the EBR booth at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show a few years ago. Lots of ideas rattling around in that guy's head.

    As for the heads and engine: this is purely a Harley problem. It was from the time when Erik was buying bone-stock crate engines from Harley and installing them as-is to meet emissions regulations.

    The first owner of this Battletwin had the engine built into a beast, then had custom bodywork made for it, which ditched the slippery racing fairings. Eventually, the bike changed hands, then the engine became worth more than the rest of the bike. It was pulled and sold while the chassis rotted in a corner. I found the roller on Craigslist.

    Since there are only 60 of the RR1200, everything needs to be stock, stock, stock. That's a tall order in a Harley culture of customizing everything. Most who wanted a 1200 bought an 883 then did a big bore kit. Unfortunately, that's not the same and won't work for this (different finishes on all the cases, different heads, wrong numbers, etc). 1989 was also the last year of the 4-speed so the XL1200 sold poorly. I search nationwide for those too.
     
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  3. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    Another thing came to mind that a potential buyer from here might be interested in: the exhaust.

    I'm not a fan of the loud pipe thing. I just don't want to hear it all day long. The stock exhaust on these was loud enough that people have questioned if they're actually stock. Yes, they are.

    BUT! If you bought one and wanted it louder, it's done with ease. I could never prove what I'm about to share was deliberate but, it's too good and too elegant to be accidental. The engineers had to know what they were doing.

    Back in the day, some owners discovered and described a process to "get a little more sound out of her" by beating a metal rod through the interior of the muffler and knocking holes in things or knocking out internal baffles. It sounded barbaric and was far from anything I'd do to a motorcycle.

    Along came my blue / silver 1999 and she had it done by a previous owner. They were stock mufflers but, OMG were they loud. Having some spares waiting in a box, I removed them, then peered inside to at least survey the damage.

    What I saw was a perforated baffle, running all the way through the muffler. It had no evidence of anything resembling what I described above.

    Investigating an unaltered muffler more closely, it became obvious what the engineers did. They designed the muffler with two steel casting plugs (regular, car freeze plugs) pressed in to two different depths in the baffles. With the plugs installed, gases were routed through whatever resonators and chambers were designed into the muffler casing. With a long bar, you could knock both of those plugs out of each muffler and have a factory-supplied, straight through, steel-baffled muffler for free-fifty.

    In case you're like me and ever run into this, yes, you can buy 1-3/16" Dorman freeze plugs and hammer them right back in. Using a wooden dowel, I marked the depths of the plugs on a set of original mufflers, then hammered in new plugs to the same depths on the altered ones. Fixed.
     
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  4. kaitiff

    kaitiff Well-Known Member

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    I saw one of those Battletwins back in the 80's. It was setting up on a display at an HD shop (friend of the family back then) near Carlisle PA.. and I was totally smitten with it. I hadn't ever seen anything like it in my life back then. I was so enamored with it almost 20 years later my wife and I both bought Buell's.. I had a M2 and my wife had a Blast. They were a lot of fun.. until they weren't. I had every piece of bad luck you can have with a Buell.. blown gaskets (twice), breadbox paint fell off in like 3 months... the stainless exhaust corroded.. you name it. I kept that thing for years out of spite, never did end up putting more than 8K miles on it. The wife totaled her Blast.. but she really liked it while she had it.

    PIc of my Buell right before I sold it...

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    Now you're the one having the picture posting issues. It didn't display for me. Anybody else seeing it?

    That must be a tough environment around you, to corrode a stainless exhaust. I know the Harley engines (all aircooled engines?) are hard on gaskets if they aren't warmed up slowly. The aluminum expands faster than the studs will allow and it crushes the gaskets. My S1 has had very slowly weeping base gaskets since I bought it. I'll get around to that someday...

    I love the tuber generation. It would be easy to say the Battletwin or Westwind are the favorites out of rarity but, the truth is, the S2 wins for me. I'd have one in every color if I had the space. I don't even mind the stock Sportster engine. Anyone who has the chance to own one should consider it.

    The bike feels like someone who loved motorcycles, personally built it. The inside of the fairing is woven fiberglass, visible to the world. All the brackets are lovingly crafted. It was Erik's ultimate expression of a hand built motorcycle, before the realities of mass production set in.

    Building a fast engine for them takes away some of the charm. The stock Sportster engine with the standard (heavy) Harley flywheels has delicious, smooth power delivery. It all comes together when you're blasting down a winding road, 5th gear, not thinking about it. You realize how well it's all working together at that moment. It doesn't have to be a rocketship to be glorious at what it's doing. It bends into sweepers, swaps back and forth through switchbacks with a firm but, steady hand and the rubber mounts take all the edge away from the vibration. It feels both light and substantial at the same time.

    My S3 is faster and probably better by many measures but, it doesn't have that same feel. The fairing bracket and instrument panel got cheapened, the bodywork became thin and fragile ABS, etc.

    Erik publicly hated the Blast. It's a shame because I thought it was also a genius bit of design. There were two interesting patents they had from that bike. The shape of the muffler was designed to also be an air scoop for the cylinder. The other was the idea of making the front and rear disc from the same piece of raw material (trying to save money everywhere they could). It was the birth of what became the Zero Torsional Load front brake on the XB series. Yes, the idea of making another part from the scrap metal left over was patentable.

    As you know, it also had the automatic choke on the carb. I guess that's not that innovative but, how many other motorcycles had it? The bike even used those oddball sized wheels. They designed the entire motorcycle to look like a full-size machine and then scaled everything down to make it manageable. It showed that while a casual glance at it made it seem like a cheapo beginner bike, the designers really did pay a lot of attention to making it unique. It would be fun to own a nice one some day.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
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  6. kaitiff

    kaitiff Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, sorry you're having pic issues... I still see it just fine?
    I don't think the environment was particularly corrosive, I think there was a flaw in the stainless. I remember back then seeing quite a few people have the same issue.
    That M2 was so much fun to ride.. wheelie monster doesn't quite cover it... even though it didn't really have any more power than a box stock 600cc sport bike it felt like it was tearing up the road. Didn't hurt that it got 50mpg pretty constantly, even when cracking the throttle a lot.

    The Buell was the exact starter bike for a lot of ppl. I don't think I ever saw one get beat on the closed courses they had at a lot of HD dealerships.. I think they called them battletracks. Dead simple to operate, low, light, 60 MPG half the time... it's only failing was that it was just a little light in the HP department. My wife totaled hers in a 90 degree hairpin on an back road.. she had it over so far (going so fast) that the hard bits dug in and levered the front wheel off the ground. She walked away fine.. the bike ended up in a rock filled drainage ditch end over end. Stupid farmer had knocked over the warning sign leading up to the curve (was listed at 15mph.. we were doing 60 leading up to it)... worst part was there was a big dip right before the curve.. so you couldn't even dig into the brakes hard cuz you were airborne...I made it through that curve.. I think I managed to grab a little bit of my brakes right before I went airborne and as I was landing... I still tell ppl it wasn't my riding ability but the freakishly good handling on that bike. I swear I scrubbed my jeans AND my elbows trying to get around that damn thing. :)
     
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  7. Chattanooga_Mark

    Chattanooga_Mark Well-Known Member

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    I agree the Victory Cross bikes were awesome and I love mine. But, we can't compare a 2012 Victory Cross bike to a 1999 V92C can we? So why compare a 1999 E-H with a 2012 Victory Cross bike? IMHO, had Polaris never come out with the Vision and instead came out with the Cross bikes, their sales would have been MUCH better. But that's a whole different path not belonging in this thread about E-H.

    I remember well when Polaris was designing Victory and the Hanlons were designing the E-H. I wanted them both to be successful. Had the Hanlons been able to stay another year, they may have been able to outlive Victory. It's undeniable that if Victory were a stand alone venture, they would have gone belly up just like E-H did. I was mostly riding various Moto Guzzi models at the time but really wanted an America alternative to H-D.

    I'm thrilled with my 2012 Victory but I also wouldn't mind adding an early V92C.
     
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  8. KeepRidin!

    KeepRidin! Well-Known Member

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    A lot like Victory, it's a shame that E-H quite making bikes. They would of just kept getting better, like Victory did.
     
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  9. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    Yikes! Man, that could have turned out so, so much worse. Glad to hear it wasn't.
     
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  10. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    You nailed the problem right there and I couldn't agree with you more. The market for both brands was people who wanted a cruiser but, didn't want a Harley.

    The blind Harley-faithful are not motorcyclists, they're Harley owners. It's all about owning a Harley. If that was no longer possible, they wouldn't ride. You'll never sell that guy a Victory or E-H. You might win one over to an Indian if granddad had one but, that's few and far between. Some will be hard to win to another brand, while the rest won't even entertain it. Indian's market seems to be mostly people who want to avoid HD.

    It was sort of ballsy that Excelsior-Henderson picked up a stick and marched right down mainstreet at Sturgis and Daytona, literally declaring slogans like "It ain't a one horse town any more" and "Cloning is for sheep" (taking a direct shot at the Gilroy Indians and the many clone manufacturers of the time).

    This wasn't smiling suits at a powersports company (Polaris) saying, "We're going to make some swell motorcycles too!" No, Excelsior-Henderson was kicking in the door and looking for a metaphorical fight. It was all posturing but, they were trying to establish that heritage of brand loyalty the name once carried.

    Don't laugh: Polaris spent a lot of money building on a non-existent Indian heritage right after buying the name. Also: anyone remember that cringey Victory TV commercial they ran in the early 2000s in the biker bar? Just sayin'. Marketing is marketing.

    44.jpg
    45.jpg

    In regard to them both being good bikes, we live in a world of a lot of awfully good bikes. Further still, our bikes aren't even cousins. American motorcycles are more like illegitimate children, between four or five moms, all gathering at a family reunion.

    The E-H was not designed by the Hanlons. Digging through the E-H patents a few years ago, a name kept turning up on the designs: Anthony Pink. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this guy was the lead designer on the Super X. Some of the E-H patents:


    USD416215S - Motorcycle - Google Patents
    US6102183A - Motorcycle clutch and clutch release - Google Patents
    USD435236S - Motorcycle shock - Google Patents
    US6260869B1 - Motorcycle front suspension system - Google Patents
    USD420316S - Motorcycle muffler - Google Patents
    USD424505S - Motorcycle gas tank - Google Patents
    USD412139S - Motorcycle instrument frame - Google Patents
    USD422537S - Motorcycle air cleaner cover - Google Patents

    Is that where the trail goes cold? No, there are previous patents where he worked for Toro and subsequent patents at later jobs. A little more googling and you can find Mr Pink's LinkedIn account where he lists:

    Manager of Industrial Design
    Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycles
    Oct 1996 – Aug 2001

    Lead Industrial Designer
    Polaris Industries
    Aug 2001 – Apr 2005

    Industrial Design Manager
    Harley-Davidson Motor Company
    Nov 2005 – Present

    The man became a lead designer at Polaris for almost four years, before moving on to Harley-Davidson where he is now a manager of design.

    My point: he and probably most of the others who left Excelsior-Henderson were very likely picked up by the other companies. The design and engineering communities are amazingly small and they move from company to company. If your Victory was designed after 2000, there were probably Excelsior-Henderson designers and engineers with their DNA all over it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  11. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    I almost forgot about this bike. You guys would be the ones who might know the background. It was advertised in Southern California numerous times. It claimed to be a super-rare, Victory prototype where the possibility of buying the E-H brand was considered by Polaris.

    The listing price was pretty steep for a V92C. Since I had never heard of anything of this marriage considered, I figured it was just a leftover E-H front end, bought and fitted to a Victory. Then again, maybe I was wrong and one of you is going to chime in with the fascinating story behind this bike.

    00c0c_5Hm4UkrTgMi_1200x900.jpg

    01313_beLSXTyawa_1200x900.jpg

    To the best of my sleuthing, that looks like a complete E-H front wheel, forks and brakes from a Deadwood Special with a V92C headlight and fender fitted.

    00k0k_1fPr4QTTOIb_1200x900.jpg

    Anybody?
     
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  12. Chattanooga_Mark

    Chattanooga_Mark Well-Known Member

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    I’ve always thought the basic design cues between the E-H and the V92C were obvious. Except the tank and front end of course. Thank you for the clarification regarding Anthony Pink. That makes a world of sense.

    Polaris Indian you say. I say: Never trust someone who murdered their own child to babysit their adapted one.

    Well, I have a lot more to say regarding Polaris Indian but this isn’t the thread for that.
     
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  13. kaitiff

    kaitiff Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to tell from looking at it what it's genus is... I would hazard a guess that it's either a 2000 or a 2001 base model... easiest way to tell a 99 from later model Hammer engine'd bikes is the front brake rotor is on the other side.. but like you said that doesn't look like a standard front end. I believe you could also tell by where the speed sensor is located; whether it's inside by the front pulley or back behind the rear jug.

    I did recall hearing some mumblings at one point about a springer front end Vic.. but that would have been later on.. not back in 2000 or 2001. Dunno man.. it looks kinda cool but my gut is telling me that that isn't anything that came off a production line in Iowa.
     
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  14. KeepRidin!

    KeepRidin! Well-Known Member

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    @Donkey_Hotey are shields hard to come by for E-H?
     
  15. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey Member

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    Windshield kits, like most of the accessories for the bikes, do come up used occasionally. They'll either end up on Ebay or on the bookface community (I don't do bookface):

    Facebook Groups

    I suspect you could get one on short notice just for asking over there. People have stuff on shelves they're willing to sell. When they do pop up randomly on ebay, expect the asking price to be close to what they were when new. I think the last complete windshield kit I saw with undamaged chrome and a good, usable windshield, was around $450. I'm not even sure if it sold.

    The good news is that replacement windshields (just the plastic part) are still being sourced by Atlantic E-H. Of course they aren't making them. They're buying them in batches from someone else and sitting on the inventory until they sell them each time. I don't know the exact price but, I believe they're around $300 (which is in line with other new, made-in-USA windshields I've seen). I'm grateful that they've invested the time and money to make them available.

    The key part for their windshield: you still need to have all the mounting hardware, which is kinda complicated, wrapping around that springer fork.

    All of this is fairly true for all of the accessories. In new or near-new condition, expect to pay close to original retail. One of the part-hoarding guys had a set of new saddlebags listed awhile back for $1000 or so.

    An enterprising buyer might think, "Cool! I found a used bike for $5K and it has all the accessories. I'll buy it, sell all the goodies and have the bike for $2,000!" Ehh, it doesn't work out quite that way. Along with scarcity of clean accessories is the scarcity of buyers. When someone wants it, they'll pay. Otherwise, you'll sit on it.

    Something related that I saw while looking at Atlantic's website for the windshield price (didn't see it): OEM handgrips. Part of the whole E-H thing was making branded everything for the bikes. Even many of the screw heads had a tiny E-H stamped or rolled into them. That included some very nice, soft rubber barrel handgrips. Of course being soft rubber, they wear. Time also has its way with the material. After some time, they were going to no longer be available.

    Being a stickler for originality, I have to confess that I paid $160 for a pair of NOS grips about five years ago on Ebay. I wanted them that badly. Unfortunately that was about six months before they were put back into production which was something I never expected.

    Dan Hanlon bought the molds from the original supplier. He found another supplier willing to make grips in smaller batches from the original material. As a result, brand new (not old-stock but, literally new) grips are available today for a very reasonable $62. That includes the throttle tube for the right side. I've bought multiple sets since they became available. They really freshen up the bike.

    IMG_1347__71811.1427731296.1280.1280.JPG

    As I mentioned earlier: NOS wheels are still available from Atlantic. So are NOS mirrors, turn signal & tail light lenses and even seats.

    The seat on my first bike was developing a crease from some interaction of my butt, riding position and squirming habits. I could try to find the exact shade of charcoal vinyl, find an upholstery shop to sew it, etc, or just buy a new one. Done.

    Same with the more-rare one-piece seat on the Deadwood and Jennie. The deadwood has something odd going on with the foam under the cover. I can feel chunks starting to break up--only that bike and that seat. I bought a new one for a very reasonable price.

    I'll close this chapter with a random walk-around video I found on YouTube the other day. Incidentally: the windshield brackets (part of the windshield kit) can be seen wrapping around the top of the springs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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