Motorcycles Duel Above the Clouds in 1916

Most people think of the automobiles in the inaugural Pikes Peak Hill Climb in August of 1916.  The press then and now seem stuck on the four wheeled racing to the summit.  It’s crazy if you ask me.

There were four classes of motorcycle events in the first Hill Climb .  Stock Sidecar bikes 61 cubic inch and under with combined weight of driver and passenger to be 270 pounds or over., Professionals with 61 cubic inch motors or less, Colorado State Championship , only for in state racers 61 cubic inch or less,and a free for all class called Event Four Professionals.  The 1916 Hill Climb divided the cars and bikes into separate days.  Flying start of 200 feet in all events.  Bikes would start things off on August 10th with the cars having two days of racing on the 11th and 12th.

Motorcycle pictures from the first Pikes Peak Hill Climb are super hard to find.

(Above Doc and Bob)

Event Number One,  Side car winners with a time of 29:23 was “Doc” Vanderhoof and passenger Bob Perry. That is the Summit house in the back. They rode on a Harley Davidson .

(Above Floyd Clymer)

Event Number Two, Professionals was taken by Flyod Clymer on his Excelsior with a time of 21:58. His  61 cubic inch twin bike was a single speed big valve Excelsior with 28 inch Goodyear Blue Streak tires running 80lbs of pressure , Bosche magneto, Renold chains and a Schebler carburetor . The frame was cut down to lower the center of gravity.  Handle bar clutch controls, bike was said to be able to do 75 miles per hour on the straights of Pikes Peak.

(Above Frank at the Summit)

Event Number Three “Colorado State Championship”

Frank Kunce won with a time of 22:03 , just seven seconds ahead of second place.  Franks’ Harley Davidson was also a single speed bike, running Goodyear Blue Streak tires, Bosch magneto, Duckworth Chains and Wright Spark Plugs.


Event Number Four; The free for all was won by Floyd Clymer with a time of 21:58. That time would stand for many years until the bikes came back in the 50’s . This should have been riding the same bike he won  number two event .

One of the more interesting newspaper articles after the race came from the  Rocky Mountain News. “Mountain Boys Show How Pop-Pops Can Climb”

Clymer was from Greeley Colorado and Krunce was from Loveland Colorado.

There was a major motorcycle accident that day of the first race.  Art Davidson of Denver, lost control of his Thor on the way back DOWN…. near the 12  mile marker. He was found unconscious in a ditch.  A first aid station was set up at Glen Cove and the nurses attended to his head wound and wrenched arm. Art was taken to a hospital in town by automobile and was later released.

The factory team, cried foul after the race, claiming the locals had better training of the course layout giving them an unfair advantage. “Buffaloed” the eastern factory teams claimed. (funny)

What a mix of American motorcycle companies at the first Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. Harley-Davidson, Indian, Thor and Excelsior , the locals took most of the glory and the road proved to be a successful course for racing. Unfortunately World War One would stop the racing for a few years and when the race returns motorcycles would not be in the lineup again until 1954.

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