Lot Number
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1921 Cleveland Single

Offered Without Reserve

• Handsomely restored example of the “King of the Lightweights”
• Striking livery and fascinating design with two-stroke engine
• Auction file includes copies of articles and reproduced factory booklets
• Displayed at the 2008 Keeneland Concours d’Elegance

269 cc air-cooled, two-stroke single-cylinder engine with longitudinal crankshaft orientation, 3 ½ HP, two-speed transmission with lever-type multi-disc steel clutch, worm-gear reduction and chain final drive, tubular steel frame with spring-type front fork, rear-only brake; wheelbase: 54”

Soon after its launch for 1915, the Cleveland Single motorcycle from Cleveland, Ohio’s Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. enjoyed a growing and loyal customer base, including a dealer network that included locations in Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France, England, Australia, Japan, and India. The company prospered, and it was easy to see why. Easily affordable, the deceptively lightweight Cleveland was a great value, being durable, reliable, and easy to operate and maintain. Beginning with a 2 ½-HP 13.5 cubic-inch, two-stroke engine, later enlarged with a simple bore increase and a power bump of one full rated horsepower for 1921, the small but mighty Cleveland Single was a regular sight on America’s roads and it stands today as one of the finest motorcycles of all from the 1910s and 1920s. Competition success was brilliant, with Clevelands besting more-powerful opponents and proving their mettle in a number of high-profile endurance races.

In addition to its easy-to-start two-stroke engine, the Cleveland was equally simple to properly maintain, demanding little more than a small quantity of oil mixed with its gasoline and a half-pint of heavy oil in the two-speed transmission. Cleveland engineering was highly innovative, with the little engine mounted sideways within a lightweight frame allowing the crankshaft to be positioned in line with the bike’s centerline. The drive system itself is a masterpiece of efficient design with a worm-gear-driven, pedal-shifted two-speed transmission and chain-type final drive. Development was steady and methodical, with the first major updates appearing for 1919 including deletion of the compression release and spark-advance lever and a new twin-spring saddle. Another year of change was 1920, with the frame updated with the prior “strap tank” giving way to a reshaped fuel tank mounted between two upper frame members, giving the Cleveland additional strength and a sleeker and more modern streamlined profile. Other updates for 1920 included wider and heavier mudguards, cast-iron footboards replaced the rubber footrests, and the front fork was now pressed out of flat steel. Colors were now a handsome combination of cream wheels and a royal blue fuel tank and tool box, with the rest of the machine finished in black.

Purchased by Allen Smith in March 2007, this 1921 Cleveland Single is a very well-presented and finished example with a correct color combination. The Cleveland continues to benefit from a well-maintained previous restoration. The document file accompanying this motorcycle includes a March 1978-dated letter from Bob Speck “The Decal Man,” who supplied a correct Cleveland fuel-tank decal to “Woody” Slocum of East Peoria, Illinois, who may have once owned this machine and had restored it. After joining The Allen Smith Collection, this 1921 Cleveland Single was shown at the 2008 Keeneland Concours d’Elegance in Kentucky. Handsomely presented and looking fast even while standing still, this 1921 Cleveland Single is a fitting bookend to Allen Smith’s 1919 “Strap Tank” model and exemplifies “The King of the Lightweights.”

1921 Cleveland Single
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