One plumber in 1957, while renovating an apartment building outside Chicago, tore down a wall of bricks and found a one-of-a-kind bike bearing 1917 plates, named the “Traub”. The elderly owner of the building confirmed that his son had stolen this bike before going off to World War I, never to return. But it is still unknown who made this bike and where it came from.
Now the bike is in the Wheels Through Time Museum, located in Maggie Valley in North Carolina and it is considered not just to be the rarest bike in the collection, but also in the world.
The Traub motorcycle was sold to Torillo Tacchi, who is a bicycle shop owner from Chicago after its finding who later sold it to Bud Ekins, who is popular as Steve McQuenn’s stuntman, while Bud Ekins was on the set of the Blues Brothers movie in the 1970s. Later, the Traub was sold to one restorer and collector – Richard Morris, who later sold it in 1990 to Dale Walksler, the Wheels Through Time Museum curator, it has been placed permanently on a display in the collection of the museum ever since.
Don’t think this unique bike is only a museum piece though. Walksler rides the bike fairly regularly. About the engine components, he said that everything that is inside this engine is just magnificent. The pistons are hand-built, and have a gap-less cast iron rings, the machining and engineering being simply many years ahead of their time.
Walksler said that if we compare it with the other top motorcycle models and makes of the era, the Traub bike has no equal. Hand-built, comprised of a sand-cast, 80 cubic inch side valve engine, it is able to reach a speed in excess of 85 miles-per-hour with ease.
Apart from its few off-the-shelf parts, the Traub has so many unique hand-made features. The 3 speed transmission probably is one of the first of that kind and the rear brake, a dual acting system that engages a single cam that is in charge of pushing an internal set of shoes, while also pulling an external set, has never been spotted on any other motorcycle in America.
Walksler said that for a machine to have advanced features like that, unparalleled by the other bikes of the same era, is really outstanding. He thinks that the Traub was an attempt at a completely new breed of motorcycle. But how it could be possible a machine like that to have been produced in such amazing form, with features and capabilities that far exceed that of any other similar machine, without the knowledge of the others in the motorcycle industry at that time.
The chase for the Traub’s elusive origin hasn’t stopped yet. Walksler said that while they may never know why this bike was placed behind the wall, they do hope that one day they will find more information about the genius that created it and its history.