Here’s Another Excelsior-Henderson Website

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This One’s Been Up and Running Since 2001

The other day, I wrote about a new website launched by Dan Hanlon and others to preserve the heritage of the Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle mystique. Here is the site, and you can read the post about it here. That posting drew lots of visitors, in part, I’m told, because of the existence of another site, www.superxowners.com, launched about 10 years ago.

Dan Hanlon and his brother, Dave, are founders of the Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Manufacturing Company that was based in Belle Plaine, Minn., an hour’s drive south of Minneapolis, and a pleasant bike ride from the home of The Motor Company in Milwaukee.

Nick Trumbo and his son, Trevor, launched and operate the SuperX site. While both sites are remarkably similar in their overall designs, there is one interesting difference: Dan Hanlon runs the new site, while his brother, Dave Hanlon, and Dave’s wife, Jennie, are involved in the Trumbo site.

To avoid confusion, I’ll refer to the Trumbo site as SuperX and Dan Hanlon’s site as E-H.

Nick Trumbo, who is a former Excelsior employee, said the SuperX site was launched “as a lifeline of help to those who were otherwise left hanging when the company was closed and liquidated.” The site offers tech articles, parts cross-references, classifieds, historical information, photos and the Super X Registry. “The heart of the website is, of course, the Registry,” says Trumbo.

After looking at the SuperX site and talking with Nick, I’m not clear why a second site is needed. So, I sent an email to Dan, asking him about it, but haven’t heard back from him on this holiday weekend.

The apparent duplication prompts an obvious question: Why did Dan launch his E-H website when the one operated for many years by Nick and Trevor Trumbo (with some assistance from Dave and Jennie) covers the same ground and seems to adequately serve the same functions as the new one?

Nick Trumbo is puzzled, too. “I don’t understand what he’s doing, or why he’s doing it,” Nick told me on the phone the other day. “It mirrors ours in so many ways.” Dave has given the Trumbos information, says Nick, but “basically, we just do our own thing.”

The Trumbos don’t make any money on the site, says Nick, and in fact, they’ve spent upwards of $6,000 on it so far. Occasionally, people will provide donations to help pay some of the expenses for software and domain name rental.

“It’s a public service,” says Nick. “The motorcycle industry has been good to us, and this is our way of giving back.”

Interestingly, Nick was hired by the bankruptcy court to help clean up the Belle Plain facility prior to liquidation, he told me. He was able to save items of historical significance that didn’t have much financial value such as production statistics, VIN numbers (vehicle identification numbers) and other such data that was important for bike owners. Another important chunk of data came from the company’s very sophisticated Rolling Road dynamo computer.

“People told me to start a registry and keep as much information as I could, so we tried to do that,” he says. “We tried to provide as much technical assistance as we could. Our biggest focus at first was to find places where these guys (owners) could find help.”

Nick and Trevor have constructed a huge spreadsheet that helps correlate the data from production, VIN and dyno. “They all match now,” says Nick. “We’ve got a tremendous amount of information that’s not available anywhere else. Someday, someone will find this interesting. Fifty years from now, someone may say, ‘Wow. I’m really glad they did that.'” JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at
jdelmont@dealernews.com or 952/893-6876

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