The original gangsta V-8 motorcycle was the creation of motorcycle, engine and aviation pioneer, Glenn Curtiss. It was powered by a V-8 of his own design and plopped into a suspensionless chassis that looked as much a bicycle frame as a motorcycle, as might be expected at the turn of the 20th century from the former bicycle racer.

The air-cooled V-8 displaced 4410cc (269 cubic inches) and was said to produce 40 hp. It was enough to earn Curtiss the title of “the fastest man in the world” when he rode it to 136.7 mph in Ormand Beach, Florida, in 1906. Car drivers went faster a few years later, but Curtiss held the motorcycle speed record all the way until 1930. The record-holding bike can been seen at the Smithsonian Institution.

Curtiss V-8 Feature

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any film of the Curtiss V8 in operation, so we can only imagine what it might’ve sounded like roaring to 130 mph like it did 111 years ago. But the video I’ve included here includes some appreciated detail shots of the first monster bike.