Motorcycles are bad-ass, no matter how you slice it. While I love my bike, it provides nothing of the swagger and noise of a motorcycle. And when you combine a motorcycle with a mystery, you’ve got something really special — the Traub.
The story starts in Chicago in the late ’60s. A plumber took down a brick wall, only to find pipes of the coolest kind — a unique vintage motorcycle bearing the name “Traub” and plates from 1917. The owner of the building eventually copped to knowing that his son stole the bike, but because his son never returned from WWI, no one knows where or from whom he jacked it.
The Traub then made the rounds — it was sold to a Chicago bike shop owner who then sold it to Bud Elkins, Steve McQueen’s stuntman, during the filming of The Blues Brothers. Do you think the bike met John Belushi?! Damn, this thing gets cooler and cooler. The bike was then sold to a collector who, in 1990, sold it to Dale Walksler, curator of North Carolina’s Wheels Through Time Museum, where it still resides.
Motorcycle aficionados consider the bike among the rarest in the world. But the best part is that it isn’t just a showpiece — the Traub is fully functional. Walksler still rides the bike, and raves, “Everything inside the engine is just magnificent. The pistons are handmade, and have gap-less cast iron rings, the engineering and machining being simply years ahead of their time. When comparing other top motorcycle makes and models of the era, the Traub has no equal.”
The Traub can go faster than 85 mph and has some features, such as a three-speed transmission and dual-acting rear brake system, which are entirely unique. Walksler believes that whoever built the bike was trying to create a new “breed” of motorcycle, but he has no idea how someone could have made such a bike so long ago.
While some still search for the origins of this mysteriously awesome bike, I think there’s only one logical conclusion to be drawn here: aliens made it. And maybe, if Walksler is lucky, he’ll figure out how to make it fly.