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Floyd Clymer – Motorcycle Pioneer and Our Founder

The wider world first heard of Floyd Clymer when he and his younger brother attempted to set a record by driving from Denver, CO to Spokane, WA in 1910. When he was just 14 years old. While that may seem like a young age to be engaging in such daredevil pursuits, he had already been driving a car for seven years and selling them for four.

Floyd and Elmer Clymer 1910

 

While the two of them did not make it all the way to their destination in Washington (due to lack of driveable roads, and a car that needed constant repair), he never stopped being a fan and booster of early motorized transport. To the right is Floyd Clymer in Motor Field Magazine 1910, as reprinted in his Motor Scrapbook, just before leaving for Spokane.

 

 

 

 

 

Floyd Clymer's Historical Motor Scrapbook 1944

Floyd Clymer’s Historical Motor Scrapbook 1944

 

By the teens, Floyd was winning races and setting records on Excelsior, Indian, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including winning the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1916. By the 1920s he was claiming his Denver shop was the largest motorcycle dealership in the west. When the Great Depression hit he packed up and started over in Los Angeles, CA with Indian, promoting them with the help of film stars.

 

Ever the collector of advertising, literature, and ephemera, after WWII Floyd began to reprint automobile and motorcycle related artifacts in 1944, collected in his Motor Scrapbooks. From there, his publishing career took off, with annual books offering in-depth coverage of the Indianapolis 500 race, as well as others. In 1951 he took over the stewardship of Cycle Magazine from Petersen Publishing and ran it until 1966.

 

 

A Treasury of Motor Cycles of the World by Floyd Clymer 1965

A Treasury of Motor Cycles of the World by Floyd Clymer 1965

 

In 1963, ten years after they had ceased production despite the efforts of Clymer and several other big distributors, Floyd tried to revive Indian Motorcycles, with help from Royal Enfield and Velocette. In 1966 when he became the US distributor for the German exotic Munch Mammoth. Clymer was still trying to make Indian into a viable company, with a considerable part of his fortune invested in an updated V-twin powered bike, when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1970.

Along with his more historical collections, Floyd Clymer’s company also began to produce how-to manuals for the novice and home mechanic. These covered motorcycles, Mr. Clymer’s true passion, but also cars, boats, and other motorized transport. After his death, with the explosion of Japanese manufacturers in America, these became the core of the Clymer business.

 

 

 

Floyd Clymer from Cycle Magazine 1953

Floyd Clymer from Cycle Magazine 1953

 

Haynes owns the rights to the Clymer name and continues to produce new how to manuals, and reprint many of the popular older ones. Rights to all of the other Clymer publications pre-1970 are owned by Veloce Press and are occasionally reprinted.

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