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1920s Indian motorcycle hill climber 1920s harley-davidson and side car

The Harland Krause Motorcycle Photo Album

The motorcycle, just like the automobile, was used in competitive events of all types in the early 1900s, and the motorcycle hill climb soon became a very popular sport. Harland Krause was a rider who during a timespan of twenty or thirty years was very active in the sport in both the Beloit, Wisconsin and Rockford, Illinois areas. Thanks to Michael DeBock we will be posting a series of images from Krause’s photo album taken during that time.

The logical place to start from is with the earliest photos and shown here are some of them that appear to date to the early 1920s. The feature photo at the top of the post shows an unknown rider likely to have been a friend of Krause’s posing with his Indian Hill Climbing machine in front of the Beloit Auto Laundry. His mode of transport for getting it to the events was a cargo box mounted on a sidecar chassis attached to a Harley-Davidson.


The photo above also shows the unknown rider’s rig with his Indian Hill Climber in it along with a number of other riders and their machines. The Auto Laundry must have been the place in town to get your car cleaned and polished at the time and it appears to be a drive-through.

Upon a pole on the left-hand side of the photo is a sign for the Bainbridge Cycle Shop that was an Indian Garage that also did auto repairing, it may have been located farther off to the left. Apparently the Indian competition machine might have been connected with the repair shop and possibly the Laundry.


It is not certain, but it is believed that the short and steep hill seen above may have been in the Beloit area; it may have been where the Indian Hill Climber was put through its paces. The very top of the hill levels off abruptly and many of the machines that did finish the climb probably did so while being airborne.

Below is a related photo showing three young men with a Harley-Davidson and a sidecar rig that has been involved in a crash. Take a good look at the front the bodywork showing how it has been roughly beaten back into shape. If you can fill in any details about the riders or the machines, please send us a comment and look for more interesting photos soon. See many more vintage motorcycling images here.


5 responses to “The Harland Krause Motorcycle Photo Album

  1. Those hill climbs were pretty hairy – if you applied too much power, the front wheel would pick up, and the bike would shoot out from underneath the rider.

  2. My grandfather, Charles W Florey, owned an Indian motorcycle and hill-climbed at Big Hill and elsewhere. He rode his Indian west and took it to Alaska by boat. He also raced against a Stanley Steamer and also against a biplane on the fair circuit. This occurred for several years after he settled in Beloit, WI about 1903. However, in 1910, when Grandpa married, his employer made him get rid of the motorcycle. We have only one small photo of Grandpa riding a bike, but it was taken at an almost head-on angle, so not much of the bike is visible. We’d be grateful if anyone has records of those early hill climb and county fair events to share.

  3. My wife’s uncle Woody Carson Hill Climbed Indians around the Rockord area, but that may have been more towards the 1950’s. This is great stuff to see that was close to my hometown between Rockford and Beloit. I am a motorcycle artist as well and this newly found ( or shared ) stuff is a delight!

    Any Woody Carson pics would be great to see too, not many out there at this point.

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