The Harem of Leno

What you see here is is a 1946 Harley Davidson WR. You wont probably see it anywhere else on the planet except a certain place from (of course) where this photo has been taken. So if you go to that certain place to have a look at this motorcycle, you better go well prepared. And that should include having a good health check up, getting the nod from your physician and ofcourse something called belief. Because that certain place is the harem of comedian Jay Leno and it is famously called as Jay Leno's Garage. The reason for having a sound health is because if you have a weak heart, you will most definitely faint once you enter the garage and why the belief factor? Well, would you believe it if any single human being on earth who is not a distributor nor any brand owner or founder can have a diverse portfolio of bikes in a garage that would put to shame any classic gathering anywhere on earth? It's not just the diversity, it is also the pure number of bikes this guy has in the garage that is really stunning. And we are not even talking about the cars and a lot of variants that occupy his garage. I think even Mr. Honda or Mr. Agusta or Mr. Ducati would have a complex. How can anyone NOT have a complex?
This 1946 Harley-Davidson WR has been very recently acquired by Leno on August 10, 2009. Despite a seemingly low 40 hp, the WR weighs only 350 pounds and has tons of low end torque, making it drive like "a pit bull on a leash," according to Jay.
I tell you its one bad God has done by giving Jay Leno so much money, the worse is that Jay Leno's garage is for public viewing and so imagine the envy he is generating from all of us bikers. All these negative energy... I tell you... is not good. Actually it is not for public viewing like you know buying tickets and all, it is just that Leno has been kind enough to allow many a bike expert and critic enter the hallowed garage and give us a first hand experiemce of how does it like to feel to be physically present between so many legendary icons. And with his website, he has kind of made his garage 'public' and a huge thanks to Leno for that.

At least, through him, we get to see some really rare bikes. There are some HDs in the garage. One of these HD is the even rarer 1927 Harley-Davidson JD which he acquired 2 years back on June 4, 2007. The JD sported the first of Harley-Davidsons 74 cubic inch V-twins.

The other mentionable HD in his collection is the Elvis Bike. This special edition limited series Harley is Elvis Presley 30th Anniversary Signature Harley and each of the bike comes with its own limited edition artwork. He acquired the bike on November 19, 2007. Dont get surprised by how I got to know the dates as they are all given on the website by the text adjusting to each bike. I didn't even knew that such a bike existed. So how many motorcycles do you think Leno owns? 'About' 80 motorcycles and counting! make that 81 including the new HD he got 2 days back. Well, maybe he got another one today. So who is counting, not Leno, so its 'about' 80. This has got to be visual gratification of the highest order. Of course I couldn't feature all of them and from the ones not here ranges from a 1976 Hercules Wankel 2000 to a 1967 Munch Mammoth and everything in between. And the beauty of the garage is that everything is in pristine condition and everything runs! as Leno says “What’s the fun of it if you can’t drive it?”
Moving on to bigger things from the HD... and coming to some real vintage legends. Vincents, Brough Superiors, Indians, JAP... you name it, he has it. And like any other obsessed bike collector, he dots on Vincents. The only difference is just that he has lots of them. Vincent Black Shadow acquired on October 15, 2007. You know everything about the Black Shadow, right? as this hand built motorcycle was “the world’s fastest standard motorcycle.” He increased his Vincent collection in September 8, 2008 by getting a 1955 Vincent Black Knight. According to Jay, the futuristic Black Knight is the official vehicle of the Thought Police in the film, "1984." Well, that he is never satisfied, so he added another Vincent to his collection. He owns a 1939 Vincent HRD Series A Rapide which he acquired on March 2, 2009. According to Jay "Although the Series A Rapide was made in the late 1930s, it still offers a smooth ride on the freeway at 80 mph."
The size of the building of the ‘garage’ is hundred thousand square feet. All the Vincents as you can see are in pristine condition. You must be aware that the Vincent Black Knight is very very rare. Other bikes which you don’t get to see in the website is a 1988 Ducati 750 Paso Limited, a recently bought Buell, a Harley Dresser, a Ninja ZX-14, which he had to own owing to the fact that the Ninja is currently the fastest production motorcycle. Are you even counting the number of bikes alreday mentioned. Well, we are just starting off.
There are also a lot of things in the garage which doesn’t fit into the 2 3 4 wheeler categories like 19th and 20th century steam engines in perfect running order and it seems he keeps all his machines on check just to hear them when he wants to. So sweet!

Okay to continue the count, we have two restored 1958 BSA Gold to add up with the legendary 1934 Norton ES2, There are several motorized bicycles and of course how can you forget the MVs. There are 2 of them one new, one old.
He also has his own work station where restoration of various models are constantly going on, with a section dealing with shipment where various parts and accessories are being ordered and received from all over the world. Of course for such an extensive workshop, he has a full time staff working on it. Seven of them. Okay, moving on to some more iconic stuff...

Above what you see is ofcourse the legendary Henderson KJ. In my whole life I have only seen one Henderson, let alone ride it. This 1931 Henderson KJ was acquired on March 10, 2008. A favorite among police officers, the KJ has a "telltale" speedometer to help nail speeders. Guess how he got this Henderson? Well, one day, he recieved a call from a old man who was 92 and he was getting his divorce, so he wanted to sell the bike. Lucky! Damn lucky!
This 1933 Indian Four was bought on February 16, 2009. The Indian is America's oldest motorcycle brand and was once the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. They are coming back in a grand way with new products but are terribly expensive costing almost 40 grand. There is a 1923 Megola Sport Racer. You got to take a look at the link. The machine has its radial engine mounted inside the spokes of the front wheel, with the crankshaft mounted hard to the fork so that the engine rotates with the wheel. It makes a gyroscopic effect of the rotating engine mass inside the front wheel which aids the rider with its natural tendency to right itself.

How can a collector call himself a collector if he doesn't have a Brough Superior? Well, Leno says he doesn't want anyone calling him a collector, but he is and he has a Brough Superior. He got a 1930 Brough Superior SS100 on November 3, 2008. It not that he has only one of them, but you guessed that right? Dont know exactly how many he has them but he is in absolute awe of this legend and mentions "the best looking gas tank in the history of motorcycles."
Leno purchased his first motorcycle in college and it was a second-hand 1967 Honda CB350. His second bike came in pretty late when he started making his career and got himself a brand new Honda CBX in 1979, but replaced it with a 1981 model with the insurance money he got after crashing the 79 CBX. Leno still owns the bike.
But it's not just British and American classic bikes that Leno is interested in. He has quite a few Japanese bikes in his stable too. Remember his first bike was a Honda and his first brand new bike (the 1981 CBX, actually it was his third bike overall) is still with him. He got the above beautiful 1966 Suzuki X6 Hustler on April 14, 2008. In a cloud of blue smoke and just touching 100 mph. this bike could take on Triumphs and Harleys during it's day.
He got this beautiful 1975 Suzuki RE5 on March 31, 2008. The RE5 is a smooth-riding alternative to piston power, with no camshafts, intake or exhaust valves. I am sure you know Suzuki is the only Jap company to come out with a ritary or Wankel engine and this was their only model. The model however failed as customers were not keen to try out new technologies.
One thing is obvious; he is not just a show-off celebrity having lots of money and so buying bikes randomly to make a statement. That is, I would say and repeat, is obvious. This guy REALLY LOVES engines. He respects the machines, he knows these machines, in details and not just that, he goes into the history of the brand also.
And this is the famous Honda Superhawk. He got Mid-60's Honda 305 Superhawk on February 12, 2007. This is the same bike Robert M. Pirsig refers to throughout his 1974 bestselling book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." You can’t see it here, but beside the Honda 305 (with the original Honda wing decal on the tank) stands an immaculate Ducati Mike Hailwood Replica.
I don’t know why it is not called as a museum probably because museum doesn’t have this kind of variety, what else can be any other reason? There is a post on Motorcycle dot com where you can have a look at some of the models and while at it, take a look around, I mean at the surroundings and walls, even they are so nicely decorated, and this is really amazing. The walls have reproduced ads from vintage magazines and work by famed artist, framed newspaper clips of old racing news, pictures of racing legends, old manufacturer signage, etc. The garage also has antique toys and models.
There are two unique motorcycles which I have never heard about before. One of them is the 1924 Ace Motorcycle that Leno got on November 27, 2006 and the other is the 1918 Pope Motorcycle which he got after one year on November 05, 2007. While the Ace motorcycle looks somewhat similar to the Cyclone Board Track Racer, the Pope seems to be under restoration from the photos but Jay mentions With little by way of brakes, the Pope rides perfectly at 45, but it gets a little scary around 70. Jay's Ace was crafted in 1924, the same year the company was forced to close due to financial difficulties.
He doesn’t deny that he plays favoritism toward the vintage and classic marques. He likes his bikes to be dramatic, larger than life images. His specially prefers bikes that were ahead of its time. He says new generation bikes couldn’t be fiddled with, you know tweaking the carbs and all, and that helps the biker learn more of the bike. Today’s bike already comes with so much power and new tech like fuel injection and all that for a non-expert mechanic, it just might turn uglier if one plays with the engine system.
Of course there are some uncommon modern bikes too in his garage. Like what we have here, this is the S&S Mobil 1 Motorcycle that he purchages on January 7, 2008. This is a custom-built, S&S Cycle V-Twin-powered muscle bike, which Exxon Mobil 1 commissioned specifically as a one-off custom for Leno in honour of their long association with him. The bike is laden with the company’s new proprietary X-Wedge powerplant. The engine is a new generation, 117 cubic-inch air-cooled, pushrod V-Twin engine designed for performance while meeting progressively more stringent emission standards.
It has a muscle bike platform the genes of an American flat tracker. Wide bars, upright seating position, forward-mounted pegs reflects more of a cruiser though. But with a rake of 28 degrees
tubular frame and a wheelbase of 63.2 inches puts it onto sportbike territory. All the best brands, Brembo, Ohlins are available on this bike.
The other bike you see with leno on it is the 2009 Zero Motorcycles Zero S that he got on June 8, 2009. This clutchless one-speed has a total weight of 225 pounds and charges in less than four hours. It's essentially a fun bike for him, that is, but of course this is the future od every engine.
Yes, he is heavily into classic bikes, but his love for motorcycles spills over all time period. He loves new jet age bikes as much, if not more, than the classic and vintage legends. We already know he has a MV Agusta, a Ninja and other modern bikes in his garage. But what good a garage is if it doesn't have a Ducati? So, one fine morning on June 2, 2008, he gets himself a Ducati Desmosedici RR, yes, the very best only works for Mr. Leno. Just so that if you have to know, this Race Replica is worth $72,500. But the Ducati would feel so lonely there right, so he added a Gixxer for company. So recently on July 6, 2009, he bought a 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Maybe Leno has a thing for Brits. Beside the numerous Vincents, he has a host of Triumphs in the garage, a mixture of classic and modern Triumphs. He has several “Bonnies” and a 1953 Thunderbird. He also has a separate section for bikes acquired that needs restoration and one among them is a BSA Rocket. Here is his 2010 Triumph Thunderbird that he purchaged on July 27, 2009, thats very recent, right? Just check the number of bikes he has got this year! Triumph originated the "Thunderbird" moniker, later licensing it to Ford to use on one of their new car models. It is also found in the Royal Enfield marque but only on a India specific model.
And then, there is his famous or infamous (however you see it) Y2K Jet Bike that he got on October 23, 2006. Originally intended to power a Bell Ranger Helicopter, a C18 Allison Rolls Royce jet engine now powers one of the most unique motorcycles in Jay's collection. I remember his Y2K in silver colour, but this is black. Well, probably he has 2 of them, or even maybe more to ride on even and odd number days.
But as mentioned, his passion for engines doesn’t just end with 2 wheelers. He has over 100 vintage and classic 4 wheelers, from a 1912 Stanley Steamer to a rare 1964 Studebaker Avanti. Early electric vehicles, American muscle cars, rare European sports cars, all standing with a 1955 Buick Roadmaster, his most priced possession as this was his first car bought in the early 70s which he got for $350 through a newspaper ad. Of course, now it has been fully restored into something much more than what it originally came with. The garage was started in 1991.
Visit the website on Jay Leno's Garage. Besides the wondeful display of vehicles, there are lots of videos on the right panel of the screen. Enjoy them. All photos in the post are credited to the website.
There is also a post on Motorcycle dot com which I am sure you will enjoy. You will also find lot of images there. Source of information of the details of his garage has been sourced from the motorcycle website.


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