Good Old Floyd

The Man Who Never Met a Motorcycle He Didn't Like
by staff
Friday, January 06, 2017

Importer, publisher and racer, Floyd Clymer wore a lot of hats in the motorcycle industry.
image by a device made to make images

Pictured above, Floyd Clymer on one of his Indian-branded minibikes during the AMA National Road Race Weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August of 1969.

At the time of this photo, Floyd was only three years removed from striking it rich when he sold Cycle magazine to William Ziff, of Ziff-Davis Publishing. Legend has it that the deal was struck between Clymer and Ziff at an Orange Julius stand, as Cycle editor Phil Schilling later conveyed, "on Pico Boulevard in one of Los Angeles's seedier sections. Ziff paid the princely sum of $300,000, and Clymer, as company legend has it, took the money and ran, laughing his way to the bank. Ziff, events would demonstrate, had a later, richer laugh on Floyd."

Clymer led a colorful life, that sometimes crossed the line of the law. He made a lot of money as an auto dealer starting when he was just 13! Shortly after he started publishing "Motorcycle Topics". A top-notch motorcycle racer in the 1910s and '20s, Clymer won the Pikes Peak Hillclimb on an Excelsior motorcycle, when most thought simply getting to the top on a bike was impossible.

In the late'20s Clymer was jailed after he was convicted of mail fraud. He was given the opportunity to avoid jail time if he pled guilty and made restitution to the wronged parties, but Clymer refused, claiming his innocence. He appealed the case, lost and spent just over a year in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Clymer was a model prisoner and was reportedly even permitted to leave prison to participate in local races.

Clymer later took over the West Coast distribution of Indian Motorcycles in the 1930s and he was the first to put Hollywood stars on free motorcycles for the publicity.

Clymer bought the fledgling Cycle magazine from Petersen Publishing for next to nothing and Clymer's journalistic style was later summed up by a phrase in a later anniversary issue of Cycle, "Clymer never met a motorcycle he didn't like." He always emphasized the positive aspects of motorcycling in his publications and shied away from critical testing reviews of motorcycles, which was becoming the style of writing that the public demanded during the 1960s.

Clymer tried to parlay his money from the sale of Cycle into even bigger enterprises. Along with promoting national races, he tried to import several motorcycle European brands and that, along with his attempt to relaunch the Indian motorcycle were unsuccessful.

Clymer, one of the grand old men of motorcycling, passed away just five short months after this photo of him was taken.


Share |

Return to News


©1997-2016 Hardscrabble Media LLC