The recent discovery of the only known example of a Leo motorcycle, which is scheduled to be auctioned here Jan. 10 by Bonhams, raises more questions than answers.
The 107-year-old Leo, found in complete and original condition in a storage area at a Massachusetts museum, has motorcycle historians and Bonhams valuation specialists stumped. The motorcycle, made to a high standard of fit and finish, offers a freely turning two-stroke motor with strong compression, a purpose-built heavy gauge tube frame, spoked rims, Thor pedals and a Troxel leather saddle.
Why was the Leo apparently manufactured for only one year, in 1905? Whatever happened to the company that made it, the L.A. Mitchell Manufacturing Company of Oakland, Calif.? Is it possible the company, and the bike, were victims of the 1906 earthquake that devastated the San Francisco Bay Area? No one seems to know, Evan Ide, a Bonhams specialist said in an interview, although it is hoped – as often happens in cases like these – the publicity around its discovery may lead to a source of more information.