Each California Scooter is built at this factory in La Verne, CA.
Steve Seidner gets motorcycles. It's in his DNA. It certainly doesn't hurt that he grew up working with his dad, Ed Seidner-the guy who started Bert's Mega Mall in 1959. With Bert's now the world's largest power sports dealer, it should come as no surprise that Steve followed that same muse, opening Pro One Performance in 1989, to make aftermarket billet-aluminum motorcycle accessories for Drag Specialities and Custom Chrome.
The Military Series includes...
The Military Series includes this awesome Sarge model.
A couple of years ago, Steve was on the hunt for a suitable Father's Day present for his dad, who happened to be a big fan of the vintage Mustang motorcycles made in Glendale, California back in the 40s and 50s. The more he dug into the little machine's history, the more interesting things got.
When you think of a classic Mustang, it's probably blue ovals and chrome emblems that come to mind first. But there was a cool, collectible Mustang made in the U.S. decades before Ford decided to roll out its pony car design. And this one only had two wheels.
Back in 1945 John Gladden laid out the plans for the first Mustang with the assistance of fellow motorcycle enthusiast Howard Forrest. A few of those first machines, called the Colt, were produced, but limited availability of the bike's British-built Villiers engines prompted a redesign. In the fall of 1947, the new Mustang Model 2 rolled onto showroom floors. It featured a proprietary single cylinder, 320cc side-valve engine, a three-speed Burman transmission, a solid rear suspension and 4x12 tires. This new bike used larger 12-inch solid disc wheels and the first telescopic fork found on any U.S. two wheeler. That new fork led up to a western style handlebar that guided the double-tube frame. The teardrop gasoline tank along with the low, 27-inch solo spring saddle gave the Mustang its classic motorcycle stance.
The sleek little Mustang and its snappy acceleration, primarily the result of an unbeatable power-to-weight ratio and healthy cam curve, made news in the cycle world soon thereafter. The Mustang was raced on circuits throughout the 40s and 50s, and when the diminutive machine, piloted by Walt Fulton Jr., nearly won the lightweight class in the inaugural Catalina Grand Prix (Fulton passed 145 other riders before the bike broke), the machine's legitimacy was sealed.
But with the 60s came the winds of change. The economy shifted, the Brit-built Burman trannies became difficult to obtain, and after a wave of inexpensive Hondas and Yamahas flooded the market, the Mustang factory in Glendale closed. Production ceased in 1963 but by then, the factory had built and sold over 20,000 Mustang scooters. They weren't done just yet, however.
CSC’s Greaser sports cosmetic...
CSC’s Greaser sports cosmetic changes only—flat black paint and red disc wheels
Remember our friend Steve Seidner? Well, he had finally located an original 1954 Mustang model to refurbish for his dad, but somewhere along the way, Steve joined the Mustang Club of America as well, and actually met former long-time Mustang production manager Jim 'Jimbo' Cavanaugh. As he tore into the guts of the little Mustang, he realized he could make a reliable, updated version of this classic motorbike.
Needless to say, Dad never got his Father's Day present that year; it ended up becoming the inspiration for the new California Scooter Company. But Steve did present both Ed and Jimbo Cavanaugh (who had offered design advice along the way) with their own California Scooter Co. 'Classic' scooters that year, and in 2010, CSC motorcycles had their first production run.
I got the chance to visit CSC sales and manufacturing recently, which is located at Brackett airfield in La Verne Ca. I got the penny tour of the entire facility from Steve, who also proudly proclaimed, "We have dealers worldwide but people love to buy from us. They're talking to the people that build them when they call."
Naturally, I wanted to saddle one up the minute I saw it. These are awesome, perky little runners and I found them surprisingly comfortable. The Classic's wide sprung seat handled my 6 ft.1 in. 210 lb frame, and even the riding position was sufficient. All controls are exactly where motorcyclists expect, with a left-side clutch and shifter, and right-side hand and foot brakes. The 5 speed tyranny allows you to get to speed quickly and cruise at 55-65mph easily. The 2-piston aluminum brake caliper married to 7.5 inch stainless steel brake rotors work shockingly well, probably because the bikes are so light (240lbs). Sure, 13.3 horsepower and 9.1 ft.-lbs of torque may not give you many bragging rights but I guarantee if you pull up to the local biker hangout, the crowd will be gawking at your Mustang. The sheer fun factor of these bikes reminds me of why I started riding in the first place. CARB/EPA approved and fully street legal, the Classic is legitimate 90 mpg transportation. Even with a 3 gallon peanut gas tank, that's reeling in some serious tarmac.
CSC currently offers four models: The Classic, The Babydoll, the Greaser and the awesome Military Series. You can choose from six colors and a slew of accessories, from ape hangers, chrome forward controls and heel/toe shifters to saddlebags. I got a preliminary look at their brand-new release, a Trike based on the original Mustang Delivercycle. Another new model slated for 2013 is the P-51, which is powered by the company's new, 250cc counterbalanced SOHC engine. To get it, Steve told me the original 4-stroke (OHV) single cylinder is just bored out from 149cc to 250cc. We're guessing that means significantly more power, acceleration, and top speed.
While I was there, a CSC Mustang owner came in for his annual service check. He rode 46 miles from Orange County, all on surface streets, and flashed a giant grin as he turned around for his ride back. "You wouldn't believe the variety of customers we see, from retirees to collectors that have them sit in their den on display," Steve commented as the customer rode away. He forgot to mention one other happy customer-his dad.
|2012 California Scooter Classic
||Red, blue black
|Displacement; bore x stroke
||149cc; 62 x 49.5mm
||5-speed; Chain final drive
||31.7 °/6.7 in.
||Hydraulic disc, two-piston caliper
||Sprung solo saddle