In a previous article I describe the 1916 Traub motorcycle as one possible candidate for the title of The World’s Rarest Motorcycle. Not because it is the only one-off motorcycle, but due to the very high quality of craftsmanship and the mystery surrounding its origin after it was found in 1967 in Chicago. The Wheels Through Time Museum, who has the motorcycle on permanent display, states that its origin is a mystery, but with a lot of research the mystery has possibly been solved.
Now for the highly skilled mystery builder’s name…although many sources and documents we researched mix some of the facts with secondhand information, they do not change the below solid facts…the builder is most likely Gottlieb Richard Traub (1883-1954) from Chicago.
First, to be able to build such a precision one-off motorcycle as the Traub, a builder would have to be very skilled and Traub was. On his draft card and in census data, he was both a toolmaker and an “experimental machinist” living at two addresses off Paulina Street in Chicago. Noteworthy from the previous article, the Traub in the museum has a custom wrench with the Traub name on it.
Next, he was not just a talented machinist who lived in Chicago from at least 1900 to 1920, but he was also very interested in motorcycles. He was interested enough in motorcycles to have his own shop, as seen in the picture, and he wrote letters to the editor of Motorcycle Illustrated in both 1907 and 1910.
One of the letters sent from a Richard Traub notes he lived in Chicago and the other notes he lived in Chicago off Paulina Street. To take it a step further, in one of the letters to the editor he describes a motorcycle he was building that matches the 1916 Traub’s specs.
With his name, skills, location, passion for motorcycles, and his published description of building a motorcycle that matches the Traub all lining up, it is highly probable he is the builder of the Traub motorcycle.