Jay Leno breaks several bones in 1940 Indian motorcycle crash

Jay Leno's Garage

Bad luck has struck Jay Leno again, landing him in the hospital with several broken bones.

While test riding his 1940 Indian motorcycle on January 17, he smelled a fuel leak:

“So I turned down a side street and cut through a parking lot, and unbeknownst to me, some guy had a wire strung across the parking lot but with no flag hanging from it,” Leno told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “So, you know, I didn’t see it until it was too late. It just clotheslined me and, boom, knocked me off the bike.”

Leno explained to Hagerty that he figures he was going about 15 mph, just doing a U-turn in the parking lot. It could have been worse for him, but the Indian did not escape unscathed. The motorcycle was a sidecar, so it kept going and crashed into a building.

Jay Leno Indian Motorcycle Riding
Jay Leno's Garage

The 72-year-old comedian suffered a broken collarbone, two broken ribs, and two broken kneecaps. Leno was admitted to the hospital, figuring he’d be out and about the next day.

A few years ago he told Hagerty that he had “one more motorcycle crash in him.” Maybe this was it.

This all comes just as Leno was preparing to return to the stage in Las Vegas, after finally healing up from facial burns suffered while working on his White steam car. As a result, he opted to lie low and not tell the media about the motorcycle crash right away. “You know, after getting burned up, you get that one for free,” Leno told the Review-Journal. “After that, you’re Harrison Ford, crashing airplanes. You just want to keep your head down.”

Jay Leno 1940 Indian Motorcycle Riding
Jay Leno's Garage

Leno understands both the risks and joys of motorcycle riding. The comedian said he’s generally been very lucky on bikes, including a couple of harrowing near-misses. In one instance, he was riding a custom Triumph for his YouTube series; the owner had run the crankcase breather tube out in front of the rear tire, so it was blowing oil all over the tire and he nearly lost control. Another time, while riding a Brough Superior, the wheel locked up just moments after he exited the freeway.

We wish Leno a speedy recovery. If history is any indication, he’ll be back in action soon.

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    I hope that Jay has a quick and full recovery.
    The headline suggests that the crash was 82-83 years ago…
    You know—the “Eats shoots and leaves” example.

    I’m not sure why anybody’s jealousy of what somebody else has accomplished has to enter into some dumb person putting a cable across the parking lot it could have been anybody that hit the cable

    My Guzzi sprang gas-line leak that was dousing my right leg/leathers coming over a mountain– on the way home from the dealer! I was able to reconnect the hose but was a walking torch-to-be for the rest of the ride home beside those resister-plug wires!
    He is VERY fortunate the line caught him where it did, and not across his neck where it could have been fatal.
    I gave up my bikes at his age; I miss them, but not the rear-view mirror image of a teen chick txt-ing while “driving” Dad’s 5000# SUV.

    I believe Jay is a great ambassador for all motorcyclists, especially vintage bikes (and riders). Riding always involves risk and a fall can/will happen anyone, any time, anywhere. And it usually hurts! I know and I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone. May Jay heal quickly and completely, not an easy feat as we get older.

    Thank you for pursuing adventure and standing out, you are a hero to many of us in the old car community. Though your trials and tribulations might seem foolhardy to some, you have given many of us the courage to chase our own dreams and that must be recognized.

    Jay certainly is “you bet your life” in more ways than one! We hope for a speedy recovery and continued taping of this show.

    More than a few years ago when I was nineteen. A very good friend,who was a hell of a good Motocross rider. Was driving a snowmobile,a farmer put a cable across an opening in a stone wall.you guessed it took is head off. The difficult part of the whole thing is that we had been using that opening for at least a month before the cable went up.

    Sorry for the loss of your friend, but this begs the question of whether you or your friend had the permission of the farmer to be riding on his land.

    Many stories about Jay Leno helping bikers broke down on the side of the road in California. Never met him, but would love to have some beers with him.

    Dear Jay,

    Please take better care of yourself. As a 71 year old, I know we do not heal as fast. I hope you are around for MANY more year, as we need car buffs like you around.

    Great story . Thank God Jay was all right. That could have been a lot worse than it was . What kind of moron does that . Happy trails Jay.

    There will always be the jealous, sour grapes people, I guess. He’s still a regular person like all of us. I hope he heals up well and doesn’t give up on any fun he wants and is able to do. Why in heck’s bells would a person not indicate a wire barrier with flags and signage? Either hatred for others or plain stupidity, I’d say.

    I’m a big Leno fan, but I will say this. When you get into your 70’s it time to give up the bikes Jay!
    Get well man.

    Jay Leno is much more than just another person taking up oxygen on this planet. Even more than his involvement in automotive enthusiast activities, he’s an altruist in other ways also. But even if he was a total jerk, what about just showing some common human decency in wishing him a speedy recovery? I don’t get the comments that infer because he’s not your best buddy that he doesn’t deserve your well wishes. And I ESPECIALLY don’t get the nerve to tell the REST of us to take your own cynical viewpoint.

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