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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    Wishing a speedy recovery from the accident. I am not a lawsuit guy but I think I would if this happened to me. No excuse for not marking the line. This could have ended up far worse.

    I’ve met Jay at the Rock Store. Regular guy, same age as me, loves bikes and cars just like me. Only one small difference. He has about 6,398,213 times as much money as me! Luv ya Mr. Leno and get back on the road soon! BTW, late nite TV died when you left. The mutts on there now are useless and not funny, at all.

    Jay this Super Jay Osborn stuff has to end. We want you here and safe so please take it easy.

    Please move your show to Motor Trend where it is easier to watch. NBC did not know what to do with this show.

    Get well and get back to us.

    I was “clotheslined” once. I was trying to go up a trail in Maryland on my 1966 Puch 250 (sears) and got stopped by a wire, it got stuck in my handlebars. I realized it was an electric fence wire. I was able to remove it without getting shocked!

    Jay, when I was about 13 years old, my friends and I were having fun during summer vacation by chasing each other around the neighborhood on our bicycles. I remember racing through somebody’s back yard and suddenly being jerked by the neck – horizontal to a very sudden stop! Thanks to the elasticity of youth, I was not seriously injured, although I carried scars on my neck from the steel clothesline for several decades.

    I hope your recovery will be quick and complete! I really enjoy your shows and comments about cars – you are certainly an honest to gosh car guy!


    PS: Although I am Canadian, my family lived in the Boston (Braintree)area for many decades, and I have many happy memories ! Also I have an old Jag (E Type) myself. I still like to drive it, and local driving in a two seat car in the last two years was a great way to escape from Covid restrictions!

    Jay, you should wear better protective gear when riding. Helmet is required by law, but the only other gear I see is a leather jacket. Leather is the best protection against road rash, but a riding jacket should include elbow, shoulder and spine armour. Same with pants: jeans don’t offer much protection. Should have knee and hip armour. It’s all very compact and non-intrusive. And Jay is not wearing gloves. Bad news if your hand hits the ground. I’m still riding at 73 and won’t dare ride without all the gear. There are even wearable air bags available that inflate from a deadman tether. (Although I admit I don’t use an airbag …yet)
    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    Bikes are 50% exhilaration and 50% expectation…. because the next life-threatening injury is 0.5 of a second away at all times… get well Jay Leno.

    I read stringing wire on roadways during WW2 to kill the Enemy was common. Jay is not the Enemy. Jay get better.

    I am 83 and restoring a 40 Indian. Guess I had better stay out of any parking lots. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Wow, I’m shocked at the infantile back and forth between some of the commenters here. This is not the place or time …this forum is about the hobby we all love and participate in. If you want to get into name calling and blame storming and berating a person you’ve never met, go start a Facebook page to do it and stay off this forum. We read many interesting stories here about celebrities and others, we share funny or memorable experiences after and we look for the next story. The subjects of these stories are the rides and their owners, who, regardless of their celebrity or tax bracket are human beings. Many on this forum have met Jay Leno, so let them express some humanity towards him, whether you think he was in the right or wrong. Let those who’ve never made a mistake throw the first stone, Eh?

    Fortunately, my Europa goes right underneath most of these cables. Found that out the hard way.
    Poor guy. Tough break, especially at his age. Say what you want. You gotta admire his spirit.

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