Harley Davidson 1933 VLE

The V-series were reliable side-valve V-twins that consistently out-sold every other range of Harley-Davidson during the early 1930s. Introduced in August 1929 for the 1930 model year, 1930 VL is an example of one of the all-new bikes brought in to replace the F-head V-twins. New features included the duplex primary chain, the steering head lock, and the I-beam forged fork legs. Twin headlights and the klaxon horn were carried over from the 1929 model. The bike’s color scheme is the traditional olive green with vermilion striping edged in maroon and centered in gold. Drop center wheel rims were another feature introduced with the VL.

Harley Davidson 1933 VLE
Harley Davidson 1933 VLE

SPECIFICATIONS

• ENGINE Side-valve, V-twin
• CAPACITY 74cu. in. (1213cc)
• POWER OUTPUT 22bhp
• TRANSMISSION Three-speed (optional reverse), hand shift
• FRAME Tubular cradle
• SUSPENSION Leading-link front forks, rigid rear
• WEIGHT 390lb (177kg)
• TOP SPEED 65mph (105km/h)

Harley-Davidson introduced The V-series in 1930, 14 years after rivals Indian had made their first side-valve big twins, but the bike suffered a number of teething problems. The first two months’ production had to be recalled so that new frames, flywheels, engine cases, valves, springs, and kick-start mechanisms could be changed. The work was carried out for owners free of charge, but it was a costly exercise that did little for the reputation of the V-series. After the shaky start, the side-valves evolved into rugged, fast, dependable bikes, and a VLE even went on to establish the American production bike speed record in 1933 of 104mph (167km/h). The 1933 VLE was the high-compression model in the series, with magnesium-alloy pistons providing the extra power. While only 3,700 bikes were built by Harley in 1933, this still accounted for 60 percent of all motorcycles sold in the US that year.

Harley Davidson 1942 XA

Harley Davidson supplied thousands of traditional 45° V-twin WLA and WLC models to the Allied military during World War II, but the company also produced a small number of BMW-style machines for the war effort. Although the WLA was a good all-around military bike, the US army asked Harley-Davidson to produce a shaft-drive machine and Harley turned to the enemy for inspiration. BMW’s R75 was virtually cloned and a test batch of 1,000 XA’s were produced, as were a batch of prototype shaft-drive Indians, the idea being that the better of the two bikes would be awarded a contract. Neither satisfied the army, which ordered extra WLAs instead, thus ending the XA’s brief life. The XA used a transversely mounted side-valve flat-twin cylinder engine, had shaft drive to the rear wheel, a four-speed gearbox, and plunger rear suspension. The XA was a prototype shaft-driven machine built for the US army that was ultimately only produced in limited numbers because of the success of the Willys Jeep as a battlefield vehicle. While it was built to the special specification of the US military, the arrival of the immensely successful four-wheel drive Willys Jeep changed the agenda as far as military motorcycle use was concerned, and only 1,000 XA bikes were ever made.
Harley Davidson 1942 XA
Harley Davidson 1942 XA


SPECIFICATIONS
Harley Davidson 1942 XA
• ENGINE Horizontally opposed side-valve twin
• CAPACITY 45cu. in. (738cc)
• POWER OUTPUT 23bhp @ 4,600rpm
• TRANSMISSION Four-speed, shaft drive
• FRAME Tubular cradle
• SUSPENSION Leading-link front forks, plunger rear
• WEIGHT 538lb (244kg)
• TOP SPEED 65mph (105km/h) (est.)

Harley-Davidson 1930 Hill Climber

In hill-climbing, riders launch their machines at impossibly steep hills. If riders make the summit then time decides the winner, but if no rider reaches the peak, then the one who has reached the highest point wins. A hill-climb bike appears simple, even if the reality is rather more complicated. The essential element is power, and in the case of this machine a methanol-burning eight-valve engine was enough in 1930 to make it a competitive bike. A long wheelbase and weight at the front to prevent the bike tipping over backward are both essential, as is grip, which is why this bike’s rear tire is wrapped in chains. This unrestored bike is typical of the ingenious hill-climbing machines of the period. The frame is from a JD model circa 1929, and the forks are from a 1928 45cu. in. bike. The engine cases are from a JDH, with JE model flywheels; special barrels and overhead-valve cylinder heads are from a single-cylinder Harley. Modern hill-climb racers still have a similar look to this rugged machine and the difficulty of trying to convert power into climbing ability remains the same. These crude facts belie the level of expertise involved in handling these machines, and once again it was Joe Petrali who took the honors for Harley-Davidson. Between 1932 and 1938, he won six national hill-climbing titles on a Harley. The Harley-Davidson race teams were easily recognizable by their orange and black jerseys. These colors would later be used as the livery for Harley’s racing bikes.
Harley-Davidson 1930 Hill Climber
Harley-Davidson 1930 Hill Climber


SPECIFICATIONS
Harley-Davidson 1930 Hill Climber
• ENGINE Eight-valve, V-twin
• CAPACITY 74cu. in. (1213cc)
• POWER OUTPUT Not available
• TRANSMISSION Competition single-speed gearbox
• FRAME Tubular cradle
• SUSPENSION Leading-link forks, rigid rear
• WEIGHT 350lb (147kg) (est.)
• TOP SPEED Determined by the gearing chosen for the hill-climb course

Harley-Davidson 1926 Model S Racer

Harley-Davidson 350CC Racing class was created soon after Harley unveiled its “Peashooter” racer in the summer of 1925. The bike was based on its new 21cu. in. ohv single-cylinder economy road bike. To make it competitive for dirt-track racing the bike had a shortened frame and simple telescopic forks that were triangulated for greater strength. All nonessential components were ditched from the standard road model, including the springer forks, saddle spring, brakes, and gearbox. The bikes ran in a single gear and the clutch was only used for starting. Races on oval dirt tracks were run counter clockwise and the left foot was used to stabilize the bike in turns. The legendary Joe Petrali was among several riders who achieved success on Peashooters as Harleys swept the board in the new class. Petrali was one  of the best riders in the history of American bike racing, and in 1935 he won all 13 rounds of the US dirt-track championships on a stock Peashooter. Harley produced its Peashooter racing bikes in limited numbers for a few years and, as well as success at home, they were also raced successfully in Britain and Australia. However, the appearance of the British JAP-powered machines in the 1930s effectively made all competitors redundant and the Peashooter disappeared from the racing circuit.
Harley-Davidson 1926 Model S Racer
Harley-Davidson 1926 Model S Racer


SPECIFICATIONS
Harley-Davidson 1926 Model S Racer
• ENGINE Overhead-valve, single cylinder
• CAPACITY 21cu. in. (346cc)
• POWER OUTPUT 12bhp
• TRANSMISSION Single-speed, chain drive
• FRAME Tubular loop
• SUSPENSION Telescopic front forks
• WEIGHT 240lb (109kg)
• TOP SPEED 70mph (113km/h) (est.)

Harley Davidson 1926 Model B

After the failure (comparatively) of the Sport Twin of 1919–23, Harley had another crack at the lightweight market by releasing a range of single-cylinder bikes for the 1926 model year: the A, B, AA, and BA. The design was entirely conventional, and inspired by Indian’s contemporary Prince as well as typical British machines of the period. The bikes were available with side-valve or overhead-valve engines and the racing versions that followed were nicknamed “Peashooters” due to the unique pitch of the exhaust. The side-valve model was revived between 1932 and 1934, probably as much to use up stocks of parts as it was to sell what Harley claimed was its cheapest ever model. The name was eventually applied to all the models. The model shown here is a B, with side valve engine and battery ignition option. Harley-Davidson intended these singles primarily for export markets and initially they were successful. Unfortunately, the worldwide recession meant that the British imposed severe import tariffs and the European market collapsed. The model was discontinued in 1929, though existing stock continued to be sold the following year. These were ideal machines for impoverished commuters and delivery riders who accepted underwhelming performance as long as the bike was cheap to buy and run.
Harley Davidson 1926 Model B
Harley Davidson 1926 Model B

SPECIFICATIONS
Harley Davidson 1926 Model B
• ENGINE Side-valve, single cylinder
• CAPACITY 21cu. in. (346cc)
• POWER OUTPUT 10bhp
• TRANSMISSION Three-speed,vchain drive
• FRAME Tubular loop
• SUSPENSION Leading-link front forks, rigid rear
• WEIGHT 263lb (119kg)
• TOP SPEED 60mph (97km/h)