17 Classic Motorcycles From The Harley-Davidson Museum

Written by Hog Life Team for Articles, Harley History

2 years ago

150 years after creating the legendary motorcycle that is the Harley-Davidson, a museum was finally opened to honour the classic machine – and it was highly anticipated.

Located on a 20-acre peninsula and surrounded by canals, the £75 million complex was designed by Willie G. Davidson, the grandson of a Harley founder.

Deliberately designed to look like a factory, the museum is host to a multitude of classic Harley bikes and is worth a visit for any Hog fan.

With over 450 bikes in the collection, around 140 are on display at each time-  regularly rotated to keep things interesting.

1903 – World’s Oldest Harley

Built in Milwaukee in 1903, the oldest Hog in the world is suitably encased in glass at the Harley-Davidson museum. With the serial number 001 stamped on many of the parts, this truly is a huge part of history.

1907 – Single

image source: Popular Mechanics

One of Harley-Davidson’s early designs was the 1907 single, a economy model with a single-cylinder engine.


1909 – 5D

image source: Hemmings

The 5D, despite its technical flaws, was responsible for revolutionising Harley-Davidson. Built in 1909, it was the company’s first two-cylinder motorcycle. An improved version was later launched in 1911.


1923 – 8-Valve Racer

image source: Popular Mechanics

Campaigned by British rider Fred Dixon, this racer cost the substantial amount of $1500 in 1923. It used four valves per cylinder and two camshafts to actuate them.


1925 – Scooped-Tank V-Twin

image source: Popular Mechanics

The profiles of HD’s street V-twins began to become more streamline with a special scooped-out fuel tank to clear pushrods. The design was somewhat inspired by the flat-track racing bikes, though this bike wasn’t designed for racing itself.


1936 – EL Twin

image source: Popular Mechanics

Said to be the first truly modern Harley-Davidson, the EL Twin features front and rear brakes with suspension built into the seat. The two-tone paint job gave the motorcycles a whole new look.


WWII Army Bike

image source: Wikipedia

Small numbers of the WLA were produced in 1940, but that number significantly rose resulting in over 90,000 being produced during the war. The museum proudly displays three of the WLA models, as well as the Navy Shore Patrol bike, a desert-fighting prototype and the courier bike.


1941 – King Kong

image source: Arthill

Built by Felix Predko, the King Kong truly is a machine to be admired. With two Harley Davidson frames, two Knucklehead engines and transmissions joined together, it’s over 13 ft. long.


1956 – KH

image source: Flickr

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll purchased a Harley-Davidson KH in 1956, shortly before the released of “Heartbreak Hotel.” A huge fan of the motorcycles, Elvis continue to add to his collection after this one.


1957 – Early Sportster

image source: Popular Mechanics

An alternative to the British 650 and 750 machines, in 1957 came the lightweight Sportster with a 88 cc V-twin engine and short wheelbase for better handling. The Sportster line continues to be a popular for Harley-Davidson.


1973 –  Rhinestone Glide

image source: Popular Mechanics

With thousands of studs, reflectors, lights and rivets, the Rhinestone-Glide is thought to be the most highly decorated Harley to exist.


1977 – XLCR Cafe Racer

image source: Pinterest

Harley created the first production cafe racer in 1977 and it has since become a highly sought after model by collectors due to its sleek black design, coffin-style tank and joined exhaust pipes.


1981 – Nova Prototype

image source: Popular Mechanics

With an overhead-cam V4 liquid-cooled engine and sport touring package, the Nova Prototype was built at the end of the American Machine and Foundry (AMF) era.


1987 – Electra Glide

image source: Popular Mechanics

The first Harley to have electric starting and ignition, the Electra-Glide came complete with a windshield, saddlebags, dual saddle and plenty of chrome.


2001 – V-Rod

image source: hdhistory

After five years of development, the V-Rod was released in 2001 and has since sold 10,000 units on average each year. With a fuel-injected, liquid cooled, overhead-cam 60-degree Harley V-twin, at the time of its launch, it was quicker than any other Harley’s previously.


2004 – Buell XB-12R

image source: Popular Mechanics

When Erik Buell began making customized versions of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, H-D decided to buy him out and made Buell a division of the company.


The Engine Room

image source: Quirky Travel Guy

Against the classic orange colour, a “family tree” is set up and serves to illustrate the evolution of the Harley-Davidson engine. From the early years to its latest creation, the Engine Room highlights the signature design of HD.

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