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Some Unusual Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Harley Davidson, from its earliest beginnings, has never been a company to go with the accepted norms. They have experimented with single cylinder, V-twins (air cooled and, more recently, liquid-cooled), and opposed-cylinder engines. While most of the engines were (and are) of the 4-stroke variety, Harley did produce some small, single-cylinder 2-stroke powered motorcycles in the 1970’s when the AMF Corporation owned the company.

There were also some specialized models for use by the military and the police introduced in the early 1940’s – among them the XA and the Servicar.

The Harley XA was an opposed-twin, shaft drive motorcycle designed for battlefield use during WWII. It was based on BMW’s motorcycle designs in use by the German Armed Forces at the time. Only 1000 were ordered for evaluation, but by the time they went into production, the US Armed Forces had already decided on the Jeep as the general purpose vehicle of choice.

                                 1942 Harley Davidson XA

With a production run from 1932 to 1973, the HD Servicar was Harley’s first production trike. It could be ordered with or without a built-in tow-bar and a small or large box. It had a rigid, differential-driven rear axle and a reverse gear. It was offered first during the great depression era in an effort to boost Harley’s sales into new markets. It became a popular means of transportation for police departments across the country.

                    1942 Harley Davidson Servicar

 

                1949 Harley Davidson Police Servicar

In the 1950’s and into the late 1960’s, Harley produced a series of single-cylinder 2-stroke bikes modeled after European models in vogue at the time. The “Hummer” is one such example. It was based on a German DKW design: the DKW RT125. This design was part of German WWII reparations, and the design was given to the three major allies, USA, Great Britain and Russia, each of whom made their own copies of the design. The Hummer was the US’s copy.

                       1959 Harley Hummer Model S-125

Originally designed with a 125cc engine, this motorcycle spawned a group of other small-bore 2-stroke bikes including the S-165 (a 165cc engine) and the Pacer, which had a 175cc engine and a production run from 1962-1965.

                               1966 Harley 175cc Pacer

Harley also produced a series of bikes based on Italian single-cylinder, 4-stroke designs, among them the Aermacchi Sprint with the original 250cc (almost) horizontally-mounted engine. Harley later offered a 350cc model.

                                  1966 Harley Sprint 350

Interestingly, even into the late 1970’s, Aermacchi’s designs were in use by Harley. They produced the “Shortster” a 90cc 2-stroke minibike.

                                        1977 Harley 90cc Shortster

In more modern times, Harley branched into liquid-cooled V-twins in the form of the V-Rod, produced from 2001 through 2017. The engine was developed in cooperation with Porsche and is a Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) design based on Harley’s Revolution engine. Originally just one model was made, although eventually 11 different model were produced. The 2017 model year saw two model, the V-Rod Muscle and the Night Rod Special. While this bike looks like a normal Harley in many respects, the engineers at Harley did some interesting things to it. For one, the “gas tank” on top of the engine isn’t the gas tank – it’s the air cleaner box. The gas tank is actually behind the engine, under the driver’s seat.

                                                1977 Harley V-Rod

Finally we come to Harley’s latest “unusual” bike – the 2020 LiveWire. Yep,Harley is dipping their toe into the electric vehicle business. While overall range is fairly limited at the moment (about 110 miles as of 2019), you know that will get better as the tech improves. Performance ain’t too shabby, though – 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds. To quote Mazda: “Zoom-Zoom!”

                                             2020 Harley LiveWire

We hope you have enjoyed this little trip through some of Harley’s more unusual bikes. Take care & happy touring!

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