Harley Davidson Sportster 

In 1957, a new Harley-Davidson model the Sportster took the motorcycle world by storm that continues today. The 883cc Sportster, with its overhead valve engine and integral 4-speed transmission, gained rapid acceptance on America's roads and is generally acknowledged as the first of the superbikes.

The Sportster was an instant success listened to the market. The first XL was almost a junior FLH, but when the dealers and the market asked for speed and sport, the factory listened and offered the Sportster XLC, a stripped XL for desert racing, and the Sportster XLR, a mix of XL and KR parts, and they topped the mix with the awesome Harley Sportster XLCH, an instant classic.

 Harley Davidson Sportster
Harley Model K The First Harley Davidson Sportster XL, the 1957 Sportster, mimicked the look of the K-series, the first XL Sportsters big fuel tank and headlight made for no mistaking the new Sportsters heritage. it look like a distint realative to the FL series. most of the XL was just like the The Harley Model KH, as in suspension, unit construction, and so forth.

LEFT Picture of a Harley Davidson Model K the first Harley Sportster XL would inherit many of it's looks from the Model K. But that would change over time.
click on image to enlarge
 


But a closer look revealed that the OHV engine was a lot more different from the K or KH than it looked. The Sportsters engine displaced 883 cc, again like the KH, but the XL had overhead valves, a higher compression ratio, bigger bore and shorter stroke, all of which meant more power and performance.

The 55-cubic-inch (883cc) overhead-valve XL was the lone American entry in what 'some call the beginning of the superbike class'. Descended directly from the K model, the new Sportster was all Harley, yet trim. With no added baggage and clean lines some feel the look of the sportster stands as one of the best looking HD motorcycles ever manufactured. The no frills appearance clearly announced the mission of the sportster, to haul ass, a straight-line sprinter, in that role it was the class champ.

RIGHT Image from a 1960 Harley Davidson brochure showing the 1960 Harley Davidson Sportster XLH click on image to view an enlarged version
Sportster Brochure
 Harley Davidson Sportster New Tank Logo
Harley-Davidson Sportster Logo The Sportster XL New Logo, New tank emblem is round Lucite disc, with 2 red and 2 silver or gold quadrants with red "Harley Davidson" name. This was HD's first use of plastic for emblems. The new tank logo is designed by a moonlighting Willie G who was fresh out of design school and hadn't yet joined the company.

LEFT This circular logo was fitted to the first Sportster and the first Duo-Glide. Two-toned paint was used on Sportster fuel tanks in 1957 and 1958.
click on image to enlarge
 
The now famous peanut Sportster gas tank adorned with the just as famous Sportster script. The tank may be the most enduring thing to come from Harleys two-stroke days since the tank was originally on the 125cc Model S.

LEFT The Model S was the source for the peanut gas tank. Image of a 1947 two-stroke single model S.
click on image to enlarge
 
Harley-Davidson Sportster Peanut Tank
 Harley Davidson Sportster XLR
Sportster XLR The Harley Davidson Sportster XLR, The Sportster continued its evolution with The XLR, which was built for TT scrambles racing. At a glance the R appeared to be simply an XLCH sportster stripped for competition, but the engine had a number of differences. The only obvious hint was the magneto mounted ahead of the front cylinder, rather than on the right side. The XLR ran ball bearings at the crankshaft ends and different heads, flywheels, cams, pistons and valves. The motors were good for about 80 horsepower and the bike weighed little over 300 pounds. The XLR engine was produced in limited numbers, probably fewer than 500 in a ten-year period.

LEFT Picture of a Harley Davidson Model K the first Harley Sportster XL would inherit many of it's looks from the Model K. But that would change over time.
AS WITH MOST IMAGES click on image to enlarge
 Harley Davidson Parts and Accessories

Harley Davidson parts and accessories have become a important ingredient in the success of both the company and dealers. The fact Harley formed A separate parts and accessories department as early as 1912 proves just how early Harley and the Davidson's realized the importance of these items.

Arthur Davidson warned dealers that the company would not tolerate affixing non Harley aftermarket parts on H-D bikes.

The Motor Company's reputation for durability and performance helped Harley-Davidson stand out in an increasingly crowded field of motorcycle manufactures. He knew insisting on genuine parts and accessories would maintain that hard earned reputation.

RIGHT Arthur Davidson is featured in a 1924 Harley Davidson parts and accessories mailing sign up form
FREE OFFER Extremely Rare 1917 Harley Davidson Brochure
1906 Harley-Davidson
 
This is a very rare Harley Davidson Motorcycles brochure covering the full motorcycle lineup for 1917. Of the three dozen or more books I own covering the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company not a single one has any images from inside or outside of this brochure

Recently I became aware of just how rare this Harley brochure is. One of the items you receive when becoming a member of the official Harley Davidson Museum is the book: 100 Years of Harley-Davidson Advertising. Surprisingly the book doesn’t have a single image of what is easily the most beautiful engraved color lithograph art work to ever grace a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Brochure.

Since no other publication ever displayed this, I wasn’t surprised when not a single image from this brochure could be found in the official Harley Davidson Museum, which BTW is beautifully decorated from top to bottom with Harley Davidson advertisement material.
 
Download one of the rarest Harley Davidson Brochure FOR FREE

The download includes large desktop sized wallpapers of the color lithograph cover and center spread along with the other full page images that grace this rare brochure. Yours absolutely free for just signing up to HarleyDavidsonMuseum.com
 
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1906 Harley-Davidson  
Harley Davidson Museum Photos
Harley Davidson Gas Tanks
New standard colors introduced in 1933 ushered in a new era in Harley gas tanks Harley gas tanks . Combining intricate tank logos and hand-painted pin striping the Harley gas tank became works of art. The art deco-inspired designs demonstrated the creativity and skill of the company's employees. The tradition of developing new gas tank designs to accompany changing paint schemes became a trademark of Harley-Davidson style.
1906 Harley Davidson
1906 Harley-Davidson 1906 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle By 1906 the motorcycle industry was already beginning to experience furious competition. The Harley Davidson Motor Company's reputation for durability and performance helped Harley-Davidson stand out in an increasingly crowded field of motorcycle manufactures.

Model: Model 2, 26.8ci (440cc) F-head single
Price: $210
Production: 50
Colors: Black with Gold pinstriping, Renault Grey with Red pinstriping
1907 Harley Davidson
1907 Harley Davidson 1907 Model 3 Atmospheric-Valve Single
The year 1907 was a milestone for Harley-Davidson. The company incorporated in September, selling its first stock to employees and board members. That November the founders rented a booth at the Chicago Auto Show to recruit dealers, offering price breaks as a lure: $30 for every fifth bike ordered. The 1907 bike cost $210. It could travel over 500 miles on one tank of oil, a feature tested personally by co-founder Arthur Davidson when he rode a 1907 model to New England to recruit even more dealers.
1909 Harley-Davidson  

Model: Model 3, 26.8ci (440cc) F-head single
Price $210
Production: 150
Colors: Renault Grey with Red pinstriping, Black
Specification: Sager front fork used, otherwise as 1906
1909 Harley-Davidson   1909 Harley Motorcycle
1909 Harley Davidson
1909 was the first year Harley-Davidson released more than one model, adding its first twin-cylinder engine. However, the first twins were recalled, so single-cylinder bikes like the Model 5 remained the mainstays.
Model 5 - 30ci (500cc) single, 28in wheels, battery ignition Price $210
Model 5A - 30ci F-head single, 28in wheels, magneto Price $250
Model 5B - 30ci F-head single, 26in wheels, battery ignition Price $210
Model 5C - 30ci F-head single, 26in wheels, magneto Price $250
Model 5D - 50ci (819cc) F-head V-twin, magnet Prices Price $325
1909 Harley-Davidson   1909 Harley Motorcycle
1916 Harley Davidson Model J  with Package Truck
Introduced in 1915 as an addition to the successful sidecar line. The Harley Davidson Side Van was basically a wooden box on a sidecar chassis, with a hinged top for loading, and proved very popular with commercial users. Among the Harley factory options was your own company's sign written name on the box, at 10 cents per letter, and a folding top and side curtains to protect the rider from the elements.

Model: Harley Davidson Delivery Van  17-M
Price: $70

Model: Harley Davidson Delivery Van  17-N
Price: $72


1915 Production: 98

  
From the beginning Harley-Davidson motorcycles had been used by police departments. The U.S. Postal Service also found them to be a much better solution for rural routes then horses. An early Harley brochure promotes a relatively new use in the below text:

Fire Department Service Comparatively new in this service, the motorcycle has  One large city in the middle west in which motorcycle equipment is being used has been able to extinguish 70 per cent of its fires by means of the motorcycle equipment before the heavy apparatus arrived.
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Harley 1957 Models
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Harley
Sportster XLCH
Sportster XLCH
In 1959 Harley Davidson introduce the XLCH in 1959. The ad goes on to say:
Drags! Scrabbles! Trials! Endures! Climbing! Anything! You name it ... you ride it ... the Sportster "CH" loves it! Here is the sporting SPORTSTER ... ready to take a challenge ... willing to meet any odds . .. and always able to win. The Harley-Davidson SPORTSTER CH comes equipped with headlight, tail-light, trip-o-meter speedometer and hi-flow muffler. For all-around riding (on or off the road), the Harley-Davidson SPORTSTER CH can't be beat! Put one through its paces ... get a test ride thrill, today
Harley Davidson parts and accessories
Model K
harley model K
Harley Model K
In 1952 the aging HD 45 WL, which had been in the line since the Thirties, was dropped in favor of an all new HD motorcycle called the Model K. Powered by an all-new 45 cubic inch side-valve motor.

With the motorcycles new sleek, sporty (pre sportster)looks and features that included an integrated four-speed foot-shift transmission, hand-operated clutch, hydraulic-suspension front and rear. the Model K represented the most modern and technologically advanced Harley-Davidson ever produced.

The Harley Davidson Model K was an instant success on the streets, and its sporty racing brothers, the KR and KRTT, were equally successful on the nation's race tracks.  

 Harley Davidson
Aermacchi
Aermacchi logo
In 1960 Harley Davidson buys half interest in Aermacchi of Italy and imports the Sprint, a 250cc 4-stroke single
Harley Servi-Car

1932 Model G Servi-car Side Valve V-Twin Servi-Car model production began in 1932 and ended 41 years later. Conceived as the "ideal commercial vehicle," the Motorcycle Trike proved popular with police departments.

Harley Sportster
harley sportster script
The
Harley Sportster era begans in 1957 when Harley Davidson introduced an overhead-valve, 54-cubic-inch engine (883cc). Before that, Harley motorcycles were side-valves (Flatheads). In 1957, Harley Davidson released the overhead-valve cylinder heads, which gave the motorcycle increased horsepower and performance. Today there are many iterations of the Sportster.  

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