1936 Harley Davidson DL 1200
Harley Bike Week 2013 is upon us and it seems appropriate to feature the American made motorcycles which entered this year’s Johannesburg to Durban run. The commemorative DJ Run has always attracted a small percentage of American entries, mainly Harleys, in comparison to the British and European manufacturers. I was surprised to see that this year the other great American motorcycle, Indian, had more entries than the Harley Davidson marque.
1925 Indian Chief 1200cc
My father loved American engineering. The saying “Nothing makes up for cubic inches” was, according to him, gospel. He possessed encyclopedic knowledge of the American cars and bikes of the 1930s, 40s, 50 and the 60s. The “two candle power” ( in his words) British and European vehicles held no attraction for him. Big V8s and big V twins with tons of torque were more his style. The reason I am sharing this personal information is to try and explain how my thinking was influenced and where my love for the Harley Davidson motorcycles originated
1918 Harley Davidson 1000cc
Retro Write Up, being a mainly custom bike focused site, will often feature Harley Davidsons which are the most customised motorcycles. I will therefore not go into much Harley history this time. It suffices to say that the first Harley was built in 1903, their first V twin was built in 1907 and that 15 000 Harleys were supplied to US troops in WWI. Probably the most significant Harley fact from the DJ era is that Harley Davidson was one of only two American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression which started in 1929.
Love them or hate them, American motorcycles have always been in a class of their own. Right from the beginning they had their own look and feel. Harley Davidson still retains many of these characteristics today. Thank goodness I am not the only sucker for heritage!