1915 -- yes 1915 -- Harley Davidson ad & photo

Ran across this in a historical community forum and thought the motorcycle fans in this group would enjoy seeing a 1915 ad for an HD cycle and a photo of said machine. :slightly_smiling_face:



Pretty cool add. Looks more like a motorcycle at that point than a bicycle with an engine.

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let’s consider the $310 twin

anybody have any idea how much that would be in today’s dollars . . . ?!

About $8,000.

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I imagine it was bench made and if so that price is really cheap.

Pretty interesting. Btw, that $200 from 1915 is the equivalent of $5,000 today.

At auction it could bring a 100 grand; all depending. Thats a 61 cubic inch F model with intake over exhaust valve setup. And it even has the optional acetlylene lighting. That round cylinder under the handlebars is the acetlylene storage tank. Should work well in the event of a crash with no front brakes…

I’ve seen an original seat for one of those things sold on eBay a dozen years ago for 1100 bucks and it was in only fair condition at best.

Well, here’s where I live and the current USPS operations center. We’re a wee bit behind the world.



Interesting. It’s definitely a modern looking design. As a rider I’d be less concerned about the acytelene tank’s position than the upright metal cylinder just behind it.

I have driven post WW II foot clutch Harleys and it took some close attention to stay up on them. I can only imagine the steep learning curve on those old bikes.

That upright cylinder behind the acetlylene tank is the speedometer. Both of my old Harleys have foot clutch/hand shift setups and it’s great IMO. Takes a couple of weeks to get used to. The touchy part is taking off from a stop sign at the top of a steep hill.,

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When I worked at a bicycle shop in Milwaukee during the 1970s, one of our customers was a grandson of Harley. A good guy, and able to easily afford one of our more expensive and unique bikes!

I learned to avoid stopping on steep hills. For those unfamiliar with driving motorcycles a foot clutch would be a poor place to become familiar. The heal & toe with the left foot while braking with the right hand and simultaneously twisting the throttle is a really bad situation. If needed pull in someones driveway and turn around to exit into the street when clear.Stalling in traffic facing up a steep hill is bad on a 250cc bike. On a 750cc Hog it’s real bad.

Many of the foot clutches were modified over the years but the stock foot clutch was manufactured to stay disengaged even if the rider left the bike running while in gear.
Some refer to them as suicide shifters.

I took my old U model flathead Harley out and ran it a few times through the quarter mile just for grins. It turned 19 seconds which is not bad for a low compression (5 to 1) flathead with a foot clutch.

I found this video showing the HD foot clutch and how it’s adjusted

It might make sense of how it operates to any interested

1915 was actually the first year for a clutch on a Harley. Prior to that Harley, and other makes, used a leather belt to make a direct connection between the crankshaft and the rear wheel. There was a long lever on the left side that moved a tensioner pulley up to tighten the belt and move forward. Slowing down was releasing the tension on the pulley which then allowed the crank pulley to freewheel on the leather belt.

In the above pic I posted the bike on the far left is a 1910 Indian. The 4 bikes to the right are all either 1907 or 1908 Harley “Strap Tankers”; so called because the fuel tanks were held on with 2 straps which encircled the tanks. The Harleys were belt drive; the Indian chain drain through a crude gearbox of sorts.

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No front brake. Scary

Truimph had a reverse setup for brake and trans, not sure about clutch and brakes on the 71 Triumph I owned, Bike days are over anyway so no worries, but wonder if someone did not know this they might be in a world of hurt on a test drive.

I’ve owned 3 Triumphs back in the day.A 66 Daytona, a 67 Bonneville, and a 1950 6T which actually displaced 800 CCs due to hogging the cases out and adding a Sonny Routt big jug kit. Hot cams, and a reworked head made that bike a beast.

In a panic stop the rear brake is the best option followed by application of the front., Front only can lead to some serious wheel hopping.

I was thinking a new rider would not know a 72 had shifter foot pedal on the right, and brake on the left, I think the clutch was left hand and front brake the right hand. But then how many people know you have to punch the pedal to the floor to set the choke? Dying breed I guess, had to rebuild the carbs, 4 for a four cylinder boat engine at the cabins in the 80’s, decided to do points also and thought instead of my feeler gauge I would pick up a dwell meter. Went to the auto parts store deer in the headlights, I’ll ask the old timer in back. Old timer we have not sold those for years.