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Discussion Starter #4
a 1942 WL flathead isn't really a harley in the traditional sense. They were built as war bikes (WLA would would be the actual warhorse, where as the WL was a civillian version, and WR was the factory racer), and used as flat track racers when they hit surplus. It's also one of the bikes you want to find if you want to race a tankshifters class.
 

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If your interested in buying the bike then ask yourself if it's because you really want to ride a vintage hd or your looking to flip it for millions of dollars. I checked ebay and I found two 43 models that had bids of 7K and 12K respectively... Me - I think it would be cool to have an old hd in the garage to pull out for a ride once in a while..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ffarl....let me give you a crash course in HDs:

Evos, TC88s, Evo sportys and anything made in the last 20 years - let the douchebag "ride to live crowd have them", women, and commuters. Not interesting.

Shovelheads - used to be interesting before they became the domain of the "outlaw" chopper set and pretty much the only bike "the horse" will feature anymore. they can have it, not really a lot of interesting things going on here. Ironheads kinda fall into this realm too, but i will cover them in a minute.

Pans, knuckles and basically any thing made in the 1950s - interesting to look at in stock form - the domain of the look at me big money chopper crowd otherwise.

Buells - Erik Buell is a national treasure. anything he built is worthy of study. Even the forelorn blast engine is worth taking a look at even though the rest of the bike blows hairy dog balls.

flatheads: Anything HD did with a flat head is worth taking a look at because there is always something weird going on there. Harley's racking KR flathead is a beast that allowed Cal Rayborn to kick the crap out of the brits in the transatlantic match races (a race designed and stacked specifically for the brits to spank us). WRs helped keep HD racing alive during WWII, the WLA was the bike that was built specifically to an Army contract for the express purpose of putting boot to hitler's ass - you aren't liable to find a tougher machine.

XR, KR, WR, XLCH, XLR, Anything with a race heritage - need I say more? HD was competetive in at least something road racing based until the 1990s, and dominated flat track till 2011 (and are still way competetive). sure the rules favor the XR a little bit - but that promotes the others to get their ass in gear. The whole reason Honda bored a cx500 to 750ccs and turned it sideways was to try and kick crap at HD. If you can rattle honda, you can rattle the world.

Sportsters: well this is kind of an odd duck. 90% of the time there is nothing interesting here. However, they were the bikes HD built to be competetive with the english, they were the real HDs people owned for years (Big twins were always expensive). Ironheads espically are usually the domain of just the absolute piece of shit dirt bags because they are the cheapest harley that isn't italian, so there is a lot of garbage bikes floating around and not a lot of interesting things - however, they did also attract weirdo speed freaks like marc and my frind joey A who had to have fast motorcycles and tired to put the sport into sportster. Did you know the 1969 XLCH 900cc sportster was one of the fastest bikes in the world in a straight line in 1968? a lot of the IH stuff is directly related to the race stuff since the HD race team had a limited budget, the engines are as different as chalk and cheese, but there is a lot of frame interchange and you can use some race chassis parts. So once in a while there are interesting things to look at here.

Harley culture makes me want to vomit. their marketing machine is amazing in how it manages to really appeal to just about everybody except real bike enthuaists. It is a shame because some of their products work better then you would think - I took an electra glide up PCH out of san fran for my anniversary one year and loved every minute of it. sure it isn't a "performance" bike and only morons really fall for that performance marketing doublespeak crap (surprised at how many morons there are?), but once you clear out the garbage lifestyle products from the lineup there are some solid motorcycles (or at least there were now that they killed the XR1200X). Nobody forces you to buy a nightster, standard sportsters are still in the line up.
 

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Well, thanks. THat's more than I would have ventured to learn on my own. My own personal experiences are limited to two things: 1, the couple of HD's I've owned and/or ridden (all sportsters, and one old panhead), and the bike rally in my former town of residence, Ruidoso, NM. 55 thousand harley riders would show up in shockingly new leathers and fuck up the town for 5 days. They were mostly doctors and lawyers, most of whom trailered their bike there. Not that I have an issue with the trailering, per se. They would act like school teachers at an out of town conference, being obnoxious for the sake of doing it, and amble through the town on wobbly, unnecessarily loud machines that they were barely familiar with. You got all the Harley culture you could stand in just a few days.

Now, that said, my buddy has a pretty badass modern sportster, and it's fast as shit, and kinda nice looking, but it's stripped down and modded a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
yeah it totally sucks that the really interesting racing stuff is so buried in the absolute shit culture that it hardly seems worth it to take a look. Esp because you never want any of the HD ilk to talk to you.

At barnes and noble I found a book once that was all the bikes in the HD museum collection. It's a 300 something page book, and I counted maybe 10 pages of racing motorcycles. My dad has a ton of old HD picture books and if there is a single page on HD racing it is considered a better book than the rest (esp if it doesn't have a chapter on 1% outlaws).

if you can find it this is an awesome book:

Harley-Davidson Racing, 1934-1986: Allan Girdler: 9780760312179: Amazon.com: Books

we had a copy at Team Obsolete and I had to read it because it was there.

this is actually pretty good too as a jumping off point to do your own research:
The Heroes of Harley-Davidson: Ed Youngblood: 9780760315958: Amazon.com: Books


This is actually kind of a nice book to read to get a glimpse of the world at the time. Often when people talk about the british, the japs, the italians, and the americans it is in a vacuum and with some great finality only skewed history can provide. This kinda puts it all in perspective:

Whatever Happened to the British Motorcycle Industry?: Bert Hopwood: 9781859604274: Amazon.com: Books


And while I am giving you a late summer reading list, if you haven't read stealing speed you have to. Nazi's, the space program, cold war esponiage, and grand prix motorcycle racing. It would be the best movie ever if it wasn't true and ends (spoiler) kind of sad.
 

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Just in time actually. About to take a 30 day run up to the homeland (Detroit) and I'll have some free time. Unless I get the scrambler running in a hurry, and then it's ride, fish, ride, drink.
 

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ffarl....let me give you a crash course in HDs:

Buells - Erik Buell is a national treasure. anything he built is worthy of study. Even the forelorn blast engine is worth taking a look at even though the rest of the bike blows hairy dog balls.

Sportsters: well this is kind of an odd duck. 90% of the time there is nothing interesting here. However, they were the bikes HD built to be competetive with the english, they were the real HDs people owned for years (Big twins were always expensive). Ironheads espically are usually the domain of just the absolute piece of shit dirt bags because they are the cheapest harley that isn't italian, so there is a lot of garbage bikes floating around and not a lot of interesting things - however, they did also attract weirdo speed freaks like marc and my frind joey A who had to have fast motorcycles and tired to put the sport into sportster. Did you know the 1969 XLCH 900cc sportster was one of the fastest bikes in the world in a straight line in 1968? a lot of the IH stuff is directly related to the race stuff since the HD race team had a limited budget, the engines are as different as chalk and cheese, but there is a lot of frame interchange and you can use some race chassis parts. So once in a while there are interesting things to look at here.

Harley culture makes me want to vomit. their marketing machine is amazing in how it manages to really appeal to just about everybody except real bike enthuaists. It is a shame because some of their products work better then you would think - I took an electra glide up PCH out of san fran for my anniversary one year and loved every minute of it. sure it isn't a "performance" bike and only morons really fall for that performance marketing doublespeak crap (surprised at how many morons there are?), but once you clear out the garbage lifestyle products from the lineup there are some solid motorcycles (or at least there were now that they killed the XR1200X). Nobody forces you to buy a nightster, standard sportsters are still in the line up.
Mr.Buell. Total agreement. This oughta make you giggle, but the Blast was my second choice to the CX. Love Thumpers, even disguised as a learner bike.

The sportster WAS Italian. At least in the late 60s. The cue lies in the right hand shift.

I HATE with a passion the whole Harley "thing". Total crap based on a marketing powerhouse.
 

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Didn't you tell me that these old HD made bad street bikes because they were slow as shit on the road?
some comment of needing to be 80 years old and have a foot long beard to own/ride one.....

- - - Updated - - -

Wouldn't reproduction parts have a massive effect on price?
 

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Farmer John,

The sportster is USA thru and thru.

Actually I understand that the bike originally had left shift in the 50's, but switched to right side because that was how the Brit bikes were, their major competition.

I had a bone stock 94 883. Except for the too small gas tank and no travel shocks it was a pretty good bike, wish I had kept it.

My brother is a "biker", and I tease him about "playing dress up".

Jack

Jack
 

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Geeto,

That seems like a low price, but it could be what it is worth. Could have lots of after market or incorrect parts.

On those old bikes originality is paramount to top dollar. If you get serious, take someone that knows the model with you to view it.

The fellow at the rhinebeck show with the booth next to mine has a WLA there every year, and he points out little obscure things that make it very valuable. It is a really cool bike, but I declined taking it for a spin with that foot clutch and hand spark advance.

I would like something earlier than my 55 triumph--a sport scout looks cool, maybe when I win the lottery.

Jack
 

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Farmer John,

The sportster is USA thru and thru.

Actually I understand that the bike originally had left shift in the 50's, but switched to right side because that was how the Brit bikes were, their major competition.
and there is sometimes confusion that places "itallian" in the backs of minds... due to the Aermacchi made AMF imports with HD logos.....
 

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They even stlyed the Aermacchi/HD Sprint 250 and 350 SS models to look like little sportsters. Some of the Sprints even had sportster seats. My Aermacchi/HD Sprint C, 1961, had the stock HD "Banana" seat, that was used on both the big twins and Sporties. Later models shared the straight bench seat too. I really liked that bike since it only said Harley Davidson on the hand grips and footpeg rubbers. That was the first year of the HD part ownership and they hadn't put the name on the cases yet.

Kinda wish I still had it, but a fellow had a Jawa that I really wanted, and some cash so we made the trade.
 

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In 52 HD came out with there 1st all new bike in 17 years! Yup even then they were to most slow to come up to "todays standards" This new bike was the Model K. the K was a bike of 1st for HD, 1st front and rear suspention, 1st trans and motor sharing same cases, 1st foot shift ( right foot for flat trackers!) with hand clutch and a host of other things.

But you asked about a WL. Price looks good but theres alot of crappy re-pop parts out there and it does effect the price in the end. You asked if you're crazy....well yes but aren't we all? Go look at it ride it see if it make a fire in you.

I never saw myself as an HD owner, but always wanted a Indian....i own a 52 K model Harley, after looking at it for a freind who passed on it i bought it. No regreats well one i don't have enought free time to ride it as it should be.

44
 

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Since we're talking old Harleys.....for what it's worth the only one I'd aspire to own is a 57 Sportster.

Probably never happen though....
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The sportster WAS Italian. At least in the late 60s. The cue lies in the right hand shift.

What? The sportster was always American and right hand shift from day 1 (because the British were right hand shift). Some of the Italian HDs like the sprint shared parts like the seat and tank and fenders but that's it.
 
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