Comparing 1948, 1955 and 1965 Harley Panhead Motorcycles

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Riding a Classic 1936 Harley Flathead Down Loveland Pass Colorado

Buzz Kanter of American Iron Magazine rode this 1936 Harley VLH flathead across the US – from Daytona Beach, FL to Tacoma, WA on the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball.

Here is some on board video of his riding it down from the crest of Loveland Pass Colorado – almost 12,000 feet above sea lever.

Yes, he is chasing modern bikes down these sweepers and switchbacks – modern bikes with modern suspension (the VLH is a rigid frame rear) modern tires (not like the skinny ones on the VLH) and modern disc brakes (the VLH has marginal drum brakes) on my 1936 Harley riding.

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Harley News! Staff Changes at American Iron Magazine

American Iron Magazine, the bestselling motorcycle magazine on the newsstand, is getting a new Editor after Chris Maida recently announced his retirement after 18 years at the company. Publisher Buzz Kanter announced Steve Lita is being promoted from Editor of American Iron Garage to Editor of the much larger American Iron Magazine.

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In another announcement Kanter announced Tyler Greenblatt is moving up to the Editor’s role at American Iron Garage and other newsstand special issues. And Bryan Harley has been hired as the new online Editor for the American Iron family of products.

American Iron Magazine will continue to feature one or more classic American motorcycle (Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Thor, Pope, Crocker, Whizzer, etc) in every issue. It is published every four weeks for 13 issues a year.

Subscriptions are available for American Iron Magazine in PRINT ($24.97 for 13 issues in the US) or DIGITAL ($19.97 anywhere in the world) delivery.


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Classic Belt Drive Harley & Chick Magnet?

Another reason to own and ride a classic Harley

Another reason to own and ride a classic Harley

There is something about a man on a classic Harley!

This is an early single-cylinder belt-drive Harley.

Notice the aftermarket headlamp?

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Classic American Iron Racer – Cutdown 1919 Harley

Antique Harley J Cutdowen Racer

Antique Harley J Cutdowen Racer


Recently rebuilt 1919 Harley J Cutdown racer. Built by Matt Walksler.

No front brakes, trimmed fenders, open race style exhaust and no lights. Bosch ZEV magneto ignition and cut down frame.

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Original 1934 Harley CAC Motorcycle Racer.

Original Harley promo picture for 1934 CAC cinder track racer.

Original Harley promo picture for 1934 CAC cinder track racer.

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Last Minute Harley Christmas- FREE American Iron Magazine Gift Subscriptions

Looking for a great last minute gift for your Harley riding buddies? Until December 31 American Iron Magazine is offering a BOGO (Buy One, Get One free) deal on gift subscriptions to the best selling Harley-oriented magazine in the world.

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Buy one gift subscription for the usual $26.95 rate and give a second gift subscription FREE. And American Iron Magazine will even send them gift cards in your name.

No limit on how many gift subscriptions you can give and a free one for every paid one until December 31, 2015.

For more info or to order, please click on FREE Subscription Offer

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Antique & Classic Motorcycle Seats For 2 or 3 Riders

Take the Whole Family Along – Accessory Motor Cycle Seats

Emblem Motorcycle with side seats

The motorcycle through the first three decades of the 1900s was more than just fun two-wheeled transportation to enjoy on a sunny day. The automobile at first was quite expensive and only within reach of the well-to-do. The two-wheeler was a less expensive alternative for others of more modest means and soon became an economical way of transport for many.

The early machines, really not much more than a motorized bicycle were only offered with a solo seat. Soon the accessory manufacturers began offering retrofit rear seats for a passenger. As motorcycle development progressed, and the machines became more powerful, side-seating arrangements for both two and three passengers were offered, which is the subject of this article.

The Emblem was manufactured by the Emblem Mfg. Co., located in Angola, NY. The Company like many, first manufactured bicycles and then added a motorcycle to its line. Later on the firm apparently offered their own version of a side-seat that was also availble with two smaller units on the rear for children. The image (above) shows a couple and their two sons with an early teens V-twin model equipped with four seats.

In addition, this machine is equipped with an umbrella, a speedometer, and a small bicycle like headlight powered by a generator running off of the sidewall of the front tire.

  •                          The lead image (above) shows a family with an Emblem V-twin four seater.

Excellisor and Indian Motorcycles with Miller Triplex Seats

  •           The Miller Triplex Seat was offered as early as 1914 by the Haverford Cycle Co. of Philadelphia.

Who came up with the idea of offering side seats for both a rider and passenger is unknown, but patented examples were found as early as 1913. The Miller Triplex Seat offered by the Haverford Cycle Co. of Philadelphia was on the market as early as 1914, and can be seen (above) in the Jan.  22, 1917 “Motorcycling and Bicycling”. The retailer also handled the Excellsior Motorcycle.

The advertisement (below) in the October 6, 1914, “Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review” demonstrates the Miller side-seats, and a center seat that the rider used when three were aboard. An optional forth seat for mounting on the rear of a machine was also offered.

Miller Triplex Side Seat

  •           “Miller Triplex Side Seat” ad in the October 6, 1914, “Bicycling Word and Motorcycle Review”.

Motorcycle Side-Seats

  •                         An early machine equipped with side-seats on a motorcycle run of some sort.

An interesting account in the “Motorcycle Illustrated” March 1916 issue is included (below) that details a 3000-mile round trip by an Excelsior agent and a “running mate”. They traveled from Pennsylvania to Florida and return, starting on Dec. 9, 1915. The article tells of the week-long trip south that included: frozen roads, being arrested for speeding, followed by muddy roads, waterholes, and balmy weather after reaching The Sunshine State.

  •               Round trip account of a “Side- Seater” Florida trip -“Motorcycle Illustrated” March 1916.


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Mix & Match 1930s Harley VL and Sidecar From 10 Year Hibernation

We love American Iron Magazine, because it is a high quality magazine that always features a classic American motorcycle (usually a Harley) and some classic motorcycle tech in each issue.

In addition, these good folks publish a few special newsstand issues of all tech, called American Iron Garage, which is available in stores, in digital delivery or through

1930s Harley VL up on the workstand at Retrocycle in Boonton, NJ

In the next issue, they will be publishing an article on how to pull an old Harley out of hibernation and get it running and back on the road. They used this mix and match 1930s Harley VL and sidecar. Mix and match because it is built with Harley parts from various years and models.

Old sidecar from a 1930s Harley.

It had not been ridden or even started in more than 10 years before this project began. The first thing they did was unbolt the sidecar from the bike so they could roll the motorcycle up on a lift to start sorting it out.

1930s classic Harley VL up on the work bench

What happened and what did they find after pulling this vintage Harley out a basement where it sat for more than a decade? Well, you are going to have to pick up a copy of American Iron Garage to find out more.

You can subscribe to American Iron Magazine in PRINT or DIGITAL delivery by clicking on the appropriate link.

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Harley-Davidson MooGlide

This may not fit the definition of “Classic” but it’s a very important bike to me.  A Mooglide was the first Harley-Davidson I ever rode.

JG's 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

JG’s 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

To make my long story short, I had ridden as a kid, Honda’s, Kow’s, etc. and as many of us did, walked away because of college, living in NYC and then a wife and family. To add insult to injury, I picked to go to college in Albany, New York, so a bike would have become useless sometime in October.  Some years later, a good friend  and I decided we wanted to ride.  JG looked like he had ridden for the last 15 years so it was time to grab a bike to match his look.  I took the course to get my license, Joe bought his uncles Mooglide, very low miles that had been in storage for years.  Once he was comfortable crossing the Outerbridge Crossing on the bike, he brought it out to show off, in Manalapan New Jersey, and let me take it to for a ride.  I left him standing in my driveway for about an hour while I went around the corner. I was hooked. While the Evo could have used a bit more power, I bought my first softail, a Deuce, shortly after. JG's 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

JG’s 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

The Mooglide was first offered by Harley-Davidson in 1993 with a limited run of 2700 Nostalgia, or FSTN.  The 1993 Nostalgia was a numbered, special order bike, but Harley chose to continue the bike using a Softail Special (1994) and a Heritage Softail (1995-1996) as the basic bike, though still calling the Nostalgia a FSTN.  Because the Heritage Softail script is on the front fenders in 1995-96, the Nostalgia appears to be simply a version or paint scheme on the Heritage.

1993 Harley-Davidson FSTN MooGlide

1993 Harley-Davidson FSTN MooGlide

What really made me love the Nostalgia is the beauty of the paint, the subtlety of the wire wheels, how well the 16 inch wheels tucked under the perfect fenders and the extra bits of chrome, subtly placed particularly on the tins and the drivetrain.  The two tone paint and pinstripes accent the modernized tins beautifully.  Even the round air cleaner looks perfect.

1995 Harley-Davidson MooGlide Heritage Softail

1995 Harley-Davidson MooGlide Heritage Softail

The 1993 and 1994 bikes were called Mooglides because they came with a Suede like leather seat and saddlebag inserts.  The 1995 and 1996 Heritage Softail version had a two tone leather seat and I’ve heard argument that they should not really be called a Mooglide.  This is complicated by the FSTN actually being on the Heritage Softail. I’ll leave that argument to the comments.

The 1993 models were Black and Birch White with Red pinstripes. 84’s Silver on White with Red pinstriping. 95 Black on Charcoal with Red stripes and 96 Silver on Dark Green with Gold pinstripes.  The 94, perhaps because it was the first I’ve seen, is my favorite.  The 96, both being dark colors with little contrast, my least favorite. All of course have Evo propulsion – 1,340 Five Speeds with full consoles and what looks to be 16 inch factory wire wheels.

Harley-Davidson 1996 MooGLide

Harley-Davidson 1996 MooGLide

I believe the Nostalgia was the inspiration for the Deluxe.  If you were to look at a Black and White Deluxe and cover the script on the front fender, you will have a hard time telling the difference between the two bikes (except of course that the Nostalgia has Evo power and the Deluxe Twin Cam power).

The bike rides like a modern Harley and has virtually the same seating position as the more modern Deluxe.  With a low seat and 16 inch wheels the Nostalgia has a low center of gravity and you sit up on it.  This makes it easy to bend the Nostalgia into turns, but you have to be careful, you don’t really wrap around the bike enough to be able to muscle the weight up and down with your body, so it doesn’t like to lean real low or move left-right-left quickly. The bars come back to you from the trees and your feet fit comfortably on the floorboards, more like the armchair at your dining room table than many motorcycles.    The seat is wide and comfortable and low. Joe’s bike had an untouched Evo and to be fair, you needed to plan when you needed acceleration.  You could twist the throttle all the way to the stops and would still have trouble being the first person off a light.  The tires had more than enough grip to handle anything you’d throw at this bike, as it was more a cruiser than a back roads cut-up and the brakes were more than adequate to handle the performance.

My buddy JG sold his bike to someone in the Netherlands some years ago. I was still married and not cash rich.  The bike still had very low miles, and I’m very sorry I let it go to this day.

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