For many years the people at Harley-Davidson have claimed the first Harley motorcycle was built in 1903. There are a number of theories that the 1903 date might not be accurate, and that the first running motorcycles produced by the Harleys and Davidsons might not have been until 1904 or event 1905.
Rather than get bogged down in that here, we would like to share what is considered by most to be the information on the 1903 Harley-Davidson motorcycles as published in Rick Conner’s excellent book Harley-Davidson Data Book.
The 1903 Harley-Davidson motorcycle was powered by a single cylinder, 24.74 cubic inch F-head engine. It is reported that Harley-Davidson made and sold 3 of them at a price of $200. There were no options and all the original 1903 Harley motorcycles were painted Piano-finish black with Gold double pinstriping.
- 24.74 cubic inch F-head, single-cylinder engine with automatic inlet valve and 3.00 c 3.50 inch bore and stroke.
- 28 inch wheels
- 51 inch wheelbase
- weighed 185 pounds
- 21.5 inch seat height
- two-ply, 1.25 inch leather belt direct-drive to rear wheel hoop
- rigid front forks
- seven piece handlebars
- loop frame
- gas tank hung from crossbar
- coil suspension solo saddle
- dual bicycle style pedals
- chrome nickel exhaust valves
- vacuum operated inlte valves
- ball bearing rear hub
- horizontal cooling fins on the cylinder heads
- two piece exhaust valve
- iron pistons
- exposed exhaust valve springs
- drip feed and hand pumped engine lubrication
- started bt running alomgside or pedaling
- one piece cylinder
- tapered pistons and straight cylinder bore
- 60 degree seats on exhaust valves
- clutchless single speed transmission
- two piece automotive type connecting rods with bolt-on lower ends
- spoked flywheel with 7/8 inch diameter flywheel crankpin.