Doesn’t everyone wish they had a cool classic Harley race bike? I know I do. So when I picked up this 1925 Harley JE a few years ago I joined forces with Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time museum and built one for ourselves. We followed the progress in the pages of American Iron Magazine and it was pretty popular with our readers.
I bought this bike – sight unseen – on ebay and hoped it would turn out well and it did. This is what the motorcycle looked like (after I cleaned and sorted out a few things) before we got it running.
A few things to point out include the original solo seat that had been partially covered in cheap brown vinyl – Yuck! Also the odd looking manual horn mounted on the gas tank, the original Corbin speedometer, luggage rack, “pedestrian slicer” front fender license plate, and the export-only front fender stand, and the rubber gas line with in-line filter. Look closely to see how a previous owner had mounted a 1928 and later front brake to this 1925 Harley. Nice.
I had not seen a front fender stand before this one and thought it made a lot of sense. I wondered why Harley did not offer it as an option to the domestic American market.
It took less time than I imagined to get this bike running at Wheels Through Time. In spite of it having sat on display in a public bar for years, Dale had it running in a matter of hours of first laying his hands on it. Amazing. First Dale, then I took it out for a spin around the museum grounds. The initial smoke pouring off the engine stopped after a half hour of riding -thank goodness. I had already removed the horn and speedometer for another project I was working on. The bike ran well but the clutch needed some adjustment.
The bike ran well and made decent power but the handling was not good. We eventually realized the steeringhead bearings were the problem. So we pulled the front end, cleaned, lubed and reinstalled the bearings and races and the bike handled much better after that.
After reassembling the front end the bike was ready for the next step and that was to strip it down as a replica racer. We removed the luggage rack and pulled the hinge pin on the back half of the rear fender. The rear fender braces had already been cut so it was easy to remove it complete with tail light and license plate bracket on the fender tip. We reattached the rear stand clip to the rear fender and pulled the front fender in tact, the headlight and the tool box. Voila – instant classic Harley replica racer!
Other than the seat with the odd looking cover we loved the way the bike came out. We even liked the British muffler attachment on the end of the home-made exhaust.
In spite of how much we liked the way this bike turned out I later needed to sell it to help fun my 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball project – a rare 1929 Harley JDH. So after playing with and riding this Harley I decided to put it back to street trim to sell it to the next owner.
So I put the front fender back on (with pedestrian slicer but no stand) as well as the toolbox and headlight. We reinstalled the rear fender back section with tail light and license plate holder, and sold it so quickly I am sure I under priced the bike. Oh well, I had fun with it and now someone else can too. But note, I did not include the luggage rack in the sale as I needed it for my Motorcycle Cannonball project.
This project was done several years ago in American Iron Magazine and back issues of the magazine can be purchased from www.greaserag.com. Since then we have begun to offer the magazine in digital format worldwide (single copy and annual subscriptions) at http://www.zinio.com/browse/publications?productId=500659755&offer=500423367