Monday Marginalia – Harley Motorcycles


When we moved to Wisconsin Harley was having their big 100th anniversary celebration. It was only fitting that we made sure we saw their museum close to our leaving. So on our July visit back to see the kids we went to the Harley Museum with Aaron. We bookended out time in Wisconsin with a Milwaukee grown world wide business – Harley Davidson.

The photo above is the entrance floor.  Here is pretty much the first 50 years or so of Harley Davidsons.  There was a downstairs that held the last 67 years.


I enjoyed watching when they went from bicycles with motors to motor cycles.  Yes they started out with pedals just like a bicycle and the motor was to boost you, like today’s moped.   Here’s a 1911 model.  Yes you were to wear leather chaps when you rode it with the hot motor right there ready to burn your leg.  See the foot rests beyond the pedal is out more to try to encourage keeping your legs out away from that.


There were rooms on the side of the main show rooms that highlighted various specialty motorcycles and one on how the Harley Davidson motor gets its special sound. There were rooms to dirt bikes, race bikes, bike clubs, police bikes, military bikes, movie bikes, bicycles, custom bikes, stunt bikes, and I think I’ve got them all. Here’s gas tank customizing that has been available over the years.


An older police one…


Here you can see the difference between original paint with age patina (in the back) and restored paint. I prefered the older one of course.  I’m that kind of person…


Here’s the old seat style. Now this interested me two fold. One being a Wolverine comic fan his Harley always had the old 1940s seat like this. Second I’ve always wondered if they were comfortable. They had one in a touch exhibit you could sit on and I liked it better than the bench seat. The springs were more shock absorbery but then I’m not a motorcyclist wanting to feel the road. I’m a flat bottomed girl wanting cushion.  This one is a food delivery one from the 1930s that has been restored.  I think of Mr. Rogers when I see Speedy Delivery… now what if he’d roared up on that instead of dinging that bicycle bell?


Speaking of Marvel, the highlight for me was Captain America’s real bike. Yep customized one from WWII for the movie and the character.


Speaking of customization… there is one thing that should never be blinged out in Swarovski crystals, it’s a Harley Davidson. Yet someone thought that it might be a good idea. IMHO it was not and the proof was in the finished look. Judge for yourself.


Okay for a classic movie bike here’s the original from Easy Rider.


Finally just to compare to Capt’s up there here a bike they build for military use today. I prefer his but this one is built to be lightweight and go far.


That’s our tour for today. If you are in Milwaukee and you’ve done the beer tours do check out the Harley Davidson museum even if you aren’t a motorcyclist. It’s interesting, you’ll learn something, and excuse this history major for saying… you’ll leave with a new appreciation for the subject. May Harley Davidson enjoy another 100 roaring years.

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