Harley-Davidson: A name so synonymous with gasoline that it once tried to file a patent for the signature chug of its exhaust.
But it wasn’t always so.
A century ago, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle brand also briefly produced a line of robust, beautifully engineered bicycles in collaboration with the Davis Machine Company. The idea was to introduce adolescent riders to Hogs before they could hop astride the real thing.
And now Chicago’s own Heritage Bicycles is bringing them back to life, with a run of 10 limited-edition reproductions that pay painstaking homage to the originals.
“We were cold-called by the Harley-Davidson Museum,” says Derek Lewis, Heritage’s general manager and a veteran of both the bicycling and motorcycling industries. “They were looking to replicate old bicycles from the teens and ‘20s.”
And Heritage was more than happy to oblige.
Heritage Bicycles Harley Davidson Replica (3 images)
It’s important to note that these are continuation models, and not simply modern tributes with a few cosmetic allusions to their forebears. While the frame is built from lightweight chrome alloy rather than steel, Heritage attempted to match everything else as close to original specs as possible, from the unwieldy leather saddle to the roll-off stand to a chain ring emblazoned with the letters “H” and “D.”
“That was the toughest to replicate,” says Lewis. “And including it was a dealbreaker for us. It’s awesomely ornate and milled from stainless steel.”
They then finished things up with an authentic olive-green paint job, fenders with hand-applied racing stripes and a Harley-Davidson head badge on the down tube. The result is a bike that looks straight out of Boardwalk Empire but rides like a dream (it weighs 36 lbs., though Lewis avers it’d be more like 25 without the saddle and stand).
As for how to procure one of the 10 bikes in the collection? That’ll require some period correctness as well: all orders will be taken by the Harley-Davidson Museum via phone, at (877) 436-8738. They retail for $4,200, and are expected to ship in July.
Nota bene: Heritage will have one of the bikes on display at their General Store at 2959 N. Lincoln. You can also visit them at their spankin’ new Heritage on the Lake pop-up — a ‘68 Norris Motorhome and matching ‘50s teardrop trailer selling coffee and doing simple bike repairs — just north of Theater on the Lake all summer. “You can’t miss it,” says Lewis.
Images via Derek Lewis and Heritage Bicycles