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HomeHarley DavidsonThe Bizarre 1920s Harley-Davidson That Was Never Sold To The Public

The Bizarre 1920s Harley-Davidson That Was Never Sold To The Public

The Bizarre 1920s Harley-Davidson That Was Never Sold To The Public
We start our tale with a caveat. Technically, Harley-Davidson made its Model 17 8-Valve Racer available for purchase starting in 1916. At the time, the Federation of American Motorcyclists was the governing body of two-wheel racing in the US (via American Motorcyclist). FAM required all racing bikes to also be available to the public.
But the legendary motorcyle company didn’t intend for them to be on the roads. As such, it came up with a simple fix for offering a bike they didn’t really want to sell: It priced the 8-Valve Racer at a staggering $1,500 — roughly four times the price of comparable bikes, per MCNews. By way of comparison, at the time, the same amount of money could have rented two New York City apartments for over a year (via Country Living). The price and a limited run kept the 8-Valve Racer racing instead of providing the public with daily rides. And MCNews reports fewer than 50 were ever built.
What was so special about the Racer that Harley-Davidson wouldn’t entrust it to potential customers? The answer is both simple and gamechanging, representing the formation of a market strategy that would inform the motorcycle business for years to come.

web-interns@dakdan.com

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