Daily demonstrations at 11am, free with admission!

Harley-Davidson Motorcyke- 1918


Harley- Davidson (H-D) started by making motorized bicycles in 1901. By 1904, after testing, they moved on to a bigger engine and loop-frame design that took it out of the motorized bicycle category and down the road to succeeding motorcycle designs. By 1917, they were a very successful company, producing over 20,000 motorcycles for the U.S. military.

It was during this time, in 1917, when H-D launched a line of bicycles. Primarily it was an attempt to form a patronage with the youth at the time. The brand, styling them after their motorcycles, focused on quality and dependability. They came painted in the “soldier color” of olive drab and advertised as “a true brother to the Harley-Davidson.” The bicycles were built for H-D in Dayton, Ohio by the Davis Machine Company, which also made bicycles for H-D’s primary competitor, Indian. The bicycles never took off for H-D, and because of discouraging sales H-D, discontinued bicycle production in 1923.

The bicycle you see here is a rare, fully restored, 1918 Harley-Davidson Motorcyke, Model 418, with “Shelby Motorbike Handlebars” and kerosene “Solar Bicycle Gas Lamp”. The Motorcyke was one of six models offered by H-D; it was specifically adapted for the use of an auxiliary motor.

Manufacturer: Harley-Davidson Motor Company
Country of Origin: USA
Engine: Pedal-powered
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Years of Production: 1918
Number Produced: Unknown
Original Cost: $46.00

When bicycles became a popular mode of transportation at the last decade of the century, some of the earliest motorcycles were made by fitting gasoline engines to modified bicycles like Harley-Davidson had done. As motorcycles found success and profits increased, mounting inexpensive engines to bicycles became very popular. The Smith Motor Wheel was an innovation that bridged this gap between bicycles and true motorcycles.
The design originated in England as the Wall Auto Wheel in 1910. By 1914, it was licensed to the A.O. Smith Corporation in Milwaukee, WI—one of the USA’s largest producers of bicycle components. They also built chassis frames for Henry Ford and claimed to be the world’s largest manufacturer of automobile parts. A self-contained power unit, the Smith Motor Wheel had a 1.5 horsepower motor that drove a 20 inch wheel, and mounted from the frame of a bicycle. The top speed was listed at about 20mph with a fuel range of 100 miles per 1 gallon tank.

Approximately 25,000 Smith Motor Wheels were produced between 1914 and 1919, before the manufacturing rights and patents were sold to the Briggs & Stratton Corporation. The Smith Motor Wheel was so versatile it was used on all kinds of vehicles, including sleds, buckboard cars, railroad repair vehicles, and even a tow motor for ice skaters. Unlike all other Smith Motor Wheels that were produced in red, this one was restored to custom match the H-D Frame color.

Manufacturer: A.O. Smith Corporation
Country of Origin: USA
Drivetrain Configuration: Single, additional, rear wheel drive
Engine: Air-cooled, four-stroke, 1.5 hp, side-valve engine
Transmission: Direct-drive
Top Speed: 20 MPH
Years of Production: 1912 – 1919
Number Produced: Approx. 25,000
Original Cost: $80.00