SPORTS MACHINES ON TEST.
A RUN ON A 1925 989 c.c. HARLEY-DAVIDSON. By “OPEN THROTTLE Junior.”
AGLORIOUS winter morning, the call of the road, a Harley-Davisdon—and that’s life at least so it appeared to me the other day, when I took one of the new 1925 models out on test.
In such circumstances one finds it difficult to get down to drab technicalities, but stern duty calls and therefore I will try to get over the business part of the description as quickly as possible in order to recount some of my road experiences on this ultra-sporty machine. Possibly that description is not altogether accurate, for from a business point of view the powerful twin has distinct possibilities, and I can well imagine people in various occupations, who find such a machine of the greatest value as an aid to business activities.
The machine chosen for the test was one of the solo type, which, fitted with battery ignition and electric lighting, is known as the ” Electric ” Model, to distinguish it from the other model, which has a magneto and acetylene lighting.
A Test in Congested Traffic.
The first part of my test run took me along Great Portland Street, and in making my way through this motor-infested thoroughfare, I arrived at an unfavourable conclusion with regard to the position of the clutch operating pedal. At first it seemed as if a spare foot would be needed, as the other one might be wanted for the brake in the absence of a handlebar lever. To be quite candid, the idea of balancing myself on the saddle
alone without the steadying influence of one foot, did not strike me as being particularly attractive. These, mark you, were my first impressions, but being entitled to change my mind, I modified the opinion later, when it was proved that the virtues of the clutch had been underestimated.
That clutch had certainly cultivated engaging ways and a sweetness of operation withal, which permitted any amount of slipping. Although the clutch pedal has a large range of movement, only about ten degrees of the total arc through which the lever passes, is necessary for engagement or release, and furthermore, it can be adjusted for traffic work, so that the machine will move forward slowly on releasing the brake.
Nevertheless, be it noted, my early views were only modified and not entirely reversed, for I still feel, after having run the machine for a couple of days on very rough. routes, that a handlebar clutch lever would be desirable. It may be that American riders do not cultivate the same kind of competitions we do at home, but for such climbs as the Camberley Club promote, it seems that a different, or at least an additional control would be a considerable improvement. That, however, is my personal opinion and I would not go so far as to say everyone should think the same. For sidecar work and ordinary touring the normal pedal control for the clutch leaves nothing to be desired and certainly permits of very quiet and rapid gear changing.
Foot Rests or Foot Boards ?
The only other criticism, before starting on the pleasant duty of describing the virtues of the HarleyDavidson, concerns the design of the footboards. The machine is naturally capable of very high speeds, with the result that, at speed, one’s feet are a little inclined to slide towards the ends of the footboards. This, again, is purely a matter of personal preference, and in fact, if a ballot were to be taken, it is probable that the well-known collapsible footboards would head the poll.
Having ridden for some thousands of miles on a Harley-Davisdon of an earlier date, I was taken by surprise at the increased comfort of the new model. This, of course, is due to a slight modification in frame construction ; which, together with a semi-sports handlebar and pillar sprung seat, gives a position defying the criticism of the most fastidious of riders.
Then the new saddle itself is quite an improvement, its shape being readily observed from the illustrations. Without going into anatomical details, to prove how it fits as it should, the saddle is as different from the ordinary flat type, as the cowboys saddle differs from an English hunting saddle. Those cowpuncher chaps can stick to their steeds and the shape of the Harley-Davidson saddle gives some little idea as to how it is done.
To get the full benefit from the saddle spring, however, it is better to put one’s full weight on to the saddle in order to avoid bouncing. (11/fem.—Would Hartfords effect an improvement in this direction).
An Unchanged Power Unit.
The engine is practically the same in design as that used for last year’s machine, but it certainly runs rather more quietly and even at low speeds, the suggestion
of the enormous power available inspires the rider with a feeling of absolute confidence.
The bore and stroke of the cylinders 84.1 mm. and 88.o mm. respectively, which—as the technical scribe would say—gives a total capacity of 989 cubic centimetres. As in previous models, the inlet valves are located over the exhaust valves and are operated by push rods from the cam gear in the timing case, where the mechanical pump is also situated.
The latter is of excellent design ; but all the same, nothing is left to chance with the oiling system. The makers know the little habits of the sports rider, and so unassumingly mount an extra hand pump on the tank, by means of which additional supplies of oil can be forced into the engine as required.
We have many good carburettors in this country, but one has to admit that the Schebler possesses more than mere talking points. This carburettor is of the single lever type, with three adjustments for regulating the strength of the mixture, its quality and for adjusting the setting to suit varying atmospheric conditions. All these adjustments can be done without pulling the carburettor to pieces ; in fact, the ease of regulating the various settings almost tempts one to make more alterations than are actually necessary. The throttle is controlled by a twist grip on the handle bar and with the slow running setting, the engine ticks over very quietly, On opening up, when running on second gear, the acceleration is instantaneous and progressive.
It was good to be back on a machine with handle bar twist grips, for apart from the ease of control, the clear handlebar leaves one’s attention free to concentrate on the road ahead and is specially useful in surmounting hills with bad surfaces ; for in such cases it needs all one’s attention to keep from falling off. Readers will know that this applies to any make of machine, and so the remark will not be taken as a criticism.
A Convenient Rear Stand.
From the photograph reproduced on this page, one will observe how small an amount of energy is necessary to raise the heavy machine on to its stand. This is partly due to the good design of the stand itself, and also to the fact that the wheel is only raised three inches off the ground when the stand is in use. The shape of the carrier and back forks may also be seen from the same illustration as well as the new exhaust pipe, which is remarkably efficient. One notices, too, the neat and accessible position of the battery and the adjacent dynamo and switch.
Though quite unobtrusive, the new design of tank holds four gallons of petrol, this feature being influenced by the demand for the machine in the colonial markets, where supplies of petrol are often few and far between. It is quite interesting to notice that the HarleyDavidson Company have returned to battery ignition on this model, especially at a time when car manufacturers are inclined to discard it altogether, or else to fit
the system as an alternative means of ignition to the magneto. The advantages of battery ignition on a motor cycle intended to be supplied with electric lighting in any case are obvious. It dispenses with the use of a separate dynamo or some combination of dynamo and magneto, the former being somewhat of an eyesore and the latter a troublesome inconvenience, which absorbs an extra percentage of the engine power. The battery system provides a good spark at all engine speeds which renders starting a very simple operation and nothing extra is needed to supply the lamps with current.
On the other hand, one has to be careful not to discharge the battery by carelessness, to avoid which a trembler emits a warning to remind the rider to switch off the current.
Forks and Springing.
The front forks have been unaltered save for the addition of two large springs mounted behind the metal tool case, these only coming into action when a “super pot-hole” is encountered and are really unnecessary on most of our English roads.—(Optimist ! ED.)
The steering head has generous dimensions and the steering evokes none but favourable comments. I do not know the exact speed reached during my test run, but at the fastest rate attained it was quite easy to ride “hands off” without the slightest apprehension. I am told the maximum speed is somewhere about 85 miles an hour, and from what I noticed of the accelerating qualities of the machine, this estimate does not appear to be much too high.
(That concludes our official new summary of the Harley-Davidson. “Open Throttle Junior” now closing clown. Good night, everybody).