State of the Art for 1915…
During the 1910-1915, a young Harley-Davidson Motor Company was introducing innovations into their machines at a lightning rate. Their first V-twin appeared in 1909, one of the industry’s first chain drive and clutch systems in 1912, and a two-speed rear hub, footboards, and a “Step Starter” in 1914.
For 1915, Harley-Davidson again introduced a slew of improvements into their new Model 11-F, foremost of which was the company’s first three-speed gearbox — a design that would remain in production until the introduction of the four-speed…21 years later!
The model’s 61-cubic-inch F-head V-twin, while not a true overhead-valve design (only the intake was OHV), was still highly advanced for its day, featuring ~30 changes from the previous year. It boasted a factory-backed 11 horsepower — 37% more than the 1914 model, thanks to a larger intake manifold, valves, and valve seat angles. At the time, Harley was the only manufacturer to state their power claims in writing.
The Model 11-F weighed in at 325 pounds and cost $275 106 years ago — about $7500 in today’s money — making it one of the most expensive motorcycles on the American market.
The 1915 Harley Davison 11-F you see here was a true barn find, found disassembled on a Nebraska farm in the early 1970s. After a planned restoration never gained momentum, the bike was sold at the Davenport Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) swap meet in 1996.
The new owner kept it stored with other machines until 2020, when the pandemic offered the perfect opportunity to complete the restoration — a “painstakingly accurate” job that was completed on June 1, 2021.
“While the 1915 models were unique in many ways, this particular machine has period extras that mark it as extra special, including an Edmunds & Jones NOS carbide headlight, Prest-O-Lite carbide handlebar-mounted acetylene tank, Corbin Brown speedometer, Old Sol carbide tail light and a Claxton manual horn.” —Mecum
The majority of the frame is original, though the owner did have to replace some tubing in the lower frame that had corroded enough to become a safety concern. The owner says the few missing parts that couldn’t be replaced with NOS items were fabricated to museum standards.
- Restoration completed June 1, 2021 from an original motorcycle
- Many one year only features
- Correct rocker towers
- Correct rockers with oilers
- 1915 was the last year of the Coffin gas tanks
- 1915 was the first year for a proper transmission from Harley-Davidson
- Pedal start
- NOS Edmunds & Jones carbide headlamp
- Old Sol carbide tail light
- Handlebar mounted Presto-Lite carbide tank
- Corbin Brown speedometer
- Klaxon manual horn
- Engine internals upgraded
- Matching belly numbers
This bike crossed the Mecum auction bike during their Monterey 2021 event, estimated to bring $85,000 – $100,000. You can see the results of the auction and many more interesting antique motorcycles at Mecum.com.