Harley-Davidson’s First Purpose-Built v-Twin Racer, 11K, Restored to its Original Glory


this harley-davidson 11K, the american company’s first purpose-built v-twin racer, has been restored to its former glory. the bright orange model is one of harley davidson’s 79 exceedingly rare original racers, with a CV that’s just as colourful.

images courtesy of mecum auctions

following harley-davidson‘s first appearance in the press during the milwaukee mile at wisconsin state fair park in 1904 — the company’s first official race — the corporate decision makers went on a ten year hiatus before racing again in 1914. at that time, they hired bill ottoway away from the highly-successful racing department at rival thor, with marching orders to design a new racing machine and set up a factory racing team – hence the purpose-built v-twin racer.

ottaway used the pre-existing model 10 production bike as the base for the 11K. this provided him with an intake-over-exhaust 61 cubic inch V-twin, which ottaway then experimented with by increasing the size of the intake ports and the intake manifold. he fitted a larger carburetor along with stiffer valve springs, a special racing cam, a steel flywheel, and the oil pump cast into the gear case cover.

details unique to this model include the 1.25-inch racing intake manifold, 1.25-inch exhaust ports, one-year-only ported cylinders, rocker towers and rockers with top and side oilers. braced racing forks with andré dampers, which are extremely rare, were found with the motorcycle along with the original wheel hubs. the frame had its rear and top cut off, before being expertly rebuilt from the remains of the original engine cradle. the 3.5-gallon racing tank is a reproduction of the original factory racing item, as is the orange color, which was copied from an original bike in a museum. this is an exacting and correct restoration, right down to its Schrader inner-tube valves. over a century old, it continues to grab the glory, winning the 2017 greenwhich cocours d’elegance for most outstanding machine. to find out more or bid for the item, visit the listing here.