Harley-Davidson Pea Shooter

Harley Davidson vintage motorcycle
To my eyes, many of the most desirable Harley-Davidson vintage motorcycles are those that were built between the Wars. And not just the heavy machinery: the lightweight racing ‘Pea Shooters’ had an elegant style that has worn well over the years. These very rapid singles came into being after the AMA launched a ‘21 cubic inch’ racing class in 1925; Indian was ready, with its Prince model, but Harley was not. So Milwaukee got its skates on, and within months had designed and built two new singles. One was a side-valve flathead, and the other was an overhead-valve. The ‘S’ was the racing version of the OHV, with an innovative detachable cylinder head, and that’s what you’re looking at above. The bikes were known as ‘pea shooters’ on account of their distinctive popping exhaust note, and they cleaned up on the flat tracks of the day—both in the US and abroad. Weighing a mere 98 kg (215 lbs), the highly tuned engines nudged the S models towards the magic ‘ton’. Which in those days, was a remarkable achievement. Many of these supposed race bikes ended up as road machines; they became a popular choice for enthusiasts in Europe, and some were even used as everyday bikes. This particular example, a 28S in excellent condition and with a lovely patina of age, lives in Holland. It’s for sale for €45,000 (US$60,000) at the dealer Yesterdays, which is a veritable treasure trove of vintage motorcycles and worth a browse if you have a few minutes to spare. [Via Loudpop Voyager.]

  • pushrodmofo

    That thing is super-cool. Gotta love that race stand.

  • Shad

    Thanks for the excellent article, as well as the link to Yesterdays.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Kozzy

    That is awesome. Must have taken a strong will to avoid restoring it.

  • Scarcat

    Stunning. Note the total lack of any suspension … not even under the seat.. Never been on a board track racer or board track course, but I’m assuming it’s either really smooth, or the rider has balls of steel!

  • http://www.car137.com Glenn Edley

    That’s incredible! The stand is very cool and useful. You could easily wheel the bike around. @Scarcat here is a link to Boardracing for you. A very crazy sport. No brakes, 4X2 wood and 100mph. http://www.cyclearts.com/board-racing.html

  • kim scholer

    Never mind the bike; that stand rocks!

  • http://www.mulemotorcycles.net Mule

    This what a “Boardtracker” looks like!! Not that 20 foot long chopper crap. This bike looks to me like it means business and THIS is the look the chopper guys need to emulate, not Arlen Ness’ vechopper version of a boardtracker.

    I would sell my soul to have this bike in my living room!

  • Josh Hofhine

    Beautiful bike. awesome history. And, man, I want to build a rear stand like that! Too cool!

  • Andrew

    i love this design of harley !!! its like wild and free, like an idian !

  • Anonymous

    This bike seems to me that it means business, and that the chopper guys need to imitate the appearance, not the version vechopper Arlen Ness “a tracker board.

    Motorcycle parts