Accessorize Your Elephant with a Harley-Davidson

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Now here’s something you don’t see everyday, an elephant with a motorcycle strapped to its back.  At first glance you might not recognize that this particular motorcycle is indeed a Harley-Davidson and is actually a rare Model W.

Unlike the quintessential V-twin powered machines that Harley is known for, the Model W was powered by a flat twin engine.  One cylinder pointed towards the front tire and the other towards the rear.  The Model W never caught on here in the States, in fact it was discontinued after just four years, but it was surprisingly popular in Europe.

I can imagine that the example above was brought to India by a well to do Englishmen who wanted some additional transportation during his stay.  The Model W was quite capable off road, so it would have been a good choice for the terrain.

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Fast forward to the 1990’s and the studio of artist David Uhl.  He used these photos as inspiration for his painting “Rough Rider”, which depicts Teddy Roosevelt riding on an elephant with a motorcycle strapped to it.

My hats off to David who correctly changed the motorcycle from a Model W to an earlier V-twin. Although the painting is fictitious, it is unlikely that Teddy would have ever seen a Model W since they were introduced in 1919, the same year that he died.

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