Breaker, Breaker, Harley Hits the Airwaves
In keeping up with current police technology, Harley-Davidson began outfitting their police models with radios in the 1930’s. Like most electronics of the day, the first radios were very large and bulky. This meant that the only Harley’s that could initially be fitted with radios were Servi-Cars as they had enough trunk space to hold the units. But just like a new iPhone, the radio systems continued to shrink in size and by 1936 they could be mounted on a standard motorcycle in place of the saddlebags.
The half circle shaped piece mounted to the rear fender was not a custom luggage rack, but an early antennae design. When combined with the two side mounted electronics boxes, these three pieces allowed for one-way communication to the rider via a speaker attached to the handlebars.
As anyone in law enforcement or has been chased by law enforcement knows, there is no outrunning a radio signal and it is clear that even these early radios had a significant impact on motorcycle policeman of the time. It’s amazing to think that what once took up the entire back end of a motorcycle can now easily fit in the palm of your hand.