Elvis’ First Rides

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If you look back to the beginning of Elvis’ career, you can follow his rise to stardom through the motorcycle he was riding at the time.

At 20 years old, Elvis signed his first recording contract with Sun Records.  Although he wasn’t given much of an advance, he made enough money to purchase a new 1955 Model 165 Harley-Davidson.  The Model 165 was powered by a 165cc  single cylinder two stroke engine which was based on the German DKW RT125.  It is commonly called a “Hummer”, although originally the name Hummer was reserved for the smaller 125cc models.  It made for a good introduction into motorcycling for Elvis, but soon he was ready for something a little bigger.

The chance to upgrade to a larger motorcycle came just one year later when Elvis purchased a Deluxe KH in two tone red and white.  Just like with the Model 165, a new recording contract provided the money needed to purchase the K model.  This time the contract was with RCA Victor who had just recorded Elvis’ first big single “Heartbreak Hotel.”  The KH was quite a bit more motorcycle than the Model 165, being powered by a 883cc V-twin engine.  It is with this motorcycle that Elvis made the cover of the Enthusiast magazine in May of 1956.

By 1957, Elvis’ fame and his income were skyrocketing, so it was time  for another new motorcycle.  He sold the KH to a friend and bought a new FLH.  This was the top of the line Harley-Davidson, featuring a powerful 1200cc panhead engine.  A fitting motorcycle for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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