Harley Debuts a New Motor for 1930

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After nearly 30 years of producing the venerable F-Head V-twin motor, Harley engineers debuted a totally redesigned engine for the 1930.  Dubbed the “flathead”, this new powerplant was the heart of Harley’s new V-series which was produced until 1936.


This new design boasted a 20% increase in power over the previous J-series by using a sidevalve arrangement instead of the less efficient intake over exhaust layout.  Essentially the same design that you find in modern lawnmower engines, a sidevalve engine has intake and exhaust valves which are located inside the cylinder and are positioned parallel to the piston.


Along with the increased power also came a lot more overall weight. Sporting larger tires on drop center rims, a forged I-beam front end and a stronger frame, the new V-series turned out to be much slower than it’s lighter predecessor.  After two months of production, Harley recalled all the motorcycles and upgraded the engines with larger cases, heavier flywheels, larger valves and stronger springs.  These improvements gave the V-series the top-end power it needed.


The VL pictured here was offered for sale earlier this year by Bonhams at their spring auction in Stafford.  Like all 1930’s models, it sports twin headlights, a round fork mounted tool box and a Klaxon horn.  It also has a few extra options since it was an export model.  Starting at the front of the bike you’ll note the addition of the fender mounted license plate.  If you look carefully, you’ll also see a front stand attached at the axle and extending down to the bottom rear of the fender.  The speedometer and it’s drive gear are also a different design and of course the read out is in kilometers.


Selling for just under $20K, this bike is a real head turner and is ready for year round riding with the optional leg shields installed.

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