Harley Goes Bananas Over the 1912 Model X-8-A

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In 1912, Harley-Davidson released a new single cylinder motorcycle designated the Model X-8-A.  It was powered by the same tried and true 30.16 cubic inch F-head motor that Harley first released in 1909.

What’s interesting about these early F-heads was that only the exhaust valve was operated mechanically, the intake valve was opened “automagically” using the pressure created inside the cylinder by the piston on its down stroke.


Transmissions were not yet available in 1912, but the Model X-8-A was outfitted with a rear wheel hub mounted clutch which was operated by a separate lever on the left hand side of the motorcycle.

This was the first Harley-Davidson to use a clutch which they dubbed “free wheel control”.  The rear wheel was driven directly from the motor by a leather belt which could get the Model X-8-A going at speeds up to 45 miles per hour.


Also notable for the Model X-8-A was a redesigned frame which created a lower seat height by sloping the top frame tube down towards the rear of the motorcycle.  This allowed the new “Ful-Floeting Seat” to be installed which gave the rider 4″ of suspension travel.


Before the official release of the Model X-8-A, a few lucky Motor Company employees got to take a pair down south for some fun in the sun at a banana plantation.

The motorcycles were painted with enlarged lettering on the gas tanks which was typical for photoshoots during that time.  I’m not sure what bananas have to do with Harleys, but the bikes do look great with all that tropical foliage.

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