Harleys at Work: Mail Delivery Vehicle

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Less than 10 years after the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle had been produced, the engineers at the Motor Company were hard at work designing a new commercial vehicle.  They wanted to build something that had a larger payload, was easy to operate and could be targeted to some of their existing commercial accounts.  The result was something that resembled a reversed trike, with two wheels in the front and a cargo box mounted in between.  It was named the “Motorcycle Truck.”

In the winter of 1912, Harley provided a number of prototype motorcycle trucks to the Milwaukee branch of the US Postal Service.  Mail carriers used the new vehicles to travel their normal routes for the entire winter.  Harley-Davidson was pleased with the motorcycle truck’s performance and began production for the 1913 model year.

The motorcycle truck was powered by an F-head V-twin engine which was mated to a two speed transmission.  The transmission was designed for hauling heavy loads, so it used a 10:1 ratio low gear and a 5:1 ratio high gear.  The standard single wheel front end was replaced with a newly designed dual wheel front end.  The cargo container boasted a 600 lbs payload and provided ample space for advertising.  Although it seemed like an ideal commercial vehicle for the Postal Service and other types of delivery work, the motorcycle truck never caught on and was discontinued after two years of production.

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