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Posted May 19, 2001
This book is a very inexpensive way to own a pictoral history of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. If you have unlimited money and space, I do recommend Mr. Wilson's more recent book, The Ultimate Harley-Davidson. Even if you own that one, you'll find this small edition a charmer to take with you on trips. As a gift for the new Harley fan, this book is hard to beat at the price. Although small in size, it has the quality look and feel of a classic collectible. The book is like a scrapbook or catalog of Harley-Davidson models, beginning with a timeline of when many of the models in the book were introduced. Each model then receives two facing pages, in chronological order of when introduced. The main two limitations of the book are that only a few models can be featured, and the pictoral representations are small because of the page size. The details are abundantly included though. Each model has a brief history, two photographs (one from the side and a second face on or of people riding on that motorcycle), detailed descriptions of key components and design changes, and specifications for the engine, weight, top speed, and transmission. The models featured include the original Harley, the 1912 Silent Gray Fellow. This model looks like a motorized bicycle, which is essentially what it is. The 1915 J-11 is one of Harley's earliest V-Twin engines, and begins to look like a classic Harley. The 1926 B Peashooter was similar to British bikes and the Indian Prince. It was named for its distinctive exhaust sound, and was an inexpensive one cylinder model. The 1936 61El Knucklehead is described as the 'Grandfather of the Big Twins' and looks all Harley. The book is worth owning just for these two pages. Mr. Wilson does a good job of providing variety in the models he selected for featuring. He presents the 1942 WLA which was a workhorse military machine during World War II, as well as the 1951 74FL, which was popular with police departments and contained the 1948 redesign of the Knucklehead engine. Several post-war lightweight versions are presented including the 1952 52K, the 1957 XL Sportster, the 1965 Bobcat, and the 1987 XLH883 Sportster. More fun of course are the racing bikes, including the 1961 KR750 and 1972 XR TT. Naturally, the book includes classic touring bikes such as the 1960 FLH Duo Glide, the 1988 FLH Electra Glide (in red, rather than blue), and 1997 FLHR Road King. The only thing the book lacks is the throaty sound of a Harley-Davidson exhaust. But you can supply that with your imagination. If you are like me, the book has several appeals. First, it reminded me of all the wonderful Harleys I have seen over the years. Second, it reconnected me with my youth and motorcycles in general. Third, it encouraged my sense of adventure again . . . the real spirit of Harley-Davidson. After you have enjoyed this exciting book, I suggest that you get out your Harley (or find a friend who has one) and take a road trip. Naturally, if you are reading this in winter, I encourage you to do this when and where there is good weather. I can still feel my knees frozen stiff from riding on back of a Harley in January in Massachusetts. Live free! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent SolutionWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.