THE HOLY GRAIL

Bo

The 1929 Harley JDH Racer
PART 3 of 3

During the last two months I have been telling you about the amazing vintage motorcycle that I witnessed during the BONHAM VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE AUCTION at the Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas. We talked about Steve Mc Queen’s Triumph Desert Sled, A 1929 Crocker and an amazing 1951 “one of a kind” red Vincent that sold at auction for an amazing $435.000.00.
For this last installment of “The Holy Grail” I would like to tell you about the 1929 Harley-Davidson JDH Racer. When I first saw this motorcycle on the auction block up close and personal, I was immediately struck by its simplistic beauty and historic value. This era Harley is like the missing link between old and new styling.

The JDH Racer was only produced for two years (1928-29) and the fact that the production numbers were relatively low (between 1,800 and 2,500) have resulted in them being widely collectible. The JDH was Harley’s 74 ci pocket valve engine that incorporated several “trick” items, and tucked into a slimmer chassis with a 3-speed transmission. As much respect this motorcycle was capable of gaining on the street and the track, Harley-Davidson discontinued the production of all F-head motors after 1929. It isn’t known how many survived, but the onset of the Great Depression followed by the Second World War likely contributed to the demise of many of them. Looking back on 1929 a Harley-Davidson JDH sold for $370, that same year you could buy a model A Ford for $385. With the stock market crash in October 1929, I’m sure there wasn’t a lot of extra money going around for a Harley Racer at the time considering how much respect the JDH had on the street and the track.

An interesting side note concerning Harley-Davidson’s sales immediately following the stock market crash, in 1930 Harley sold motorcycles to over 3000 law enforcement agencies, and they sold 7,630 motorcycles in foreign sales, that alone translated to almost 3 million dollars in sales that year.
This particular 1929 Harley-Davidson JDH at auction was originally owned and raced by Glen Kleckner of Omaha, Nebraska and was a regular competitor into the 1930’s at several Nebraska tracks. One photograph of Kleckner shows a 1934 tank decal on his JDH “see photograph.” At the time, there was an “unlimited class” for engines up to 80 ci, plus he was grandfathered in due to his motorcycle being manufactured prior to 1930 when Class C racing was implemented in 1933.

Legendary Harley-Davidson competitor, Connie Schlemmer assisted in the restoration of this Harley-Davidson, and the engine rebuilt by noted engine builder and Harley-Davidson racing historian, Mike Lang. The engine features special oilers normally reserved for 8-valve engines to prevent piston seizures. The engine cases and cylinders are genuine Harley-Davidson while some modern internal components were used in the restoration to modernize the motor as it was intended for vintage races. The chassis is a competition keystone frame, finished in white and black, with a direct transmission from the engine as there is no transmission utilized. Competition front forks and handlebars complete the frame and it ride on 28 in. X 2 ¼ in. racing tires.

On auction day this marvelous machine sold for $45,500. Almost all of the bikes at auction will never see asphalt again, but I have to say it was really incredible just being in the presence of these amazing time machines.

Trivia Question of the Month:

QUESTION: One year and one year only Harley manufactured an exhaust system called the “Pipes-O-Pan” exhaust system. What is a Pipes-O-Pan exhaust system and what was the one year Harley used it?

If you think you have the answer, email “Bo” at Hogshoppe@aol.com
Look for the answer in next month’s issue of “Full Throttle Magazine.

Answer to last month’s trivia question:
QUESTION: What year did Harley-Davidson start using 39mm forks on Sportsters, FXRs and FX Softails?

ANSWER: First year H-D uses 39mm forks is 1988. It was the same year we opened and aftermarket parts were not available for anything 39mm for another 2 years.

Bo’s Monthly Words of Wisdom:

Friends don’t let friends do stupid things…….Biker friends don’t let friends do stupid things ALONE!

UNTIL NEXT MONTH
“Live to Ride or Step Aside”