Great Advancement In Harley-Davidson 1935 Models

By Chet Billings, Photography by Harley-Davidson

From the January 1935 issue of Motorcyclist magazine

THE real test of a new machine is to try it out before you read the new specifications. After considerable anticipation, listening to rumors, and some cogitation as to whether or not paint and a brush would be able to convert a ‘34 into a ‘35-after all these things came the new Harley-Davidsons and the trial.

To get on a new model and ride it without first looking it over would be as impossible as to keep from putting your tongue in the socket after a tooth had been pulled. You want to have all the joys of standing back and critically surveying it. We did. First one side and then the other. And we were forced to admit that the sum total effect was sporty-considerably more deeply so than could be attributed to a brush and paint. The tool box had been moved away from the front wheel, short handle bar grips changed the appearance of the bars, a new design of air intake looked more streamlined, the exhaust pipe had an unfamiliar gadget on the end of it and the tail light looked longer.

With that we kicked her over and right after the first kick stopped to look quizzically at the step start. We were to learn that new gear ratios made starting easier-and faster.

From there on surprises came in rapid succession. The motor ran quieter, there was a hitherto unknown smoothness from lessened vibration and shifting was easier. In motion and around the corner we started threading through traffic. The surprises continued. There was a better feeling of balance and to reduce gears was simply to clutch and shift.

The motor was quite new. Having a certain love for machinery akin to the old-time respect for horseflesh, we tried to guard against cranking it on. Of course, there was just that almost imperceptible flip of the wrist once or twice. It was like putting the tip of your finger in the cake frosting and licking it off. It tasted just as good, the taste of quick, ready response. So, in that aw-what-the-hell frame of mind we gave it one real twist. With that we had picked the cake up and taken a bite right out of the side of it. The next thing we knew we had pinned back our ears and tucked in the flapping knees and elbows, and started to town. We had unconsciously assumed that old crouch which seems to help give expression to your feelings when you have a motor tucked between your knees that is acting just right, almost guessing your desires before you command the controls.

After all, it was in town and there were speed limits. We had noted the motor was plenty warm, but there was no indication of seizure. Our respect increased and there followed some sweeping turns down side streets, a little rapid shifting and weaving in and out among cars. A couple of dips at intersections were tried and a set or two of car tracks were zig-zagged. She’d zig or zag without a tremble. No hills being in the vicinity, we returned to the show room and to the specifications. We had intended to look for something to kick about, but, our conclusion might have been summed up in the words, “Better looking, smoother, more pick-up, more speed and safer.”

Since it was looks we first considered, let’s take up the responsible factors. The toolbox has been taken off the front forks where weight interfered with best handling of a motorcycle and where it detracted from looks. A flat box, hinged at the top, has been mounted between the rear fork and stays, on the right side of a 74 and the left side of a 45. Of course, a new paint design has been selected, and it seems to add to the flowing appearance of the machines. Handlebar grips have been shortened, which makes for shorter bars and for more clearance in making sharp turns. The shape of the grip is such that it is easier to hold.

The tail light lens is of a new beehive design. This accounts for the slightly longer appearance of the tail light assembly. The lens sticks out far enough that it gives warning from the side. No longer need a fellow hang lights over his machine like the running lights on a battleship and place that added wear and tear upon his battery. There is enough bulge to the headlight and to the tail light to make a ‘35 motorcycle easily discernible from the side. While upon the subject of lights, we might note that a bulb of an entirely new conception is used in the headlight. With a guide plate it fits exactly into a special socket and being thus prefocused it assures perfect focus at all times. The bulb itself is of a new shape, the reflector shape has been changed and the lens is of a new design. The filament image has been removed. All in all, the rider is assured of better and more positive lighting than at any time since he first felt his way through a fog with an old gas lamp.

The appearance of the machine is influenced by larger gas and oil caps. They are now big enough so that they may be easily removed even while wearing gloves.

The gadget we noted on the pipe turned out to be a gas deflecting muffler end. We were going to pick out something to kick about. This is it. Its utility value exceeds its beauty. Our sense of proportions rebelled at accepting the deflector as beautiful and the fact that it was finished in a black gloss and assertedly heat-resisting synthetic enamel did not altogether alleviate our injured feeling at finding such a curve on an otherwise well-streamlined job. However, we are willing to subscribe to the idea of deflecting exhaust gases. Who hasn’t wished for something like this when serving as a passenger in a sidecar or sometimes when behind a windshield?

The reason for the smooth-running motor is partly due at least to the new T-slot cam ground pistons and the new design of cylinders. Being cam ground, the pistons are no longer round when cold. They have practically no clearance on the skirt in line with the connecting rod thrust, but a clearance of .015 on each side in line with the piston pin. A vertical and a horizontal slot allowing for expansion is featured on each piston. When the pistons warm up, expansion deflects to the T -slots and to the sides and then the piston becomes round. Two diagonally-cut compression rings are incorporated in each piston. No cushion rings are used.

Cylinder bore is no longer tapered, but straight. Instead of a ground finish, cylinders are honed to a highly polished gun barrel finish. Naturally, friction and wear are minimized.

It can readily be seen that, properly functioning, the new pistons and cylinders are the answer to the absence of piston slap in a cold motor, and likewise that they give the best in compression when heated up. They contribute to easy starting and rapid acceleration even with a cold motor.

Easy gear shifting is to be attributed to constant mesh transmission. On the 45 the gear teeth are always in mesh and shifting is accomplished through dog clutches of ample size and design. Damage to gear teeth through chipping is avoided. Since the gears are in constant mesh the teeth are not rounded and full advantage is taken of tooth width. Jumping of teeth is eliminated and shifting is therefore easy and positive.

The external contracting rear brake of the old 45 Twin has been supplanted with a new internal brake on the right side of the machine. Pressure on the pedal is transmitted to the operating mechanism with no loss of effectiveness. The brake drum is carbonized and hardened and brake lining is harder and longer wearing. Combined with the front brake, the braking system on the new 45 Twin gives the rider the utmost in braking safety.

Noticeably different in design, the new streamline air intake does that which is obvious. It takes more air and makes for a more uniform mixture. It also facilitates acceleration and even performance at higher speeds.

Both front and rear brakes on the 74 and 45 Twins now carry an adjustable brake shoe pivot stud. Shoes can now be adjusted for full contact, assuring braking over the entire shoe surface, resulting in longer shoe life and better braking performance.

When riders of the new 45 have occasion to work on a rear tire they will probably make a few facetious comments to the effect that engineers have been out riding motors. The rear wheel is demountable with a knockout axle. The hinged portion of the rear fender may be raised, five mounting bolts removed, the axle nut taken off and the axle be pulled out. The wheel comes off, leaving the brake and chain adjustment intact. It should add much to the popularity of the 45 model.

It is understood that there are five color options for 1935. The combinations are: Teak Red and Black, Venetian Blue and Silver, Verdant Green and Black, Egyptian Ivory and Regent Brown, and Olive Green and Black. On police orders, Silver and Black will be supplied without extra charge. The first named color is carried on top of both fenders, the top of the tank and at the sides of the tank around the trade mark streamers. The second color in the combination is carried on the fender sides and on the sides of the tank ahead and to the head of the trade mark. The effect is one of sweeping continuity and contributes to the streamlined feeling.

Prices are slightly advanced. It has been generally recognized by dealers and riders alike that in the face of the upward trend of prices in all fields there would ultimately be an increase in connection with motorcycles. When the prices remained the same at the time 1934 models were announced everyone was surprised. Now that the increase is announced they are still surprised-surprised that it wasn’t more. There is an advance of $15.00 list on the 45 Twin, $10.00 list on the 74 Twin and $10.00 list on Servi-Cars.

More might be said about the 1935 models. However, mere words do not convey the thrill that goes with an actual trial. This year machines were shipped to nearly every part of the country before announcements were made. Go to your nearest dealer and try the new models which he is sure to have on hand.

Taste the frosting, bite the cake, if you please, possibly take a double handful out of the middle. If you do you will have a double handful of real motorcycle.

In the commercial field Harley-Davidson has the Servi-Car and the Package Truck. The former is powered with the new 45 twin motor, incorporating the new constant mesh transmission, shorter bars and the rest of the new features. This makes an ideal job for the Servi-Car service, that of calling for or delivering automobiles and towing the Servi-Car back the opposite way of the trip. Now that automobile sales have increased and service is being stressed the Servi-Car should be the means to a fine increase in motorcycle sales.

The package truck is designed for a quarter-ton capacity, and is powered with the twin 74 motor. The finish is the same as on the motorcycle. With this combination many businesses can reach out and serve suburbs whereas with light cars the cost and time element would be prohibitive. In no way is the package truck intended to carry loads greater than one quarter-ton total. Rather, it is intended as a means of speedy delivery for comparatively small merchandise, where maneuverability and economy are an important item in the delivery unit. Service on the package truck is such that there is no necessity for renting the unit. The dealer can sell it outright, realizing his own profit at once, and can service the unit on exactly the same basis he would any motorcycle. Regardless of the space he has in his own quarters any dealer can handle both the Servi-Car and the package truck because there is no necessity for storing them. He sells them like his pleasure machines.

In summary, 1935 looks like the year when motorcycle dealers and motorcycling in general should really go to town. There is one factor however, that is highly important. If a dealer is to cash in on ‘35 he is going to have to change his tactics of the past couple years. He is going to have to stock up. In every line stocks are increasing. People are again used to buying what they see-not what the salesman shows them on a chart or in a catalog. Catalog days are “just around the corner”-behind us. No catalog can do justice to the new line. The prospect has to see it and he should ride it.

Gangsters developed a phrase which should become a part of the motorcycle dealers vocabulary. “Take him for a ride!” True, the meaning is different but the effect is the same. It will get results. If a prospect-there should be thousands of them-has never ridden a motorcycle, take him for a ride. Don’t scar him to death, don’t try to sell him your ability as a stunt man. Just let him feel a reasonable amount of the power and pick-up, let him soak up the sensation of floating along without vibration, give him just enough curves that he gets the right amount of thrill out of the lean and glide of a motorcycle; then, take him in and deliver one off the floor. Take him for a ride, and watch him ride out the front door on a new 1935 motorcycle.

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By Chet Billings
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