1918 Harley-Davidson Model 318

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Harley-Davidson’s advertising campaign was built around the psychology of envy. So, for over a century, Americans have grown up with Harley envy hard-wired into their neo-cortex. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, Bertrand Russell said. But Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed. If envy is a tax levied by civilization, it is one that everyone must pay. NeverthelessI paid the tax, sold a few other treasures to fund it, and subscribed at last to the ultimate American marque, Harley-Davidson.

Although cycle production in the 1890s was initially extremely profitable, increased competition and market saturation forced down prices by the turn of the century. The American manufacturers owned the wheel and tyre companies too: wheels were wooden and tyres were tubeless. The manufacturers had a powerful lobby in the government, so the government levied unrealistic taxes on imported bicycles, metal wheels and replaceable pneumatic tyres. Thus they ‘solved’ the profitability problem by selling bicycles at a loss and making their money on wheels and tyres: as they broke, a rider would either have to buy expensive replacements or a new bicycle. (Compare the modern automotive industry).

Unfortunately, this strategy had the effect of destroying the American cycle industry, and the cycle companies subsequently aimed most of their products at children and teenagers.

The Harley Davidson bicycle was only manufactured between 1917 and 1922, built for Harley-Davidson by the Davis Sewing Machine Co, and using the same paint scheme as Harley Davidson motorcycles. As well as several Men’s models, there was the Girl’s you see here, and also Juvenile models. All the top manufacturers realized the importance of starting their customers young; as Andre Citroen was reputed to have remarked: ‘The first three words a child should learn are Mama, Papa and Citroen.’ So, even if sales of Harley Davidson cycles were poor, the company benefited greatly from advertising them. Davis Sewing Machine Co ceased trading in 1922, at which time Harley Davidson stopped selling bicycles.




 1918 Harley-Davidson Model 318





Few Girl’s Harley Davidson bicycles were made – there was very little demand for them – and not many survive. This example is in fabulous original unrestored condition. I bought it from Don. It was owned for many years by a Harley Davidson motorcycle collector, Don’s mentor. When the collector died, it was given to Don, who owned it for ten years before deciding reluctantly that it was not doing anyone any good parked in his cellar.

I photographed it on the last day of Brighton Festival, at the Moulin Rouge Spiegeltent.





































1918 harley davidson girls bicycle






Spiegeltents were originally travelling dance halls so most of the entertainment was in the form of travelling dance organs and live dance bands. They travelled with the fairgrounds, which came to villages once a year. They are free-standing structures that can be erected on soft or hard surfaces. Their circular structures are decorated in an Art Nouveau style with bevelled mirrors, wooden booth seating with glass partitions, a false ceiling of velvet canopies and a dance floor.

This spiegeltent is called The Moulin Rouge and was built in 1918 in Herentals in Belgium. The builders were Oscar Mols Dom and Louis Gorr. It takes a specialised team of five people about 10 hours to erect. The team comes from Belgium from a family of spiegeltent owners and builders who have been in the business for five generations.

oldbike museum

Thanks to David for letting me take pics in the Spiegeltent Garden and Kate for showing me around. Looking forward to seeing you next year.






Spiegeltent info & interior pic thanks to – http://vintagebrighton.com/2013/05/the-famous-speigel-garden-qa/