Way back at the beginning of the Harley-Davidson legacy, building bridges from bicycles to motorcycles was both urgent and key. Now, an important part of that history is up for auction: a 1912 Harley-Davidson 8A. Known as the “Silent Grey Fellow”, it’s a working, running, ridden piece of history—it even competed in the Motorcycle Cannonball twice. If every detail about this bike I’ve mentioned so far sounds more intriguing than the last, read on.
This particular 8A received a full restoration between 2008 and 2010 in California. That resto was aimed at not only restoring aesthetics, but also restoring the full riding experience. The 30ci single-cylinder engine features an atmospheric intake valve that runs well, according to the seller. However, atmospheric valves face unique challenges when ridden at altitude—which is partly why the SGF did not complete either Motorcycle Cannonball in which it participated.
Gallery: 1912 Harley-Davidson 8A "Silent Grey Fellow"
The seller adds that there are Coker Original Pattern Button Tread tires currently mounted on the bike, but the seller also doesn’t recommend riding on them. A spare engine, reproduction Eclipse clutch, rebuilt magneto, spare belts, and an additional 21” set of wheels are included with purchase. There is a reserve, which has not yet been met with a current bid of $20,000 as of September 18, 2019.
This bike has a valid title attached to its engine number, #4848B, but there is no additional documentation available. It’s currently located in Hampton, Virginia, and presumably you’ll need to arrange for shipping if you don’t intend to fly in and ride it home—which, if you live close by, sounds like it might be doable. The seller lists the entire startup procedure in the listing, and it sounds relatively simple given the age of this bike.
If you’re interested, you’d better act fast— the auction ends in just one day, on September 19, 2019. Check out all the details on the Hemmings auction site.