Earlier in February, 2022, the guys at SRK Cycles got themselves a truly amazing valentine in the form of a Harley-Davidson WLA that turned out to have some much rarer WLDR engine parts. A thorough examination by Wheels Through Time’s Matt Walksler identified a telltale set of big-finned aluminum cylinder heads and hot cams, which was nothing short of amazing.
While they’d obtained the bike back in September, 2021, and even ridden it home from the seller’s place once they’d put some new tires on it—the SRK guys knew enough to know that they weren’t sure what they had. So, they carefully took their new WLA apart, packed up all the pieces, and made the 10-plus hour drive over to Wheels Through Time.
There, noted vintage Harley whisperer Matt Walksler had agreed to have a look and give them some guidance. The guys didn’t only bring the engine, though—they also basically brought the entire WLA, all handily taken apart and packed into big plastic totes to make a thorough examination much easier.
What was the verdict? As Walksler already noted upon examining the engine in the earlier video, this was clearly not an original bike. Someone—or maybe even several someones—had modified it over the years. So, while there are many parts that are in pretty solid shape for their age, it’s not an example of a super-minty, one-owner, completely original bike.
In a way, that’s probably a bit of a relief, because then fewer people are likely to get mad at you for defiling some great historical gem. The pressure won’t completely disappear, but it should be a little easier. Bits including shortened, racier fenders and a set of Flanders handlebars—a popular aftermarket performance mod when the bike was new—made it clear that at least one previous owner had put some work into modifying this bike.
With that in mind, it was time for a guided tour through some of WTT’s vast American motorcycle collection. For obvious reasons, they mostly concentrated on Harleys—but who could resist taking a good, long look at a Crocker if you had the chance? Or the one and only Traub!
For the type of project these guys have ahead of them, they were clearly in the right place to gather all kinds of inspiration. Neatly tucked away in a display case within the museum, Walksler even pulled out a neat little Rolodex-type metal box filled with paint cards of original Harley-Davidson factory colors. Given a situation like that, how could your head not instantly fill with a ton of project ideas?
So far, the SRK guys have decided that their WLA will definitely be a rider, not just some show piece—and it’ll be set up for the street. Beyond that, though, they’re keeping their (paint) cards close to their chest—and we’ll surely see plenty more videos about the build in the future.