TV Two Cam – 1929 Harley JDH on History Channel’s American Restoration

1920 JDH Two Cam

Buzz’s 1929 Harley JDH Two Cam was featured on an episode of History Channel’s American Restoration.

Text by Dale Walksler
Photos by Jim Dohms

I have always liked a challenge, and this is a great one — a worn out 87-year-old bike and only 45 days to rebuild it in front of a TV audience. To be seen on History Channel’s American Restoration, this is a behind the scenes look at what was involved in redoing this rare old Harley.

This wasn’t the first time my old friend and fellow motorcycle enthusiast Buzz Kanter has thrown a challenge at me. It’s hard to remember all the projects Buzz and I have worked on over the decades, but the reward is always a great motorcycle project, fun with old friends, and some ink in American Iron Magazine (AIM).

My guess is that most Harley riders have no idea what a Harley JDH is or represents. They look like single-cam Harley JDs, but less than 2,000 higher-performance JDHs were ever made. They were fast and reliable machines, and many were ridden hard, abused, and worn out. Eventually they became all but extinct. The few surviving examples have been scooped up by collectors, with the best selling for well over $100,000.

1929 Harley JDH before restoration

Buzz’s 1929 JDH before it got the American Restoration treatment.

Buzz bought his first JDH, a rough and rusty rolling basket case in a basement, in 1992 and immediately fell in love with these rare old motorcycles. In 2012, he rode one from New York to San Francisco on the Motorcycle Cannonball. So you know he has plenty of experience with JDH Harleys. But those are stories for another time.

What we began with on the TV show was actually a pretty good start for a project. It looked funky, but it was all there and in fair running condition. Because we had a tight production schedule to get this bike finished, it became an exercise in precise calculating of which parts got what finishes. It had to look good when finished, but we did not have the luxury of waiting for plating and painting.

If you saw the show (almost a million households viewed the first airing), you know some of this already. Bob, Buzz, and I quickly and efficiently tore it down in the Wheels Through Time workshop. We had it apart in less than an hour. Then, for the first time I can remember, I chased Buzz out of the workshop and told him to come back in a month to see the finished project. Then the real work began.

Bob White and I discovered that the frame and the forks were bent, which was pretty common — remember that these machines were raced, and that means crashed. Fortunately, we had a genuine 1920s Harley frame table at the museum workshop for just this reason. Once straightened, we sent the frame and fork out for paint. John Dills painted the components in a luscious two-tone maroon that Buzz had picked out. We tossed most of the crappy and mismatched nuts and bolt hardware and replaced a lot of it with leftover nickel nuts and bolts from a recent Crocker and other old bike projects.

1929 Harley JDH Two Cam stop taillight

Dale’s sense of humor is evident in this wrinkle to the restoration.

While waiting for the frame and fork to come back from painting, we stripped the tanks for inspection. They were worse than expected, so we opted for replacement tanks with welded seams from Tom Feezer of Replicant Metals in Pennsylvania.

Since the name of the show is American Restoration, all the parts had to either be repainted or replated. My pals at Plating Specialties in Michigan handled this in short order. I am thankful they cleaned the parts prior to plating, saving me the 20-plus hours that I did not have to spare.

1929 Harley JDH

Back to some of the details on this 1929 Harley. The front wheel had a massive British brake from the 1960s. Harley started offering front brakes in 1928, and they were less than inspiring. So this is a welcome improvement. And the forks are Harley, but from a much earlier year, meaning it does not handle like a 1929 road bike. In fact, matching up this older front end and tighter frame geometry makes it handle more like a 1940s dirt track 750 Harley racer, as Buzz was going to learn on his first ride. Next up was the handlebars, which have seen many variations over the years. I contacted Tom Faber, who makes bars for Harleys manufactured from 1909 to the 1950s. I use Tom’s bars on many of my bikes. They have never failed and have always been perfect.

Something happened to us that you won’t see on the TV show. Running tight on time with the painting and plating, we worked long hours to get the job done. It was all coming together when we almost lost it late one night while installing the most critical visual part: the right gas tank.

Want to find out what happened? Find out in American Iron Magazine Issue 338!

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

Be sure to check out the work of award-winning photographer Jim Dohms, a regular contributor to AIM, while you’re at it! 

1929 Harley JDH Two Cam on American Restoration

Dale kept Buzz in suspense and didn’t let him see the restoration job on his 1929 JDH Two Cam until the very last minute.

The Beginning Of The End?

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Editor

RIDE TO WORK, By Steve Lita, Editor

“…it is illegal for anyone to modify a certified vehicle…”

Back in issue #335, about five months ago, former American Iron Magazine editor Chris Maida penned a column about the then-urgent matter involving the EPA and all motorsports hobbyists. The EPA had proposed legislation that would outlaw the conversion of street vehicles  into racing vehicles. For a short while, gloom and doom circulated among enthusiasts, with the thought that the EPA was going to clamp down on all things performance.

Think about it. Most hobbyist race vehicles, whether two or four wheeled, probably started life on a production assembly line as a run-of-the-mill street vehicle. There are exceptions: The Harley-Davidson V-Rod Destroyer, a full-on drag race bike available on the showroom floor or, for fans of NHRA Super Stock car racing, the COPO Camaros and Drag Pak Dodge Challengers of recent years, which have been tearing up the strip. But even the popular XR1200 Sportster road race series was based on street bikes. Add in an official Vance & Hines spec race parts kit, and you can go road racing semiprofessionally.

During the summer, the EPA seemed to back down, once the opposing assertion from the performance industry came to light. It appeared that EPA regulations were never meant to apply to purely racing participants, and so the whole matter blew over—or so we thought. That is, until we all read the press release issued by Harley-Davidson dated August 18, 2016, stating: “Harley-Davidson, Inc. has reached a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the sale of one aftermarket tuning product used to calibrate motorcycles intended for off-road and closed-course competition. As part of the settlement agreement, the company will no longer sell its competition-only tuner in the US.” By the way, the “settlement” included a hefty check.

The good news is Harley will continue to sell a performance tuner designed to retain 50-state and EPA on-road emissions compliance.

The official press release goes on to state: “This settlement is not an admission of liability but instead represents a good faith compromise with the EPA on areas of law we interpret differently, particularly the EPA’s assertion that it is illegal for anyone to modify a certified vehicle, even if it will be used solely for off-road/closed-course competition,” said Ed Moreland, Harley-Davidson’s Government Affairs Director. So there it is again, the EPA’s assertion that you can’t modify and race with something that was once street legal. This has not blown over, folks.

Truth be told, writing for American Iron Magazine and its sister publications is not the first time my name has appeared in print. Back in the early ’80s, the bad old days of performance cars that were comprised mostly of decals on ugly duckling coupes (remember the Plymouth Volare-based Road Runner?), I was a young gearhead who sent a letter (remember a letter, with a stamp and an envelope?) to Car Craft magazine lamenting the sorry state of the performance automotive OEM and aftermarket. A few months later, imagine my surprise when I saw my letter published in a commentary about the work of the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) in representing the automotive industry to the government.

Change does not come quickly. It took the automotive industry years to work through the restrictions to develop vehicles and products designed to perform within the constraints of emissions regulations, while still offering better performance than vehicles of the muscle car heyday of the ’60s and ’70s. Not trying to do my Chicken Little act, crying that the sky is falling, but could we be seeing the choking of the performance products industry here? Or perhaps this is the dawing of a new age of performance innovation, one that meets tougher scrutiny.

In perhaps a tiny act of throwing the consumer under the bus, Harley states it has safeguards in place to educate dealers and customers on the implications of installing Harley-Davidson performance products. So when will the EPA turns its eyes to the consumer and make accusations for violating emissions regulations? AIM

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American Iron is going full throttle in print

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

As the temperature drops and the air gets crisp, it’s starting to feel like one of my favorite times of the year to ride here in Connecticut. Especially in the early morning and late afternoon when the sunlight adds a magical quality to the golden autumn colors along my favorite twisty back roads of New England.

I am so into riding now that I will soon be heading out to visit Vermont’s covered bridges on a motorcycle. If I can get to enough of them, I’d like to turn the trip into a motorcycle tour to share in print with American Iron Magazine readers.

Biketoberfest & More
meanwhile, farther south, there is plenty going on in and around Daytona and Orlando, Florida, during the next few weeks. Anchored by Biketoberfest on Daytona Beach, there is much to see and do from October 13 to 16. The AMA Hall of Fame (I was honored to have been inducted in 2002) will be honoring and inducting the new class at a swanky ceremony on October 13 in Orlando (motor­ Also in Orlando is the AIM Expo, a strong industry trade event open to the general public (

Looking for more exciting motor­cycle action? As you are reading this I am preparing to scare myself silly on a 1915 Harley boardtrack racer at the Sons of Speed event. It is at the New Smyrna Speedway on Saturday, October 15. The track opens early, and the race heats will begin around 1 pm. There will be a number of brave fools (including me) flying around this paved 1/2-mile track at excessive speeds with no brakes. We will be trying to recreate the feel and excitement of the long-gone boardtrack days. Please join us and cheer on Team American Iron.

American Iron
print is not dead! the fact that so many people are reading this magazine confirms my feeling. OK, so we do have some digital readers, but they are welcome in the family. We at American Iron are going full throttle in print, and we’re still growing and expanding.

American Iron Magazine continues to lead the pack with a solid new issue full of popular editorial every four weeks, that’s 13 issues a year! Our hard-working team must be doing something right, as we are still the world’s best-selling motorcycle magazine on the newsstand. In addition, we are increasing our all-tech American Iron Garage to six issues a year, and you can subscribe to it now.

I strongly recommend subscribing to American Iron Magazine and/or American Iron Garage because it saves you time and money (more than half off the single copy price), and you will be entered to win our American Iron/-Dennis Kirk custom Harley Fat Boy. To subscribe, please call 877/693-3572 or go to

We expanded our events this year. In 2016, we did the American Iron River Run with Indian Motorcycles up the Mississippi River, the Patriot Ride in Minnesota, the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic in North and South Carolina, and the Dream Ride in Connecticut.

We’d love to hear any and all event suggestions you have for American Iron rides and events, along with anything else you’d like to suggest or share, at

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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Blinging Out a Fat Boy: H-D 6-Spoke Rear Wheel & Pulley Install (Intro)

Harley 6-spoke wheel rear wheel and pulley install

Here’s Dan from Rob’s Dyno Service installing the new metal valve from the H-D wheel installation kit into the new chrome H-D 6-spoke rear wheel using a ½” deep socket he ground down for this purpose.

By Chris Maida

Part I: Installing a new chrome Harley-Davidson 6-spoke rear wheel and pulley, with a new H-D polished rotor and Shinko 150/80-16” rear tire

Want to add some instant flash to your bike? Bolt on a nice set of custom wheels! When I had my bike shop, back in the day, guys would come in before the new riding season and ask how they could change the look of their bike without going for a complete overhaul. My answer was to change the wheels and paint job. After all, once the front end and engine are chromed or blacked-out, you’re done there. But bolt on a slick set of wheels with matching rotors and pulley, and you’ll totally change the look of the bike. And, though not cheap, you get a lot of bang for your buck!

Mounting a Shinko tire on an H-D 6-spoke rear wheel

After checking the directional arrow and locating the balance dot alongside the valve stem, he installs the new Shinko 150/80-16” tire onto the H-D 6-Spoke wheel.

And that’s exactly what we decided to do to step up the look of a 2006 Fat Boy. Though those iconic solid wheels are a trademark of the Fat Boy, the stock units were dull, pitted, and, in short, needed replacing after many miles of hard service. Since the original Harley-Davidson components had served the owner well, he decided to go back to The Motor Company for its replacements. He selected a set of H-D’s Slotted 6-Spoke wheels that feature a combination of polished and textured chrome finishes on the spokes, rim, and hub. We also got a matching rear pulley and new standard rotors all around. In this article, however, we’ll just be installing the rear wheel setup, and we’ll do the front wheel in a future issue.

This cast aluminum 16″ rear wheel (#43930-08/$559.95) requires, as all Harley P&A wheels do, the purchase of a separate H-D wheel installation kit (#43854-08A/$89.95). These kits are specific to year and model bikes, so be sure to order the correct one for your bike. However, the installation procedure is the same. For our matching cast aluminum textured chrome rear pulley (#40447-01/$399.95), we also got a set of chrome bolts and flat washers (#94773-00A/$29.95). There’s no way we were going to reuse the old, beat-up hardware. When installing this pulley onto the wheel, make sure you properly align its spoke pattern with the wheel’s pattern. Our rear rotor (#41832-05A/$149.95) is a polished version of the stock unit since, like the hardware, the original had seen better days and would ruin the look of our new wheel package. Of course, we went with a set of new chrome rotor hardware (#46647-05/$13.95).

H-D 6-spoke rear wheel install

With the rear wheel in a lift’s wheel chock, he uses a wheel bearing installation too to install a wheel bearing (both the same) from the H-D installation kit into the right (primary) side of the wheel, as indicated by the lines on the wheel hub.

When it came to getting a new set of tires, the bike’s owner decided to go with a pair of Shinko 777 tires, which are available exclusively from the HardDrive catalog. We got a 150/80-16″ (#87-4597/$129.95) for the rear wheel. This tire features a newly redesigned carcass that has a higher load rating thanks to heavier nylon belting. This results in ample load capacity, while also giving more stability and longer tire life. The 777 series is specifically designed for cruiser machines and is available in a multitude of sizes for many V-twin models.

We went to see our old buddies Rob and Dan at Rob’s Dyno Service to do the install. We’ve done many articles with these guys, and they always do the job right, the first time. Check out the photos and captions to see how to do this installation in your own garage. In a future issue, we’ll bolt on the new matching front wheel and new rotor, as well as another new Shinko tire. AIM

H-D wheel bearing and center wheel spacer H-D installation kit

Dan slips the new wheel bearing and the proper center wheel spacer (spacer C #43608-00 for our application), both from the H-D installation kit, onto the shaft of his wheel bearing installation tool.




Harley-Davidson –

Rob’s Dyno Service –  978/895-0441

Like what you see? The full article with all the steps, tips, tricks, and tools needed is in American Iron Magazine issue # 340! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit
Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here. To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

Harley’s new 107 cubic inch, Milwaukee-Eight

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I  can’t believe it’s been 17 years since The MoCo last invited us for an exclusive look and ride of a new generation of Harley engine, the TC88, which we named the Fathead. Seventeen years!

You have already seen the cover of this issue of American Iron Magazine. Harley’s engineers, designers, and marketing teams have pulled the cover off a totally new engine design to carry Harley Trikes and Touring bikes into the future.

We are honored that American Iron Magazine readers will be the first to read about this exciting new engine design officially named the Milwaukee-Eight. Riders like to give Harley engines nicknames. When I first saw photos of this engine I thought the top end looked rather muscular, so how about we call it the Musclehead?

In brief, the all new 107″, single cam, four-valve-per-head Milwaukee-Eight will be available in all 2017 Trikes and Touring models. The bikes without lowers will use the oil-cooled version. Touring bikes and Trikes with lowers will use the oil and water-cooled designs, but the non-Touring models will retain the current Twin Cam powertrains. The limited-production CVO models will now be powered by a larger 114″ version of the all new Milwaukee-Eight.

The Harley team tells us the new Milwaukee-Eight engine idles lower, runs cooler, is faster, and gives better gas mileage than today’s Twin Cam. It’s quite an engineering feat, and one well worth waiting for.

For a lot more detail, please read our exclusive article and photos starting on page 46 for more information.

Sons of Speed Boardtrack Racing
love the romance and excitement of old motorcycles and the thrills and spills of real antique motorcycle racing? Check out the Sons of Speed boardtrack-style racing near Daytona on October 15.

American V-twin motorcycles from the teens through 1924 will be racing on the half-mile, banked asphalt of New Smyrna Speedway with no brakes, no transmissions, and no clutches! Join me, Billy Lane, and a cast of characters this Biketoberfest as we try to recapture the days of old, when racers were bold.

I will be on my 1915 Harley-powered reproduction boardtracker, representing Team American Iron. Other racers include Billy Lane (event promoter) on a 1913 Indian, Rick Petko (of Discovery’s American Chopper) on a 1913 Indian, Xavier Muriel (musician with Buckcherry) on a 1919 Harley, Jay Allen (of Broken Spoke) on a 1913 Thor, Shelley Rossmeyer-Pepe (Rossmeyer H-D) on a 1915 Harley, and Warren Lane (Atomic Metalsmith) on a 1919 Indian, and possibly others.

I expect the bikes will be showcased around town before the event. The races start around 1 pm, Saturday, October 15, at the New Smyrna Speedway (3939 Florida Route 44). Tickets are available at and at the gate. Hope to see you there. This is going to be wild!

American Iron’s
we get requests every week for back issues of our various magazines, motorcycle books and collectibles, and for AIM swag. We sell our back issues, while supplies last, and other interesting, motorcycle-related stuff at or call 203/425-8777, ext. 114 to order. Watch for limited-time special discounts!

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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Yelvington USA Mechanical Reverse Pulley for Harley Tourers Install (Intro)

By Chris Maida/Photos by Chris Maida

How many times have you found yourself struggling to back your Harley Touring bike out of a corner, parking spot, or wherever? Sucks, doesn’t it? Well, the crew at Yelvington has a simple and easy way to end that hassle forever. And it has nothing to do with altering the transmission or any other major component on your bike. All the magic is done in the rear wheel pulley. Just swap out the stock rear pulley and axle for one of Yelvington’s reverse units, and then add a few other Yelvington parts onto the bike. This unit will fit all 2009 and later Touring models, and Yelvington is hastily working on manufacturing the product for older models and cruisers. Once installed, going in reverse is as simple as pushing a button, letting out the clutch, and walking the bike backwards under its own power just as you do when you walk it forward. A cool gadget like this (introductory price $1,995) is just what you’d expect from a company started by a few guys with NASA (yup, the rocket people), NASCAR, NHRA, and various US defense contractor credentials.

After four years of R&D, the crew at Yelvingon offers a simple way, engineered for strength and durability, to propel your bike in reverse. It’s constructed of aircraft billet aluminum, advanced polymers, and high-strength steel and bronze alloys. All the major parts were created by Yelvington engineers and designers and built in the USA using precision CNC machinery.

Yelvington Mechanical Reverse Pulley System

Here’s where all the magic happens: the stock rear drive pulley is replaced with this Yelvington drive unit, which has exactly the same tooth count as the stock pulley. No tranny modifications or additions are made.

So how does it work? In a word, great! When you push the Harley-Davidson accessory switch included with the Yelvington kit to On, you hear the air compressor build up pressure and then shut off once it has moved and engaged a splined gear in the Yelvington pulley. This mechanism causes the forward motion of the stock rear drive belt to turn the rear wheel in the opposite direction. You then operate your bike just as you would to walk it forward. Just pull in the clutch lever, shift the transmission into first gear, and let the clutch out just a little to slowly walk the bike backward. You’ll hear the reverse setup in the rear pulley working as you do this. Once out of the parking space, put the bike back into neutral and turn off the Yelvington reverse, which disengages the splined gear in the Yelvington pulley. Then shift the bike back into first gear, and ride away. It’s that simple! The unit requires no maintenance and comes with a one-year warranty.

Yelvington Reverse for Harley Tourers Install

Here’s our 2016 Street Glide Special with its rear section on a bike jack with its seat, saddlebags, mufflers, rear shocks, rear drive pulley, and rear brake caliper and bracket removed. The battery’s negative cable has been disconnected using a 10mm wrench.

As for where to do the install, what better place than with the guys who designed and install it every day on a variety of H-D Touring bikes? I spent the day at the Yelvington facility in Seminole, Florida, with Senior Engineer/Operations Manager Mike Alex and tech Joe Kruger as they installed one of their reverse setups on our test bike, a 2016 Street Glide Special, as I shot and wrote the accompanying photos and captions. As you’ll see, this kit can be installed in a home garage by experienced wrenches (Yelvington recommends dealer installation) using standard tools, a belt tension tool, a rear wheel alignment tool, and a bike jack. A bike lift will make the job easier, but it’s not required.

Note: The parts shown in this installation may vary from the final production units. AIM

Yelvington Reverse install

After jacking the bike up so the wheel clears the worktable, Mike from Yelvington positions the stock rear drive belt on the top of the Yelvington reverse/pulley unit and rotates the tire as he pushes the belt onto the pulley.





Like what you see? The full article with all the steps, tips, tricks, and tools needed is in American Iron Magazine issue # 339! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit
Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here. To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

Motorcycle Riders Please Be Careful, Traffic Fatalities Climbed 9%

We at American Iron Magazine ask that all riders be more aware of potentially dangerous situations when on the road. As riders, we know the terrible results of distracted drivers on the roads – especially when they are mixed in with motorcycle riders on the same roads.

According to the National Safety Council, traffic fatalities have been trending upward since 2014, when the price of gasoline dropped and the stronger economy encouraged more driving. The NSC reported traffic fatalities rose an whopping 9% in the first six months of 2016, compared with the year earlier data.

Deaths on the road nearly doubled in Vermont, up 82% year over year. Oregon climbed 70% and New Hampshire 61% so please be careful when riding or driving.


Harley-Davidson Launches 107” & 114” Milwaukee-Eight Engines

The 2017 Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin will be offered in a 107″ version for Harley Tourers and Trikes and a 114″ variation for its premium CVO models. (Photos by Brian J. Nelson, and Harley-Davidson)

Stop the press! The rumors are true. Harley-Davidson has indeed developed a new engine called the Milwaukee-Eight. The eight valve V-Twin comes in both a 107” version for Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycles and Trikes and a 114” variation for The Motor Company’s top-shelf CVO line. The new valvetrain design comes with an impressive list of proposed improvements – more power, better efficiency, lower idle, less heat, and less noise.

American Iron brass Buzz Kanter and Steve Lita got a chance to speak with Harley’s Product Planning Director Paul James and Chief Engineer, New Products Alex (Boz) Bozmoski about the Milwaukee-Eight for an exclusive American Iron Magazine first look article in Issue #341 that hits newsstands Sept. 13. Additionally, American Iron Editor Lita has already gotten a chance to sample 2017 Harleys with both the 107” and 114” versions of the Milwaukee-Eight, and his first ride review will run in American Iron Magazine Issue #342. Click here for some of editor Steve’s first ride impressions.

More power, better efficiency, lower idle, less heat, and less noise – what’s not to like about Harley’s new Milwaukee-Eight 107! Find out how many of these claims are true in American Iron Magazine Editor Steve Lita’s first ride review in Issue #342.

Until then, here’s a few of the Milwaukee-Eight’s key features gleaned from the American Iron Magazine article along with the engines’ specs. If you’d like to hear the new Milwaukee-Eight, be sure to check out American Iron’s YouTube channel.

• Because these are touring machines, design emphasis was placed on rider and passenger comfort (vibration), heat control (from engine and exhaust), and functionality (improved electrics and electronics). From what we were told, Harley met these goals.

• While the engine weighs just about the same as the Twin Cam it is replacing in 2017—at least on the touring and trike models—we were told the Milwaukee-Eight is a clean sheet design, going back to a single cam configuration, with pushrod-actuated four valves per head, hydraulic lifters, and dual sparkplugs per head.

The Milwaukee-Eight 107″ heads look different for good reason. In addition to increasing from two to four valves per cylinder, the heads have been treated for advanced combustion design and flow work, said to generate almost a 50% increase in flow.


Visible in blue is the precision oil cooling passage.

The Milwaukee-Eight 107 heads look different for good reason. In addition to increasing from two to four valves per cylinder, the heads have been treated for advanced combustion design and flow work, said to generate almost a 50% increase in flow.

Pushrod-activated rocker arms control the two intake and two exhaust valves per head. Once set, valve adjustments are done for life.











• Harley said there are two versions in relation to engine cooling as well, as bikes without lowers will feature Precision Oil-Cooled engines, while bikes with lowers will employ the Precision Water Cooling system, with the radiators housed in the lowers a la RUSHMORE style. Before you get any bright ideas about retro-fitting a Milwaukee-Eight into an older bike, be aware that the engine mounting points have changed.

• The flywheel weight is the same as on the Twin Cam, but Harley has achieved 20% more rotational inertia with this engine. This aids in smoothing the driveline and producing a broad torque curve that pulls all the time. Redline is 5,500 rpm, slightly higher than a Twin Cam. A single internal engine counter-balancer is tuned at 75%, and the engine is rubber-mounted for less overall vibration to the rider and passenger.

• The heads have been treated to advanced combustion design and flow work, generating almost a 50% increase in flow. The intake and exhaust valve diameters are 40mm and 32mm respectively. Add the dual sparkplug (two per cylinder) design for a more complete burn, and you can see that this is not just a warmed-over Twin Cam design. There’s a new four-post-coil ignition with torque-based ECM with active knock sensors. There is independent control of the front and rear cylinder firing, with the front two coil outputs firing together and rear two firing together. Sequential Port Fuel injection is retained with a single throat inlet throttle body made of plastic. A bump up in compression ratio to 10:1 (107″) or 10.5:1 (114″) from the Twin Cam’s 9.7:1 means premium-grade fuel will be required.

• The single camshaft is utilized for its lower friction qualities, and it is chain driven. Thanks to a hydraulic lifter to pushrod connection from cam to rocker arm, you will never have to adjust the valvetrain from left to right, as they are now factory-set for life!

• It’s larger, more powerful, offers quicker acceleration, and produces 10% more torque. It should prove to be two to three bike lengths faster from 0-60 mph and one to two bike lengths faster from 60-80 mph in top gear.

The more powerful Milwaukee-Eight 107″ should make Harley’s tourers “two to three bike lengths faster from 0-60 mph and one to two bike lengths faster from 60-80 mph in top gear.”

2017 Milwaukee-Eight Engine Specs:
Engine:                 107″                  114″            TC 103 rubber mount
Cylinder angle:    45 degree      45 degree              45 degree
Bore:                      3.937″               4.01″                      3.875″
Stroke:                  4.375″               4.5″                        4.374″
Compression:    10:1                  10.5:1                       9.7:1
Valvetrain:      Four valves per cylinder      Two valve per cylinder
Ignition:            Four plug four coil               Two plug one coil
Torque: 114 ft-lb. @ 3250 /  124 ft-lb. @ 3250 / 104.7 ft-lb. @ 3250
Starter:                 1.6 kw               1.6 kw                  1.2 kw
Charging system: 24-25 amps / 24-25 amps / 17 amps
Fuel system:      ESPFI             ESPFI                     ESPFI
Oil capacity: 4.5 quarts      /   4.5 quarts    /          4 quarts
Idle speed:      850 rpm      /     850 rpm    /          1050 rpm

The new Harley Milwaukee-Eight will power The Motor Company’s 2017 touring motorcycles and baggers.

Harley-Davidson’s Big Twins over the Years
F-Head (JD) 1914-1929
Flathead 1930-1948
Knucklehead 1936-1947
Panhead 1948-1965
Shovelhead 1966-1984
Evolution 1984-1998
Twin Cam 1999-present
Milwaukee-Eight 2017-

New At This

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Editor

RIDE TO WORK, By Steve Lita, Editor

No, I’m not talking about me being new to this magazine. I’m talking about new riders. Wait, don’t go, don’t turn the page. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, please read on. There’s stuff in here for you, too, and it relates to how we relate to beginner riders. It might be a neighbor, a spouse, an offspring, or a complete stranger you met at a social event, but chances are if you’re already a rider, you’ve probably been asked about how one becomes a rider.

Go ahead, admit it. It might give you a big head for a moment: Gee, this person is looking up to me and asking how to become one of us. Now for the humbling part. I suggest you don’t speak off the cuff and set this person up to fail.

Experienced riders have a pretty sizable responsibility when it comes to helping newcomers. Let’s not steer this newbie in the wrong direction.

There are lots of ways to get involved in motorcycling. And there are lots of opinions out there about what’s the best way. When asked for advice, I suggest playing it safe. Be up front about the thrills, fun, and camaraderie, but don’t sugarcoat it: be forthright about the risks, costs, and pitfalls.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been granted the credentials to teach riders in Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes for over 13 years now. And while we have a defined curriculum and specific guidelines to follow, it’s inevitable that students will ask the darndest questions on a coffee break or rest period. There’s so much new material coming at them, and they’re being bombarded with all this strange stuff. Well, at least it’s strange to them the first time out.

One of the classic questions I get is: what should I get for my first bike? I know I’m going to get letters on this, but here goes: I always suggest starting on a small, used bike, followed by practice, practice, and more practice, and then, when ready, stepping up to that dream bike. There are four steps behind my thought process. One: if bought correctly, the initial expense won’t be huge, and the new rider can get on two wheels quicker. Two: since it’s a used bike, it’s probably been predisastered, and our new rider won’t feel so bad about scratching it in a parking lot drop. Three: if the bike’s taken good care of, one could break even when reselling it; you can even stand to make money if you fix it up, or, at the least, only lose a small amount due to depreciation. Four: the fear and intimidation of dropping that dream bike won’t be in mind, so the new rider can concentrate on developing riding skills, not profiling (which is another popular newbie question: How do I look?). Want more reasons? How about cheaper insurance on a used bike and getting exposure to other models? Who knows, a person’s dream bike might play second fiddle to another style of bike once he gets some miles under his belt. And, finally, older bikes are, at least I find, easier to wrench on. A brand-new rider on a brand new bike might be confronted with technological wonders, but an advanced degree is required to fix it if it breaks down.

One of my colleagues was attending a class designed for experienced riders recently. Part of the purpose of this event was to help develop a new genre of curriculum. And, of course, when time came to share opinions about certain bike-related topics, not everyone was in agreement about the ideal first bike. Debates were heated and passionate; each side walked away thinking its opinion was right. I guess it’s kind of like politics. My disclaimer here is that I’m not saying my way is the only way. I just wanted to share possible tips for when the questions start coming at you, the experienced rider.

So, there you go. Just one aspect of helping a new rider get up on his or her own wheels. Maybe I’ll revisit this from time to time. After all, motor­cyclists are the minority out on the roads of America. And I look forward to helping more people have fun with bikes. If someone is asking you how, that’s great! Let’s give them respect for wanting to join the riding family and provide some sound, basic advice. After all, you were new at this once upon a time, too. Remember?

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Race On Sunday, Sell On Monday?

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

AMA Class C racers on tankshift 45 cubic-inch flatheads

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Talk to any of the motorcycle old timers and eventually they all get around to discussing a deep-rooted rivalry. It was between the two American motorcycle powerhouses, Harley-Davidson and Indian, on the racetracks and in the showrooms. I have heard and read about the epic battles on the sand of Daytona Beach, the rough dirt tracks near Loudon, New Hampshire, and the unforgiving hard pack of Springfield, Ohio. And the subsequent battle to get riders into the dealerships.

The parking lots at 1940s and early ’50s motorcycle race events were tightly packed with Harley flatheads, Knuckleheads, and Panheads, side by side with Indian Chiefs, Scouts, and occasional Fours. The riders proudly wore shirts or caps proclaiming their ride of choice. In the pits and on the tracks were Indian Scouts and Harley WRs. These were the fierce competitors of AMA Class C racing on tankshift 45 cubic-inch flatheads. Yes, I am going back more than 60 years, but whatever embers from this fierce
competition that still glow are about to get fanned into a powerful blaze.

After decades of dominating the dirt tracks of America with the all-conquering XR-750, Harley-Davidson recently announced a new race platform based on the 750cc liquid-cooled Street motorcycle. The XG750R broke cover at the Sacramento Mile where factory rider Davis Fisher finished the Semi in third place. Unlike just about all other 45-degree, air-cooled V-twins in Harley’s history, the radical new G (which used to be Harley’s designation for the Servicar trike) is a liquid-cooled, four-valve, 60-degree design. Could this be something to watch for in the future?

Right on the heels of Harley’s announcement of a new generation dirt track racer, Indian pulled the covers off an all-new race powertrain rumored to have been designed and built in less than a year! Say hello to the Indian FTR750 racer, powered by a liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC V-twin engine. I know the last Indian factory racer was built before I was born. I believe it was Indian model 648 Big Base Scout, built in very limited numbers in 1948 specifically to beat the Harley team in the important Daytona Beach races that year. Indian won the race, but it was the end of head-on, on-track competition between the factory teams of Harley and Indian. Until now.

Most of us know how racing can benefit the brand. First and foremost, race bikes are cool. They should be designed with nothing that does not help them go faster, handle better, or stop properly. Second, competition breeds improvements. Lessons learned on the track often has great applications for the street. Third could be phrased “Race on it Sunday, sell it on Monday,” if motorcycle dealers were open on Mondays. Enthusiasts like to buy and ride the bikes they see race and win, even if they are buying a motor­cycle with little in common other than tank badges and a similar general look.

HD-Indian-wars-columnFor the first time in decades, Harley is showing serious commitment, gambling with a new powertrain to replace the XR750, and Indian has opened its corporate checkbook wide to re-enter dirt track racing after more than six decades. Could this lead to a rebirth of popularity in a sport that has, frankly, been in steady decline for too long? I sure hope so. Either way, I do know it will benefit all enthusiasts with stronger and better products for years to come. And I can’t wait to see the Harley and Indian teams out on the mile track, hanging it all out and fighting for the win.

If you are interested in learning more about the Harley/Indian rivalry I strongly recommend buying a copy of the long-out-of-print book Alan Girdler’s The Harley-Davidson and Indian Wars at

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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