Motorcycle: Twins - Model W Sport Twin, 1919 - 2922
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 23:07:55 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Model W Sport Twin, 1919 - 2922
One of Harley-Davidson's most radical machines appeared as early as 1919. Developed during the war years and first shown to the public in 1918, the Model W "Sport Twin" was quite unlike the general expectation of what a Milwaukee twin should be. Its cylinders, rather than being tucked close together in a 45 degree V, were set 180 degrees apart. This was Harley's Boxer twin — but unlike BMW's more modern Boxers, this carried its cylinders fore-and-aft like contemporary British Douglas machines.
In theory, this somewhat unwieldy layout should have made the bike very long, but in practice the new model's wheelbase was actually three inches shorter than that of the existing V-twin — just 53 1/2 in (1,360mm). It was also low overall and carried its heaviest components in particular low to the ground - a considerable bonus on the rough roads of the time. It also weighed fully 100 lbs (45kg) less than its sibling V-twins. Aesthetically, too, the "Brewster Green" Sport looked low and lean, with an elegance of line rarely achieved by previous V-twins. The engine's horizontally-opposed cylinders bestowed perfect primary balance, making it far smoother than the other big Vs in the Harley range. In fact, this was a most civilized mount all round.
As well as the standard equipment of magneto ignition and gas lights (fed by acetylene gas produced "on the move" by dissolving calcium carbide in water), optional equipment included coil ignition and true electric lighting. Engine lubrication was taken care of by an automatic pump, freeing the rider from the obligation of injecting just the right amount of oil at just the right time. The three-speed transmission was driven by a multi-plate clutch (albeit hand-operated) running in engine oil, just like a modern motorcycle. The Sport's drive chain, enclosed in a steel case and lubricated by oil mist from the crankcase breather, was as close to zero-maintenance as chain transmission could get at the time. All in all, the Model W was a neat, light, J economical and innovative piece of kit which Milwaukee clearly hoped would find a ready market, as riders were less disposed to the rougher pleasures of previous big twins. Unfortunately the Sport had one major shortcoming — cubic inches, or the lack of them. It was way down on power compared to the existing 61-inch Harley V-twin and similar offerings from Indian. with a displacement of just 35.6cu in (584cc). To compensate, at least in part, it had to be revved hard — indeed it was reputed (very dubiously) to be the highest-revving internal combustion of its time. Yet even when thrashed, power was poor, with a top speed of little more than 50mph (80kph). Then, as now, America's motorcyclists demanded less revs and far more guts. Although its agility made it modestly popular for a while on Europe's more tortuous roads (almost one third of exports to Britain in 1919 were Sport Twins), the Model W was never a success at home. Production ceased in 1922, after just four years on the Milwaukee line.
Engine: horizontally-opposed side-valve twin
Capacity: 35.6 cu in (584cc)
Wheelbase: 53 1/2 in (1,360 mm)
Top speed: around 50mph (80kph)
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