Vintage Enduro Racer! 1931 Harley-Davidson

We’ve featured several bikes here on Barn Finds over the past few weeks that are being sold by the famed Wheels Through Time Museum. It appears they are liquidating some of the less valuable pieces of their collection and this bike is part of that sale. It is a 1931 Harley-Davidson and can be found here on eBay with a current bid of $5,500. Wheels Through Time is located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and houses “…the world’s premier collection of rare American motorcycles, memorabilia, and a distinct array of unique “one-off” American automobiles.” Let’s check out more of this Harley racer!

According to the ad, this bike was owned by famed Harley-Davidson dealer George Swim from Energy, Illinois. It was raced in the Jack Pine Enduro several times in the 1940s and the racing modifications look really cool. If you aren’t familiar with enduro racing, imagine riding this bike up and down the nastiest steep muddy hills that are boulder covered with trees along both sides of the trail plus racing on gravel and dirt rutted roads. You can check out modern enduro racing in this clip found here on YouTube. By looking at the photos in the ad, you can tell this thing was set up to go off-road. The front fender has the shape of a modern motocross bike and you can see the aggressive rear tire/gear set up in this photo. The seat also has extra padding which hopefully helped some of the bumpy sections.

The ad says the engine turns easily and has plenty of compression, but there’s no mention if it runs or not…so it probably doesn’t. The seller makes a point to highlight the “rare vertical generator” and the “beautiful amp gauge and air cleaner.” They also mention that the brake is in working condition.

The biggest downside to this ride might be the fact that the left side of the tank is missing along with the shifter arm and dashboard cover. If the new owner plans on displaying the bike, they could just place it so the tank side is out. It would be a shame to lose the cool patina the vintage stickers add to the tank, but if someone is planning on restoring it and/or riding it, then they’ll probably want to source another tank. Overall, this is a pretty unique Harley that would be a fun bike to own. What do you think?

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  1. Chas H

    A true relic!
    What is going on with the front brake levers? Is one an adjustment lever- why is there a grease fitting on it?

    • Dusty Rider

      The upper arm is the strut that holds the brake to the front suspension and needs grease to operate smoothly.

      Like 2
      • Chas H

        Thank you. I totally missed that.

  2. Howard A Member

    This a pretty cool find, albeit a bit tattered. Think of what this bike went through, and the person riding it. You look at modern MX bikes, this about as opposite as you can get. I’ve long said, Harley missed the boat by not getting into the enduro market, and not those Italian jobs either. I have seen some on/off road renditions of the Sporty, nothing I’d be comfortable on though. Not sure what to do with this. With as rare as they are,( and the apparent prices they bring) it will probably be restored as a road bike.

    Like 3
  3. whmracer99

    A hard tail enduro bike — back when men were men. Makes my “tail” hurt just thinking about it.

    Like 4
  4. jerry z

    Been to Wheels Thru Time a couple of times and what a great museum! Best part is when they start up some of the bikes, nothing else like it!

    Like 1
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    Definitely a VL based bike. HD made them tough back then; more than one were ridden to the event and then ridden IN the event. I was always curious about the forged main fork legs. Strong but if they broke you didn’t fix them, you replaced them. Another thing that intrigued me was the Total Loss lube system. VLs had a reputation for being oil burners but that was because most of them weren’t properly calibrated; too many owners were afraid of starving the bottom ends so they would pump too much oil into the crankcase. An old HD mechanic/rider in the Great Falls area told me that there were some failed bottom ends because of too MUCH oil; it caused the needle bearings to skid instead of roll. HD decided that it was time for a change by 1936 because it changed to a complete circulating lube system then. I would love this bike. I would probably restore it mostly stock and then just have a good time with it. To many former injuries would prevent me from doing anything but ride it…

    Like 4
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I stand corrected. A closer look tells me that this one is a D series which is a 45 CID. The 45 was considerably lighter which would’ve made it more suitable for enduro runs. The VL that came out in ’32 had the chain on the left as was the trend for all big twins. The 45 always had the chain on the right. Engine oiling principles are the same in both…

      Like 1
  6. TimM

    This is a sweet find just sent it to my buddy who owns a 74 shop a couple miles from me!!

    Like 1
  7. Chris M.

    Is that real Opposum fur on the seat?

    Like 3
  8. Troy s

    Kinda funny, I always thought the old CZ’s looked like they’d beat you to death when I was a kid, this bike puts em to shame! Crazy stuff.

    Like 1
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    This will really update your definition of Patina…..fuzz and all.

    Like 1

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