Motorcycle Types Cruiser 1903 Harley-Davidson | Serial Number 1

1903 Harley-Davidson | Serial Number 1

H-D Motorcycle History

Harley-Davidson Serial Number One, which currently resides in the H-D lobby at Juneau Avenue, dates to the 1903-04 era. Company founders built at least one prototype before it and, of course, production machines after it that differed both in the power of the engine and in general configuration.

Meticulous research by H-D Archives staff and external experts proved that Harley-Davidson Serial Number One was built without fenders and used in competition, probably to illustrate the power and reliability of the motor. After all, as the company name implied, Harley-Davidson Motor Company sold motors as well as motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson Museum Number One

While it is clearly identified on many of its components as Serial Number One, it is definitely not the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. That distinction would go to one of the prototypes. Instead, it is the developmental platform from which the first true Harley-Davidson street motorcycles sprang. It is the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle to be considered ready for production and, except for refinements that civilized it as a street machine, is essentially the same as those models that followed it.

Harley-Davidson Serial Number One, then, is not the very first Harley-Davidson but it is the first true Harley-Davidson motorcycle as they were later developed. And, beyond any doubt, it is the oldest Harley-Davidson motorcycle in existence today.

Photographs courtesy of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives


Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M Review (23 Fast Facts)

We head to Jerez to test the updated and more refined 2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M superbikes. Here's our first ride review.

Arai Regent-X Motorcycle Helmet First Look: Evolutionary Design

Arai Regent-X First Look The new Arai Regent-X helmet is designed with creature comforts in mind, while still delivering the protection that motorcycle riders expect...

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S ‘Black on Black’ Unveiled for +$400

For the first time since the Monster 1200 was released for 2014, Ducati is releasing a blacked-out version for the premium S model.

2019 San Marino MotoGP Results from Misano (Updated)

2019 San Marino MotoGP Results from Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli Though he only led a single lap of 27 during the San Marino Grand...

Valentino Rossi 2019 Misano Helmet Revealed (22 Photos)

Rossi Shows off Drudi-designed AGV Pista GP R at San Marino GP It’s time for the Octo San Marino and Riviera di Rimini Grand Prix,...

2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Review (11 Fast Facts)

2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Review Not seen since the demise of the Dyna line, the Harley-Davidson Low Rider S returns as a Softail with...