The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook Book Review [Rider’s Library]

Just when you thought about everything that could be written about Harley-Davidson motorcycles had been written, Canadian author and custom bike-builder Mitch Bergeron hits the bookshelves with his new homage to The Motor Company, The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook—All the Milestone Production Models Since 1903. 

Bergeron writes from a wealth of hands-on experience; his custom builds have been awarded Best of Show in the Easyriders Invitational and many regional shows. Additionally, his creations have been featured in TV shows including Biker Build-Off, Chopper Nation, and Chopper Challenge, and in the book, The Art of the Chopper.

The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook Book Review

As is standard practice from Motorbooks, the book is beautifully produced on heavy stock. Motorbooks’ Senior Acquisition Editor is Darwin Holmstrom, an accomplished motorcycle historian and author in his own right, having recently published Indian Motorcycle—120 Years of America’s First Motorcycle Company, also from Motorbooks. Holmstrom has written, co-written, or contributed to more than 30 other books, including The Life Harley-Davidson. Also providing editorial and subject matter expertise is Dain Gingerelli.

In ten chapters, Bergeron covers what basically define key eras in Harley-Davidson’s long history of powerplant and model development: Chapter 1, the Early Singles; Chapter 2, the F-head Twins; Chapter 3 the Side-valve Flatheads; Chapter 4, the Knucklehead; Chapter 5, the Panhead; Chapter 6, the Sportster; Chapter 7, the Shovelhead; Chapter 8, the Evolution; Chapter 9, the Twin Cam; and Chapter 10, the Milwaukee- Eight.

You may have anticipated that the book would have another chapter between the Twin Cam and the Milwaukee Eight, called “the Revolution,” as the Porsche-designed engine that powered the V-Rod was known. However, it’s not there.

The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook—All the Milestone Production Models Since 1903

That omission is deliberate. As Bergeron explains, “There are a few bikes that I would have liked to include, such as the V-Rod, which gave way to the now-defunct Street 750 and 500, and also the Destroyer, which is a 9-second quarter-mile dragstrip-only version of the V-Rod. However, I limited this book to air-cooled engines only and focused on the V-twins, as these are Harley-Davidson’s history and heritage. Harley’s racing history is also extremely interesting and influenced many of its street-legal bikes. But that, too, is another book unto itself.”

While the V-Rod and other now-discontinued liquid-cooled models are not included, Bergeron includes coverage of the Twin-Cooled and oil-cooled models, as well as the liquid-cooled adventure-touring Pan American 1250 and all-electric LiveWire.

Every chapter is packed with superb images from a range of sources dating from the company’s origins in the early 20th century to the present-day models. Within each chapter, the key models featured come with well-captioned images, plus sidebars with essential technical specifications—engine, transmission, final drive, wheels, tires, brakes, capacities, and dimensions.

Bergeron concludes the book with a gaze into his crystal ball for some thoughts on The Motor Company’s future direction. He focused on two bikes that represent the opposite ends of the consistency spectrum with its heritage vs. departures from it.

On the consistency end, he cited the 2021 Electra Glide Revival from the Icon Collection. The bike closely echoes the styling, feel and cool of the 1969 Electra Glide, while being a thoroughly modern machine. On the departure end, he considers the implications of the Livewire, Harley’s first electric motorcycle.

The Electra Glide Revival appealed to Bergeron’s sense of history and nostalgia. The entire idea of the Icon Collection had him saying, “I can’t wait to see which bike is next up in the Icon Collection.”

The LiveWire, meanwhile, earned Bergeron’s praise for its good looks, great performance, impressive handling, and strong reviews. However, his analysis was more nuanced, saying, “The LiveWire direction won’t be an easy path for a company known for nostalgia machines.” Since the book was published, Harley-Davidson has started the stand-alone LiveWire brand.

The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook—All the Milestone Production Models Since 1903 is a visual feast with 400 color and black & white classic and contemporary images, as well as an authoritative resource on The Motor Company’s pivotal models. Whether you ride Harley-Davidson, any other brand, or simply have an interest in motorcycle history, it is a great addition to your Rider’s Library or as a holiday gift.

The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook—All the Milestone Production Models Since 1903 Fast Facts

  • Author: Mitch Bergeron
  • Published: December 2021, hardcover, 288 9.25” x 10.7” pages, 400 color and black & white (period) images
  • Publisher: Motorbooks, Quarto Publishing Group, 100 Cummings Center, Suite 265-D, Beverly, MA 01915, USA
  • ISBN: 978-0-7603-6190-0
  • Digital Edition ISBN: 978-0-7603-6191-7

The Harley-Davidson Sourcebook—All the Milestone Production Models Since 1903 Price: $50 MSRP