A Trip to the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In August we visited the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.  While I’m not a Harley rider I have an appreciation for most things with two wheels, and if you are like me the museum won’t disappoint you (If you are not a bike fan I’d stay clear of this place). My wife falls into the latter category but was a trooper and spent four hours with me there, so I still owe her for that.
The museum was great for two things- presenting physical examples of Harleys from almost every year of production, and for providing the context of Harley in both US and motorcycle history.  For example, did you know that in the 1910’s and 20’s Harley sold almost as many bikes with sidecars as without?  I also learned from looking at the “bikes only” parking area (which is right in the front of the museum) that Harleys leak prodigious quantities of oil, so there’s yet another thing they have in common with Heinkels.
I got to sit on a Harley Topper- the 165 cc two stroke scooter they made for a few years in the early 60’s.
Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Harley Topper- more like a Heinkel Tourist than you’d expect
The highlights of the trip:
I found a possible color option for my second Heinkel Kabine- Atomic Blue from 1955. Here’s a not so good picture:
Heinkel Kabines and Trojan Cars
Atomic Blue on the impressive wall of gas tanks at the Museum
Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
More about Atomic Blue

 Some other highlights of the trip:

Heinkel Cars and Kabines
Riding a new Harley (on rollers)

The museum was quite forthcoming about the influence of Italian scooters and the pressures they put on the company. Harley purchased an Italian motorcycle company to smaller bikes and developed the Harley Topper. The front was metal, the seating area was made of fiberglass, and it was powered by a reed valve induction two stroke engine with a CVT transmission.

A museum Harley

And a pull start like a lawnmower!

The Harley Topper exhibit at the museum
Heinkel Trojan Cars
The rear section (Fiberglass)

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Topper Handlebars

You could also sit on other bikes from Harley history:

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
The handlebar angle takes some getting used to!
Heinkel Tourist scooters
Definitely doable, even with a suicide shifter

Here’s a  typical bike writeup at the museum. Picture 115 years of this and you get an idea of the detail they put into the exhibits:

Info card on 1949 Harley

 And my wife had a grilled cheese sandwich with both cheese and cheese curds. As the British say, “brilliant”!

Heinkel Cars and Cabin Scooters
Cheese curds are delicious

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