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October 25, 2005 > Motorcycle museum rides into town

Motorcycle museum rides into town

by Venkat Raman

The Harley Davidson Traveling Museum will offer a "free history class" on wheels for motorcycle enthusiasts when an 18-wheel semi trailer, decked out in black with orange stripes and the Harley logo on the outside, rolls up to the Cycle Center of Fremont on Nov. 3. Inside, what some people refer to as "Hog Heaven," visitors will step into the world of motorcycles, leather and races highlighting 10 of the greatest bikes in Harley history. The museum traces the history of the company that William Davidson, his brothers Arthur and Walter, and William Harley, started in 1903, one of the most popular motorcycle makers in the world.

"The traveling museum is an amazing sight," said Jill Ellwanger, event coordinator for this exhibition at the Cycle Center of Fremont. "It is an 18-wheeler with a trailer that has pull-out sides. Once the sides are pulled out, you can walk through the trailer and enjoy the display just like in a museum. In this case the museum pieces are motorcycles." All of the powerful machines on display share a common trait; they have all won racing competitions.

Racing triumphs of its founders in 1908 elevated Harley-Davidson to a prestigious level. After regional racing successes in the Milwaukee area, Walter Davidson rode a stock motorcycle to a perfect score in the 365-mile endurance run in the Catskill Mountains of New York organized by the Federation of American Motorcyclists. The nation took notice of the fledgling company and has recognized the reliability and performance of its motorcycles ever since.

The dominance of Harley-Davidson machines in racing is evident from the consistent successes of the 500cc Peashooter in the 1920s and 30s, the 45 cubic inch WLDR and WR in 40s and early 50s, the lighter and faster KR in the 50s and 60s and the long reign of the XR-750 since 1972. Harley-Davidson's heritage of winning spans a whole century - from Walter Davidson's 1905 wins to Andrew Hines's 2004 NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag racing championship.

In honor of this enviable accomplishment, Harley-Davidson has chosen a racing theme for its 2006 model machines and accessories. The traveling museum will be showing off some of the motorcycles that clinched victory in competitions throughout the 20th century.

"This is not just for Harley enthusiasts. It attracts anyone with a fond memory of racing. It is quite popular with kids - they are awestruck with the idea that such a museum travels to different places," said Ellwanger. The museum travels from dealership to dealership all across the nation and takes more than a year to complete its tour.

Harley Davidson Traveling Museum
Thursday, November 3
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cycle Center of Fremont
41315 Albrae St., Fremont
(510) 657-7200�

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