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Harley-Davidson 1915 Model 11-F

The 1915 Model 11-F was the best-selling Harley-Davidson up to that time, mainly because of the use of inexpensive acetylene lamps.

| August 2012

  • Harley-Davidson Innovation
    “Art of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle” by Dain Gingerelli, with artful photography by David Blattel, is a handsome, informative overview of Harley-Davidson’s 100-plus years of style and innovation.
    Photo courtesy Motorbooks
  • 1915 Model 11-F
    The 1915 Model 11-F qualified as the poor man’s Harley of the time because it lacked the new electrical system. It relied on acetylene lamps.
    Photo courtesy Motorbooks

  • Harley-Davidson Innovation
  • 1915 Model 11-F

Historical and technical profiles written by Harley-Davidson expert Dain Gingerelli and masterful motorcycle photography by David Blattel come together in Art of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle (Motorbooks, 2011). The result is a breathtaking review of over 100 stunning Harley-Davidson greatest hits from the early 1900s to today. The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 1, “Finding Form: The Early Harley Motorcycles.” 

1915 Model 11-F 

Like the Model 11-J, the Model 11-F used the upgraded 11-horsepower V-twin engine that Harley-Davidson improved for 1915. The engine had a mechanically driven oil pump for more positive lubrication, a major improvement because it eliminated the need for the rider to work the hand pump that had been required to maintain pressure in the oil tank while riding. The mechanically driven pump did all the work, and did it in a more reliable way. Even though the 11-F’s engine had this new feature, the bike qualified as the poor man’s Harley of the time because it lacked the new electrical system found on the 11-J. Using the old acetylene-burning lights saved 11-F owners $35 compared to the 11-J’s MSRP, a hefty sum in 1915. Obviously the savings was worth it to customers, because the 11-F topped all other Harley models for the year, making it the best-selling Harley up to that time. The new engine also proved popular for racing, and Harley-Davidson offered a race model with the new engine for customers wanting to compete on dirt ovals and board tracks that were popular at the time.


Engine Displacement: 30 cubic inches
Transmission: 3-speed
Horsepower: 11 horsepower
Wheelbase: 59.5 inches


• 9,855 11-Fs were sold in 1915.
• Even though the 11-J had electrical lighting, the 11-F still relied on acetylene lamps. 

More examples of Harley-Davidson innovation from Art of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

Harley-Davidson 1933 Model VLD 
Harley-Davidson 1940 Model UL 
Harley-Davidson 1946 Model EL 
Harley-Davidson 1964 Model FL
Harley-Davidson 1966 FLH Electra-Glide 

Main Article: Finding Form: Early Harley-Davidson Innovation

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