Classic Harley-Davidson Hummers

By: On: February 27th, 20103 Comments »Updated: July 24, 2013

Harley Davidson PacerClassic Harley-Davidson collectors  should not pass by the lightweight, two-stroke engines in the smallest street bikes for model years 1948-1966.  These started off featuring a German-designed (DKW) 125cc two-stroke single.  For trivia fans, BSA motorcycles also used the DKW 125 in their Bantam in the late 1940s.

During the 1950’s, Harley opened it up the engine size to a 165cc, then to a 175cc displacement in the 1960’s.  It’s almost hard to imagine Harley-Davidson ever using two-stroke engines in their street bikes.  Harley big-twin fans, keep in mind that this all started long before the AMF years!

Harley Davidson Hummer motorcycle

Classic Harley-Davidson 2-stroke street motorcycles:

The Harley 2-strokes initially had only their simple letter designations and engine sizes as model names in the 1940’s and into the 1950’s.  These were ST, STU (1947-1952) and Model 165 (1953-1959) when they started production.  The 125cc Harley was launched in November ’47 with a whopping 3hp rating.

Later, and in the interest of marketing how fun these 200-230 pound motorcycles are to ride, they gave them catchy names including Hummer (1955-1959), Super 10 (1960-1962), Ranger (off-road model for 1962), Pacer (1962-1965), Scat (1962-1965), and Bobcat (1966).  It’s the Harley Hummer model name seems to be the one remembered the most.  It’s not unusual for the all the classic Harley-Davidson models mentioned above all to be referred to as Hummers.

Engine sizes (all 2-stokes) expanded from 125cc, to 165cc in 1953, and then to 175cc in 1962 through 1966.

In classic Harley-Davidson fashion, even though the catchy model names were added, the letter designations were kept.  The Pacer was a BT, and the Scat was a BTH.

Harley Davidson Super 10The “new for you in ’62” line-up included the Pacer with a new more powerful Harley-Davidson 175cc two-stroke engine.  It was boasted as being “ideal transportation for funning, sunning, work, school or play“.  That same year, the Harley Davidson Scat came equipped with a tuned exhaust system making it “red-hot for action“.

The Harley Scat was kind of an early dual-purpose bike commonly referred back then as a “scrambler”.  It was intended for use both on and off road.  The Scat’s tuned exhaust was higher mounted than the Pacer’s exhaust system, since the Pacer was the street-only version.

The same basic motorcycle was available as the Harley-Davidson Ranger and was sold as a dirt bike.  It was advertised for “those hard to get to trout streams and game trails” and came geared lower than the Pacer and Scat were.  The 1962 Harley-Davidson Ranger had high-mounted exhaust, similar to the Scat, but did not have the same tuned tail pipe that the Scat had.

For the 1963 model year, the Pacer and Scat were both offered in Hi-Fi Red, Tango Red, Hi-Fi Turquoise, or Black paint jobs.

In 1964, the magazine ads described the Harley-Davidson Pacer as being “thrifty fun, lightweight action“.   Along side the pacer, the Scat was described as  “sportsman’s special, rugged nimble“.

Along the sportsman theme, an optional “hunting and fishing kit” was available for the Scat.  That kit was really just different size sprockets for the chain drive and a rear knobby tire which helped make it more suitable for slow speed trail riding, as the Harley Ranger was a few years earlier.

For Harley to maximize their sales potential, they also offered the Pacer in a “de-tuned” 5 hp version, as well as in the Topper scooter to follow.  This was about half of the standard version’s power and allowed Harley to market these to teenagers in states that had certain license restrictions based on the power ratings for motorcycles and scooters.  The de-tuned versions had a “U” in their letter designation, such as the BTU (Pacer) or AU (Topper).

The classic Harley-Davidson Pacer and Scat weighed 205 and 220 pounds dry, had a 52 inch wheel base, 1.9 gallon fuel tank, and 3-speed foot-shifted transmissions.  Tire sizes were 3.50″ x 16″ on the Pacer, and 3.50″ x 18″ on the Scat, which helped the Scat have a little more ground clearance for the trails.

During this era of classic Harley-Davidson two-stroke singles, Harley also manufactured an automatic scooter called the Topper (1960-1965). Yes, the Topper was indeed a full fledged Harley-Davidson scooter. The Topper was intended to compete against the popular Cushman scooters and the various Italian scooters, like the Lambretta. By then, scooters had enjoyed years of growing sales in Europe and had been popular in the USA too.

By 1965, it was fairly obvious Harley-Davidson two stroke street bikes and scooters were not selling as well as planned.  Harley ended production of their remaining two-stroke motorcycle and scooter, the Bobcat and the Topper, and shifted their production efforts to the core of their business, the large displacement 4-stroke street bikes and cruiser.

After the 1966 Bobcat, Harley-Davidson moved on to the small Italian motorcycles branded for Harley from Aermacchi.  As with most motorcycle manufacturers in the late 1960’s, the Harley-Aermacchi combination was just not able to compete against the Japanese manufacturers.

Restoring vintage two-stroke motorcycles, especially these classic Harley-Davidson motorcycles, is sure to be a fun and rewarding experience!

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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3 Responded

  1. ricardo rivera says:

    i have a 1965 harley davidson tele glide pacer for sale 2000$ in very good condition all it needs to run are the points to the magneto as is

  2. steve loeffler says:

    I need advice on how to obtain a seat for my 1966 Harley Bobcat that is in good condition