During WWII in 1941, Field Marshall Rommel began his assault on Africa. Anticipating that we were going to be entering into some desert warfare, the government commissioned Indian and Harley-Davidson to build 1000 desert worthy motorcycles.
Some of the specifications they asked for were that they be horizontally opposed air cooled motors because they would run oil temperatures significantly lower than the v-twins. A shaft drive was installed so there wouldn’t be any complications from sand in the chain, causing accelerated wear in the drive mechanism and gears, and a longer travel suspension was utilized for use in the desert.
Both Indian and Harley-Davidson produced a little over one thousand prototypes and issued them to the U.S. military for testing. Over the course of the next year while they were being tested, the African war campaign against Rommel came to an end and there were new vehicles such as the Willys jeep that put motorcycles toward the back of the motor pool.
Some of the 841’s and their sisters, the Harley-Davidson model XA, were used on military bases while others were offered for sale as surplus to the general population. This particular 841 was issued to Fort Lewis Washington and spent its entire life there until being surplused in 1945.
It was a one owner bike from 1945 until 2006 when that owner passed away. It was then purchased as a complete motorcycle with the original title and registration from Washington State and had a complete restoration done on it.
Special thanks to Jeff and Kristal from Iron Horse Livery for preserving this piece of our motorcycling history and giving us a glimpse of the past and what it was like to ride a motorcycle ~ back in the day!