The Enthusiast, published by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company since 1916, is the oldest continually published motorcycle magazine in the world and in 1929 it featured the first H-D cover girl. Dubbed “The Enthusiast Girl” by Harley-Davidson, Vivian Bales was not just some woman sitting on a Harley for cover of the magazine – she was one of the first great woman riders.
Vivian saved up and bought her first Harley-Davidson ignoring all who told her that a woman should not ride one and taught herself how to ride. At the age of 20, she embarked on a solo journey in the summer of 1929 covering 5000 miles in 78 days demonstrating her adventurous spirit and establishing her place in motorcycling history.
Although the passion for riding has remained strong throughout the years, for some it includes the search for the machines that were rode back in the early days and restoring them to their original condition. One of these individuals is Ross Van Etten from Colorado Springs, CO who has restored several Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles.
The 1929 Harley-Davidson featured here was purchased in Montana by Ross. Late in the evening on the way home with his latest project and some parts of another bike that he acquired while he was there, he hit a deer that severely bent the axle on the trailer. Anxious to get home and after determining that the trailer seemed to tow alright, he continued on. “The tire on the side of the bent axle was completely shot when we got back but we made it,” said Ross.
Some of the features of this bike that were new in 1929 include the twin bullet headlights which look cool but weren’t very effective, an instrument dash with the bike’s switches and an ammeter, and a cover for the oil pump on the side of the timing case.
Ross completed the restoration in 1993 and this bike is part of his collection of six Harley-Davidsons and Indians that he has restored on exhibit at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum.