1915 KT Board Racer

1915 KT Board Racer

SPECIFICATIONS. 1915 KT Board Racer

  • Engine: Inlet-over-exhaust, V-twin
  • Capacity: 61 cu.in. (l000cc)
  • Power output: 15 bhp
  • Transmission: Three-speed, chain drive
  • Frame: Tubular loop
  • Suspension: Leading-link front forks, rigid rear
  • Weight: 325 lb (147kg)
  • Top speed: 80 mph (130km/h)

Harley-Davidson did not participate in team racing until 1914, when it decided to exploit the potential benefits of publicity and development that could be derived from racing success. Board-track racing was reaching new levels of popularity, with promotors able to attract huge paying crowds to the meetings, so Harley’s decision to enter into competition made a lot of sense. And the move paid off almost immediately, as the Harley race team began to achieve significant results in 1915 on bikes such as this KT. In September 1915, an F-head Harley set a 100-mile (161-km) record of 89.11 mph (143.46 km/h) on a board track in Chicago. It all augured well for the launch of the famous eight-valve racer a year later.

1915 KT Board Racer

Board racers were spindly, frail-looking machines that were stripped of surplus equipment. There was no gearbox and usually no brakes, though this bike is fitted with a rear drum. Their appearance belied their astonishing strength and performance — these bikes could be run flat-out for considerable distances, with 100-mile (161-km) races not uncommon on the banked wooden tracks.

Maywood Speedway Park, 1915

Maywood Speedway Park, 1915

Mawood Park was a typical board-track venue. Tracks were constructed by placing thin planks on a wooden frame. With use, the boards became covered in oil arid rubber, gradually making them more slippery and dangerous. Despite the initial success of this form of racing, injury and death were not uncommon arid the deaths of spectators m the early 1920s saw the sport go into terminal decline.