During the 1920's, Harley-Davidson as well as Indian had investigated the potential market for motorcycle sales overseas and found a growth in small single cylinder motorcycles of 21ci and 37ci capacities. Harley-Davidson realized that domestic sales would not contribute much to the coffers as American riders preferred the larger V-twins but planned on sales in Europe, England and Australia to make production profitable.
New for 1929 was a 37ci or 500cc or 30.50ci sidevalve single complete with battery & coil ignition. Wisely, Harley-Davidson followed the successful lines of the big twins with their smaller singles. The bikes looked all the part of its larger capacity stable mates. In fact, the majority of the parts for the 500cc model are interchangeable with the larger 750cc twin model except for the engine. The new machines featured greater road clearance, wider tires and drop center rims.
Harley-Davidson brought vast improvements to their middleweight motorcycle in 1931, including a new frame with welded reinforcements and new forks. It also gained a transmission interlock to prevent gear changes without the use of the clutch, a new toolbox to accent the more streamlined appearance, and a new single pipe muffler replaced the earlier 4-pipe muffler. A new larger rear brake was also carried over from the 1929 JD model. Customers saw the first use of chrome in 1931 however it remained for only small parts initially.
This Harley has had only two owners in the last 66 years. The prior owner, Gene Heins, acquired the motorcycle in 1956 from Alvin Heinrich. A copy of the title from that time is on file. Heins would enjoy his bike for nearly three decades before undertaking a cosmetic refurbishment in 1984. The current owner acquired the bike in 2008 and has maintained it as a static display in his larger collection. Offered today as an approachable entry in pre-WWII two-wheeling or a stunning piece of garage art, it will no doubt provide delight to the next owner.