1930 Harley-Davidson DAH “Hill Climber”
The Harley-Davidson DAH 45 cubic inch OHV series of factory racers were to become with ongoing development one of Harleys most successful racers ever. The DAH was designed for the Class A and Expert categories of Hill Climbing that was sweeping the USA at this time. Harley didn’t have the experience with 750cc models like their key rivals Indian and Excelsior, so a fresh design was required.
The DAH was introduced during 1929 with a 750cc alcohol burning twin exhaust port power plant, single speed transmission, special cross over leading link forks and a purpose built single down tube frame and while they experienced initial success, it was over several years that these bikes were developed into national championship winners.
Production was limited to not much more than 20 units with over half those accounted for today in various forms.
Our bike shown here 30DAH517 was acquired in 20… from George Wills and previous to that was owned for decades by Harley Dealer Harry Molenaar whose race orientated dealership was in Hammond, Indiana. Harry lent it for some time to Harley-Davidson to display in their York Museum. The configuration of 517 is similar to the majority of the existing bikes and concurs with the available Harley Archives photos. Many photos exist of DAH’s in this style ridden in hill climbs throughout the USA in the early thirties. Riders Ketzel, McKinney, Moore, Reiber and Lindstrom were all successful with them. In 1932 at least 4 of these bikes were recalled back to Milwaukee for a series of updates including a new lightweight duplex chassis. See the story on 513 elsewhere in this book for more details of these modifications and the success they bought those that rode them.
517 is completely operational. During our tenure as owners we have sympathetically upgraded paint, fitted new tyres and put it through the AMCA judging system. Starting is relatively straight forward despite using pump fuel. The style of these bikes has many cues that are still so relevant to current custom trends. Large rear wheel, small gas tanks, low handlebars and short front forks combine to exude a muscular street fighter appearance. Further proof that not only was the Harley Race Shop good at building racers but were great motorcycle stylists as well.
Enjoy the ride…