Did You Know? The Harley-Davidson Topper Motor Scooter.

1Topper2Topper3topperThe Topper doesn’t belong to the classic Harley-Davidson image. It’s the only Motor Scooter that the Harley-Davidson Motor Company ever produced from 1960 (introduced in 1961) to 1965.

The United States Department of Transportation has always defined a Motor Scooter as a motorcycle that has a platform for the operator’s feet or has integrated footrests, and has a step-through architecture.

The Topper’s body was made of stamped steel, and the engine cover was in fiberglass. Storage was provided under the seat.

The 165 cc (10.1 cu in) Topper’s single-cylinder two-stroke engine and variable transmission called “Scootaway Drive” are mounted under the platform. Airflow under the scooter provided cooling but many owners complained about overheating. The “Scootaway Drive” was also subject complaints on the first Toppers, road grime getting into the transmission and causing the belt to slip. As a remedy, at the end of 1961 the primary drive was sealed in an oil bath. The later Toppers had a longer crankshaft, a wet clutch, a key switch on the handle bars, a bigger carburetor and decals instead of metal badges.A vertical pull-start was fitted, just forward of the seat.

The front brake was controlled by a pull bicycle type hand lever on the left of the handlebar with a parking brake lock. Rear brake was controlled by a foot pedal. Both wheels were fitted with internal expanding drum brakes. A 5HP detuned version of the Topper was also available to allow the operator to ride without a license. About 6000 Toppers have been produced. From time to time, some pop up for sale on eBay.

11 Responses to “Did You Know? The Harley-Davidson Topper Motor Scooter.”

  1. 1 Matt W. Oct 29th, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I think even more people would be surprised to know that there were H-D golf carts at one time. Although today that might not seem entirely out of place for the brand.

  2. 2 Oct 29th, 2015 at 10:34 am

    “A vertical pull-start was fitted, just forward of the seat.”

    That’s a technical way of saying, “There was a rubber-handled “rope starter” that you’d pull up on like a lawnmower. Students in the parking lot would laugh at you. The motor was a horizontal 2-cycle and smoked like mad.”

    The Topper was an embarrassment – and passing trucks would lift the scooter and transfer the rider to another lane.

  3. 3 Joshua Oct 29th, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Kirk. Yep, but it’s fun to read about it. Thanks Cyril.

  4. 4 mkviz Oct 29th, 2015 at 11:13 am

    mmm a 2-smoker. Imagine if you put an modern 125cc 2-stroke on that. You can wheelie for days.

  5. 5 Sam Oct 29th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    In Texas the five horsepower rule required a “special” license that would permit a fourteen year old to ride a scooter or moped. I knew a guy in junior high that had a Mustang motor scooter that had I believe a sixteen horse motor but he had a five h.p. sticker on the thing.

  6. 6 Bleeding Ears Oct 29th, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Besides both gas and electric golf carts H-D also made the Trihawk 3 wheel car, bicycles, generators, explosion proof electric motors, snowmobiles, bomb casings. rocket engines, motor homes and other things.

    Love those LOUD pipes!

  7. 7 fuji Oct 29th, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Early to mid sixty’s HD made and sold fiberglass boats with outboard engines.

  8. 8 Pop Oct 29th, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    If you dig this “embarrassment” out of a barn, beat up but all there, you are going to fetch more than Sportster money at an antique meet. Fully decked out with chrome and the hack and the mod windscreen looking showroom, an even swap for a late model glide all day long.

    One mans embarrassment is another mans treasure.

  9. 9 domino Oct 29th, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I have an HD golf cart … 2 stroke … the engine runs the other way for reverse (backwards). They don’t much like it at the golf course where I work … We still take it out for a rip every once in a while.

    Domino Dave

  10. 10 Oct 29th, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    FWIW, the H-D Museum in Milwaukee has a pristine red/white Topper in the area where they have bikes you can sit on for pictures, as well as an example of a boat & golf cart elsewhere.

  11. 11 Capt. Al Nov 4th, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    A mint one is worth about $22 to $26 K

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