Let's get one thing clear about this bike right off the bat: Toph didn't steal it from a museum for the photo shoot. If he had, there would have been some sort of cool police chase on TV, named "When Editors Attack" or something. Perhaps involving a helicopter, a few tazers, and ending with a narrator yammering on about how crime doesn't pay/stay in school/just say no/the terrorists have already won. Had things gone down like that, we'd at least have damn sure run it on our website. That said, Hood Motors did such a great job on the restoration of this 1925 JDL Sport you'd expect to find it in a museum. But you won't. Owner Marc Gallin rides his motorcycles, and this one is no exception.
Marc moved to Southern California from Michigan in 1987, allured by the draw of the ocean, its waves, and the endless summer. Back home, his father wouldn't let him have a bike. When Marc got to the West Coast he bought a Yamaha Maxim 650 as soon as he had friends with whom he could ride. Within the next six years, he joined the SoCal chapter of the AMCA after getting his first antique scoot.
The Motor Company had to cut notches into the right side of the gas tank to accommodate the valve train design. 1925 saw the introduction of the iconic tear drop style gas tank.
The Motor Company had to cut notches into the right side of the gas tank to accommodate th
Having said that, by the time Marc discovered the JDL his love of old motorcycles ran pretty deep. He came across this JD in July of `97 at Hollister's 50th anniversary. Hood Motors had it on display, trying to sell it, and, generous guy that he is, Marc decided to help them out by buying it. He'd been looking around for a JD-series bike to own, so it was win-win. Marc loves the mechanical look and feel of early iron: "I've always been attracted to antique bikes for their mechanics. You can see and feel the rocker arms on the Flathead going into the inset as it's working."
Harley started the J-series Flatheads in 1915. They were V-twin motorcycles with 3-speed transmissions that sold for a whopping (back then) $310. By 1917, the Motor Company offered 26-inch wheels as an option-about 80 years before the aftermarket did! Over the next decade-and-a-half, the bikes enjoyed a successful production run, with the American manufacturer selling thousands of them in many variants, including sidecar and sport versions. At first available only with a 61-inch motor, Harley later offered the J's with an impressive (for the time) 74-inch mill. For this reason, modified JD's enjoyed popularity as racing bikes. The `25 models also featured the new J-series frame, which lowered the seat three inches over its predecessors.
Marc knew all of this going in, and recognized this model as one of the larger displacement variety. This wasn't some weekend impulse purchase to him, either. He wasn't casually thinking, "Oh, hey, it'd be kinda cool to own a pre-Depression Harley." If you're seriously considering an antique restoration project, research is as important as location is in real estate. Marc poured over history books, parts manuals, and photos to figure out exactly what he wanted. Because of that, he knew full well how rare the JDL Sport was nowadays. Moreover, he appreciated that this one was 80 to 90 percent complete. By picking a solid foundation for the restoration, he sacrificed money to save headaches further down the line.
Once it was purchased, Marc let Hood Motors finish reinvigorating it to cherry condition. Coordinating all the work was the hardest part. The Garden Grove, California shop had to find the remaining parts like pieces in a puzzle and wait for them to come in from various sources. It was a matter of hitting antique motorcycle swap meets and talking to people who make restoration parts replicas to get what few genuine period pieces Marc or George Hood couldn't find. While that was going on, the shop sourced out the bodywork and Larry Cerny repainted it in Harley-Davidson Sinister Blue, to get the paint and details just right.
It took two years from the time Marc purchased his JDL Sport to get it fully restored. He wasn't in any big rush, though. Hood Motors was letting him pay for everything in installments, plus it takes time to hunt down and find all the artifacts that go into restoring a piece of history to its old glory. Working on this motorcycle, and the two antique Indians with which it shares garage space, hasn't dimmed Marc's enthusiasm for motorcycle archeology. In fact, it seems to have fueled it. Even as we speak, he's planning his next restore job: a Harley-Davidson VL. Hopefully he won't have to break into a museum to find one.
A lot going on for 1925.
In 1925 electric models came with a toolbox.
While Marc had his JD repainted blue, they were originally only offered in olive drab green.
While Marc had his JD repainted blue, they were originally only offered in olive drab gree