Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Monday, 28 November 2011 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
WHAT YEAR DID FRONT BRAKES BECOME STANDARD EQUIPMENT ON HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLES?
As most any Harley-Davidson historian worth his salt knows, Harley-Davidson front wheel brakes became standard equipment in 1928. Prior to that year front brakes were available from the dealership as early as 1922 if required by law, this according to a 1922 Harley-Davidson brochure which reads as follows;
Brake: Controlled by a lever on the right footboard. Internal expanding double acting band brake operating on a steel drum with 7 5/16 inch in diameter with 1 inch face. Where the law calls for two brakes, an external contracting brake can be furnished in addition.
Prior to 1928, many, if not most police motorcycles were sold and went on patrol duty with only a rear wheel brake. The lack of a front wheel brake put motorcycle traffic officers in a very unsafe position as if their job wasn't dangerous enough already.
By 1934 Harley-Davidson motorcycle brake had evolved from the internal and external contracting band style to internal expanding shoe type, which was much less affected by water and debris. The brake however was mechanically operated and burdened with all the problems associated with this type of brake actuation. Hydraulically actuated brakes were in the distant future.