2018 Shannons Sydney Winter Classic Auction

1956 Harley-Davidson KHK 883cc Motorcycle




Engine V-twin, 55-cid
Gearbox 4-speed manual
Colour Black
Interior Brown


This lot is no longer available

Billed as 'American's Most Sensational Motorcycle' but in reality something of a dinosaur in the face of rising competition from Europe, the Model K was introduced by Harley-Davidson in November 1951.  Powered by the same 45.3-cid V-twin found in the wartime WLA, the Model K boasted 'easy riding' double-action telescopic forks at the front and a swinging fork rear end, with a four-speed transmission and hand-operated clutch.  Initial problems with the gears breaking under load was overcome with a switch to forged parts in 1954 and although the Model K may not have matched the Europeans in terms of engine technology, the triplex chain drive was certainly well ahead of its time.  After development of the replacement 60-degree KL series was dropped in 1954, Harley increased the capacity of the venerable V-twin to 55-cid as a stop-gap measure and power rose from 30 to 38 horsepower.  Two models were sold, the basic KH and the Super Sport KHK with lower handlebars and sportier looks, plus an increased compression ratio, high-lift camshafts and polished ports.  Intended as a track bike - indeed Joe Leonard won the American National Championship on a modified K in 1954 - most were found cruising the blacktop in towns and cities across the US.  The KHK is regarded as the best - and most collectible - of the K series Harleys, with enough performance to finally match the best imports from Europe.  Another factor contributing to the KHK's desirability today is a rarity, with just 714 KHKs made in 1956 and surviving examples in Australia rarely come on the open market.