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Harley Davidson's Rare Topper Motor Scooters

Few people know that Harley Davidson once produced a rare scooter model that sold from 1959 as a 1960 model until 1965. The Topper was the only scooter model ever produced by Harley and is certainly a real classic today. It featured a 9hp two stoke engine that required premixing oil and gas. The Topper's engine measured out at 165cc, and it featured an automatic CVT transmission. The bodywork was part stamped steel, part spray gun painted fiberglass. Only 3,000 total Topper scooters were ever produced before production was suspended. It rates as one of the rarest Harley products ever built. harley topper scooter.jpg

Maybe Harley should consider a return to the scooter market. A new retro model would be a cool item for sure, taking advantage of the all latest advances in scooter technology such as key starters, improved CVT transmissions and electronic ignitions, built-in alarm systems etc.

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Rating: 5/5 (2 votes cast)

Comments (7)

Lee Ward:

I agree, Harley-designed scooters would probably sell like hotcakes.

ed davis:

Yup. I agree too. How much is a middle of the road scooter?

Lee Ward:

I think they're running about $2K.

Paul Hooson:

Hello Lee and Ed. It's surprising the wide range of prices for scooters. My first was a Coolster which costs less than $800 from a wholesale company, where you had to assemble it yourself from a crate package. It was as good as any car to drive all over town with a four stroke engine. However, I did have a very serious crash with it back in April 2008 where I bent the frame in a sudden hailstorm and got thrown and rolled about 20 feet on the street. Other than that, this cheap $800 scooter looked great and was very dependable transportation that I actually drove more than a car and quickly put a couple thousand trouble-free miles on it. It also got an awesome 94 miles per gallon once I added AMSOIL synthetic four stroke scooter oil to it as well as the top speed slowly increased from 32mph to about 42mph with the synthetic oil and once the engine broke in. The Coolster does have some serious safety issues though, where very few motorcycle insurance will insure it because of an extremely high accident rate compared to other scooters. So be aware of that issue. I think those safety issues had a lot to do with my skid in that bad weather. A better quality scooter could have avoided that skid I think. The Coolster is really strictly a good weather machine for that reason and not recommended for use in the rain or other bad weather conditions.

I replaced it with a $1,700 CPI, which was a two stoke design. However, I don't really like the tire tread design or suspension very much on this model, even though it can go about 43mph. But I added a trunk and windshield to it to dress it up a bit. It also has a small oil tank leak that the dealer has never been able to properly fix. It also gets pretty poor fuel mileage at just about 38mpg, although two stroke engines tend to waste more fuel than four stroke designs.

My favorite is a higher end Benelli scooter which cost me the better part of $3,000. It's a great two stroke scooter which can go about 50mph. It has a terrific suspension system, and off road type grippy tires as well as excellent brakes. It gets 62 mpg, and is fast just like a small motorcycle. And it has sport bike type styling, with a 1.5 gallon front mounted gas tank somewhat similar to a motorcycle. The Benelli has pretty good power due to the two stroke design, and the quality suspension allows the rider to make good use of that power and handling. It's a terrific scooter and well worth spending about $3,000. One of the only drawbacks is the short upright body which has a very tall seat height at 32.5inches. You really need to be able 5 foot 9 or better to ride it, or else learn to stop and lean one one leg if you're shorter. I'm just five foot seven, so if I wear motorcycle boots while riding it, then it gives me a little more height and makes for much safer riding when I stop for red lights or stop signs. The Benelli is also very safe to ride in any weather, due to the tire tread design and very brakes. It has a very good safety value in my view.

I would rate both the Benelli and Coolster scooters as very good for their price tags and well worth the money, and the CPI as a huge letdown and certainly not as good overall as the Coolster which sold for half as much money. Those Coolster scooters are an excellent value for the money, and are strangely faster than other comparable four stroke scooters, although many four stroke Chinese scooters actually use a GY6 engine that is identical in design to Honda products. For a bargain price, the Coolster gives you a Honda quality engine and a reasonably cool looking body complete with a trunk and dual headlights. Coolster products are also built by one of the higher quality Chinese companies as well, and are better made than many comparable Chinese brand scooters. Those Coolster style scooters are very popular in China because they are so darn good for the money, and as good as a car to drive anywhere.

I'd also strongly recommend wearing a full face helmet on scooters because it acts as a warmer windbreak in cold weather preventing sinus and ear infections and colds. Also it gives excellent face, jaw and teeth safety in a crash as well. Wearing either a leather jacket or a body armor jacket is wise too. And wearing body armor pants in cold weather keep you warm as well as protect your knees from getting busted into a million pieces if you should ever have a crash if some motorist doesn't see you and plows into you before you can avoid them. Scooters are small vehicles, and the lights less powerful, so act as though other bigger vehicles on the road can't see you is the best safety advice. Also beware that some motorists might think of scooters as being slow like a bicycle and attempt to turn in front of you in traffic, and this could present a hazard as well. Scooters are simply a lower power type motorcycle, put some other motorists may not realize that fact and attempt dangerous things around you, assuming you're like a bicycle or something. Being alert can avoid a scooter rider a lot of later grief.


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Lee Ward:

VERY cool sidecar!

Paul Hooson:

I'll tell you something real strange, Hyperbolist. I was planning to do a feature on cool sidecars last night, and saw that same great VW type sidecar, and was real impressed, but then I put the story on the back-burner when I saw that cool old ad for the Harley scooters. I might still do that sidecar story someday. But that VW one is a real gem! I'm glad you shared it here. That sidecar is too cool to wait for a later story on unique sidecars.

I'm still looking for a few more cool sidecars before I run that story. So if anyone has a tip you can Email at [email protected] with where to find them on the Web.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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