Motorcycles at the Cleveland Police Museum

In 1910, motorcycles were added to the Cleveland Police Department fleet to help officers cope more efficiently with traffic and emergency situations. Over the years, those early motorcycles were replaced with newer models. The Cleveland Police Museum has two motorcycles in it’s vintage fleet: a 1959 Harley-Davidson Servicar and a 1973 Harley-Davidson.

1959 Harley-Davidson Servicar: This vehicle  was purchased by the CPD on October 2, 1959 and used for various traffic enforcement duties around Cleveland.  The Harley Servicar has utility for two-man patrol, specifically for meter and parking enforcement, as well as city traffic enforcement by a single patrol officer.

Servicars inspected by Eliot Ness (far right)

The bike was taken out of service in 1972 and was rebuilt by members of the Motorcycle Unit in 1977.  Before being donated to the Cleveland Police Museum, it was only used as the lead escort in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This specific unit has been restored from being painted white (1963 and newer service) back to the factory police silver color from Harley Davidson by the Ohio Technical College and completely mechanically restored and reassembled by Cleveland’s Original Harley-Davidson Sales Company on Lorain Avenue in 2009. 

1973 Harley-Davidson: In the 1970s, the department 30-40 motorcycles. The museum’s 1973 Harley Davidson (serial number 1A21823H3, model 73FL) was used by the Cleveland Police Motorcycle Unit from the date of its purchase in 1973 until it was retired in 1984.

It was significantly modified for its service with the department. The installation of a wheel powered siren, radio, blue and red flashing lights, plexi-glass windshield and hard-shell saddle bags changed it from a common street machine into a police motorcycle. Sometimes called a “Suicide Shift” motorcycle, this model of Harley-Davidson had the last of the hand-shifted gearboxes. Subsequent models were shifted with the foot.

This motorcycle was assigned to five officers during its time of on-the-street service: Lt Thomas Baginski, PO Richard Wilson #2171, PO Larry Rutherford #2288, PO Joseph Hudak #872, and PO Jimmy Harrison #373.

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