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What Was Used as the First Harley Davidson Carburetor?

What was the first Harley Davidson carburetor made of? That’s right, a tomato can!

open, empty metal food can with no label


The first HD motorcycle had a single-cylinder engine and could only go up the 25 miles per hour… and had a tomato can carburetor. Times have certainly changed since 1901, when William S. Harley and machinist Arthur Davidson, had designed the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. With the help of the other two Davidson brothers (William A. and Walter), the foursome launched their business out of a backyard garage in 1903, and the first three machines were completed and sold by the C.H. Lang dealership of Chicago.


black and white photo of the first Harley Davidson motorcycle circa 1903-1904


Carburetors create a combustible mix of gasoline and air. This gives the engine power to create the driving force to propel the vehicle forward. Nowadays, instead of using a tomato can carburetor, carburetors’ molded bodies are made from lightweight alloy or aluminum.


Throughout history, Harley-Davidson has redesigned its bikes to be better than before. The company has truly come a long way from designing the first Harley Davidson carburetor. There is a reason they are the most iconic motorcycle in the world!


If you need a carburetor rebuild kit, we’ve got you covered… No tomato can necessary.

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