While the most popular and famous line of Harleys tends to be the Big Twin rides–flathead, knucklehead, panhead, shovelhead, blockhead, fathead–one of the earlier popular models started out at only 125cc, and was a two-stroke single. Introduced in 1945, the Model S was an introductory level motorcycle with a girder front end, a rigid frame, a solo seat cushioned by springs, and the same smart looking styling that helped make Harleys so popular. While it may have had only ten percent as much displacement as the v-twin line, the S Model line enjoyed popularity and production from its inception into the 1960’s.
Later dubbed the “Hummer”, the original design for the S model came from a German company called DKW. The designs were given to the United States, Russia, and England as part of reparations after World War II, resulting in the BSA Bantam and the Soviet made Minsk.
The name Hummer came from a Harley-Davidson Dealer in Omaha, Nebraska by the name of Dean Hummer. Because Omaha was also the home of the Cushman factory, Hummer adopted some competitive and counter-profit ways of selling the 125-S and developing their popularity. I was at a friend’s fabrication shop at one time when Dean Hummer showed up and was introduced to me. He was a gregarious and kind-hearted individual who loves motorcycling and continues to be active in California and beyond.
Years ago I had a friend who had a basket case Hummer in his shed waiting to be restored for his three year old (at the time) daughter. When asked if she wanted to try a trike or a Big Wheel by its proud owner, the young biker would proudly announce, “Nope. I have a Hummer!”