Copyright WWW.DBBP.COM | updated 22-December-2003

Alan Sputhe about John Harman

Hi Mark,

I was very happy to see your feature on John Harman.
I had known him professionaly for many years and after I moved to Grass Valley in 1981 (John lived in Garden Valley, about 25 miles away) we became very good friends. He was one of the most interesting men that I have ever known. The man was a true genius and had more energy than anyone I have ever met. Totally self taught, he tried his hand at everything. Besides the motorcycles he designed and built homes. He flew and maintained his own multi-engine airplane. He was a great husband, father, gardener, rancher, sailer, musician, you name it, he did it all and he did it well. Truely a shame that he died so young.

I made the foundry tooling for the "Harman Motor" and know most of the history of them. They were built about the same time I was building the Sputhe Sportster engines so we had sort of a friendly rivelry going. John and I each had our own very different philosophy of design which made for interesting bench racing. By the way Delkron owns the tooling for the Harman crankcase and it is still in production. I have heard that the patterns for the heads and cylinders are somewhere in Germany.

Very few of the 120" Harman engines were ever made. The design was never fully developed and they suffered from very poor quality control so they never acheved much success. However, it must be said that are the grandaddy of all of todays giant engines. A interesting project would a bike built using his 4 carb Shovel heads in one of his light weight swing arm frames.

Best regards, Alan Sputhe