Some other M/C's
Harley Davidson Motor Company History
Photo courtesy Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives
From left to right: William Davidson, Walter Davidson, Arthur Davidson and William Harley.
The Harley-Davidson Motor
Company got its name from founders William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson.
In time, Davidson's brothers, William and
Walter, joined the company.
According to the Harley-Davidson Archives, Harley's name comes first because "it was his
drafting, designing and testing that made the first motorcycles ever produced by the young company a possibility." The men
included the hyphen in the name so that it would be clear that the company had two founding fathers, not just one.
1903 Harley-Davidson was founded. Harley and the Davidson brothers create their
first motorcycle. The first Harley Davidsons were built: a 25 cubic inch (410cc) atmospheric-inlet-valve single-cylinder.
This single cylinder, 3hp, belt drive machine was followed by 2 more that first year, all bought and paid for before completion.
1936 Harley-Davidson introduces the EL, an overhead valve, 61 cubic inch powered bike. With increased horsepower
and bold styling changes, the motorcycle quickly earns the nickname of "Knucklehead," due to the shape of its rocker boxes.
The same year, the Motor Company introduces a 80 cubic inch side valve engine.
Davidson dies at age 65
1943 William Harley dies at age 66
New features are added to the 61 and 74 overhead valve engines, including aluminum heads and hydraulic valve lifters.
Also new are the one piece, chrome plated rocker covers shaped like cake pans. The nickname "Panhead" only seemed logical.
1966 The first of the "Shovelhead" engines is introduced on the Electra-Glide models, replacing the Panhead.
1969 AMF buys Harley Davidson. Assembly operations move from Milwaukee to AMF plant in York, Pennsylvania.
To pay for the new plant, prices are raised. Production was rushed to meet demand, and quality declined.
Sales crashed from 80% to 20% due to Japanese competition. H-D managers bought back Harley from AMF for $75 million
and developed new models and a new image. With improved manufacturing and quality process, many of the old flaws of the HD
design were resolved.
1983 Harley Owners Group® (HOG) inaugurated. US government imposes
large tariffs on Japanese motorcycles to help Harley sales.
1984 Harley-Davidson unveils
the 1340cc V²® Evolution® engine on five models including the all-new Softail®. The result of seven years of development,
the Evolution engine produces more power at every speed, runs cooler, cleaner and is oil-tight. Also witnessed is the debut
of the Softail design and its trend-setting method of "hiding" the motorcycle's rear shock absorbers.
1992 Belt drives become universal on all models.
2000 The Twin Cam 88B
engine is introduced which incorporates a counter-balancers and rubber engine mounts that eliminate almost all of the motorcycle
2001 Fuel injection is unveiled as a feature new to the Softail line of motorcycles.
Harley Davidson Engines
We live in a world where computer technology changes on a daily basis. Japanese motorcycle companies tend
to create new engine designs every year. Car lines are completely revamped every three or four years. Then there is the Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson seems to work on a completely different clock, with new engine designs arriving every 15 years
or so. Between 1936 and 2003, engine designs released by Harley represented a constant tweaking of the same basic V-twin,
45-degree, air-cooled engine design.
In 2001, Harley released its first truly new design in a commercial motorcycle,
yet it was still a V-twin. If you ignore the first few years of the company's history as a period of experimentation, there
really have been only seven major engine revisions during the company's 100 year existence:
Harley Davidson Designations and Model List
Do you find the Harley model number designations confusing ? Read on !
The first letter of the model designator
reveals the engine series:
G - Servicar three wheeler, 1937 to 1972
E - Overhead valve 61 cubic inch "big twin"
F - Overhead valve 74,80 or 88 cubic inch "big twin"
FL - 80 to 88 cubic inches and a
fat front tire. (Also 74" 1941-82)
K - Side valve 45 and 55 cubic inch sports bike that replaced the WL in
was replaced by the Sportster in 1957. It had many design
features that were carried over to the Sportster.
U - Side
valve 74 or 80 cubic inch "big twin"
V - Side valve 74 cubic inch 1930-36. (Also 1935-36 VLH, VHS 80)
W - Side valve
45 cubic inch made 1937 to 1952
X - Sports and special construction. Applied to 1918-1922 opposed twin
Sport, 1944 military
opposed twin, and 1957 to present Sportster.
The second letter of the model designator reveals the Front end
X - Narrow tire and sport forks.
L - Wide front tire and Hydra-Glide front forks.
originally meant "Factory Expirimantal" The first one was the Super Glide FX)
The third letter of the model designator
reveals the frame style:
D - "Dyna" frame (with the rubber mounted motor)
HT - "Highway Touring" frame
- "Softail" frame
The next letter(s) indicates the model bike within the frame family:
A - Military
(Army) version (except GA, Servicar without tow bar)
B - Battery start (early models), Belt drive (early 80's) Black paint.(1995-6
model, the Bad Boy)
C - Classic, Competition, Custom, various others meanings.
D - Dyna, the newest frame and engine
DG - Disc Glide
E - Electric start
F - Foot shift (when the standard was hand-shift) and now
H - varied between High performance and Heavy duty.
I - Signifies Fuel Injection.
L - Big
fat front tire
LR- Low Rider (though many Low Riders don't include LR in the model ID)
N - Nostalgia
- Police version
R - Rubber mounted engine (some models) racing version (other models)
ST- Soft Tail
S - Springer
- (without following T) Sports version
T - Touring
WG - Wide Glide
X - Sportster or sportster-type front
end and Skinny front tire.
Bringing this all together, here is an example.
The FLSTCI :
"F" = Overhead valve 74,80 or 88 cubic inch "big
"L" = Wide front tire and Hydra-Glide front forks.
"ST" = "Softail" frame
"C" = Classic
"I" = Fuel Injection.
The model names shown here are registered trademarks of
Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Milwaukee,
DYNA Glide Frame
FX: Superglide, Kick start
FXB: Sturgis Belt (80,81&82)
Dyna Super Glide
FXDB: Dyna Sturgis (1991)
FXDC: Dyna Super Glide Custom
FXDG: Dyna Glide/Sturgis
Dyna Low Rider
FXDS-CON: Dyna Convertible
FXDWG: Dyna Wide Glide
FXDX: Dyna Super Glide Sport
Super Glide T-Sport
FXE: Superglide Electric Start
FXLR: FX Lower Rider/Evolution
Rubber Mount Super Glide
FXRDG - Disc Glide
FXRP - Police or pursuit - Defender
FXRS: FXR Sport
FXR Sport Convertible
FXRS-SP: Low Rider Sport Edition
FXRT: FXR Touring
FXS: Low Rider/Shovelhead
Low Rider Belt
FXST: Softail Standard
FXSTB: Night Train
FXSTBI: Night Train
FXSTC: Softail Custom
FXSTD: Softail Deuce
FXSTS: Springer Softail
FXWG: Wide Glide
FLSTC: Heritage Classic
FLSTCI: Heritage Classic Fuel Injected
FLSTN: Nostalgia and 2005
FLSTS: Heritage Springer
FLSTSC: Springer Softail Classic
FLH: 4-Speed Electra Glide
FLHS: FLT with windshield and less goodies S = Sport
Road King police model
FLHR: Road King
FLHRCI: Road King Classic
FLHS: Electra Glide Sport
Electra Glide Standard
FLHTC: Electra Glide Classic
FLHTCSE: Screamin Eagle Electra Glide
Electra glide police model
FLHTCUI: Ultra Classic Electra Glide
FLT: Rubber Mount Dresser
Mount Dresser Classic
FLTCU: Rubber Mount Dresser Classic Ultra
FLTR: Road Glide
FLTRI: Road Glide
FLTRSEI: Screamin Eagle Road Glide
VRSC (V-TWIN Racing Street Custom)
VRSC CVO: 1250cc adds 14
percent more displacement and only 9 pounds than the standard VRSC
VRSCA: 1st model of the V-ROD family.
Same as VRSCA except: Adjustable tubular handlebars, minimalist instrumentation, black painted frame, calipers, hand controls,
shock springs and engine highlights
XL: Sportster 883
XL883: Sportster Hugger
Sportster 883 Custom
XL 883L: Sportster (specifically designed to fit smaller riders)
XL1100: Sportster 1100
XL1200C: Sportster 1200 Custom
XL1200R: 1200 Roadster
XL1200S: Sportster 1200 Sport
4-Speed Sportster, Kick start
XLCR: Cafe Racer 1000
XLH: Sportster 883
XLH883: Sportster 883 Hugger
XLS: 4-Speed Sportster Roadster
XLX: 4-Speed 1000cc
XR1000: XLH with XLR Heads (XR750 heads - completely different)
X - Sportsters. These descend from
the K series, 1952-56
XL- Series started in 1957. They are "unit construction" (engine & transmission share a
L - High compression (7.5:1 in 1957).
H - Starting in 1958 came the XLH, meaning Higher-power
or High-compression (9:1) or Hot .
C - Also in 1958 was the XLCH. The C was intended to mean "Competition".
Cafe racer style, with bikini fairing.
LT- Touring, with bigger tank, thicker seat, and hard bags.