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The Old - 1973 Harley Davidson Electraglide


The New - 2002 Dyna Wide Glide




Some other M/C's


Big Sal's Scoot


Sarge's Scoot


Cuz's cruiser


Big Mike's Bike

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.

1942 Walter Davidson dies at age 65

1943 William Harley dies at age 66

1948 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.

1981 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 vibration.

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 Motor Company.

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's first V-Twin - Manufactured 1909
    hd-first.jpg  45-degree 49.5 cubic w/ 7hp

  • Flathead engine - Manufactured between 1929 and 1936
    hd-flat.jpg  Flatheads did not have overhead valves. Instead, the valves ran alongside the engine and opened upwards into a chamber beside the combustion chamber. The advantage of a flathead was simplicity -- no pushrods or rocker arms, and the head was a simple casting with a hole in it for the sparkplug. A typical Flathead engine had a displacement of 45 cubic inches (742 cc) and produced about 22 horsepower.

  • Knucklehead engine - Manufactured between 1936 and 1947
    hd-knucl.jpg  Knucklehead engines were the first overhead valve engines produced by Harley-Davidson. The knucklehead came in 60 cubic inch (990 cc) and 74 cubic inch (1,200 cc) variations able to produce 40 and 45 horsepower respectively.

  • Panhead engine - Manufactured between 1948 and 1965
      The panhead also came in 60 cubic inch (990 cc) and 74 cubic inch (1,200 cc) variations and produced 50 and 55 horsepower respectively. Big differences between the knucklehead and the panhead included aluminum heads on the panhead and internal oil lines, as opposed to external lines on the knucklehead.

  • Shovelhead engine - Manufactured between 1966 and 1985
      Shovelheads displaced 74 cubic inches (1,200 cc) and produced 60 horsepower.

  • Evolution engine- Manufactured between 1984 and 1999
      Displacement is 81.8 cubic inches (1,340 cc), and the engine produces 70 horsepower. Although the Evolution 1340cc is no longer in production, the Sportster® model line of motorcycles receives Evolution engines with 883 cc and 1200 cc displacements (manufactured 1986 to present).

  • Twin Cam 88 engine - Manufactured starting in 1999
    The Twin Cam gets its name from the fact that it has two cams in the crankcase to activate the valves. At 88 cubic inches (1,450 cc) of displacement, it is the largest production Harley motorcycle engine, and it produces 80 horsepower. The engine remains air-cooled, and uses overhead valves activated by pushrods. The 88B version of the engine, which came out in 2000, contains counterbalancing shafts to reduce engine vibration.

  • Revolution engine - Manufactured starting in 2001
      The Revolution engine is currently used on only one Harley production model -- the VSRC. While all of the engines previously mentioned are largely the same and represent incremental improvements, the Revolution engine is different. This engine is water-cooled rather than air-cooled and its V angle is 60 degrees rather than 45. It has four overhead cams rather than two cams in the crankcase and is fuel injected. This engine is smaller -- only 69 cubic inches (1,130 cc). It has a much shorter stroke, allowing it to rev to 9,000 RPM and it produces 115 horsepower.

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" (Engine/trans separated)
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
1953 and 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 (except sportsters):
X - Narrow tire and sport forks. 
L - Wide front tire and Hydra-Glide front forks. 
(FX 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 
ST - "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 mount design. 
DG - Disc Glide
E - Electric start
F - Foot shift (when the standard was hand-shift) and now "Fat Boy?"
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 
P - Police version
R - Rubber mounted engine (some models) racing version (other models)
ST- Soft Tail
S - Springer 
S - (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.

"F" = Overhead valve 74,80 or 88 cubic inch "big twin"
"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, Wisconsin. 

DYNA Glide Frame
FX: Superglide, Kick start
FXB: Sturgis Belt (80,81&82)
FXD: Dyna Super Glide 
FXDB: Dyna Sturgis (1991) 
FXDC: Dyna Super Glide Custom 
FXDG: Dyna Glide/Sturgis 
FXDL: Dyna Low Rider 
FXDS-CON: Dyna Convertible
FXDWG: Dyna Wide Glide 
FXDX: Dyna Super Glide Sport 
FXDXT: Super Glide T-Sport 
FXE: Superglide Electric Start 
FXEF: Fatbob 
FXLR: FX Lower Rider/Evolution 
FXR: Rubber Mount Super Glide 
FXRDG - Disc Glide 
FXRP - Police or pursuit - Defender
FXRS: FXR Sport 
FXRS-CON: FXR Sport Convertible 
FXRS-SP: Low Rider Sport Edition 
FXRT: FXR Touring 
FXS: Low Rider/Shovelhead 
FXSB: Low Rider Belt 

Softail Frame
FXST: Softail Standard
FXSTB: Night Train 
FXSTBI: Night Train EFI 
FXSTC: Softail Custom 
FXSTD: Softail Deuce 
FXSTS: Springer Softail 
FXWG: Wide Glide 
FLST: Heritage Softail
FLSTC: Heritage Classic
FLSTCI: Heritage Classic Fuel Injected
FLSTN: Nostalgia and 2005 Softail Deluxe
FLSTS: Heritage Springer
FLSTSC: Springer Softail Classic

Touring Frame
FL: 4-Speed Dresser 
FLH: 4-Speed Electra Glide 
FLHS: FLT with windshield and less goodies S = Sport 
FLHPI: Road King police model 
FLHR: Road King 
FLHRCI: Road King Classic 
FLHS: Electra Glide Sport 
FLHT: Electra Glide Standard 
FLHTC: Electra Glide Classic 
FLHTCSE: Screamin Eagle Electra Glide 
FLHTPI: Electra glide police model
FLHTCUI: Ultra Classic Electra Glide 
FLT: Rubber Mount Dresser 
FLTC: Rubber Mount Dresser Classic 
FLTCU: Rubber Mount Dresser Classic Ultra 
FLTR: Road Glide 
FLTRI: Road Glide EFI
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. 
VRSCB: 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 
XL883C: Sportster 883 Custom 
XL 883L: Sportster (specifically designed to fit smaller riders)
XL1100: Sportster 1100 
XL1200: Sportster 1200 
XL1200C: Sportster 1200 Custom 
XL1200R: 1200 Roadster
XL1200S: Sportster 1200 Sport 
XLCH: 4-Speed Sportster, Kick start 
XLCR: Cafe Racer 1000
XLH: Sportster 883
XLH883: Sportster 883 Hugger 
XLH883R: Sportster 883R
XLH1200: 1200 
XLH1200S: Sport 
XLS: 4-Speed Sportster Roadster 
XLX: 4-Speed 1000cc Ironhead 
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 common case). 
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". 
CR- Cafe racer style, with bikini fairing. 
LT- Touring, with bigger tank, thicker seat, and hard bags.