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There is over a century of production of these heavyweight bikes. The first bike in 1901 wasn’t really a hot rod. It couldn’t get up the Milwaukee hills without some pedaling power. Hey, let’s give them a break, it was 1900. But in 1915, they went all the way up. And believe me, it’s gotten better. These beasts have become so popular that you can’t miss a Harley-Davidson OEM parts dealer anywhere you are in the world.
Here are some of my all-time favorite Harley bikes starting from the first time they stood out.
1915 Harley-Davidson 11F
This big boy is responsible for the shift from making motor-bikes to building motorcycles. It came with an automatic engine oiling system. I know you’re asking, “Why is that a big deal?” I’ll let you know that there were no oil pumps back them and you had to manually lubricate the inside of your engine. We have come a long way in 105 years.
Anyway, it had 1000cc, making 11 horsepower, and it’s the granddaddy of the 61-cubic inch Harleys. And it boasted an electrical system with a complete magneto ignition system. Oh! It even had a rear taillight. In 1915, it was revolutionary.
1965 Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide
Modernity in all its glory came with this beast. An electric push-button to start. And it got the name ‘King of the Highway’ thanks to a larger gas tank, 12-volt electric system, saddlebags, removable windshield, and a luggage rack. This is the bike that made Harley-Davidson American’s top cop bike. Remember the 1973 Electra-Glide in Blue movie? It was immortalized to bagging a major film title.
1970 Harley-Davidson XR-750
It was primarily made dirt track racing but it also does well in road racing. It’s a rare yet desirable beast that is race-ready. We kind of owe its existence to the Brits. American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) prior to 1969 had rules favoring side-valve engines (750cc) and not the overhead-valve engines (above 500 cc) in the AMA National Championship. The British bikes like the Triumph, Norton, and BSA, were at a disadvantage. The Brits put up with the rules for a while but in 1969, they pushed AMA to allow all bikes with 750cc.
As a result, Harley-Davidson had to level the playing field with an overhead-valve engine bike that could successfully compete with the Brits. And the Evel Knievel was born. The most successful XR-750 thanks to its record-breaking jumps.
1990 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
Fat Boy is the model that made the Softail revolution noticed. The original Softail, FXST was introduced in 1984 but it only became popular after the 1990 Fat Boy. 16-inch diameter solid front and rear wheels, shotgun exhaust on a power mated frame, and FL – style front forks. It’s got a 1340cc Evolution V-Twin. However, the current Fat Boy uses the latest Milwaukee-Eight V-twin.