Motorcycle: Overhead Valve Twins - FL Electra-Glide, 1965
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:08:14 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
FL Electra-Glide, 1965
Of all Harley-Davidson models, surely the enduring FL ElectraGlide is the one that best epitomizes the breed. The "FL" designation actually arrived with the first 74-inch Knucldehead of 1942 and has since been ever-present in the Milwaukee range. The model that has can-led those laurels with the greatest distinction has been the thundering ElectraGlide - the quintessential model since its 1965 debut.
Yet for all its lusty pedigree, that first ElectraGlide was little more than a DuoGlide with the addition of 12-volt electrics and an electric starter which — initially, at least - did not prove altogether very dependable.
Just as there was a 12-month hiatus between the introduction of the Panhead and the HydraGlide, Harley-Davidson waited until 1966 before giving the Glide something new. From its second year of production, it was powered by the new Shovelhead mill with its (relatively) more efficient "Power-Pac" heads. Initial examples used the alloy-headed Panhead engine which had first appeared in 1948 and gone on to propel the first Glide (the HydraGlide of 1949) and the DuoGlide of a decade later. The Hydra- had been the first big twin with telescopic forks while the Duo- added swinging arm rear suspension.
The starter motor itself lived behind the rear cylinder and engaged on the rear of the primary drive. The DuoGlide frame had to be opened up slightly to accommodate it, yet still there was no room for the earlier model's tool kit. Surprisingly for a unit "borrowed" from an outboard motor, the first starters were troublesome when damp and the kick start was prudently retained. Hariey later adopted Homelite starters, which proved much more reliable.
Like all Hariey big twins, the ohv engine ran forked con-rods to eliminate rocking couple (so the rear cylinder was precisely, rather than roughly, masked by the front). Primary drive was by chain to a four-speed box (with a sidecar option, up to 1980, of three forward and one reverse). Capacity was 74cu in (1,207cc): the current 81.74cu in (1,340cc) dimensions didn't arrive until 1970 with the new generation of "alternator" Shovelheads. The rest was almost unchanged from the DuoGlide, complete with five-inch (127mm) whitewall tyres and running boards, although for the first time a five-gallon (19-litre) "Turnpike" tank was fitted. Of the four-model range, two versions retained hand gear change, which would remain an option until 1972.
In short, this was never a state-of-the-art machine. Indeed the "King of the Road" touring pack offered in 1966 required the rear shock absorbers to be relocated forwards, to the detriment of the Glide's handling, which had already proved to be rather pedestrian.
For all that, it's a strikingly handsome machine - one which looks far better than it performs. Like most Harleys, the rear brake is good but, prior to the arrival of a front disc in 1971, no prudent rider would choose to stop a Glide in a hurry.
This is a device for getting into top gear and staying there as you cruise serenely to the next horizon.
Engine: ohv V-twin
Capacity: 73.66cu in (1,207cc)
Power: around 55bhp
Weight: 595 lbs (270kg)
Wheelbase: 60 in (1,525mm)
Top speed: 95mph (152kph)
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