Motorcycle: Overhead Valve Twins - FX Superglide, 1971 - 1984
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:17:10 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
FX Superglide, 1971 - 1984
In the late 1960s, customizing was king. In California in particular, Harley-Davidson owners were tearing their machines to pieces, discarding one piece and adding another to produce unique examples of what were to become known as "blend" bikes. Nowhere was this more publicly demonstrated than in the film Easy-Rider, with Peter Fonda cruising to New Orleans on the outrageous "Captain America" alongside Dennis Hopper's hardtailed DuoGlide.
Milwaukee's response was as startling as it was controversial. When the SuperGlide was unveiled for the 1971 model year, it was the first example of a genre quickly dubbed "factory custom". The influential Cycle magazine's misgivings were typical. "Is the American motorcyclist ready to ride around on someone else's expression of personal, radical tastes?" it asked, before testing the newcomer and answering its own question enthusiastically in the affirmative. Such was the SuperGlide's impact that almost every major motorcycle manufacturer has since produced its own interpretation of the "factory" custom - invariably to less effect than Harley's original. From a modern perspective, taking into account models such as the Springer Softail, the FX wasn't actually all that radical. Styled and conceived by Willie G. Davidson, it was essentially a combination of heavyweight FLH frame, 74-inch Shovelhead engine (which still carried "FLH" on the timing cover) and running gear, with the front end from the existing XLH Sportster. The rear end's styling was dominated by a fibreglass boat-tail stepped seat and integral rear mudguard which had debuted as an option on the Sportsters the previous year. Although widely viewed as a defining element of the model, this lasted for only one year and was quickly replaced by a more conventional rear mudguard.
Compared to the FLH, the SuperGlide also had pegs in place of footboards, with foot controls revised to suit. Both exhausts were low-level feeding paired silencers on the right hand side. Wheels were 19in (483mm) front, 16in (406mm) rear, both equipped with fairly feeble drum brakes. The 3 1/2 gallon (13 litre) fuel tank included a built-in speedometer. Functionally, it was a far from perfect machine, although it went and handled far better than the FLH from which it was derived, not least because it was more than 661bs (30kg) lighter. The hybrid instantly struck a chord and sold well - 4,700 units in its first year, almost as many as the established FLH ElectraGlide. After two years, it accmired hydraulic disc brakes at both ends and improved suspension with stiffer springs. A year later, an electric start option, the FXE, was added. Japanese Showa forks were added in 1977, electronic ignition in 1978 and twin front discs in 1979, before it developed 80-inch Shovelhead power for 1981. For the final year of production in 1984, five-speed transmission was added; the FXR and FXRS Super Glide II models were also on the Milwaukee stocks, comfortably out-selling the old stager. Although almost two decades would pass from the SuperGlide's launch to the turnaround in the company's economic fortunes, it's impossible to overstate the effect the model has had on Harley-Davidson s affairs. The FX invented the concept of the factory custom and led to landmark models such as the FXEF Fat Bob in 1979 and Sturgis 12 months later.
Engine: ohv V-twin
Capacity: 73.66cu.in (1,207cc)
Power: around 60bhp @ 5400rpm
Weight: 5901bs (267kg)
Wheelbase: 61 in (1,550mm)
Top speed: 105mph (169kph)
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