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Shop By Harley Models

The brand represents a way of life for those passionate about Harley Davidson. Another manufacturer has yet to bear the same level of celebrity as Harley Davidson.

Founded in 1903, Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycles were two of the companies that survived the Great Depression. Harley has produced some of the most recognizable bikes over its twelve years in business, especially in the cruiser, touring, and adventure touring segments.

Harley Davidson has experienced it all, from ownership transitions to performance problems to financial crises, yet it has persevered in facing these obstacles head-on. The top 15 Harley motorcycles that contributed to the firm becoming the world's most prosperous motorcycle manufacturer are listed in this article.

The Story of Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Bicycles were the go-to form of transportation in the 1890s. Nevertheless, bicycles could only go so far and had a limited capacity. As a result, engineers and inventors decided to build a motorized bicycle or a bicycle with an engine. William Harley created a tiny 7.7 cc engine in 1901 that could mount on a standard bicycle.

Arthur Davidson joined William Davidson in his endeavor to design an all-American motorcycle. With the assistance of Arthur's brother, Walter Davidson, this project was finished in 1903.

In 1903, Harley Davidson made its first motorcycle. It needed pedals to go up hills. It was the start of America's biggest motorcycle company.

The three buddies created identical black models in 1904, each with a leather belt drive and a single-cylinder De Dion-type engine.

Janet Davidson, the aunt of Arthur and William Davidson, designed the original Harley Davidson logo that can be seen on the fuel tanks. William Davidson, his brothers, and William Harley established a corporation in 1907. Harley-Davidson produced 150 motorcycles this year.

1.1 Winning the Federation of American Motorcycle Endurance Run

Walter Davidson won a motorcycle race in the Catskill Mountains of New York in 1908. He did so without the assistance of a crew, scoring a perfect 1,000 points. Walter Davidson took over as the company's president following this momentous triumph.

1.2 Developing the Trademark Engine & Model 7D

In 1909, William Harley invented the 45-degree V-twin engine during his research on twin-cylinder motors. This engine is now famous as Harley's trademark.

The first engines with one carburetor and two cylinders did not work well and had intake valves operated by vacuum. This defective engine was not used until 1911. The first engine to be successful was the F-head IOE engine, which ran until 1929 and replaced the vacuum-driven intake valves with mechanically operated ones.

The Harley Model 7D series from 1911 had this powertrain fitted. A magneto started this motorcycle's ignition, but the engine used pedals. A pulley belt tensioner moved The leather belt drive, which replaced the conventional clutch.

Additionally, these bikes had unique mufflers that significantly decreased engine noise. Harley called the Model 7D the Silent Gray Fellows and built its marketing approach around these mufflers. Until 1918, all motorcycles with the same muffler and gray paint job were categorized as members of the Silent Gray Fellows.

1.3 Harley Model 9B & the Chain Drive

In 1913, Harley-Davidson debuted the chain drive feature on its Model 9B motorcycles. Because the motorcycles still used bicycle pedals to start and move, they had two chains. By reversing the pedals, the brake mechanism operated. The maximum speed of the 1913 Harley Model 9B was 60 mph.

1.4 Harley Model 10F Twin & the Step Starter

Harley first released the Model 10F Twin motorbikes in 1914. These bikes had footboards, which eliminated the need for riders to place their feet on the pedals. A gearshift was fitted to the gas tank to run the two-speed transmission housed in the rear axle. Known as the Step Starter, this innovation was exclusive to the 1914 vehicles.

1.5 Harley Davidson 11F Model - A Bike of Many Firsts

Harley introduced the 11F model in 1915, which included an improved three-speed transmission. There was a 1,000 cc engine powering this bike. Furthermore, horns, batteries, tail lights, and electric lights were fitted.

An additional hand clutch was installed on the side of the main casing. In the past, riders had to remove their left foot off the pedal to start their motorcycles. Riders may initiate the bike by moving the hand clutch inward and outward if one was included. After starting, they could operate the handlebars, horn, and spark with their left hand by using the foot clutch.

The 1000 cc F head V-twin engine of the model 11F, which weighed 325 lbs, developed 11 horsepower. Founded in 1914, the oldest family-run business in San Francisco is the Dudley Perkins Harley showroom, where this 1915 model is on display.

1.6 Role of Harley Davidson Motorcycles in the World War I

About 20,000 motorcycles were sold by Harley Davidson for military use when the US entered World War I in 1917. Harley was, therefore, one of the few motorcycle companies that survived the war.

A few Harley bikes designed specifically for military use were the Model J, the Model 17F, the Model 18F, and the Trench Cycle. All military Harley models had their gray hue altered to olive. And they maintained this paint job for a few years after the war ended.

Furthermore, because the military rejected electric lighting, these combat versions used outdated carbide gas headlights. Under the handlebars was a canister fitted with a valve filled with water and carbide. When the rider opened the valve, the headlamp was illuminated by acetylene gas, causing water to drip into the carbide. 

The notable military Harley bikes are as follows: 

  • The Harley Model 17 used a 280 cc engine for military, courier, and transportation purposes.
  • With its 350 cc engine, the Harley Model 18 offered the extra power and quickness needed for military operations.
  • Only trench navigation was considered when designing the Harley Trench Cycle model. It was a small motorcycle with a machine gun mounted on it.
  • To aid in military operations, the Harley Model J was fitted with a machine gun and utilized as a means of transportation. These bikes were marginally heavier and larger than Harley's previous war models.

1.7 Developing the Top-Notch Eight-Valve V-Twin Racer

In addition to creating swift motorcycles between 1914 and 1921, Harley Davidson also trained the Wrecking Crew, a racing squad whose victories turned the company's image from one of slow to fast motorcycles. Otto Walker created the Harley Davidson Eight Valve Racer in 1921, which was the first motorbike to win the race with a 104 mph average. A 1000 cc liquid-cooled, v-twin, four-stroke engine powered the motorbike. The bike's remarkable engineering feat was made possible by its straightforward design. Several smaller valves were introduced to keep the valve train light and boost the engine's revs. As a result, there was a significant reduction in wear risk, increased power generation, and enhanced heat dissipation. Harley's eight-valve racer was first unveiled in 1915, but it wasn't until 1921 that it saw popularity. Up to 1927, several upgraded iterations of the 1915 eight-valve racer were introduced.

1.8 Harley Davidson Knucklehead Featuring Overhead Valves

Harley produced motorcycles with side valve engines up to 1935. Harley moved the valves to establish an overhead valve engine configuration in 1936. The valves were added inside the cylinder head of this new engine type. This engine arrangement guaranteed higher rpm potential and faster speeds. The 1000 cc engine had an automated oil lubrication system, generating 11 horsepower. Furthermore, the custom of naming engines or motorcycles after their valve cover designs was initiated by the Harley Knucklehead. Some Harley devotees believe that Knucklehead's creative engineering and design helped the business survive the Great Depression.

1.9 Surviving the Great Depression

1934 Harley Davidson defied the Great Depression by introducing a new range. These motorcycles had a distinctive Art Deco design. Even though they didn't sell well then, these bikes represented Harley's ability to overcome obstacles and are now valued as rare antique models. 

Harley also introduced three-wheeled Servi-Cars in the 1930s and produced these unusual cars until 1973, even during these challenging times. 

1.10 The Harley WLA Liberator & World War II

Harley Davidson once more produced many motorcycles to aid the war effort during World War II. The WLA Liberator was the most well-known Harley model during World War II. The WLA Liberator was a robust motorbike designed to survive severe weather, rugged terrain, and low-grade fuel. Because the flathead engine didn't need highly refined fuel to run, Harley engineers favored it for these bikes. The bike was made suitable for riding in arid regions by increasing ground clearance and improving the air intake system. The WLA Liberator was successfully exported to allies, including Canada. After World War II, Harley returned to producing motorcycles for civilian use and racetrack fans.

1.11 Facing the Decline

Even though Harley Davidson became the unstoppable force in the American motorcycle industry, it did have a negative reputation because of labor strikes, low-quality motorcycles, ownership rights transfers, frequent mechanical failures, and a lack of innovative technology. Harley found it challenging to stay up with the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, who were also transforming the American motorcycle market. Harley bikes were expensive, unreliable, and outdated compared to their Japanese counterparts. The business came dangerously close to bankruptcy as sales dropped. Harley continued despite this, releasing a contentious Confederate model in 1977. 

1.12 Resurgence of Harley Davidson

At last, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) sold the business to a group of investors in 1981, and they successfully brought Harley Davidson back to life. Rather than imitating the Japanese models, the new management restored Harley's vintage vibe. The latest bikes were outfitted with premium components purchased from other markets to increase performance. However, the appearance and design were influenced by the vintage Harley models. Numerous popular cruiser lineups were introduced, including the Softails, Dynas, Sportsters, and touring models. To capitalize on emerging motorcycle trends and increase its market share, Harley-Davidson revealed in 2018 that it will be releasing the Pan America 1250, an adventure touring bike, for the 2020 model year. 

  1. The 10 Best Harley Motorcycles of All Time 

In its 120 years of manufacturing, Harley has produced some fantastic motorcycles. Some riders contend that because all Harleys have V-twin engines, they are virtually the exact vehicle. Every engine is an enhanced model of the most recent successful engine. This is only partially accurate, though, as every Harley motorcycle is different in terms of its capacity for off-road riding, engine, displacement, rider preferences, and on-road capabilities. Harley Davidson motorbikes are fantastic for touring, thrilling for fast riding, and everything. Hardly a rider doesn't want to be a Harley rider. 

2.1 Harley Davidson FXST Softail

The first motorbike in the Softail lineup was the Harley Davidson FXST Softail, which debuted as the 1984 model in 1983. The bike was a Dyna Wide Glide with a triangle swingarm and a la Softail. Harley designers concealed the rear suspension under the gearbox to preserve the classic hardtail appearance. The bike was first equipped with a chain drive, four gearbox gears, and a Kickstarter. The 1984 FXST Softail's hidden rear suspension made it appear much older than it was, which added to the bike's attractiveness. Another vintage element of the 1984 FXST Softail was the chrome oil tank shaped like a horseshoe. 

Furthermore, the 1340 cc V-Twin aluminum Evolution engine that powered the 1984 FXST Softail is rumored to have been a company-saving innovation, including enhanced mechanical and technological enhancements. Before the FXST Softail, the Shovelhead engine was the primary power source. The new engine provided more consistent performance and increased power outputs. The 1984 FXST Softail's engine and its low-slung seat, hidden rear suspension, and classic Harley cruiser styling contributed to its enormous success.

2.2 Harley Davidson Electra Glide

The last year that Panhead motorcycles were produced was 1965. The final Harley equipped with the Panhead, an overhead two-cylinder, two-valve pushrod V-twin engine, was the 1965 Electra Glide. The 1965 Electra Glide, with its displacement of 1212 cc, was a FLH model. Conversely, the Electra Glide was the first Harley motorcycle with an electronic starter. While the Panhead era ended with this motorcycle, electric starter technology was introduced.

Moreover, a 12-volt electric system that could accommodate a larger battery was installed on the Electra Glide in 1965. The 700-pound 1965 Electra Glide outperformed the earlier FL versions thanks to its electric starters. It also included the typical hand-shift-foot clutch as an optional feature. Harley introduced the "King of the Highway" touring package for riders who wished to avoid installing aftermarket Harley components. Hard panniers, a baggage rack, and a retractable windshield were all included in the package. The 1965 Electra Glide was another positive development for Harley Davidson and a motorcycle with numerous firsts.

2.3 Harley Davidson FLSTF Softail Fat Boy

The legendary Harley Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy is a motorbike. The motorcycle's production run was among the longest in Harley Davidson's history. Designed by Louie Netz and Willie Davidson, the bike debuted in 1990. It used the same 1340 cc V-Twin Evolution engine as the 1984 FXST Softail model because it was manufactured after that model with a 1310 cc bigger displacement.

The versions manufactured in 2018 and beyond are coded FLFB/FLFBS, whereas the Fat Boys manufactured between 1990 and 2017 were labeled FLSTF.

The FXST Softail frame with a hidden rear swingarm is found on the 1990 FLSTF Fat Boy. Therefore, all Fat Boys offer a hardtail look. Fat Boy's distinctive features—such as its leather seat, disc wheels, shotgun exhaust, and yellow trim—also helped to ensure its immediate success. Its pull-back handlebars, low center of gravity, heavier frame, and constant power ensured a very comfortable ride. Maybe for that reason, Fat Boy motorcycles are still being made. Ultimately, the Softail Fat Boy model received a Milwaukee 114 engine in 2020 to improve performance.

2.4 Harley Davidson XL1200N Sportster Nightster

2007, the 1200 cc Harley Davidson XL1200N Sportster Nightster was unveiled, revolutionizing the Sportster range. The Harley Sportster Nightster was distinguished by its bobbed fenders, side-mounted license plate, blacked-out components, and fork guards. All Harley lineups included laced wheels, 21-inch front tires, vital chrome elements, and a 1970s motorcycle aesthetic before the release of the XL1200N Sportster Nightster. In the early 2000s, Harley's Sportster family could not draw in young people due to the same aesthetics used yearly. Young consumers were not particularly drawn to Sportsters despite their inexpensive pricing. The XL1200N Nightster Sportster's unique dark bobber design broke up the monotony. The XL1200N Nightster Sportster spearheaded the Sportster Family's factory blacked-out, bobbed-out custom motorcycle movement. In 2012, the Harley Davidson XL1200N Sportster Nightster was withdrawn from production.

2.5 Harley Davidson XR-750

The 1970 Harley XR-750 was a race motorcycle made especially for competing on dirt tracks. For road racing, an XRTT version of the XR-750 was also introduced. Following regulation changes by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Grand National Championship, Harley created the XR-750 to maintain its position as a race champion. Japanese motorcycles would have ended Harley Davidson's hegemony at American racetracks if it weren't for the XR-750.

Harley's prompt efforts paid off, as the XR-750 amassed the most significant victories in AMA racing history. The Harley XR-750 is associated with some of the biggest names in racing and motorcycle stunts, including Evel Knievel, Cal Rayborn, Mark Brelsford, and Jay Springsteen.

A great deal of historical significance is associated with the 1970 Harley XR-750. With limited time and resources, Dick O'Brien and his crew designed this bike. Utilizing pre-existing OHV designs, they created a brand-new race bike that complied with recent AMA regulations. The 900 cc Sportster engine served as the model for the altered model. The engine's iron heads and cylinders stayed the same, but the displacement was reduced to 750 cc by shortening the stroke and connecting rods. In the past, these engines warmed up rapidly. Were therefore modified in 1972. The displacement was limited to 750 ccs by maintaining a short stroke. But an aluminum head and cylinder were installed, along with a bigger bore. Using the XR-750, racers won 29 of the 37 AMA racing championships from 1972 to 2008. The XR-750 is regarded as the most successful race bike ever made because of its winning streak. Furthermore, with the Harley XR-750, Evel Knievel broke the record for the most jumps in stunt-riding history.

2.6 Harley Davidson Road King

The 1994 release of the Harley Road King, an FLH model, was motivated by the Harley 1941 FL model. The motorcycle was delivered with hard saddlebags from the factory. Unlike Harley touring bikes like the Road Glide and Street Glide, the Road King lacks a fairing. The 1994 model was equipped with an Evolution 1310 cc engine. Nevertheless, a 1450 cc Twin Cam engine replaced the 1310 cc Evolution motor in the 2000 Harley Road King model. Harley introduced an optional custom vehicle operation (CVO) package for the Road King in 2002. With this package, motorcyclists could switch from FLHR to FLHRSEI, the fuel injection form of the Newman plate. The Harley Road King is a significant motorbike because it bridges the gap between a cruiser and a touring motorcycle. For many years, the police force preferred the Road King because of its adaptability and dependable performance.

2.7 Harley Davidson Sportster Forty Eight

For the 2010 model year, the Harley Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight debuted. The 1948 Harley Davidson S-125, the first consumer Harley with a hand clutch/foot shift function, created especially for the military XA motorcycle, served as the model for the motorcycle's 2.1-gallon peanut fuel tank, giving rise to the motorcycle's moniker.

Undoubtedly, one of the most attractive Harley Sportster models is the Sportster Forty-Eight. The motorbike had a belt drive, a 1200 cc V-Twin four-stroke engine, and a maximum weight capacity of 544 lbs. Despite the short gasoline tank, the six-speed transmission provided exceptional mpg. Like the XL1200N Nightster Sportster, young purchasers were drawn to the bike because of its athletic attitude. Over 100 miles was not intended to be covered on the bike. As such, it might not be a highway rider's best friend. Nonetheless, the aggressive riding style, powerful engine, and seamless power delivery make it an enjoyable ride for experienced riders and an excellent place for novices to start.

2.8 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide FXDWG

In 1980, the Harley Davidson Wide Glide model made its debut. With its 1310 cc Harley Big Twin engine, this ground-breaking two-wheeler provided a personalized look and feel that was distinctive in and of itself. Everything about the Dyna Wide Glide FXDWG, including its wide 41mm front forks, chopper-style aesthetics, ape handlebars, bobbed fenders, mini passenger seat, flame tank graphics, and front wheel with spokes that is 21 inches narrow, attracted potential buyers and made it one of the most popular Dyna models. The Dyna Wide Glide's seat was significantly lower than other Harleys, at 26.7 inches, making it an excellent motorbike for novices.

2.9 Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider

The Dyna Low Rider FXS was first introduced by Harley in 1997 and produced until 2009. Thanks to its low seat height, two-into-one exhaust, and raked-out front forks, the bike was a best seller in its first year of manufacture. However, the 1690 cc four-stroke V2 engine used in the touring vehicles made the 2014 Dyna Low Rider model the most popular. The 2014 Dyna Low Rider likewise included a six-speed transmission and belt drive. The 1977 model served as the inspiration for the 2014 Low Rider's design. It was ideal for short riders because of the low handlebar position, 25.4-inch seat height, and mid-mounted controls. With a few adjustments, including adding forward-mounted foot controls or longer handlebars, tall and average riders might also comfortably ride this bike. The 2014 Low Rider featured the lowest seat height of any Harley motorcycle before the release of the Softail Slim. This motorbike may be ridden for over 100,000 miles without experiencing any mechanical failures or rebuilds. 2018 saw Harley Davidson install a new Softail chassis in place of the Dyna frame and a 1753 cc Milwaukee-Eight engine. Thus, the mainstay was added to the Softail repertoire. 

2.10 Harley Davidson FXDX Super Glide Sport

In 1999, Harley unveiled the legendary FXDX Super Glide Sport variant. The bike was the first blacked-out Dyna with dual disc brakes and a 1450 cc Twin Cam engine. At 5500 rpm, the motorcycle could produce roughly 68 horsepower, and at 2900 rpm, 106 Nm of torque. The bike produced up to 100 horsepower with a few tweaks. The 1999 Super Glide Sport was a quick bike weighing 661 pounds. This motorcycle's shorter wheelbase and 28-degree front rake increased its maneuverability and agility. A fully adjustable front and rear preload suspension arrangement was standard on the 2000 model. In 2005, the Harley FXDX Super Glide Sport was withdrawn from production. The motorcycle saw many changes during its six-year production run, including cage bearings, Tim Kin bearing bottom ends, and fuel injection in the FXDXI version. The factory-installed removable front fairing and detachable saddlebags were included with the FXDX-T Super Glide T-Sport.

2.11 Harley Davidson FXRT Sport Glide