Harley-Davidson Electra Glide (1965-1949)

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1965 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide

  • The first Electra Glide motorcycle was introduced in 1965

The Electra Glide model is actually a continuation of a previous FL line that was manufactured beginning in 1941. The 1941 FL models eventually evolved into the Hydra Glide motorcycles, which came with an all new telescopic front fork in 1949. In 1958, rear suspension and a hydraulic rear brake were added and the name of the motorcycle was changed to Duo Glide.

These and other developments set the stage for the 1965 Electra Glide motorcycle, which was the first Harley-Davidson civilian motorcycle to come with an electric starter. The Electra Glide motorcycles of that year began to add features that riders still appreciate today such as fiberglass saddlebags, a windshield, fender valances and a comfortable seating position.

The final year of the “Panhead” engines. These last “Panheads” were the first “big-twin” Harley-Davidson engines to be equipped with the electric starters. In 1966, the “Panhead” gave way to the “Shovelhead,” gaining a ten percent increase in power in the process. An 80 cu in (1,300 cc) engine was made optional on the Electra Glide in 1978. The Evolution engine in 1984 and Twin Cam 88 engine in 1999. In addition, the Electra Glide motorcycle served as a platform for a number of models: the Electra Glide Sport in 1977 (reappearing in 1987), the Classic in 1979, and the Ultra in 1989.

A fork-mounted fairing became available on Electra Glides in 1969, an easily removable option on early Electra Glides, it was not removable on later machines, as the instruments were moved from the fuel tank into the fairing. The FL frame was the basis for the 1971 FX Super Glide. The FX mated the FL frame with the forks of the XL Sportster, with buckhorn handlebars and a large fibreglass tailpiece completing the Super Glide specification. The FL was given a front disc brake in 1972. The three-speed plus reverse option was discontinued in 1977.

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FL Electra-Glide
The Electra-Glide replaces the Duo-Glide and is updated with electric starter. The Electra-Glide is the first FL available with electric start, and the Sportster line would receive electric starters soon after. (1965)

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1958 FL Duo-Glide
The first rear brakes and hydraulic rear suspensions appear on the Duo-Glide. The FL model was given a new frame in 1958. This frame included a rear swingarm suspended by a pair of coil-over-shock suspension units. In honor of this fully-suspended chassis, the FL’s model name was changed from Hydra-Glide to Duo-Glide. Unlike OHV configuration, aluminum heads, and telescopic-fork front suspension, however, this improvement in technology was applied to the small-frame bikes first, the K-series having received rear suspension in 1952

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FL Hydra Glide
Hydraulic front forks first appear on the new Hydra-Glide models. In 1949, a year after receiving the “Panhead” engine, the FL was given a new front suspension and a model name to go along with it. In honor of their first production motorcycle with hydraulically-damped telescopic forks, the FL was officially called the Hydra-Glide. This name would change twice in the history of the basic large-framed FL bikes, each time signalling an improvement in the bike’s technology. In addition, the Glide ending would be used on other models, based on both and FL and FX formats.

In 1952, the Hydra-Glide’s transmission format was reversed from hand-shift/foot-clutch to foot-shift/hand-clutch. 1952 was also the last year of the 61 cu in (1,000 cc) EL, making the FL the last remaining large-frame model. A more highly-tuned engine with high-compression heads, higher-lift cams, and polished ports, was offered with the FLH version of 1955.

There’s no doubt that the Electra Glide motorcycle has been the ultimate touring motorcycle and has secured a place for itself in Harley-Davidson’s future.

Hall of Engines

The sound is unmistakable. It grabs your heart and makes it pump faster, showing you a new world with every beat. Pumping. Throbbing. Its power enlivens you. Churning. Burning. Its torque inspires you. This is the Harley-Davidson engine: the heart and soul of every Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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