Some Incredible Harleys Were Introduced From 1964 to 1966

During the years between 1964 and 1966, Harley Davidson really built some great motorcycles that had some really impressive features that consumers have continued to enjoy. The 1964 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster motorcycle’s impressive 883-cc V-twin engine out-powered most competitors during that era. The 1965 Harley-Davidson FL Electra-Glide motorcycle was the last Harley fitted with the venerable pan-head engine and the first big Harley with an electric start, which made this combo a highly coveted collectible. For Harley Davidson, 1965 marked the end of an era.

The Electra-Glide, with its electric starter, made its debut, but it would be the last year for the famous pan-head V-twin that was introduced in 1948. That engine had received some modifications over the years, a significant one coming in 1963 with external oil lines that improved lubrication to the cylinder heads. Along with the electric starter came the twelve-volt electrics to replace the previous six-volt system, which in turn brought a bigger battery hidden beneath a large battery case on the right side. That, along with the bold “Electra Glide” script on the front fender, makes it easy to distinguish this model from earlier FLs.

Some Electra-Glides had the standard exhaust system that had both cylinders exhausting to the right into a single muffler. This was optional as a dual-muffler system where the exhaust from the front cylinder exited to the right, while that from the rear cylinder exited to the left, both terminating in their own distinctive “fishtail” muffler. Also optional was the old hand-shift and foot-clutch arrangement that was so popular with police departments. Though a curb weight of more than seven hundred pounds restricted performance somewhat, the Electra-Glide was a popular touring mount in its day, as the electric starter alleviated the problem of having to kick start the big V-twin, which had become no easy task.

The 1966 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra-Glide motorcycle’s smoother-running, more powerful shovel-head engine replaced the pan-head engine, which gave this motorcycle sixty horsepower. In 1965, Harley-Davidson introduced an electric-start version of the big FL series, dubbing it the Electra-Glide, which was still powered by the pan-head engine. This big Harley was now carrying not only the additional weight of the inevitable factory and owner installed accessories, which made it more plentiful by a switch from six-volt electrics to twelve volt, but also the pounds added by the new starting hardware.

Although the pan-head engine had served well during its lengthy tenure, owners were begging for more power. For 1966, Harley released an updated version of the 74-cubic-inch V-twin by mating new aluminum shovel-head cylinder heads to the iron barrels, horsepower increased by five. The smoother, running, more powerful shovel-head engine was a welcome relief. The weight of the FLs had crept up to nearly eight hundred pounds, and the extra power was appreciated by owners. Yet, despite the greater power and escalating heft, FLs were still slowed by drum brakes front and rear; it would not be until 1972 that a front disc would appear.