Bike of the Month
1949 Harley-Davidson FL
by Mark Lobsinger
Four or five years ago I got a call from fellow Comstock AMCA member Kelly Hogan saying a local Carson City guy had parts of a panhead for sale in the back of his garage. The story was the seller was unloading all of his motorcycles and parts in an attempt to raise funds to take his wife to New York City to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Seemed silly to me but different strokes, right? I rushed over asap and made a deal.
The 1949 FL started as a complete (but seized) motor and a wishbone frame. The seller said the motor had seized up on him on the interstate in Reno years before, and he brought it home and parked it. There were no cracks in the cases though and it had matching belly numbers. Splitting the cases revealed a rod went south, and a large chunk of the flywheel had lodged itself between the wheels and case. It was a miracle that the cases held up, especially the way the seller explained it locking up instantly and coming to a skidding stop on the highway.
I found the rest of the parts for the bike at swap meets or on the internet. I’d say around 90% of the bike is Harley and I’m constantly replacing the re-pop stuff with OEM. The first summer I had it complete I put around 4,000 miles on it in the month of June. I rode it to Mexico and back on the El Diablo Run. Then I took it Dixon for the Fort Sutter meet. Then I rode it to Born Free (Irvine, CA), all the way down Hwy 395 and back up the coast. Then I made a trip out to Austin, NV and back. The thing ran like an absolute dream through all of those trips. The only thing I did to it was add gasoline and check oil throughout the entire month.
This is my first panhead and I plan on keeping it for life. My 3 year old boy already calls it “his bike.” It’s stock 74” with a Truett and Osborn flywheel assembly. When I first built it I ran an SU carburetor, but have since switched over to a rebuilt M74 Linkert.
Be a man. Ride a pan!