Bike of the Month
1971 Harley-Davidson FX
By Dick Toth
In the late 60’s and early 70’s custom bikes or “Choppers” were very popular. Taking a stock bike and replacing handlebars to drag bars, and installing a peanut tank, springer front end with dual square headlights, 21 inch front wheel with no brakes, rigid frame with king & queen seat and a sissy bar! With the Easy Rider movie in 1970, I noticed a lot of new companies popping up selling custom extended front end, seats, frames etc..
These custom parts were available for Harley, Honda, Triumph, BSA and Norton.
This brings us to the first Harley-Davidson Super Glide, and how the company or Willie G. Davidson transformed a touring Electra Glide into a custom performance Super Glide.
First the stock front end from a Sportster is grafted onto the standard Electra Glide frame including the stock brake assembly, wheel, fender and Sportster headlight.
The large 5 gallon gas tank was replaced with a smaller 3.5 gallon tank that would reveal more of the 1200 cc engine and accommodate the cleaner looking front forks. The floorboards were replaced with foot pegs and a new rear brake lever and pedal connected to the standard master cylinder. A new shift lever flipped over in front of the left peg, that will now have first gear lifting up on the lever, and down for 2nd, 3rd& 4th gears.
The engine received a new 1 5/8” Bendix carburetor with an accelerator pump (which was a great improvement over the Tillotson) along with a two-into-one exhaust pipe tucked neatly to the bottom of the frame and connected to a cigar shaped muffler below the “Sprint” passenger foot pegs.
The mechanical presentation of the exhaust pipes, air cleaner, kick start (no electric starter) and timing cover together all depicts the form and function of the Super Glide.
The Super Glide is powerful, and handles well in curves and the open road. The clean two piece handle bars had no wires or throttle cables dangling on them. The distinct sound of the engine, the clunk of the transmission all made the ride excellent!
The boat tail seat mounted over a shortened rear fender and the large rear tire made a strong visual statement, and I believe that is what makes this bike stand out, like it or not. The seat sat a little higher than the frame mount seats that were used the next year, but many people preferred the lower seats.