1945 Harley-Davidson FL 'Knucklehead'
Engine no. 45FL1464
The handsome motorcycle offered here is one of only 619 'Knucklehead' models produced by Harley-Davidson for the civilian market in 1945 following the end of WWII. Without question one of the most handsome and readily recognizable motorcycle engines of all time, the Harley-Davidson overhead-valve v-twin - known as the 'Knucklehead' after its distinctively shaped rocker boxes had first appeared in 61ci form in 1936 arrived powering a stylish all-new motorcycle. A twin-loop frame was deemed necessary to handle the model's increased power while the front suspension too was beefed up, the forks switching to oval tubing in place of the previous forged I-beams. Teething problems associated with the earliest examples had been sorted out by 1937 and the Milwaukee factory quickly set about establishing the EL's performance credentials. Joe Petrali set a new speed record of 136mph at Daytona Beach on March '37 while Fred Ham later averaged 76mph for 24 hours at Murco Dry Lake in California to set a new best mark. Progressively improved, the ohv Harley became available in 74ci (FL) form from 1941, remaining a cornerstone of the Milwaukee range in 'Panhead' and later 'Shovelhead' versions until superseded by the Evolution-engined bikes in the 1980s.
A shortage of chromium in the immediately post-war years enforced the adoption of alternative finishes for many components, as evidenced by this FL's black-painted headlight, wheel rims, muffler and 'crash' bars. Not until 1947 would Harleys again boast a full complement of chromium plating. The vendor purchased this motorcycle at a Chicago auction in September 2001, at which time it was described as 'a correct older restoration with rebuilt wheels, re-covered seat and 37,774 miles showing on the odometer.' Since acquisition the Knucklehead has been kept on display in the owner's private museum in the UK (the odometer reading is the same as when purchased) and will require re-commissioning before returning to the road. The machine is offered with an ignition key and its auction labels.
- Please note that the title for this motorcycle is in transit.