January 1, 2009
Harley Shovelhead Motorcycle
Harley Shovelhead as a collector motorcycle? It was not long ago that most Harley collectors viewed the Harley Shovelhead as little more than another cheap, used motorcycle. But things have changed in the last few years and some models of Harley Davidson Shovelhead motorcycles are climbing in value and in desirability.
As is typical of the Harley Davidson Motor Company, the Shovelhead is basically a new top end grafted onto the Harley Panhead bottom end. The nickname Shovelhead is due to the rocker box looking a bit like a coal shovel design. Harley Shovelhead engines powered Big Twins from 1966 until the introduction of Harley Davidson’s Evolution engine in 1985.
The shovel engine does not have valve covers, as such, but rocker boxes and rocker arms which pivot on shafts. The design gave this Harley engine a very different look from the Harley Panhead it replaced.
Some believe the Harley Shovelhead design was created for the Harley Sportster. As rumor has it as the popularity of the Panhead declined with Harley riders wanting more power. So The Motor Company basically bolted the new top end design on top of the Panhead engine and – voila – the more powerful Harley Shovelhead. There was some concern about the increased weight of the new model and some steer away from the Shovelhead configuration as they feel it is slower and less powerful than some of the other Harley motorcycle models.
The Harley Davidson Shovelhead was a popular with many police departments and law enforcement agencies. They were also the star of the “Electra-Glide in Blue” feature movie starring Robert Blake as the law enforcement officer who rode the blue Electra-Glide.
Now, more than 40 years after first being introduced, the Harley Shovelhead engine is gaining in popularity among classic motorcycle enthusiasts. And many parts for Harley Shovelhead are still readily available as NOS, used and reproduction, including entire reproduction Shovelhead engines.
Harley Shovelhead motorcycles were avaible in a number of models. These included:
- Harley Shovelhead FLHFB – Electra Glide Super Sport with foot shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLHB – Electra Glide Super Sport with hand shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLFB – Electra Glide with foot shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLB – Electra Glide with hand shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLHF – Super Sport with foot shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLH – Super Sport with hand shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLPF – Super Sport Police with foot shift
- Harley Shovelhead FLP – Super Sport Police with hand shift
- Harley Shovelhead FX – Super Glide
- Harley Shovelhead FL – Electra Glide
- Harley Shovelhead FL Police – Electra Glide Police model
- Harley Shovelhead FXE – Super GLide with electric start
- Harley Shovelhead FLHS – Electra Glide Sport
- Harley Shovelhead FXS – Low Rider