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The Last Year of the Harley Davidson Shovelhead Motorcycle

In 1979 Harley Davidson introduced a totally new model to the 1980 line up of big twins, the FLT Tour Glide today known as the very popular Road Glide.

The FLT was a complete revamp of the FL model with a rubber mount engine, transmission and swing arm, dual disk front brakes and very badly needed 5 speed transmission.   The triple trees were reversed with the fork tubes place behind the steering neck.  It had a frame mounted fairing which reduced the wind pressure off your arms.

Up until 1980 all Harley Big Twins models had the engine and transmission mounted directly to the frame, this is where most of the vibration came from. Most of the diehard Harley riders put their noses up to this new motorcycle.  I heard the words tour toilet used a lot to describe this new model.  I never understand why so many Harley riders including myself were so against a vibration free ride, a fairing and a 5 speed transmission.   It took me until 1982 until I finally got on an FLT and then I was hooked.  It was amazing to be able to go for a day long ride and still feel my hands and feet when I got off.  I was relieved of how much pressure the fairing took off my back.  Another cool feature was I could see out my mirror at 4500 RPMs.  Believe it or not I have been riding rubber mount Harleys ever since.  I still have a 1983 Harley FLT that has over 300,000 miles on it although the Shovelhead engine was replace many years ago.  It is going through a major face lift this winter.  Harley continued to use this 3 point rubber mount frame setup until 2008.

In 1982 Harley introduce the FXR Super Glide a rubber mounted version of the FX models.  This bike, so popular today, was again snubbed at back then.  I guess we weren’t so smart after all.  A lot of people said that neither one these models would last another year.

In 1983 Harley introduce the FLHT a rubber mount with the Electra Glide FLH fairing.

1984 was the last year of the Shovelhead engine that was originally introduce in 1966.  It was also the last year for the FL rigid mount engine. 

The Shovel years were a lot of fun and hell of a lot of frustration for me.  I never left the house without my tool kit.  Over the years my Brother Dan Roche and I spent many hours on the side of the road fixing my bike.  Those were fun times, not that I want them back.

My next blog is going to be on the Evolution, stay tuned.

If you are looking for any parts for your Harley Davidson Shovelhead, check out my site Yales Motor Cycle Parts.

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