Harley-Davidson Glossary of Terms
By Greg Hudson
Atmospheric Inlet Valve - The falling of the pistons activates the opening of inlet valves by causing a vacuum. Usually found in the early single cylinder Harleys.
Ape Hangers - Elevated handlebars raising the rider's hands above the shoulders.
Buell - First built by Eric Buell, a former Harley-Davidson employee, these are the v-twin Harley-engined bikes which helped the company win a share in the sports bike market.
Big-Twin - A designation used for the larger sized Harley-Davidson engines. Sportster® models range from 883 ( see the XL883 Sportster® here ) to the 1200 cubic centimetres. Almost all other Harleys have 1340, 1450, or 1584 cc engines.
Bobber - All extras and non-essentials are removed to increase the power to weight ratio. Increased performance and better styling was the result. Probably one of the first customised motorcycles from about in the early 50's. The first customs came about with the return of war vets looking to rekindle the thrill of flying fighter planes. Also known as a Bobtail.
Blockhead - Harley-Davidson's innovative Evolution® V-Twin engine.
Chopper - 1960's and 70's era custom bikes. Noted for extended and raked forks, tweaking done to the suspension and the introduction of thinner Japanese wheels for the front end.
Duo-Glide® - A big twin with rear suspension introduced from 1958 to the mid sixties.
Dyna Glide® - The term glide refer to the effect of the effective rubber engine mountings used on the frames of this model.
Electra Glide® - An electric starter was introduced to this model
Evolution® - The engine that replaced the Shovelhead. Featuring an overhead valve and is commonly found on post 1980 models of the big-twins and Sportsters.
F-Head® - Pertains to inlet over exhaust valve engines.
Fathead® - A Twin-Cam engine introduced from 1999 and is still featured till this day!
Fat Boy® - The bike seen in the movie Terminator. Characterised by a solid front disc wheel and engine mounted gauges. One of Harley-Davidson's top selling motorcycles.
Flathead® - An older engine featuring side valves. Noted for its durability.
Hardtail® - Basically, a frame with no suspension. A rigid!
Hydra Glide® - An hydraulic suspension system used in the front forks.
Knucklehead® - A v-twin engine built from 1936 – 1947.
Low Rider® - A custom with low riding position and low seat. A typical custom version of the Super Glide® which appeared in the 1970's.
Panhead® - The series of engines that replaced the Nucklehead.
Shovelhead® - The series of engines that replaced the Panhead from 1966 onwards.
Side Valve - An engine with valves on the side of the cylinder.
Softail® - Resembling the look of a Hardtail, the suspension is hidden underneath the engine.
Sportster - An improved model featuring 883 cc to 1200 cc engines.
Springer® - A model with a front fork featuring springs on the suspension. Here's an example of a custom Springer.
Super Glide® - A hybrid between the Sportster front end and the frame of the big-twin engine Harley-Davidson's. The first factory custom ever made.
Tour Glide® - Designed for touring and packed with all the features required for long distance cruising.
Twin Cam - The largest Harley engine that is now featured on most of the later models developed.
Wide Glide® - Features wider forks and is the featured bike in the movie Easy Rider. Popularised on the customisation seen for its versatility it sports a 1450cc engine pushing out a noted 79bhp. Also includes some of the latest Harley technology.
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