Top 10 Harley-Davidsons of All Time

Share this Article

9. FL

1958 Harley-Davidson FL Duo Glide Courtesy How Stuff Works

Since 1941, large-framed Harleys receive the storied “FL” designation, signifying overhead-valve Big Twin engines with wide front tires and long-distance capabilities. With the exception of some Softail models, today it’s the Touring line of Harley-Davidson that live up to the big and plush FL designation.

That “deluxe” reputation really got rolling in MY1949 when the FL was Harley’s first recipient of hydraulically damped telescopic forks and was bestowed with the moniker Hydra-Glide.

“Easier if you had asked me, ‘What’s your favorite date of all time?’” veteran moto-journalist Reg Kittrelle laughs when asked about his favorite Harley-Davidson. “My first thought was a 1987 FXRC, as it was my first Harley and a bit of a stunner, looks-wise.” However, being a journalist Reg is inclined toward objectivity, so he does his best to leave sentimentality out of the equation and gives the nod to the 1949 Hydra-Glide FL. “To me, this model is a bridge from the old to the new…I prefer the looks of the older Knucklehead FLs, [but] the hydraulic forks of ’49 ushered in a new era for Harley.”

In 1958, the FL received a new frame with a swingarm and a pair of coil-over shocks – the first Big Twin to feature a fully suspended chassis. The Hydra-Glide was renamed the Duo-Glide.

Jason Fogelson, automotive contributor to Forbes and Motorcycle Enthusiast for Best Western’s travel blog You Must Be Trippin’, is a fan of the entire FL line of touring bikes but lists the 1958 Duo-Glide as a personal favorite. “I think it’s the sweet spot – modern chassis and suspension (relatively) with classic looks, all-day comfort and a simple, (sometimes) reliable Panhead engine,” Fogelson says.

(For the record, in 1965 the Duo-Glide received an electric starter and was renamed the “Electra Glide.” But no one voted for one of those.)

Get Motorcycle.com in your Inbox
  • sem

    #10 Evo FXR – First image isn’t an Evo.

    • Jonny Langston

      Oops, you guys were right. More of a typo than wrong photo. Consider it fixed.

  • bert

    #10 looks like a shovel fxr to me.

    • Dana P Rockwell

      Folks knew something new (engine) was coming because of the extra space above the Shovelhead engine, waiting for something taller (the Evo in ’84
      )….

  • Craig Howell

    Glad you liked my photo of Lucifer’s Hammer that I took at the 1985 Champion Spark Plug 200 at Lagguna Seca! Photo attribution & linkback are always appreciated. ( photos.thecreeper.net/Motorcycle-Stuff/1985-Champion-Spark-Plug-200 ) – Craig Howell

    • Jonny Langston

      Consider it done, Craig! Thanks again

  • Keurig Mikuru

    1959 XLCH Sportster, any K-Model (1952-1956) especially KR, JD for it’s appearance. Got to vote down the FXB Sturgis for that ugly air cleaner. It looks like something AMF designed; oh that’s right it did.

  • Harrison Withers

    Another vote for the xr1200 here, I love mine and just wish they would make it again, with an eye towards weight reduction.

  • Dana P Rockwell

    The FXRP never caught on as a police bike either…

  • ACG

    No V/Rod??Best Harley ever water cooled&fast!

  • Kevin

    My great-grandfather was a Denver motor cop, one of my earliest memories of him was visiting him at his house and watching a movie from the late 1930s in which Fred McMurray is pulled over by a cop on a Harley-Davidson. The cop pulled up alongside the car and issued the ticket through the window while still seated on the bike. As the cop rode away the movie went to commercial and Gran-dad asked my father if he knew why they did that ( ride alongside and pass the ticket through the window). When my father replied no, Gran-dad offered “To actually catch a speeding car on one of those damn things would pucker your butt so badly you couldn’t get off of it for 20 minutes!”
    H-D has been around for 115 years, had its share of ups and downs, survived 2 world wars the great depression, and even AMF. As time and technology has progressed so has H-D, albeit too slowly at times. It is for that reason that I believe the best H-D of all time is one of the 2014 FLH models even to admit my seat time is limited to a single test ride. No other motorcycle company has a more faithful and loyal customer base and no other motorcycle company has more passionate critics. Love ‘em or hate ‘em every body still thinks and talks about them. They are better bikes now than they have ever been and my bet is that my Grandson will someday be talking about them one way or another long after I’m gone.

  • Mark Brenneman

    No way to list a top 10. However, my ’74? 350 Sprint SX was a good starter bike. My ’71 FLH ranks high on my list as I rode it from Oh to the top of Mi and to Fl in the same summer. My ’38 UL (74″) Flat Head was slow to get rolling but turned a lot of heads. My ’73 Sportster w/ a hack was my most fun bike. Way to many people had too much fun on it. My ’89 Heritage Softail has a place because it was a nice bike and the only new Harley I ever bought of over 30 + of them. Before someone goes off, I have had both sizes of Shortsters, the moped looking step through with 3 speeds on the twist grip, to a 110″ Kick only Shovel in a custom frame with suicide clutch and jockey shift. I even had a 2 stroke Enduro Model.

  • BUCK Ronald Bucholtz

    1968 XLCH sportster with P cams and magneto the bike would not idle it ran best wide open only I passed a new cop in town and he could not get close ,the sound that bike made coming on cam was unreal it made the hair on my neck stand up , I also owned many 48 up pans they,were great bikes as well ,being only16 I did many stupid things you can not get away with do day but that XLCH was WICKED bike .