Poster The first new motorbike of the Great Depression become a chunk of a chance for Harley-Davidson. Introducing what could eventually be Poster referred to as the “knucklehead” engine, the 1936 EL became a pivotal model that continues to steer H-D® bikes nowadays. Poster
By Harley-Davidson Poster Museum
Following the Poster stock market crash of 1929, the business world ground nearly to a halt.
The motorbike enterprise turned into hit hard with the aid of the Great Depression. By 1933, typical motorbike income inside the US had reached an historical low, still unrivaled to contemporary. Some motorbike manufacturers closed their doors. Others have been able to stay afloat, hPoster owever any profits made needed to be invested accurately. While Harley-Davidson® motorcycle clients and sellers regarded forward to the next new model, the Motor Company knew any new motorcycle turned into going to be a threat.
Joe Petrali and Crowd (1937-03)Harley-Davidson Museum
A Risky New Idea
Co-founder and Chief Engineer William Harley headed new product development. As part of the Board of Directors, he led conversations about innovative product thoughts. Among those thoughts changed into a dual cylinder motorbike in contrast to every other Harley-Davidson had previously sold.
Harley-Davidson® 1936 version EL (1936) by means of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Harley satisfied the Board to present it a shot.
But mere months before its launch, they still debated whether the motorbike should also be built.
Harley-Davidson® EL Model (1936) by means of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
They knew it become a risk but were additionally excited about its opportunities.
Informally dubbed the “sixty one” for its cubic inch displacement, the all-new model turned into approved. It changed into first to be had in 1936.
The founders look into their most modern version (1935)Harley-Davidson Museum
The founders of Harley-Davidson investigate an early 1936 “61” coming from the meeting line. Left to Right are Arthur Davidson, Walter Davidson, William S. Harley and William A. Davidson.
The motorbike would move directly to outline Harley-Davidson’s future.
1936 model “sixty one” engine element (1936) with the aid of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Origin of the “Knucklehead” Engine
Decades after launch, motorcyclists commenced to offer nicknames to Harley-Davidson® engines. Prior to the “sixty one”, a side-valve engine called a “flathead” were powering riders via thick and thin.
The “sixty one” featured a new engine and transmission. With its overhead valves, it supplied greater strength. It turned into finally nicknamed the “Knucklehead” due to its resemblance to a clenched fist.
Petrali on record-breaking motorbike (1937)Harley-Davidson Museum
The engine power needed to be demonstrated, not simply referred to.
A key manner to expose automobile power become by breaking land pace data. Harley-Davidson delivered a extraordinarily modified “61” to Daytona Beach to do just that. The distinctive streamliner became piloted through Joe Petrali, one of the first-class motorbike racers of the day.
Poster saying new land velocity file (1937) by using Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
They succeeded, with Joe achieving a blistering 136 miles in step with hour.
“Even above the regular roar of the surf, you may listen the deep pitched drone of the 61,” wrote John Balmer in Harley-Davidson Enthusiast™ mag.
Joe Petrali and Crowd (1937-03)Harley-Davidson Museum
“When Petrali got here lower back the photographers began their paintings and congratulations flew thick and speedy. A curious crowd edged round to look the well-known blue sixty one OHV. Everybody had large, glad grins and properly they may—hadn’t they just visible a day of report breaking performances?” – The Motorcyclist, April 1937
Harley-Davidson™ EL Factory Streamliner (1936) by means of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
On one in every of Joe’s in advance runs down the seaside, while going about 124 m.p.h., the the front wheel had lifted off the ground. Joe stated it felt just like the motorbike become starting to fly. For a safer journey, he had the streamlined tail eliminated—which include at the document-making run.
Rider posing on 1936 “sixty one” motorbike (1936)Harley-Davidson Museum
The Legacy of the “sixty one”
The Poster “61” became a ways greater powerful than preceding Harley-Davidson® motorcycles. But what else did it do for motorcycling?
Harley-Davidson® EL Model (1936) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
The engine structure remains located in a lot of today’s H-D® motorcycles. They retained factors of the engine design and frame geometry, even as also adding adaptability to future models.
Rider Posing with Accessorized “sixty one” (1938)Harley-Davidson Museum
No one ought to have predicted it, however the “61” could evolve into nowadays’s Harley-Davidson® cruising and visiting fashions. These bikes—“cruising” which means shorter distance and “traveling” for longer length and distance with greater bags—trace their lineage returned to the authentic “sixty one” through their frame geometry and engine design.
Successive years and new models brought even extra adaptability, and add-ons to improve comfort and journeying had been designed for particular vehicles.
Every a part of the motorcycle would be advanced upon over time, but the contemporary descendants of the EL owe their design to the 1936 bike.
Scroll via the following gallery of motorcycles to see some of the descendants of the legendary “sixty Poster one.”
Harley-Davidson® 1949 model FL (1949) via Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson® 1958 FL Duo Glide (1958) via Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson® 1965 Electra Glide (1965) by way of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson® 1977 FXS Low Rider® (1977) by way of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson® 1986 FLST Heritage Softail® (1986) through Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
1986 FLST Heritage Softail®
Harley-Davidson® 1990 FLSTF Fat Boy® (1990) by way of Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson® 2003 one centesimal Anniversary FLHTCUI Electra Glide® Ultra Classic® (2003) by Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
2003 100th Anniversary FLHTCUI Electra Glide
Harley-Davidson® 2018 Softail Slim® (2018) via Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson Museum
Hill Climber statue (2008) via Jeff DeckerHarley-Davidson Museum
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