Harley-Davidson 1964 Model FL
Electric start motors appeared for the first time on the 1964 Model FL.
With the push of a single button FL owners could sit back and enjoy as their engines fired to life with the new electric starter motor.
Photo courtesy Motorbooks
Historical and technical profiles written by Harley-Davidson expert Dain Gingerelli and masterful motorcycle photography by David Blattel come together in Art of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle (Motorbooks, 2011). The result is a breathtaking review of over 100 stunning Harley-Davidson greatest hits from the early 1900s to today. The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 3, “Big Twins: The Panheads.”
1964 Model FL
While nearly 6,000 new FL customers still faced the ordeal of having to kick-start their big engines in 1964, Harley-Davidson engineers were secretively putting the finishing touches on a new electric starter motor for the venerable panhead. The following year the 17-year-old engine design was updated with what soon became affectionately known as the “electric leg”—better known as the electric starter motor. With the push of a single button FL owners could sit back and enjoy as their engines fired to life. The time-honored ritual of kicking an engine through so that the proper cylinder was near top dead center for the kick-through, was a thing of the past. A flick of the thumb was all that was needed in 1965, and the new model would be called the Electra-Glide. In the meantime, customers who bought 1964 Duo-glides had to rely on the kick pedal, a strong leg, and a little savvy to know just how to wake up that slumbering engine in the morning.
Engine Displacement: 74 cubic inches
Horsepower: 54 horsepower at 5,400 rpm
Top speed: 100 mph
Wheelbase: 60 inches
• Records show that an equal number of 1964 FL and FLH models were sold—2,725 each.
• By comparison, only 25 Topper scooters were produced that year.