Harley-Davidson FX 1200 Super Glide – the custom bike off the rack

Harley-Davidson FX 1200 Super Glide - the custom bike off the rack
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In the Harley-Davidson FX 1200 Super Glide studio

Harley-Davidson custom bike off the rack

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With the FX 1200 Super Glide, Harley-Davidson tried to offer an off-the-shelf custom bike for the first time in 1971. Buyers disdained it for its idiosyncratic design, today it is a rare motorcycle.

The frame, suspension struts, swing arm including the rear wheel and the 1200 mm Shovelhead motor come from the Electra Glide. The tank halves with the integrated fittings also come from the FL shelf. The delicate looking fork with front wheel and headlights is provided by the smaller Sportster. The two-in-one exhaust was a new development. While the Electra Glide had a two-in-two system, the Sportster had two individual exhausts. Harley did without the electric starter, a kick starter had to be enough. He corresponded to the stereotype of masculinity of the time. It wasn’t until 1974 that the Super Glide started electrically, as an FXE.

D.he aluminum high shoulder rim installed at the front doesn’t seem to match the steel flat shoulder rim of the rear wheel. For an extra nine dollars (then about 32 marks) it was in the special equipment brochure. The combination of the light front section with the relatively narrow 3.75 S 19 tires and the mighty, squat-looking rear section of the vehicle with the dominant shovelhead engine and thick 5.10 S 16 tires should look like a dragster, exude aggressiveness and speed. Its outstanding feature was its unusual rear fairing, on which opinions differed as early as 1970.

In the fiberglass stern called the “boat tail” with an integrated round rear light, some saw the nozzle outlet of a jet, others the stern of a sports boat or train. “Call it the night train” was the pithy slogan in an advertising brochure. The component made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic was previously in the range as an accessory for the Sportster. Because many buyers did not like it, the factory offered the Super Glide from 1972 with a conventional steel mudguard and a step bench for two people – with success. The boat tail went back to the accessories list. Another unusual detail is the rear brake. It is operated hydraulically, as it has been in the Duo Glide since 1958. At the front, on the other hand, a mechanical simplex drum operated by a cable is spoked. From 1973 the FX received the disc brake system of the Electra Glide.


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The tank of the Harley-Davidson FX 1200 Super Glide illuminated in more detail.

The magazine “Cycle” predicted in its November 1970 issue: “This machine will hit the ground in this country like no other Harley model”. The editor should be wrong about that, because at least in this form the FX remained a slow seller – despite its good performance. 62 hp at 5400 rpm were enough to accelerate the 279 kilograms of steel, rubber and fiberglass combination to 177 km / h. After all, it was almost a hundred pounds lighter than its big sister, Electra Glide. The model sold best in the “Sparkling America” ​​livery. The white-blue-red design appealed to many patriotic Americans. As shown, Harley also offered the motorcycle in a black dress and in the colors Birch White, Sparkling Green, Burgundy, Blue, Turquoise, Red and Copper. Allegedly, however, these variants hardly found any buyers. In the first year the factory was able to sell a total of 4700 copies of the FX 1200. In 1972 there were 6,500 machines – after Harley reacted and installed a traditional rear end.

Motorcycles from Milwaukee only came to Germany in homeopathic numbers, which was certainly also due to the prices. Motorcycle restorer Mike Kron, owner of our photo model, discovered the machine in its original condition in America and brought it to Germany. The Super Glide was Harley’s top model at the time. According to the MOTORRAD catalog, it cost 14,198 marks in 1971 – this even exceeded the Münch 4-1200 TTS, which was regarded as exorbitantly expensive and which was on the list at a comparatively cheap 10,780 marks.

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