Classic Super Glide Restoration

Without a doubt, one of the most important model developments in Harley-Davidson’s history would have to be the Classic 1971 Super Glide.

BACK IN the late 1960s, a culture of customising motorcycles was in full swing. Willie G. Davidson noticed this trend and decided to market a production-built custom motorcycle. Harley-Davidson was primarily building big twin touring motorcycles and race-bred Sportster models, and Willie G’s intention was to mould these two together into a more nimble big twin custom. The touring FLH model donated the frame, engine and rear end; the Sportster XLCH model donated the lighter weight fork suspension, 19-inch front wheel and headlight assembly. Original items include the demise of the sprung seat for the introduction of the integrated seat and ‘boat-tail’ rear fender.

The customised version became the FX Super Glide; F from the FLH touring big twin and the X from the XLCH Sportster.

The early FX models were not a huge success in terms of sales but it should be noted it was the foundation for all FX designated models to follow. To those who enter into the age old argument, which is better, the Dyna or the Softail, remember all the FX models have the same grand daddy — the 1971 Super Glide.

Now that little bit of history is done, check out this skillfully restored version of the 1971 Super Glide.

You have seen many custom bikes built by Dave Saddlier in Ozbike magazine before, however, what makes this one different is that it is his own (not for sale) project.

“It was a complete basket case when I got it,” said Dave. “I have been putting it together over the past 10 years. The boat-tail rear fender is original and was probably the only part which was in good condition and a good starting point for the project; it is the original rear fenders that would almost be extinct and hardest to get hold of.”

When Willie G designed the FX, his intention was to create a production custom by stealing parts from other models. This fact was helpful in the reconstruction of this classic.

“I was able to re-manufacture the forward controls using parts from other models and the front-end was originally from a Sportster model of the same era,” said Dave. “Some parts would turn up locally and others I had to get from overseas to make sure that it was all original.

“The bike has been completely rewired and I have fabricated a new exhaust system. The hardest stuff to get was the rear end, the rear wheel, brake assembly and drum. Eventually parts turn up when you’ve been searching for over 10 years.

“To stay true to original, I had Joe Starline do the paint work on the bike and had the pin-stripping airbrushed on; we didn’t just use decals and paint over the top.

“The engine and gearbox have been completely rebuilt to new condition and I haven’t run the engine yet. I have also fitted a new carby so the bike is in brand new condition.

“Avon tyres have a good range of classic tyres available and I was able to get these tyres which are replicas of the original tyres used.

“The only thing left to find are the two little reflectors which attach to the rear fender near the Super Glide script. I could probably get some made but I would prefer to find the originals.”

There were only around 4700 of these bikes produced by Harley-Davidson and only a handful were imported to Australia; there may only be three or four original imports left here. This would have to be one of the best examples of the 1971 Super Glide worldwide so check it out at Doc Hogs in Melbourne.

words & pics by Brian Borg

If you’d like to see more of this amazing motorbike, visit Rachel and the Super Glide.

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