Want an Old Sovelhead

Discussion in 'Classic Models' started by Roman About, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. Roman About

    Roman About Member

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    I have been tossing around the idea of purchasing an old H-D shovelhead. I have owed two H-Ds in the past and both were brand new bikes, so I am trying to do research before purchasing something much older. Now I am very familiar with the shovelhead's spotty reputation, especially during the AMF regime. Did the shovelhead bikes magically improve after the buy back from AMF?

    I would like some practical information from anyone who has experience with these bikes. This bike would be used primarily for commuting to work everyday (100 miles round trip), and of course the occasional pleasure ride. So advice in areas like vibration, chain adjustments, how often things have to be tightened, general reliability/practicality as a commuter, etc. would be appreciated.

    I have been looking at bikes from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s. I prefer a bike with disc brakes versus drum and shoe. Does having a belt drive make any difference with a shovelhead?

    Thanks.
     
  2. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Welcome to the Forum.

    You posted in the right place for Classic bikes. You might also post a different note (no cross posting please) in the Buy, Sell or Trade page and keep an eye on the Bikes for Sale section here:

    Bikes For Sale - Harley Davidson Community

    TQ
     
  3. KingHeritage

    KingHeritage Junior Member

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    Any 1992 or later will have a belt drive and disc brakes and IMO would be more practical and more reliable for commuting.At this point Evo's are a good value and can be purchased at a good price.They are also easier to maintain.Prices on shovels are starting to climb as everyone expects them to become collectables and you may end up paying more than the bike is worth.For commuting I'd go with the Evo.
     
  4. rothladoad

    rothladoad Account Removed

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    Had an early '78 lowrider I rode for over 25 years.Oddly enough it was the most dependable bike i've ever owned.It did require a lot of maintenance, but hey, that's half the fun.Couldn't recommend one for more than a short commute though, as the vibration is fairly numbing.Didn't realize what a tractor it was till I got the new T.C.96.Gave the old shovel to my son-in-law figuring I can still tinker with it and get an occasional ride.Too bad the new bikes don't sound as good as that old shovel at idle.
     
  5. SledDog

    SledDog Senior Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Spotty rep? Nope... I have a 77 FXE (AMF era). I purchased it new and have had no problems with leaking cases, the normal trans cross shaft leak (fixed with a super seal), and the normal stock carb problems (replaced it with S&S).

    It has approx 75,000 miles on it. It's had 3 top ends done on it, I do 'em about every 20 - 25,000 miles. The lower end was done at 60,000 miles.

    That's about it for major stuff. The oil gets changed every 3,000 with 60 weight. The primary is run "sealed wet" with HD trans lube with the correct clutches for the oil. The oil pump hose for the primary has been blocked off.

    It runs great.

    At least AMF did something right and gave the Shovelhead a soul. You guys that run Shovels know that's true. Just listen to 2 shovels run in close formation... You'll hear the "Shovelhead Thrum".. It's the sound of 2 Shovels running at just about the same speed. There's nothing like it. Evos don't do it. Twin Cams don't do it.

    Roman, aquire yourself a shovel. You'll enjoy working on it. You'll love riding it.
     
  6. KingHeritage

    KingHeritage Junior Member

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    I gotta admit Sled,you make a good point.Now you've got me hankering for an old Harley!I could hear the sound of those Shovels just reading your post!
     
  7. motorheadmarine

    motorheadmarine Member

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    According to harley factory techs ,When Harley went from the shovel to the evo.They went from a motor that was good for 30k before major work, to a 100k motor.That being said ,I like shovels.But for everyday transportation get an Evo(or newer).Harley prices are dropping .I think too many non riders bought Harleys during the gotta have a Harley "craze".Check craigs list .For the best deal ,wait till the end of summer .Just saying.JMWAO
     
  8. Roman About

    Roman About Member

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    Thanks for the info. The two previous bikes I owned were TCs so I knew they were good for a long time without much/any maintenance.

    Since most shovelheads came with 4 speed trannies, does running at interstate speeds (70 MPH+) over an extended period of time over-stress the engine?
     
  9. rothladoad

    rothladoad Account Removed

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    Unless you're pretty young the only thing that's gonna get over-stressed is your butt.There's also a lot of options for upgrading the transmission.5 and 6 speeds in the same case with a kicker.Buy a shovel.You won't be dissapointed.My choice for a bar-hopper,but not a distance bike.
     
  10. shvlhedwrencher

    shvlhedwrencher Member

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    I have a1977 fxe superglide that i said i would never get rid of.I am the second owner. It was the first street bike I ever owned.I grew up around the old bikers that swore off on sportys so I bided my time and saved my money until one day there she was.True as it comes the old girl contains plenty of soul of her own but i put all of my heart and soul in her.Last month i goy a 07 flstni true to the retro styling i could not resist.As we speak my old lady is taking a riders course.Now she is wanting a bike of her own and i need 3 bikes like i need another hole in my head.Truth be known her bike will not get rode that much anyway.So here i am considering selling a part of me for just another sporty.But if moma aint happy aint nobody happy.Now back to Jessabel, she is a 1977 fxe I am a 1976 model it was always some pride to be able to ride and maintain a bike built about the same time you were born especially around all the new stuff that is out there that is easy to acquire.Old shovels are a piece of history that has not been produced for years.And no doubt about the sound.It has never been duplicated not even by s & s.I could talk all day about my ole bike but i am not a good typer.You have to be careful when purchasing old bikes or yo can wind up like my best bro,with a hunk of junk that was purchased from a local Friend, mentor and outlaw motorcycle shop owner that would never do anything to hurt either one of us it is just all that was available.Now it sits in the corner with a cover over it.My bro cant oil a chain by hiself so if i did not want to ride alone i fixed it.There is no telling how much he has in that old bike it aint no better off than the day he got it.I guess im just saying be careful you may have more of a project than you want.I have done so much to my bike i cant list it all but like someone already said mostly just preventitive maintenance so you dont have to do it on the side of the road.Now i have made the decision[with a little help from my senses]to part with her.Like i said i have not listed this bike for sale but if you are interested in a well maintained[not perfect]old school bad to the bone shovel let me know.It has never been wrecked or laid down because we made a deal if she took care of me and got me home i would take care of her and she took me home at times when i should not even had been on her.I changed the oil in the engine tranny and primary religously every 1000 miles.Some may say it is overkill but i did not make the deal with them.The bike has to many extras to list and pics are available but a lot of trouble if you are not interested.I am not building you up for a rediculous price tag either what i want is very reasonable.And if i dont sell it can sit beside the new one for another 8 yrs.:newsmile010::newsmile010: