It was one of Willie G. Davidson designs that made it from the drafting table to the production line.
With aftermarket entities cashing in on the motorcycle customizing craze, the Super Glide was Harley-Davidson’s first attempt at a factory custom, a production motorcycle with some of the style of the custom motorcycles being built in shops across the country. It was a response by the company, through Willie G., to the spreading popularity of choppers, cruisers and other customs.
At the time the 1200cc Super Glide FX was off the mark as to what H-D riders wanted or expected from the factory. Willie G. created the FX line of motorcycles from nothing new and had no allotted funding from the motor company. The lack of funding created some speculation around why they used fiberglass vs. stamped steel for the “Boat Tail” rear fender. The motorcycle included a Sportster hydraulic front fork and now-famous “#1” logo on gas tank divider. It was only available as a kick-start. The patriotic paint scheme was dubbed “Sparkling America.”
The Super Glide is considered to be a milestone in the history of Harley-Davidson. The original FX led to many variations that would produce some of the company’s best-selling machines. Combining a sporty XL series-like front end with the frame and powertrain from the FL series, Willie G.’s FX Super Glide set the visual pace for a long line of spinoffs, and is considered one of the most stylistically significant motorcycles to come out of Harley-Davidson’s Milwaukee headquarters.
I’ve posted previously on the Super Glide as part of a property settlement agreement, dated August 15, 1972, between Elvis Presley and Priscilla.
Another notable item is in the advertising of the 1971 Super Glide. At the bottom of some adverts is a reference to the “World’s fastest…”
That reference is about Cal Rayborn, considered to be one of the best motorcycle racers of all time, who raced the 10-foot-long, 700-lb. Harley Davidson-based streamliner to a 265.492 mph speed in October 1970. When the bike made it’s record runs the engine was a Warner Riley-Sportster HD engine with tuning from S & S’ George Smith Sr. It was a Denis Manning (Bub Exhaust) machine that was powered by an H-D Sportster engine running 70% nitro-methane. The two-foot-high vessel required Rayborn to lie on his back and steer by peering out the side windows. The feat was particularly impressive because Rayborn crashed several times at high speeds preceding the record-breaking run.