The Evolution of the Harley FL series

Posted by Yale on 2021 Aug 26th

The Evolution of the Harley FL series

Touring on the old Harley Davidson FL models, with the rigid mount engine and 4 speed transmission was very taxing on the rider’s body. The vibration that one felt in their hands and feet was very numbing. For most riders traveling above 60 miles an hour for long periods was out of the question.

In 1980 Harley introduced the new and improved Tour Glide FLT. This brand new model was equipped with a 5 speed transmission, rubber mount drive train in a new redesigned frame, larger saddlebags that stayed locked, dual disk upgraded forks with reverse triple trees and frame mount fairing. This new Harley was a dream to ride for touring.

t was odd that many old Harley riders rejected the new improved Harley. The Tour Glide FLT is what today is known as the very popular Road Glide.

The FLHT was introduced in 1983. This was an Electra Glide based on the FLT Tour Glide frame, but using the Electra Glide "batwing" fairing instead of the Tour Glide frame-mounted fairing.

1984 was the last year for the rigid mount Harley FLH and the shovelhead.

In 1985 Harley replaced the Shovelhead with the new and improved Evolution engine. The new Harley Evolution was an 80 inch 1340 cubic centimeter engine that quickly took on the name the Evo. The Evo had major advances over the shovelhead.

The Evo was quickly embraced for its reliability, oil tightness, and ability to be run hard under all kinds of circumstances for tens of thousands of miles farther than any of its predecessors.

The engine cases were upgraded and the cylinders of the Evolution engine were made from aluminum to reduce weight and heat compared to a cast iron design of the Shovelhead, Panhead and Knuclehead engines.

The Evo was a more reliable than the shovelhead and had more potential for high performance upgrades. With the more comfortable ride people now wanted to go travel faster on the highways so many high performance and custom parts started appearing on the market.

As time went on riders started calling the touring models baggers.

If you are repairing, customizing or adding high performance upgrades to your Harley FLT or FLH and need parts please check out our site just mouse over touring bagger section and pick your year

If you have any questions send them to us at and we will try and help you out.


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