Harley Davidson Shovelhead Years to Avoid

The Harley Davidson Shovelhead motorcycle is an iconic piece of motorcycle history. Produced between 1966 and 1984, it was renowned for its power, reliability, and durability. Despite its long-lasting popularity with riders and collectors alike, some model years have been known to have specific issues or problems to consider when deciding whether to purchase one.

About the Harley Davidson Shovelhead, specific years are marked explicitly as ‘Years to Avoid‘ due to reported manufacturing or design issues. Notably, 1983, 1978, and 1967 have raised red flags among bike fans and are often called the “Harley Davidson Shovelhead Years to Avoid.” Thorough investigation and careful consideration are always recommended when investing in these models.

According to many motorbike enthusiasts and connoisseurs, the model years 1983, 1978, and 1967 should be avoided. They often need more orthodox quality standards and services due to numerous faults in these models ranging from minor inconveniences to major disasters. Thus caution is advised when considering these bikes for a Harley collection.

In this blog, we’ve discussed Harley Davidson Shovelhead model years which may be best avoided to ensure a safe ride experience while maintaining the high standard associated with the brand name. Taking note of potential pitfalls can save undue frustration later on, so research before taking ownership of any vintage bike.

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What are the years of Harley Davidson Shovelhead that should be avoided for optimal performance?

The Harley Shovelhead is an iconic motorcycle with many features matching individual tastes. Its powerful engine makes it ideal for a long and comfortable ride. However, specific model years of the Shovelhead have been known to be unreliable due to faulty parts and excessive fuel consumption.

As such, it is essential to avoid specific model years when looking for a new or used Harley Shovelhead bike. These include the 1983, 1978, and 1967 models, known for their engine problems, chassis defects, etc. To ensure you buy a reliable vehicle, check the overall condition, including the health of its engine and brakes, before buying one from any source.

Overall, while the Harley Shovelhead can be an excellent option for those seeking a stylish yet powerful motorcycle experience, caution must be taken to avoid problems associated with some model years of this bike. Scrutinizing its overall condition before purchasing and avoiding these particular model years will ensure you maximize your investment in this classic American icon.

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Issues with my 1983 Harley Shovelhead Bike

Harley Shovelhead 1983 Bike
Harley Shovelhead 1983 Bike

The Harley-Davidson 1983 Shovelhead model is a beloved classic among riders and collectors. With its stylish appearance, the bike has been used in several series, including Disc Glide, Electra Glide, Electra Glide Classic, Electra Glide Sport, Low Rider, Super Glide, Tour Glide, and Wide Glide. The engine design was one of the last to be produced by Harley-Davidson before being discontinued.

The 1983 HD Shovelhead can encounter problems with the starter, oiling, and electrical systems. Riders have widely discussed these issues.

Electrical Issues

The rider of a 1983 FXSB Low Rider started a thread to discuss electrical problems they were having with their second-hand motorcycle, claiming that an electrical short at the ignition was causing it to run poorly. It is known that bad coils and faulty ignition sensors frequently lead to such issues for this model.

Faulty Starter

When considering a 1983 Shovelhead, awareness of any potential starter issues is essential. According to reports on Forums, there have been several complaints from owners about difficulty engaging the starter. One owner reported they could kick start their 83 FLH shovel head but noted a clicking noise from the starter solenoid and an inability for the starting motor to spin. Another owner experienced similar difficulties with their 83 FXSB Low Rider when pushing the switch on the starting mechanism.

Oiling Problems

Reports indicated that there were issues with oiling in 1983 Shovelhead motorcycles. Some riders reported being unable to open the throttle beyond half, even after changing the oil. One rider noted that whenever they attempted to start their vehicle, it would spew oil from a vent pipe connected to the pump and stop once the engine fired. This issue could be due to a stuck check ball or an issue bypassing the entire system.

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FAQs About 1983 Harley Shovelhead

Is the Shovelhead engine considered reliable?

When constructed correctly. There exist both commendable and subpar versions. It’s more dependable than a knuckle but less than an Evo. Like all machinery, consistent care ensures its longevity.

What issues were frequently associated with the Shovelhead?

Due to insufficient lubrication and heightened temperatures, its valves tended to jam, leading to top-end damage. Many Harley experts have mentioned that these engines might only endure from 500 to 5,000 miles without essential modifications to the top end.

Were there inherent design issues with the Harley Shovelhead engine?

The Shovelhead’s blueprint had inherent shortcomings. The cylinders came with ten cooling fins, which proved inadequate, causing the engine to overheat. It wasn’t uncommon for these engines to emit smoke as oil accumulated in the cylinder heads, trickling down the valve guides and then combusting.

What’s the horsepower rating for a Shovelhead?

Initially, the 80-inch / 1310cc FLH Shovelhead engines boasted 66 horsepower at 5600 rpm. Throughout its 18-year manufacturing span, which concluded in 1984, the horsepower typically hovered between 60 and 65. Over time, riders have expressed both admiration and criticism for the Shovelhead.

Issues with my Harley Shovelhead 1978 motorcycle.

Problems with Harley Shovelhead 1978 Bike
Problems with Harley Shovelhead 1978 Bike

In 1978, the company introduced a larger and more powerful engine than its predecessor in its range of motorcycles, such as the Electra Glide, Super Glide, Low Rider, etc. However, this model year is among the worst for Shovelhead due to various problems with oil spraying, refilling oil levels, points and firing issues, and clutch issues.

Oil Spraying Out

This 1978 Harley Shovelhead motorcycle has often been noted as having an oil issue. Reports of oil spraying out the vent line when in motion have been brought to light, causing discomfort and worry for riders of this year’s model. This problem must be considered immediately by those operating the vehicle to avoid any further issues or damages.

Oil Refilling Problem

The 78 Shovelhead motorcycle has yet another issue – oil cannot be added to the forks once the fork hex caps are removed. This problem has been reported on Forums and could affect the oil pressure of this particular model year.

Points and Firing Problem

An issue with a 1978 Shovelhead motorcycle was reported, the misfire occurring when turning the key on to crank it. Confirmation of this came from another owner who found that the front cylinder and plug were not getting hot.

Clutch Issue

The 1978 Harley Davidson Shovelhead motorcycle features a healthy clutch for optimal control and performance. However, one rider reported that the clutch grabbed too far off the handle upon test-driving it. Failing to maintain a healthy grip can lead to severe consequences and unexpected accidents, making regular maintenance a critical consideration.

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FAQs About 1978 Harley Shovelhead

What’s the engine capacity of a 1978 Shovelhead?

In 1978, the 74-inch engine underwent modifications to reach 80 inches (actually 81.7), initially introduced in the FLH variant. The number “80” was prominently displayed on its air filter.

Can one vouch for the Shovelhead engine’s performance?

Certainly, if crafted meticulously. There’s a spectrum of quality, some being exemplary and others not. It surpasses the knuckle in reliability but needs to be more balanced than an Evo. Regular upkeep is the key to its durability.

Were there prevalent issues with the Shovelhead?

Inadequate oil and high temperatures made the valves susceptible to getting stuck, damaging the upper part. Many Harley mechanics have noted that vital enhancements to the top are necessary for these engines to last 500 to 5,000 miles.

What’s the top speed one can expect from a Shovelhead?

Some enthusiasts from the U.S. have reported speeds nearing 80 mph, given the appropriate gear setup.

Issues concerning the 1967 Harley Shovelhead Motorcycle

Harley Shovelhead 1967 Bike
Harley Shovelhead 1967 Bike

The 1967 Shovelhead from Harley-Davidson was a modernized version of the classic V-twin motorcycle. It offered more power than earlier models, featuring an improved engine with an oversized oil pump and alternator system. Despite being advanced for its time, riders experienced clutch disengagement and shifting issues, which they had to address to enjoy their rides.

Clutch Disengagement

Someone familiar with the 1976 Harley Davidson Shovelhead may know of a common technical issue many riders have reported. This issue pertains to the clutch failing to disengage during riding, which can prevent control over the machine. It was observed by one rider on Forums who stated, “…this spring, when I took it out for the first time, after about 15 minutes of riding, the clutch would not disengage”. Other riders have reported the same problem and could not continue their rides without resolving it.

Shifting Problem

The 1967 Shovelhead was known to have snapping issues when shifting into different gears. This problem was identified by the owner of the bike, who noted that even after tightening the bolts on the shifter as tight as possible, the pin kept snapping. After further inspection, it became clear that this issue stemmed from a faulty foot shift.

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FAQs About 1967 Harley Shovelhead

How does the Shovelhead engine fare in terms of dependability?

If assembled meticulously, it certainly does well. The market has both superior and inferior versions. It’s more steadfast than a knuckle but doesn’t match up to an evo. Regular maintenance is pivotal for its extended lifespan.

What factors contributed to the Shovelhead’s widespread acclaim?

The Shovelhead was birthed as its predecessor, the Panhead, was phasing out, with a growing demand from Harley-Davidson aficionados for enhanced power to rival contemporary bikes. The engine underwent numerous refinements throughout its tenure to boost its power, cooling efficiency, and oil consumption.

What were the primary concerns with the Shovelhead engine?

From its inception, the Shovelhead’s design had evident flaws. With only ten cooling fins on the barrels, it needed more cooling, leading to overheating issues. A common sight was smoky emissions from oil accumulation in the cylinder heads, seeping through the valve guides and combusting.

What’s the origin of the name “Shovelhead”?

The engine’s head resembles a shovel’s curve, giving rise to its name. Identifying this engine type can be challenging as its shape doesn’t quite mirror a conventional shovel but appears akin to an inverted coal shovel.

What are the Best Years to Purchase Shovelhead Motorcycles?

The 1966 model year of Harley Davidson Shovelhead bikes is considered the best amongst experts and users. It has an enhanced look from its predecessor, the Coal Shovel, and many sturdy parts that make it reliable. 1984 is also an excellent choice for this bike line due to its faultless quality. Other possible options are 1968-69, the late 1970s, and 1981-82, which have been known to provide excellent performance with minimal defects reports. However, conducting research specific to the desired model year is wise to ensure satisfaction with the results.

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Final Thoughts on Shovelhead Years to Avoid

This article examines the characteristics of Harley Shovelhead motorbikes, suggesting which model years are best to avoid, explicitly referencing 1983, 1978, and 1967, often regarded as the “Harley Davidson Shovelhead Years to Avoid.” It is recommended that these specific years be disregarded to prevent engine failure and unsatisfactory performance. Therefore, it is essential to consider other model years when making a purchase decision to sidestep any potential difficulties.

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