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Remembering the 1949 Harley-Davidson EL

1949 Harley-Davidson EL

The 1949 Harley-Davidson EL model set today's trend for modern motorcycles. More manufacturers prefer to manufacture huge motorcycles with two large front brakes. These are features that make this motorcycle famous. Its founder, Pierce Harley-Davidson, further customized the motorbike to combat the cold weather. To prevent air blowing into your face when you ride, he built a cop bike-style windshield. As for keeping your hands warm, he included hand-warmer covers near the handlebar ends. The motorcycle has a dual leather saddle which is ideal for carrying passengers and loads. In the 1940s, motorcycles were mainly built to accommodate only the rider. So, this was revolutionary for its time. Are you curious about other features that make this bike unique? Here are some of its features below.

1. Engine Configuration and Type

According to Commons Wikimedia, the bike uses a V-twin engine. In a V-twin engine system, two cylinders are arranged to create the "V" sign. The cylinders share a common crankshaft. A crankshaft is the backbone of the internal combustion engine. It causes the pistons in the cylinders to rotate to begin the combustion process. Each cylinder has two pistons. With four pistons in total, it combusts fuel through four different stages. By completing four rotations to combust fuel, the four-stroke engine makes for an efficient fuel saver instead of a two-stroke engine. In a two-stroke engine, you rely on one piston. Since the piston is working by itself, it may not utilize all the fuel and release more waste. If you are keen on saving the environment, this is the motorcycle for you. Its engine system utilizes fuel and hardly releases some into the air. Furthermore, you will not need to add more oil into the engine system, which would otherwise cause air pollution.

2. Clutch Type

Have you ever seen a motorcyclist negotiate a turn? After observing them, you noticed that they turned rather slowly. Next, you kept thinking that they could have been killed since they did not turn fast enough. However, the motorcyclist was likely using a bike that uses a single-plate clutch. This motorcycle uses multi-plate clutches which give them a high torque. Torque refers to the force that causes an object to rotate. To achieve torque, the clutch plates connect the gears to the engine. The gears then cause the engine to move your motorbike. With more clutch plates, there will be more engagement between the gears and engine, and you will find it easy to move with such a bike. This motorcycle model uses dry clutches. You do not need to lubricate it with oil with a dry clutch. The bike's clutches thus have a mechanism of reducing friction without oil. They reduce friction through their large surface area, allowing for optimal cooling. Besides reducing friction, oil is also a cooling agent. Also, oil tends to stain your clothes. If there is a way of reducing friction without oil, most motorcyclists will be more than happy to opt for dry clutches. One drawback of the dry clutch is that it makes the bike noisy. Therefore, the bike is ideal for sports events rather than for commercial purposes.

3. Battery Type

A major concern for bikers is the lifespan of a motorcycle's battery. Charging a battery every time you want to use a motorcycle is not something motorcyclists enjoy. Fortunately, this motorcycle uses a six-volt battery, which are generally thick. Due to their thickness, they store a lot of power. However, they take several hours to discharge. You will, therefore, not have to charge the battery multiple times a day. Compared to other batteries like the twelve-volt batteries, they weigh lesser. The last thing a motorcyclist would want is a heavy battery that makes their motorbike heavy. Furthermore, it is challenging to navigate a hilly path with a heavy motorcycle. Attempting to ride up a hill is disastrous since you would quickly descend from the hill.

4. Wheel Type

The motorcycle's wheels are wire-spoked. Wire-spoked wheels were all the rage from the 1940s to the 1960s. People still appreciated wire-spoked wheels despite cast wheels being popular now for motorbikes. For instance, some people find them pretty to look at. However, if you observe the arrangement of the spokes, they appear to form the shape of a star. Besides beautifying the motorcycle, spokes also serve other important uses. Spokes in the wheels cause the motorbike to have more flex. It means the bike can endure unfriendly terrains such as rocky paths. When you ride over rough terrains, the wheels will bend slightly. On the other hand, wheels without spokes would remain severely bent. That is not to say that its wheels cannot bend. In case your wheels bend, replacing wire-spoked wheels becomes easy. Rather than replace the entire wheel, you will instead replace the spokes that have been damaged.

5. Transmission Type

The motorbike uses chains to achieve the final drive. The final drive is the last stage that sets your motorbike in motion. In the final drive, engine power is directed to the wheels. The chain connects the gearbox and rear wheel. When you start the motorcycle, the engine moves along the chain. Chains are beneficial when you ride. Without them, you would experience shocks from sudden braking, sudden accelerations, or rough roads. To continue working well, you need to remember to clean them regularly. Not only does cleaning extend the chain's life, but it also significantly reduces noise as you ride.


Does the 1949 Harley-Davidson EL bike hold up? It does. When the founders made it, they considered some problems that a biker might face. For instance, look at cold weather as an example. Unlike cars, motorcycles do not have doors and windows that you can close to shield you from the cold. To sort out the problem, they included windshields and hand warmers. Besides being protected from the weather, you can save costs with this motorcycle. For instance, you will not spend much money on oil or a battery. To please clients, the company has to manufacture its products to remain durable. Seeing how the motorbike has durable parts perfectly explains that it cares for its clients.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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