The 10 Best Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Ever Made

Harley-Davidson was the pioneering company of the motorcycle industry. Dreamed up in 1901 by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson, their first “motorized-bicycle”, launched in 1903, was nothing extraordinary by today’s standard. The single-engine bike struggled to go up the hills of Milwaukee, with pedal power having to be used occasionally to get the bike climbing.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why Outlaw MCs Prefer To Ride Only Harley Davidsons

Fast forward more than a century later, and the tiny company these two gentlemen started and struggled to get running for 14 years, is a behemoth. More importantly, it’s a museum of motorcycle history. And in this piece, we’ll look at the 10 best Harley-Davidsons ever made. So, dive in.

10 1915 Harley-Davidson 11F

Vintage 1915 Harley Davidson 11F

Via Mecum Auctions

This is the Harley-Davidson that finally put the company on the map, 14 years after the idea was conjured up by two sturdy gentlemen. Christened the Harley-Davidson 11F, this motorcycle was full of innovative technology, and impressive performance for its time.

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The 11F was the pioneer of the 61-cubic inch Harleys, donning a 1,000cc engine that made 11 horsepower. It was the first motorcycle to feature an automatic engine oiling system, a rear taillight, three-speed transmission, and a full electrical system fitted with a magneto ignition system.

9 1936 EL “Knucklehead”

Blue 1936 EL “Knucklehead”

Via Mecum Auctions

Fast forward 21 years later, and Harley-Davidson’s next big leap was with the 1936 EL “Knucklehead”. It ushered in the new era of overhead valves compared to the archaic flathead design. Also, this was the last bike William S. Harley and the Davidson brothers designed together, as a complete team.

The engine featured a Hemi (hemispherical) design that added a huge power boost, bringing the engines up to 40hp output. In the true spirit of the 11F, Harley-Davidson maintained the production of this motorcycle using 61 cubic-inch capacity engines, before they got bolder and went for 74 cubic-inch power units.

8 1958 Duo Glide

Black and white 1958 Duo Glide

Via Money Inc

The 1958 Duo Glide was Harley-Davidson’s statement on what it means to provide comfort to riders. Taunted as the most charming retro model from the company, the Duo-Glide featured a true rear suspension that could be adjusted to three settings – heavy rider, solo, and two-up.

The cherry on top of this impeccable suspension was a spring-loaded seat that made the 1958 Duo Glide a true cruiser bike. Entirely, the bike was christened with a mix of old and new features, providing its riders with a mix of what Harley-Davidson has been historically, and its chartered way for the future.

7 VRSCDX Night Rod Special

Black VRSCDX Night Rod Special

Via YouTube

Fast forward 106 years later, and Harley’s have evolved from being given easy to master names like the “Knucklehead” to complex acronyms like the VRSCDX. That mix of consonants stands for V-Twin Racing Street Custom or in fewer words, V-Rod.

The V-Rod debuted in 2007 at the Bike Bazaar, opening it up to market dominance until 2017. It had menacing looks, with an all-black paint job done to extenuate the meanness and leanness. Its power unit was a liquid-cooled 1247cc DOHC engine that was co-developed by Harley-Davidson and Porsche. That masterpiece was capable of churning out 125horsepower and 85lb-ft of torque at its peak.

6 2012 CVO Softail Convertible

Red and black 2012 CVO Softail Convertible

Via ParataMoto

The goal of the CVO was to tap into the custom motorcycle market that was rapidly growing in America. And sure enough, it did a good job.

Harley built this bike to not only suit a custom build audience but also male and female riders alike. After its 2010 launch, it was one of the most sought after motorcycles. The 2012 model, in particular, featured a removable backrest, windscreen, and a rear passenger seat.

RELATED: 9 Modified Harley-Davidsons We’d Love To Ride (1 That’s Garbage)

Harley decided to reduce the seat height for the CVO, making it fit for shorter female riders. Still, they gave the bike a rugged and massive appeal that made it attractive to men alike.

5 2009 FXSTB Night Train

Black 2009 FXSTB Night Train

Via YouTube

The hallmark of the FXSTB Night Train was its performance. Built for raw power, the FXSTB featured a 1584cc 96B twin-cam engine that was connected to a six-speed cruise drive transmission. Its output was rated at an amazing 87.9 ft-lb of torque, available at just 2500rpm.

However, this performance didn’t mean the bike was only built for speed. The Harley-Davidson FXSTB Night Train featured an extended front end and a great riding posture that provided the feeling of freedom to the riders.

Its all-black color trim made it look the more sinister and appealing to crowds.

4 2006 VRSCSE2

Red and black 2006 VRSCSE2

Via Webmasters

The 2006 Harley-Davidson VRSCSE2 was a magnificent mix of pure performance, style, and functionality. Creation of the Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) team, the VRSCSE2 came packed with top-notch CVO engine performance that made it one of the most powerful bikes in its segment.

The Revolution Screamin’ Eagle 1247cc engine made a respectable 123 horsepower. On top of this performance, Harley added variety to the motorcycle’s aesthetics, offering three different color options – platinum pear with chrome yellow pearl, charcoal slate with scarlet red pearl, and black with electric orange.

3 2010 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide

Black and orange 2010 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide

Via Larry’s Sport Center

This is the one bike where Harley-Davidson threw practicality away and decided to go fully experimental. While most riders might not call it the everyday motorcycle, the Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide was still built as a fun bike to ride.

It featured chopped fenders at the rear, Tommy-Gun 2-1-2 exhausts, and a larger back end. To make the motorcycle more fun to ride, Harley-Davidson put the seats a bit lower in the Dyna Wide Glide compared to other Harleys. Despite being a bit rusty on the turns, the Dyna Wide Glide still managed to be a great choice for bikers who don’t mind gliding along the road.

2 2007 XL1200N Sportster Nightster

Black 2007 XL1200N Sportster Nightster

Via Top Speed

With the XL1200N, Harley-Davidson was focused less on looks (though it was still a pretty looking motorcycle), and more on performance. Debuting in 2007, the XL1200N featured a side license plate, bobbed rear fender, and front fork gaiters.

And as far as its powertrain is concerned, the Nightster had an air-cooled Evolution engine that was fitted with the state-of-the-art Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) system. Its power was then passed through a five-speed transmission that was well-geared for long cruises and powerful accelerations.

1 2012 FLHR Road King

Black and silver 2012 FLHR Road King

Via Top Speed

This was the true King of the Road of the Harley-Davidson era. Debuted in 1994, the FLHR road king was packed with all the necessities for a nice cruise on a motorcycle.

As far as performance goes, a powerful 1690cc engine is mated to a six-speed cruise drive transmission, engineered for long-distance motorcycle trips.

And while you’re at it, this masterpiece is also fitted with modern-day equipment for a comfortable cruise, featuring ABS, electronic cruise control, and an adjustable touring rear suspension, among others.

NEXT: 10 Old Harleys That Always Broke Down (And 14 That Were Actually Good)

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About Craig Ballantyne 19426 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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