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Post by jimclark17 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:03 pm

I am brand new to this list, but have loved panhead's since I was a kid (born in '54). The only Harley's I have owned have been a '96 and an '03 Road King. The group I ride with tends to go at highway speeds (65) when on a run, and I am wondering if the older bikes are up to sustained travel at those speeds. I am 6'-4" tall, and weigh 330#. Could someone fill me in on what to expect from an older bike in this regard? To my eye, there is nothing more beautiful than a panhead. I think they are the best that Harley ever has, or ever will, produce. Thanks in advance for any advice you can furnish to a newbie.

Jim (Padre) Clark, Charter Chaplain
Widows Sons, Knights Templar Chapter

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Re: Speed


Post by steinauge » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:11 pm

I too am 6' 4" and go about 320. Both my pans and my big flathead will run 60-65 all day,that is after all what they were designed to do.The problems start when people start thrashing old tired motorcycles and then complain when they break. If all is well with the machine it should be fine,just remember you have to maintain it.

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Re: Speed


Post by Panacea » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:26 pm

Jim,I'm 6'4" also. I do feel the pan is a bit small for my height but it's still my favorite bike. Since converting the bike back to a seat post I'm real happy with the ride...Mike

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Re: Speed


Post by Pomike » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:08 pm

My '65 with stock motor and gearing, balanced at 60% will cruise easily at 65-70, but still has the fabled "grunt" at low speeds. Of course, there is a lot more to safe, reliable cruising along than that. Brakes, spokes, wheel, and steering bearings, forks, etc. I really do enjoy crusing along on the Panhead. Just feels right, and the wonder button doesn't hurt either.

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Re: Speed


Post by rozemab » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:56 pm


I'm 5ft 14in and weigh 275lbs. My 58 FLH panhead will cruise at 65mph all day long. I still use the spring seat post and a buddy seat. Most comfortable ride ever!

yes panheads rule

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Re: Speed


Post by 51Hog » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:39 am

It all has to do with sprockets and a good engine IMHO.
These old bikes were made to run on dirt roads and bad highways.
I believe they were geared to do just that.
Under that assumption, I put a belt primary in the primary case which slowed the engine down a little, and a 25 tooth sprocket on the tranny. The engine thinks I added a 5th gear and the speedo is now too slow by about 8-10 mph.
The down side is that around town, I am lugging in 4th, and don't want to listen to the whining third gear. It is great on the highway and through the mountains pushing air with the oversize windshield carrying saddlebags, trunk, and my 280 lb sack of bones. All that said, I may try a 24 tooth tranny sprocket this year.

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Re: Speed


Post by jimclark17 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:50 pm

Thanks so much for the info guys. Sounds like there is a panhead in my future for sure.


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Re: Speed


Post by duoglide58 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:19 am

Dang sounds like we have many members of the SS Bubba Class riding these bikes. I'm starting to feel like I am a lightweight at 6' 2" and 270 lbs. I saw a reprint of review of the 1958 model and I believe it listed 85 mph as top speed. Back when I ran the bike without a windshield, and I assumed my best aerodynamic tuck, I did manage to break 80 mph (the speedo could easily be off). Anyway, my bike will ride 65 mph OK, but once I push it 70 or 75 it gets very buzzy and it is just not comfortable to drive.

To make the bike more comfortable, I installed taller risers in order to raise the bars up. I also opted to install the heavy duty pack of springs on the pogo stick. I also use the seat booster springs.

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Re: Speed


Post by FlatHeadSix » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:44 am

I'm with Doug, 65 is comfortable, 75 is scary. Somewhere between 70 and 75 the "good vibrations" go bad and it seems like it starts to slip into the 4th dimension, everything gets a little blurry. My '49 will cruise all day at 65.


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Re: Speed


Post by Cotten » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:53 pm

My '65 stocker could pull a hack all day long at 70, if the Interstate was flat enough, and there was no headwind.
It still can, but it would be cruel and messy.


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Re: Speed


Post by john HD » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:03 am

60 to 70 is a fair speed for my '55. it does very well at 45 on a gravel road too!


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Re: Speed


Post by kevsett » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:47 pm

I'm 6'4" and 205 and find a need to get off my stock swingarm pan more than my 2000 FLSTC. And kick starting tends to aggravate and already aching back and neck. But the times I get to ride it is well worth it all.

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