At, we get calls all the moment from exclusive sellers who desire to list their Panhead or Shovelhead, however can’t locate the design on our website. There is a logical reason why. Although riders may refer to your Harleys as a Panhead or a Shovelhead, neither are names that models. They room really name of the engine.

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It’s not our an initial time around, so us know how to list these bikes. The exact same goes for lengthy time riders who can tell this bikes apart no problem. But for a new rider telling these bikes apart have the right to be confusing, especially when there are likewise Knucklehead and also Flathead engines.

The separating feature of each of this engines room the top which offer as valve covers. Every head is uniquely shaped and the inspiration behind every engine name. If girlfriend are brand-new to the biker world or just unsure, we are below to assist you identify all four engines at very first glance.

The Flathead (1929 – 1975)

The Flathead engine debuted in 1929 and also is the earliest of the 4 engines. The 1930 V model large Twin was the very first bike v the Flathead engine. The engine’s name is inspired by that flat-topped, vented cylinder heads figured out in the photo below.

Flathead engine on a 1942 Harley Davidson Specialty Model

The Knucklehead (1936 – 1947)

The Knucklehead engine was developed from 1936 come 1947 till it was changed by the Panhead. They to be originally called “OHVs” till the nickname “Knucklehead” was produced by the California motorcycle culture of the late 1960s. The name was motivated by the distinct shape that the valve covers, which have actually contours that resemble the knuckles ~ above a person’s fist.

Knucklehead engine on a 1947 Harley-Davidson EL one-of-a-kind Sport Solo

The Panhead Engine (1948 – 1965)

Panhead engines were produced from 1948 come the mid ‘60s when it was replaced by the Shovelhead. Its start was just in time for the postwar motorcycle boom. The valve consist of on these bikes look at like tiny cake pans. The function of the Panhead style was to assist with oil containment, however, it wasn’t successful. Panheads still leak oil from the optimal end.

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Panhead engine top top a 1952 Harley-Davidson FL

The Shovelhead Engine (1966 – 1985)

The Shovelhead engine was created from the mid ‘60s come the early ‘80s. Harley produced the Shovelhead mostly to produce more power for their heavier bikes with electrical start and rear suspension. The shallow chambers that the Shovelheads promoted cooling and also worked far better at greater compression ratios; however, the engine went v a series of updates. The heads resemble the curve the a shovel, thus the name. This type of engine is the most challenging to identify since the shape does not resemble that of a timeless shovel. Instead it looks much more like a charcoal shovel flipped upside down.

Shovelhead engine on a 1984 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic

Now the you’ve read this, you won’t look favor a knucklehead next time you try to recognize an older model. The shape of the engine heads will tell girlfriend what type of engine the is.