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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I plan on purchasing a vintage H-D for a 2nd bike. I have read a lot of material on vintage bikes. I have purchased several Vintage bike guides and have read vintage bike mags to learn the market.

The time period I am looking at is 40's and 50's. I am not looking for a completely restored bike. I don't have that kind of money. I am looking for a good runner that is in decent shape and that I could, myself, work on over the years. I would ride this bike and not let it sit idly in my garage.

Question: I think the key factor that I need to solve relates to the motor. What motor (Flat-head, Knuckle or Pan) and what year(s) are the easier to work on, find parts for and are reliable?

:hmmm:
 

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NodakGus said:
What motor (Flat-head, Knuckle or Pan)

:hmmm:
Yes :beer4u:

Prolly more Pans around than any of the others but flatty 45's can be had for less money and are very simple.
I've wanted a Knuck for a long time but $$$$$$$$$$$ :beer4u:
 

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Highly Seasoned Rider!
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NodakGus said:
I plan on purchasing a vintage H-D for a 2nd bike. I have read a lot of material on vintage bikes. I have purchased several Vintage bike guides and have read vintage bike mags to learn the market.

The time period I am looking at is 40's and 50's. I am not looking for a completely restored bike. I don't have that kind of money. I am looking for a good runner that is in decent shape and that I could, myself, work on over the years. I would ride this bike and not let it sit idly in my garage.

Question: I think the key factor that I need to solve relates to the motor. What motor (Flat-head, Knuckle or Pan) and what year(s) are the easier to work on, find parts for and are reliable?

:hmmm:
The flatheads are very easy to work on, are very reliable and have good power. That would include the UL's (74's and 80's) and the WL's. (45's) The 45's are the easiest to find hard parts for, except for uncut frames, which are like the holy grail.

Good luck on your search for an unrestored complete, running machine at a fair price. I've been looking for one for many years and have yet to see one that would be economically feasible. Most people have an inflated idea of the value of their machine. Last June I looked at a VL (1935 flathead) in running condition and 99 percent complete. Owner was very proud of it. He wanted $15,000 for the machine and the right to spend another $15K. Ha. It would have been a fair deal at about $7,500 and I'm sure I would have bought it.

The OHV knuckleheads (1936 to 1947) are virtually impossible to find in coimplete, unrestored condition. Without exception, machines like that are snapped up at premum prices by the collectors before they are ever shown anywhere. They are sold by word of mouth. There were few built in those years and there are very few of them left in any case. Restored examples are selling for $25K on up.

Panheads are very nice and also popular and a lot easier to find in good shape. Only problem is that the starting price is usually over $10-12K for a beater that needs another $10K to bring it up to spec. The other problem with Panheads, for me at least, is that they really don't look all that "vintage". They are sort of a modern-looking bike in many respects.

The alternative would be to build a machine a piece at a time. That's really what most collectors and enthusiasts will do. Walneck's Trader Magazine would be your best source. I used to lust after a vintage bike but the prices that are asked for any sort of piece or part put a bad taste in my mouth. Doing one in pieces here and there will really put a hit in your budget!

Of course, money will overcome any of these problems. Cash will talk if there is enough of it. Really, the only way you'll get something like what you want would be to pay an inflated price. The days of finding a gem somewhere in a barn are long gone. The collectors are very sophisticated and have good connections. There is also a lot of competition.

So, I just make do with a Shovelhead. Suits me.

My 2 cents.
 

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Shithead
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Perfect explanation of why the shovel is currently the sweet spot in the whole HD range :D
 

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Y2K said:
Here's a good example of why a vintage bike will set you back so much money:corn:

The holy grail located but rough for sure.
More like the holey grail :laugh:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/e...620531886_W0QQfromZR41QQfviZ1&item=4620531886

Holy Cow, That's Rough! Sheesh. There's not a piece on it that can be used without extensive rework. that's a lot of jack for what, in effect, is a license to buy parts.

When you're through, you'ce got a bike with a 65 mph top speed stock.

Too rough for me. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the info! I have been starting to lean in the direction of the "Flatty" precisely because the pricing is closer to my wallet size and that the "look" of the Flatty is appealing.

I have been following E-bay and presently they have three Flatty bikes that are priced lower with two having "buy it now" pricing at around $10k. I know that each bike carries its own "issues" and one cannot know for sure how decent the machine is, but is locating a vintage on E-bay a valid option?

I got to tell you, I have never purchased anything off E-Bay alone. My first one being a motorcycle is jumping in with both feet. I am registered and set-up with PayPal for about $15 grand. If I could drive to the location in about a day or less, I would drive where I bought it from and trailer it back home.

Again, thank you! Any insight is most appreciated. I am gratful for personal opinions because there may be issues that I have not thought through carefully enough and a personal opinion might help me be more thorough.
 

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newultraclassic said:
that's a lot of jack for what, in effect, is a license to buy parts.
That's about right, a way to get a title for a '47 without it being an assembly title.
I suspect whoever bought it had a bunch of WL parts and needed a title bike to put them to use.
 

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i've has a knuckle for 25 years that is a great bike. All original now. I quit saving reciepts long ago-mostly so my wife will quit asking me how much I spent on it. the other thing to consider is that these bikes were made for their era. The knuck is a 61 incher and not what I would call fast and the mechanical brakes will slow you down quickly but won't stop you fast by today's standards. I do ride it, but choose my locations so I am not in lots of heavy traffic. it gets lots of compliments and is fun but you do have to be careful in traffic.

Most parts are found through word of mouth; big swap meets where the collectors have lots of parts; ebay; Hemmings and by people knowing I will buy good vintage knuck parts. It is a fun project but it takes extreme patience.

Good luck to you
 

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Ironbutt
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NodakGus said:
Question: I think the key factor that I need to solve relates to the motor. What motor (Flat-head, Knuckle or Pan) and what year(s) are the easier to work on, find parts for and are reliable?

:hmmm:
My 26 year old shovel is vintage enough for me. Plus it's reliable and still easy to find parts for. Prices are resonable too.
 
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