From time to time Harley Davidson will try out radical new ideas with a "factory custom." The result isn't always a success on the showroom floor but these motorcycles are often influential decades after their creation.

The American motorcycle scene of the late '60s and early '70s provided the perfect breeding ground for such experimentation. Bike sales were rising toward record numbers and Japanese companies were redefining streetbikes with such landmark machines as the Honda CB750 and Kawasaki Z1-900. Meanwhile, American customs were gaining recognition as a unique style through exposure in movies like Easy Rider.

In the midst of those dramatic developments, Willie G. Davidson sat down to sketch a new bike for the company bearing his name. Taking note of the custom scene he was a part of, Willie G combined the 1,200cc motor and frame from the company's Electra Glide with the chopper-style front end of the Sportster. He added an optional Euro-inspired fiberglass seat/tail section for a unique look, with wide, bold graphics.

The resulting machine, released in 1971 as the Super Glide was not an instant success. In particular, the boat-tail rear was a bit much for most American buyers and went largely ignored on the showroom floor.

But the notion of a lean, muscular cruiser caught on in a big way. Once the tail section disappeared for '72, the Super Glide developed a solid following, spawning the FX line of Harleys that has continued for more than 30 years, through Dyna's like the Low Rider and Wide Glide, and the Sturgis, the Softail and Deuce.

That's a lot of very famous Harleys, all of which got their start with this inspired machine.

(c) All rights reserved.

Enjoy this article ? The site ? Would you buy me a beer for my efforts?