In 1941, Harley-Davidson’s first overhead valve machine, nicknamed the “Knucklehead” had been on the market only six years and was by far America’s most popular motorcycle. New features for 1941 included a centrifugally controlled oil pump, new clutch design, positive grip hand brake lever, oxide coated piston rings, larger diameter air filter, redesigned muffler, and airplane style silver on black speedometer. Finally, stainless steel trim strips graced the fuel tanks both in front of and behind the teardrop emblem.
For the most part motorcycle models and features did not change much from 1941 to 1946 due to Harley-Davidson’s contributions to the war effort. Producing military machines was the focus and the general public often came second. 1941 was the last pre-war year for chrome options and choice of paint color where civilian machines were concerned.
This 61 cubic inch model EL is completely original, including the “flight red” paint. In ’41 this bike would set the buyer back a whopping $425.00. The deluxe solo group, which included saddlebags, safety guards, fender tips and lights, and miscellaneous chrome plated goodies cost an extra $60.00.
After many years of sitting idle in the original owners garage, this bike was rescued by the staff at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. The drive train was seized from internal condensation, causing rust and corrosion. Museum volunteers with the help of Pete from Front Range Motorcycles and Scott from Scott’s Motors painstakingly rebuilt the motor, transmission, wheel hubs and primary drive while maintaining the original external “patina” of the machine. In other words she’s brand new on the inside and barn fresh on the outside.
While restored Knuckleheads are beautiful, a machine in un-retouched condition is extremely rare and actually more valuable than their shiny counterparts.