Harley Low Rider Shovelhead Specs

by Susan Dorling
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The Harley-Davidson Shovelhead era spanned the years 1966 to 1984. The Shovelhead engine, named for its rocker covers' resemblance to the back of upturned coal shovels, is quieter, smoother, more oil-tight and maintenance-free than its predecessor, the Panhead engine. One of the most popular of the Shovelhead models is the Low Rider (FXS), introduced at Daytona Bike Week in 1977. An overwhelming success, the Low Rider, was immediately embraced by the public and became the best-selling Harley model, representing nearly 20 percent of the total sales for Harley-Davidson in 1978.

Engine and Performance

Produced only for 1977, 1978 and 1979, the Low Rider features a 74 cubic-inch, or 1,206 cc, four-stroke, 45-degree, air-cooled, V-Twin engine delivering 58 horsepower at 5,150 rpm with a top speed of 105.6 mph. In 1980, the Sturgis became the new kid on the block with its 80 cubic-inch motor.


The Low Rider was the first of the Harley-Davidson "factory customs." Renowned for setting the stylish customizing precedent for future models such as the Bad Boy, Fat Boy, Heritage Springer and others, the Low Rider lives up to its moniker. It cuts a long, lean and low-slung profile with its scooped 26-inch seat height, extended front forks with 32-degree rake, drag bars, shortened shocks, raised white-lettered tires on front and rear alloy mag wheels and a standout two-into-one slash-cut exhaust, since emulated by numerous motorcycle manufacturers.

Paint Color Schemes

Originally offered in gray with orange-red graphics in 1977, the Low Rider is also available in black and silver in 1978 and 1979 editions.

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