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Amazing Survivor: 1941 Harley-Davidson FL Knucklehead

Few classic vehicles have developed the kind of cult following that we see with Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Pre-war examples create strong interest when they appear on the market, especially if they are original and unmolested. This 1941 Harley FL demonstrates this enthusiast’s passion perfectly because the bidding has soared to $40,600 off the back of some intense action. It is located in Jordan, Minnesota, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Given the examples that we have seen in recent times, it is surprising that the reserve has been met with the bidding at its current level.

The owner states that the FL is mostly original. He says that he believes that the forks and fenders might have been replaced, but it appears that he is not entirely sure about this. The paint is showing plenty of wear, but this adds a sense of character to this classic. There is no doubt that it is a prime candidate for restoration, but the next owner might choose to leave it untouched. The fenders and tank show no evidence of significant dings or dents, so if the FL is to be returned to its former glory, these components could be used with little more than basic preparation work. The chrome sports plenty of corrosion and bubbling, but none of it has deteriorated beyond the point of no return. The leather saddlebags have survived quite nicely, and if the buyer chooses to restore this machine, these could be reused with no real dramas.

The 1941 model year marked the FL’s introduction, and its frame design was shared with several other models. However, it was the only one of these models to feature the “Knucklehead” engine. This 74ci (1,207cc) V-Twin should be producing 53hp, which finds its way to the road via a 4-speed transmission. For an unrestored motorcycle of this age, the engine presents quite nicely. Thankfully, these looks don’t deceive. The owner states that the Knucklehead starts easily and that it runs and shifts perfectly. He doesn’t indicate whether it is actually roadworthy, but if it isn’t, then getting it to that point might be a straightforward process. Everything on this FL is said to work as it should, and the owner actively encourages potential bidders to inspect it first. That suggests that everything is in order and that this is a seller who has nothing to hide with this classic.

The classic vehicle ownership experience will invariably involve compromise. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about a classic car, a pickup, or a motorcycle. The chances are that the older vehicles are never going to be as comfortable as their modern counterparts. Maintenance requirements are almost always going to be higher, simply because model evolution will refine designs and eliminate the potential weaknesses that have become apparent in the earlier vehicles. This 1941 Harley-Davidson FL is almost certainly not going to be as comfortable as a new one that you can go in and buy off the showroom floor today. Its maintenance requirements will also be higher, but 79-years of evolution will account for that. However, this motorcycle is a classic, and the bidding to this point demonstrates that fact. Sure, the modern Harley will be easier to live with, but it will lack that indefinable presence that this one possesses. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bidding goes quite a bit higher before this listing ends, and I’ll be interested to know whether we have any readers who might be considering joining in on the action.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Take care of the rust, touch up the chrome a bit and ride it as it is. Great weekend and bike meet ride.

    Like 8
  2. Michael Post

    I wouldn’t touch a thing except the air pressure.. what a great ride…

    Like 7
  3. cnrlsful

    yeah, no wkend long trips 4 this ol man but in my younger daze?…quite a few (’69 XLCH). Tents, bikes’n friends just seem to go together…different colors of people, genders, employs, bike makes – all with the same ideas in mind – lakes, ocean, or mountains & a good time~

    At my age I could cruse the boulevards w/this (gawk at the shopaholics)! NYC? LA? Well, after nxt Sept & the health changes…

    Grab this 1 and use. Soon it’ll B over the crest (these never havea ‘edge’ – of decline, they’re great in decline too, as there never is such toa Harley). Still justa nother curator of this wheeled art. Happy 2B in the wind again, shakin off the dust~

    Like 5
  4. Scuderia

    Reproduction forks and fenders?? Not what it looks like then. Simply a nicely done Fauxtina build and not usually worth anything like a true unrestored survivor. But based on current bidding apparently some folks don’t care. Interesting to see where it ends up.

    Like 2
    • Rob Parker

      Forks and fenders and the voltage regulator on the end of the generator.

      Like 1
  5. Super Glide

    In 1941 the EL 61 cubic inch Knuckle was the other Knuckle in the line up, but this was the first year for the FL 74 cubic inch. Back then the were called Overheads. The Knucklehead moniker came along in the 60’s with the start of the Chopper culture and coincided with the demise of many innocent Knuckleheads.

    This bike, if original, belongs in a museum. Harley was shifting to wartime
    production and precious few of these were produced. Roosevelt wanted the country ready for war. The FL wasn’t the only Harley available, The UL Flatheads were still being produced up to 80 cubic inches and they were cheaper.

    There are so few of these around that I’m amazed the museums aren’t bidding. Like Chief Dan George said in the Outlaw Josey Wales, “It’s just for looking.”

    Like 4
  6. Robert White

    Too much money.


    Like 0
  7. losgatos_dale

    Wow, nice to see, strong bidding.
    GLWS to the buyer, and best wishes to the happy high bidder!

    Like 1
  8. Derek

    Nice enough bike, but there’s a danger that these are heading for the same place as anything with an OHV JAP engine in that they’re going for so much money that you can’t just use it as a motorbike any more. That’s a shame, because they’re nice. In terms of comfort, they’re comparable with modern Harleys – comfier, even – but the roadholding needs a more careful approach!

    Like 2
  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Nov 22, 2020 , 8:32PM
    Winning bid:
    US $47,101.00
    [ 81 bids ]

    Like 3

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