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Thread: How Many Knuckleheads still kicking

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  1. #1
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    Aug 2019
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    Default How Many Knuckleheads still kicking

    Has sthe AMCA ever polled its members to see how many knucks are still in existence? I believe the number may be higher then some would think- this would include ones that became Choppers, Bobbers and such ...

    My un-educated guess is between 2500 on the low end to 6000 or so on the high end ...I bet atleast 500 -1000 have left the States -I base my guess on there being 40,000 total made or there about if that is a wrong or bad number please understand I am not posing as an expert on this !

    I would love to hear more on this if anyone has actually tried to nail down some date

  2. #2
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    I think there are more knucks now, than Harley-Davidson made. . . That's sort of a joke, but the reproduction industry has been very productive making anything knucklehead over the last 35 + years. Much of that reproduction has gone into making complete bikes out of basket cases. I know that is not an answer to your question, but keep in mind that when anyone tries to compile a roster of any motorcycle marque; they encounter the reality that most collectors do not want anyone to know what they have.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  3. #3
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    Your first statement is probably true ...another worry would be bad #'s
    And your last statement would certainly be a roadblock!

    When you look at different bike events online(not mainstream) different Knucks always pop up- Shoot if I was one of the decision makers at the Motor Co. I would re-issue the bike ala Ford, Chevy and Dodge retro muscle .But I suppose the EPA has a bead on HD as well so it would be hard to re-issue that bike !!

  4. #4
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    I based my reply on Excelsior, and Henderson production data that is still sketchy; despite the profound efforts of Bund/Turek. It seems that history only remembers the things that get into print, regardless of accuracy. For many years, and perhaps still, many people think H-D started in 1903. Herbert Wagner did exhaustive research to present better data that puts that date at (circa) 1905, but H-D has perpetuated the story of 1903 to the point that no one questions them. The bulk of knuckleheads were built in the '30s and I would bet that the real production numbers are only known by studying the complexities of engine, and line bore numbers. The true history of knuckleheads (and perhaps all H-Ds) was lost when AMF (and fate) chose to destroy the mountains of priceless documented factory production data. Again, Herbert Wagner wrote an incredible article about the Lang connection in our magazine a few years ago. He also wrote one of my favorite motorcycle books 'Harley-Davidson 1930-1941'. If you love Harleys, you need to have that book in your collection.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  5. #5
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    NH
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    Default

    What impact did the scrap metal drive of WW2 have on bikes, especially teens bike. I imagine there were some people interested in them, but the technological advances were so far reaching that by early 40s they were junked?

    Not sure if Knucks would have been impacted by the scrap drives
    Dan Margolien
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    JD enthusiasts: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/harleyjd/

  6. #6
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    I don't think the WW2 scrap drives took very many running motorcycles due to the superior fuel mileage of a motorcycle during wartime rationing. I also speculate that any 1915 and later 3 speed motorcycle was ridden into the ground during the great depression because money was tight. As much as I love early motorcycles, the motors just didn't hold up, and not everyone in those days was into the vital routine maintenance that early bikes require.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanM View Post
    What impact did the scrap metal drive of WW2 have on bikes, especially teens bike. I imagine there were some people interested in them, but the technological advances were so far reaching that by early 40s they were junked?

    Not sure if Knucks would have been impacted by the scrap drives
    My old friend (RIP) Paul George always joked about the "blue wrench" used during the WW2 metal drives. Paul said scrap salvagers used acetylene torches to cut the front and real wheels off at the axels.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by exeric View Post
    I based my reply on Excelsior, and Henderson production data that is still sketchy; despite the profound efforts of Bund/Turek.
    I should have said, Excelsior numbers are still sketchy to ME. That doesn't mean other people don't understand them. I think there will always be some ambiguity about history, and original documentation; and that is what makes all motorcycle history interesting.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  9. #9
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    Having always been a Knucklehead fan and not so much Panhead I always paid attention to Knuckles for sale. A few observations..
    Most Knuckles that survive are post war due to several factors. They were more plentiful due to increased production, they were not totally worn out and were sometimes parked forever leading to good examples of OP bikes, they were bypassed when the new Panhead came out. The bad is they were cheap and good chopper fodder so many ended up very heavily modified.
    Pre-war bikes were already used and had been passed over early on for newer models, were cheap, and were expendable.
    Immediate pre-war models were run into the ground as basic transportation during the war years, both by civilian and Police/Commercial use with '41s being the most common.
    I currently have a 41EL, a 42FL, and a 47FL.
    Robbie Knight Amca #2736

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by exeric View Post
    I based my reply on Excelsior, and Henderson production data that is still sketchy; despite the profound efforts of Bund/Turek. It seems that history only remembers the things that get into print, regardless of accuracy. For many years, and perhaps still, many people think H-D started in 1903. Herbert Wagner did exhaustive research to present better data that puts that date at (circa) 1905, but H-D has perpetuated the story of 1903 to the point that no one questions them. The bulk of knuckleheads were built in the '30s and I would bet that the real production numbers are only known by studying the complexities of engine, and line bore numbers. The true history of knuckleheads (and perhaps all H-Ds) was lost when AMF (and fate) chose to destroy the mountains of priceless documented factory production data. Again, Herbert Wagner wrote an incredible article about the Lang connection in our magazine a few years ago. He also wrote one of my favorite motorcycle books 'Harley-Davidson 1930-1941'. If you love Harleys, you need to have that book in your collection.
    I added this book to my collection after reading your post. I found a copy on amazon for under 5 bucks. I started it last night and couldn't put it down! What a fantastic read! Thanks for the recommendation.
    Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile....
    -good ol GD

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