1954 Harley-Davidson Panhead
One of the last bikes built for men who love machinery
The mechanics were actually pretty dependable since the engine had been rebuilt, but there was a constant tendency for parts to fall off (I learned why there is a joke about Harleys and bailing wire).
The carb gave the most trouble by needing tuned several times a day (the problem was likely due to some carb parts having been plated for appearances).
I bought the 1954 Panhead in stock condition for $450.00. It had the rigid frame, tank shifter, suicide clutch, huge gas tank, high performance cams, and the normal dresser fenders and all. I chopped it with a Sportster tank, jockey shift, low rider handle bars, narrow rear fender, small single seat, and a springer (yea, I was a dumb kid).
I loved the low seat and how my knees were higher than the seat with my feet on the ground. The fit was great, and I never could get accustomed to the height of regular motorcycles afterwards.
The '54 easily did over 120 mph down the main boulevard (35 mph speed limit), but I never had the chance to take it on the highway to see how much faster it would go.
About 45 mpg meant frequent stops for gas with the small Sportster gas tank. Maybe that's why I never went on runs. :-)
The harshness of rigid frames (without a good seat) are not good for long rides. The bike was a cruiser, not meant for handling sharp corners.
The '54 is the only bike that I would like to still have, along with a large bottle of LocTite.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 20th January, 2008