MC Tested: Harley-Davidson Knucklehead—Eighty Years

Everything you ever wanted to know about Harley-Davidson’s iconic model EL (and then some).

Featuring a hard cover and matte dust jacket, Harley-Davidson Knucklehead: Eighty Years is as elegant as books come.Photo: Julia LaPalme

If you're anything like myself, the thought of well-orchestrated motorcycle literature with glossy, two-page spreads and endless technical specs is enough to make your heart flutter with eagerness (come on, admit it). If vintage Harley-Davidsons are your thing, then I'm sure you're well familiar with the iconic EL model, otherwise known as the Knucklehead. But do you have an intimate understanding of this historic machine? Do you know everything there is to know about every single model from every single year? Wouldn't it be fun to stump your friends with the minute differences in the rocker shaft ends and oiling in the lower end?

Detailed photos embellish the pages, adding visual reference for each cited variation.Photo: Julia LaPalme

If you're willing to accept that metaphorical sword of knowledge, then Harley-Davidson Knucklehead: Eighty Years is definitely for you. You're sure to be the envy of your friends when you win the bet as to who can name the most factory color options from 1936 (hint: there were 5). But wait, there's more! A lot more, actually — almost 200 pages of facts about production costs, model differences, aftermarket options and so on. Not only that, but incredible, high-resolution shots of everything from original-paint production models to the streamlined EL-powered racer that set the speed record on a Florida beach in 1937.

Lavish two-page photo spreads separate the vast amount of information confined within the pages.Photo: Julia LaPalme

There’s enough information inside to keep you entertained for days, weeks, or years even. Author Greg Field’s wording keeps the subject matter captivating and refreshing, despite the intimidating nature of the immense breadth of data. There’s no question about it though; Harley-Davidson has become a staple of American culture, and what better way to understand their rise to distinction than gaining a familiarity with a bike that marked a pivotal turning point for the company?

Quaint ads from the era can also be found gracing the pages, offering an interesting insight into dated marketing.Photo: Julia LaPalme

Harley-Davidson Knucklehead: Eighty Years
Price: $50.00
MC Grade: A
Verdict: A perfect gift for the esteemed Harley-Davidson enthusiast, as well as general motorcycle aficionados alike.