The Harley-Davidson FL Electra-Glide motorcycle, introduced in 1965, was the final Harley powered by the legendary Panhead engine and the first large Harley to be equipped with an electric start. Because of this combination, it has become a highly sought-after collector. The year 1965 marked the end of an era for Harley-Davidson. Even though the Electra-Glide, with its electric starter, made its premiere that year, it would be the final year for the famed “Panhead” V-twin, first appearing in 1948. That engine had undergone several improvements over the years, the most notable of which was installing external oil lines in 1963, which enhanced lubrication to the cylinder heads. This article focuses on the 1965 Harley Davidson Panhead

Performance and Fuel Economy

The 1965 Harley Davidson Panhead had a 12-volt electrical system was installed with the electric starter to replace the old 6-volt system. This resulted in a larger battery being concealed behind a massive battery box on the right side of the vehicle. This, together with the large “Electra Glide” writing on the front fender, makes it simple to tell this model apart from prior FLs in the lineup. The classic hand-shift/foot-clutch system, which was so popular with police agencies, was also an option. Despite having a curb weight of more than 700 pounds, the Electra-Glide was a popular touring motorcycle in its day, thanks to the electric starter, which eliminated the hassle of restarting the large V-twin, which had become a difficult process by then.

When the Shovelhead cylinders and heads were introduced, many riders retrofitted their Panheads because they provided improved air and exhaust flow. Because the Shovelhead crankcases were not drilled to match the holes in the cylinders, it was necessary to build an external oil line during the exchange.

Design, Comfort, and Quality

The electric start, introduced in 1965, was one of the most significant blows to ardent Harley-Davidson traditionalists. The bike was equipped with a 12v electrical system used to run the new electronic start. In addition, it included a large battery that was concealed beneath a chrome cover on the right side of the device. By the end of the Panhead’s last year of manufacture, Harley-Davidson had gone about as far as they could go. Because of the front and rear suspension, the bike was extremely comfortable. It was also now dependable enough to go long distances without breaking down. By this point, the Pan had very well reached the end of its usefulness. Engine swaps, rear suspension, and an electronic start contribute to the vehicle’s almost 200-pound weight gain.

If technological innovation is required to make a motorbike popular, then everyone would have been riding a Van Veen in 1974. Many riders have never heard of the Dutch-built rotary Wankel-powered bike, demonstrating that a difficult engine is not enough to attract attention. Several factors must come together for a motorbike to strike a chord with motorcycle enthusiasts. The Harley-Davidson Panhead rode into the spotlight under a perfect storm. The United States had a difficult adjustment during the first three years after World War II.

More Power Needed

The FL’s serpentine oil passages and the ever-increasing power demands made by Big Twins forced the Panhead’s oil pumps and bearing sizes to be virtually continuously upgraded during the ship’s 18-year lifetime. By 1960, the advertised power had increased to 60 horsepower. Because of these enhancements and the modifications required to support electric starting, the Panhead went through six distinct crankcases over its lifetime.

However, the year 1965, which coincided with the introduction of electric starting, was also when the 1965 Harley Davidson Panhead was phased out. In 1966, it was replaced by the leaner, more powerful Shovelhead when it was retired. It was a windfall for the chopper movement in the 1960s since old Panhead motorcycles were so readily available. Indeed, the Pan would achieve its greatest popularity as a chopper, appearing as the “Captain America” motorcycle in the film Easy Rider.


  • Engine type: Panhead V-twin
1965 Harley Davidson Panhead

1965 HARLEY DAVIDSON PANHEAD Factory Service Manual

The 1965 HARLEY DAVIDSON PANHEAD service manuals are thorough and cover every bike area. 1965 HARLEY DAVIDSON PANHEAD manual bikes do not come with service manuals regardless of trim level.

  • Foreword
  • Safety
  • Fuel
  • Chassis
  • Transmission
  • Exhaust
  • Engine
  • Maintenance
  • Drive
  • Cooling System

1965 HARLEY DAVIDSON PANHEAD repair manuals are intended for technicians and dealerships to maintain motorcycles. Every maintenance or repair activity that a motorcycle owner does should be accompanied by a service manual.


Buyers of a new bike found a 1965 HARLEY DAVIDSON PANHEAD owner’s manual that contained all necessary maintenance and repair information. The owner’s manual included information on all of the vehicle’s operations, including the following:

  • Specifications
  • Security System
  • Operation
  • Troubleshooting
  • Warranties
  • Responsibilities

Because the 1965 HARLEY DAVIDSON PANHEAD owner’s manual contains a lot of operational ideas to make the vehicle’s operation easier for the driver, these are just the most important operations to be aware of.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many ccs is a Panhead?


What is the speed record for the Panhead?

161 mph

Definition of Panhead?

A panhead is the head of a rivet or bolt shaped like a cooking pan.