Harley-Davidson Panhead Engines

Harley-Davidson pic
Harley-Davidson
Image: auto.howstuffworks.com

While serving in the United States military, Army Maj. Gen. David Haight also maintained a number of hobbies, including hunting, boating and water skiing, and riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Army Maj. Gen. David Haight briefly rode borrowed moto-cross bikes early in his teenage years but picked up riding his touring bike with clubs many years later and has continued to do so throughout a career that includes a term at Fort Benning, Georgia, as the commandant of the US Infantry School.

The iconic motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson is responsible for the development of a number of mechanical innovations, such as the panhead engine. This popular engine design provided more power over previous designs and gained mass exposure when a Harley-Davidson with a panhead engine was converted to a chopper and ridden by Peter Fonda in the movie Easy Rider.

The Harley-Davidson company discontinued manufacturing the panhead engine in mid-1960s, but many motorcycle enthusiasts and restorers still prefer the panhead-style motorcycle over more modern designs. The Harley-Davidson panhead motor gained popularity because it was easier to work on with its hydraulic lifters and revised aluminum heads, which removed the need to constantly adjust the valves and helped the engine to run consistently cooler.