Harley Davidson Engine Size Chart (Timeline)

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The iconic roar of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is unmistakable, and much of that sound and power emanates from its heart: the engine. 

But not all Harley engines are created equal. Over the decades, Harley-Davidson has engineered various engines with unique sizes and characteristics. 

This chart will provide seasoned and new with a clear and concise overview of Harley-Davidson engine sizes.

Harley Davidson engine size chart

Engine NameVolume CI (CC)
F-Head61ci & 74 ci (1000cc &1210cc)
Flathead45ci & 74ci (737cc & 1212cc)
Knucklehead61ci & 74ci (983cc &1212cc)
Panhead61ci & 74ci (983cc & 1200cc)
Shovelhead74ci & 80ci (1212cc & 1343cc)
Evolution80ci (1343cc)
Twin Cam 8888ci (1442cc)
Twin Cam 88B88ci (1442cc)
Twin Cam 9595ci (1550cc)
Twin Cam 9696ci (1584cc)
Twin Cam 103103ci (1690cc)
Twin Cam 110110ci (1800cc)
Milwaukee Eight 107 (Standard)107ci (1746cc)
Milwaukee Eight 107107ci (1746cc)
Milwaukee Eight 114114ci (1868cc)
Milwaukee Eight 117117ci (1923cc)
Evolution (Sportster / Small V-Twin)54ci & 73ci (883cc & 1200cc)
V-Rod (Revolution)76ci (1247cc)

Harley Davidson engine timelines

Let’s dive in about the different engines of Harley Davidson that they have used over the years.

1. The 45° F-Head V-Twin

Harley-Davidson, one of the most iconic names in motorcycling, has always been associated with the robust growth of its engines.

While they have a rich history of various engine designs, the 45° F-Head V-Twin remains one of the most powerful in their lineup. 

This unique engine is a representation of the American motorcycle industry’s growth and innovation in the early 20th century.

Historical Background:

Harley-Davidson was facing stiff competition from other manufacturers, most notably Indian. To maintain a competitive edge, Harley began a process of iterative advancements to their existing engines.

Design and Specifications:

The F-Head, known as the “inlet over exhaust” or “IOE” engine, was aptly named due to its unique valve configuration. 

The intake valve was situated overhead, while the exhaust valve was placed on the side. 

This design aimed to combine the benefits of both overhead and side-valve configurations.

The defining feature of this engine was its 45° V-Twin configuration. 

With a V-angle of 45° between the two cylinders, this design made the engine more compact and provided a distinctive rhythm to the engine’s exhaust.

The engine displaced 61 cubic inches in its initial iterations, providing a balance of torque, power, and efficiency. It quickly became known for its reliability and durability.

crucial factors that aided Harley-Davidson’s reputation as a premier motorcycle manufacturer.

Influence and Legacy:

Several factors made the 45° F-Head V-Twin special:

Performance: the F-Head was more powerful and efficient, enabling riders to achieve faster speeds and enjoy longer rides without frequent maintenance or repairs.

Sound: The 45° V-Twin configuration contributed to the distinctive “potato-potato” rumble that has since become synonymous with Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Reliability: Harley motorcycles equipped with the F-Head V-Twin became known for their reliability.

This solidified the brand’s reputation when motorcycling transitioned from a luxury pastime to a practical means of transport.

The F-Head was eventually replaced by newer and more advanced engines in Harley’s lineup, but it had already left an indelible mark on its legacy. 

2. The Flathead V-Twin

When motorcycle enthusiasts think of iconic engines, the Harley-Davidson Flathead V-Twin often comes to mind. 

This legendary motor played a crucial role in the evolution of motorcycles in America and established the Harley-Davidson Motor Company as a key player in the industry. 

The Flathead’s design, though simple, was powerful and reliable and became emblematic of the open road.

Historical Background

The Flathead engine, named for its flat-topped, side-valve cylinder heads, was introduced in the 1920s and was in production for over three decades. 

Its longevity in production speaks volumes about its durability and the popularity it enjoyed among riders.

Design and Features

Side Valve Design: The hallmark of the Flathead was its side-valve design. This was a simpler and more economical design compared to the overhead valve systems. 

The valves were located on the side of the engine, leading to a flatter cylinder head profile.

Reliability: The side-valve design was less efficient and produced less power than overhead valve designs.

it was known for its reliability. It could endure prolonged usage without much wear and tear.

V-Twin Configuration: The V-Twin design of the Flathead became synonymous with the Harley-Davidson brand. 

This configuration allows for a more compact design and characteristic rumble, which Harley is famous for.

Variations and Models

Over the years, the Flathead was made available in different sizes ranging from 45 to 74 cubic inches. 

The engine powered various models, with the WLA being one of the most famous during World War II. 

This robust and reliable military model played a pivotal role in the conflict.

The engine also became a favorite for custom builders and hot-rodders. Its straightforward design provided a blank canvas for modifications.

3. The Knucklehead

The name “Knucklehead” isn’t an official designation from Harley-Davidson. Instead, the nickname originated from the engine’s distinct appearance. 

The rocker boxes resemble the knuckles of a closed fist, thus leading to the moniker.

Historical Context: The 1930s were an interesting time for the motorcycle industry. The Great Depression impacted motorcycle sales. 

As the economy began to recover, there was a demand for more powerful and technologically advanced machines. The Knucklehead was Harley’s answer to this demand.

Technical Advancements: The Knucklehead was Harley’s first production OHV engine, a significant advancement from the flathead designs that the company had been using. 

This new design allowed for increased power and efficiency. The Knucklehead introduced a recirculating oil system, a first for Harley replacing previous models’ “total-loss” oiling system.

Models: The first Knuckleheads were rolled out in the E and EL models. The E was a 61 cubic inch (1000cc) model, while the EL was a more powerful version with a 74 cubic inch (1200cc) engine.

Popularity & Legacy: The Knucklehead was popular from its introduction, providing riders with a combination of power, style, and reliability that was unmatched at the time.

Today, the Knucklehead is a prized possession among motorcycle enthusiasts and collectors, representing an iconic period in the evolution of American motorcycles.

End of Production: The Knucklehead was produced until 1947, after which it was replaced by the Panhead engine. 

Although its production run was relatively short, its impact on the motorcycle world and on Harley-Davidson’s legacy is undeniable.

4. The Panhead 

Introduced in 1948, the Panhead replaced the Knucklehead, which had been in service since 1936. 

The Panhead received its colloquial name due to the pan-like shape of its rocker covers. 

The engine featured hydraulic valve lifters, which were a significant step forward in reducing the need for regular valve adjustments, a routine maintenance chore on the preceding Knucklehead.

Specifications and Variations

The Panhead came in two primary sizes during its lifespan:

  • 61 cubic inches (1,000cc) – designated the EL model.
  • 74 cubic inches (1,200cc) – labeled as the FL model.

Over its 17-year production run, the Panhead saw various upgrades. The most significant came in 1965 when, for the first time.

Harley-Davidson equipped the Panhead with an electric start, naming this updated version the Electra Glide. 

Cultural Impact

Like many Harley engines, the Panhead wasn’t just a machine; it was a symbol of a particular era in American motorcycling. 

The post-war boom of the 1950s saw a rise in biker culture, with movies like “The Wild One” in 1953 portraying outlaw bikers riding motorcycles similar to the Panheads. 

This engine played a role in shaping the bad-boy biker image of the time.


The Panhead’s production run came to an end in 1965, succeeded by the Shovelhead. Its impact and significance in the motorcycle community are undiminished. 

Today, vintage Panhead motorcycles, as well as custom choppers built around Panhead engines, are highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts.

5. The Shovelhead 

The Shovelhead earned its name from the shovel-shaped valve covers. It was initially developed to replace the Panhead engine.

Which had been Harley’s primary engine design since 1948; it was to offer an improved and more powerful motor, responding to a growing demand for more power and speed. 


  • The Shovelhead started as a 74 cubic inch (1208 cc) but later increased to 80 cubic inches (1340 cc) in the late 1970s.
  • One of the major design changes from the Panhead was the redesigned aluminum heads that permitted a better flow of air and fuel, leading to improved power and cooling.
  • The Shovelhead continued with the Pinhead’s single camshaft design, but many other components were strengthened or re-engineered for better performance and reliability.
  • Early Shovelheads used a “dry-sump” oil system, but problems with oil circulation led to updates in the system throughout its production life.
  • In 1970, Harley-Davidson transitioned from a 6-volt to a 12-volt electrical system, further modernizing the Shovelhead-powered bikes.

Evolution and Models:

Shovelhead went through various improvements. Some of the most notable models featuring the Shovelhead engine include the Super Glide, the Electra Glide, and the Low Rider.

Some early Shovelheads had mechanical and oil leakage issues. But as years progressed, many of these issues were addressed, leading to a more reliable engine in its later years.


The Shovelhead era is looked back upon with much fondness by motorcycle enthusiasts and is considered a genuine representation of Harley’s spirit and tradition. 

The distinct sound, look and feel of a Shovelhead-powered Harley remains a quintessential American motorcycling experience.

Today, Shovelheads have a strong following in the vintage motorcycle community. 

6. The Evolution 


By late 1970s and early 1980s, Japanese manufacturers steadily gained ground with advanced designs and reliable machines.

Harley, facing financial difficulties, needed an engine to reinvigorate the brand and help it compete in the modern age.

Introduction of the Evolution Engine

The Evolution engine was introduced in 1984, succeeding the Shovelhead. While keeping with the classic V-twin configuration, the Evo engine was largely a redesign. 

It represented a mix of the old and new, maintaining the distinct Harley look.

Design Improvements

Several key changes were integrated into the Evolution engine:

  • Aluminium was used for the cylinder heads, which reduced weight and improved cooling.
  • One of the major advancements was the increase in reliability. The Evo was designed with tighter tolerances and better materials, reducing oil leaks and boosting the overall engine lifespan.
  • The Evolution engine benefited from improved oil circulation, drastically reducing overheating issues that plagued some earlier models.

Variants of the Evolution Engine

There were two main variants of the Evo:

  • Big Twin: This was used in larger Harley touring and cruiser models. It had a 1340cc displacement.
  • Sportster Evolution: Introduced slightly later, the Sportster Evo was smaller, with an initial displacement of 883cc, although a 1200cc version was later made available.

Cultural Impact

The Evolution engine was more than just a mechanical triumph. It represented Harley’s resilience and ability to adapt in changing times. 

The Evo was pivotal in reviving Harley-Davidson’s image and fortunes during the 1980s and 1990s. 

Many enthusiasts believe that without the Evolution engine, Harley-Davidson might not have survived the tough competition from Japanese manufacturers.

Evolution’s Legacy

While the Evolution engine was eventually succeeded by the Twin Cam 88 in 1999, its impact on the motorcycle world and on Harley-Davidson’s trajectory cannot be overstated. 

Evo-powered Harleys are still sought after by riders and collectors, and many consider the engine’s era a golden age for the brand.

7. Twin Cam 88

The Twin Cam 88 was introduced at a time when Harley-Davidson was looking to modernize its engine lineup while retaining the classic look and feel that its riders loved. 

The previous engine, the Evolution, had been in use since 1984, and while it was a revolutionary design at its time.


The name “Twin Cam 88” reflects the engine’s design and displacement:

  • The engine features a dual camshaft design, one for the intake and another for the exhaust valves. 
  • This design allowed for better valve timing and improved high RPM performance compared to the single-cam design of the Evolution engine.
  • 88, this number stands for the engine’s displacement of 88 cubic inches, which translates to approximately 1450cc. 
  • Over time, Harley introduced larger versions like the Twin Cam 96 and 103, which had 96 and 103 cubic inch displacements, respectively.

Additional design features:

  • Chain-driven cams were later updated with a hydraulic tensioner system to address wear issues that arose in earlier models.
  • Improved oil circulation system.
  • A more rigid mounting system, while still rubber-mounted, reduced vibrations compared to the Evolution engine.

Models & Variants:

The Twin Cam 88 engine powered many of Harley-Davidson’s models, including the Softail, Dyna, and Touring lines. 

The engine saw a couple of displacements over its tenure, and Harley-Davidson also introduced the Twin Cam 88B, a counterbalanced version of the TC88 designed specifically for the Softail line to reduce vibrations.


While the Twin Cam 88 and its larger siblings successfully brought Harley’s Big Twin motorcycles into the modern age.

They were eventually replaced by the Milwaukee-Eight engine series in 2017. Still, the Twin Cam remains a beloved and iconic engine in the Harley community.

Issues & Remedies:

Like all engines, the Twin Cam 88 had its quirks. One of the early criticisms was the chain-driven cam’s tendency to stretch and wear.

Which could lead to engine damage. Harley addressed this in later models with an improved hydraulic tensioner system. 

8. The V-Rod

Revolution Engine:

Co-developed with Porsche, the V-Rod’s engine was a departure from the traditional air-cooled engines Harley-Davidson was known for. 

The Revolution engine is a 60-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin that boasts overhead cams and four valves per cylinder.

A design that aims for high-revving power and a significant boost in horsepower compared to traditional Harleys.

Racing Inspiration: 

The V-Rod drew its inspiration from the VR1000, Harley’s race bike used in Superbike competitions. 

This racing lineage is visible in the V-Rod’s design and performance-centric approach.


The V-Rod had a unique aesthetic. With its long, low stance, hydroformed frame, and muscle bike look, it was a motorcycle that looked as fast as it was.


V-Rods are among the fastest production motorcycles ever made by Harley-Davidson. They can cover a quarter-mile in just 11 seconds off the showroom floor.

Polarizing Reception: 

Traditional Harley enthusiasts had mixed feelings about the V-Rod. While many admired its power and modern design, others believed it veered too far from Harley’s iconic image. 

Nevertheless, it did attract a newer audience who appreciated the blend of Harley’s modern performance.


Over its production run, the V-Rod saw several variations like the Night Rod and Street Rod, each bringing slight modifications to the design and functionality.

End of Production:

Despite its unique position in the Harley lineup, the V-Rod was discontinued in 2017. While it represented innovation and a break from tradition.

The market for such a Harley was limited, and the company decided to focus on its more traditional models and newer electric ventures.

9. The Milwaukee-Eight

The Milwaukee-Eight engine, introduced in 2016, is the ninth generation of Harley-Davidson’s big twin engines.

It was named in homage to the company’s home of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the “Eight” denotes the engine’s eight valves, a departure from the twin cam’s four-valve system.


The Milwaukee-Eight is available in two configurations: a 107 cubic inch (1,750cc) and a 114 cubic inch (1,870cc). Some later models even featured a 117 cubic inch (1,920cc) version.

The engine comes in three variations of cooling:

  • Air-cooled
  • Precision oil-cooled (found in the Street Glide and Road Glide models)
  • Twin-Cooled models, which employ both liquid and air cooling (found in the higher-end touring models)

The Milwaukee-Eight boasts improved fuel efficiency, increased power, and reduced vibration. 

The four-valve head design allows 50% more intake and exhaust flow capacity than the previous Twin Cam engine.

In order to create a smoother ride, the Milwaukee-Eight engine uses a single counter-rotating internal balancer. 

This design results in a 75% reduction in primary vibration at idle speed.



This engine’s introduction represented a major step forward for Harley-Davidson. While the company is known for valuing tradition, the Milwaukee-Eight showcased that they could innovate while preserving the characteristic Harley feel.

Improved Riding Experience: 

The reduced vibration meant that riders would feel less fatigue on long rides. The improved power and torque curve also provided a more dynamic riding experience, especially when overtaking or riding on highways.

Emission Standards: 

The Milwaukee-Eight was also a response to increasing global emission standards. The updated design ensured better fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions.


How many cc is a Harley engine?

Evolution (Evo): 

Introduced in 1984, displacements typically ranged from 883cc to 1200cc for Sportster models. The Big Twins had displacements of 1340cc.

Twin Cam: 

This engine was introduced in 1999 and had displacements of 88 cubic inches (1442cc).

Which later increased to 96 cubic inches (1573cc), and further models went up to 103 cubic inches (1687cc) and even 110 cubic inches (1801cc).

Milwaukee-Eight (M8): 

 the Milwaukee-Eight engines introduced in 2017 come in several displacements, including 107 cubic inches (1753cc), 114 cubic inches (1868cc), and 117 cubic inches (1923cc).

How many cc is a Harley 88 engine?

The Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 88 engine, often simply referred to as the “88”, has a displacement of 88 cubic inches. 

Regarding cubic centimeters (cc), 88 cubic inches equals approximately 1442cc. So, a Harley 88 engine is about 1442 cubic centimeters in displacement.

Which Harley has the biggest engine?

Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine. This engine has a displacement of 1,923cc or 117 cubic inches.

However, Harley-Davidson often updates its lineup and could potentially introduce models with larger engines after 2021.

It’s a good idea to check the company’s official website or contact a Harley-Davidson dealer for the most recent information on their motorcycles and engines.

Wrapping Up 

The Harley-Davidson engine size chart showcases the evolution and diversification of one of the most iconic motorcycle brands in history.

From their early models to their recent offerings, the engine sizes and capacities reflect the technological advancements and the changing demands of riders worldwide.

As engine sizes have grown, so have these bikes’ power, torque, and overall performance. 

This progression is not merely a testament to Harley-Davidson’s commitment to innovation but also a response to the evolving expectations of the motorcycle community.

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