Motorcycles and Choppers

The Motorcycles and Choppers Channel explores how these machines are built and customized. Learn all about motorcycles and choppers at HowStuffWorks.

The 1959 Harley-Davidson Police Special shows how the Big Twins have been popular with law enforcement agencies. Though a hand-clutch/foot-shift setup had been standard since 1952, many police chose the hand shifter. Learn about the Police Special.

The 1959 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster was a hotter version of the traditional Harley Sportster. See how it differs from its milder XLH sibling with magneto ignition, high-mounted exhaust peanut fuel tank, bobbed rear fender and semi-knobby tires.

Aside from a new tank badge and paint scheme the 1963 Harley-Davidson FL Duo-Glide didn't offer many changes. Most came with saddlebags and two-passenger Buddy Seat in addition to the windshield. Learn about this well-dressed touring motorcycle.

The 1967 Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster was Harley's luxury model for the Sportster line. Harley-Davidson ads in 1967 boasted of the Sportster's record-setting runs at Bonneville. Check out this super-fast stock motorcycle from Harley-Davidson.

The 1971 Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster wasn't a particularly innovative or successful offering. Sportster engines still displaced 883cc in 1971 but would later be boosted to 1000cc in response to Japanese competition. Read about the XLH Sportster.

The 1973 Harley-Davidson FL Electra-Glide is one of the few Harley models to sport "AMF" alongside the Harley-Davidson name on its logo. Learn why in the 1970s many owners removed the AMF badges after purchase and repainted their entire motorcyles.

The 1978 Harley-Davidson FLHS Electra-Glide debuted with a lean look. The FLH tradition typically invokes the image of a full-tilt luggage-laden touring bike; learn how adding the "S" suffix in 1978 meant a stripped bike resembling the FLs of old.

The 1978 Harley-Davidson XL-1000 Sportster was released in a limited run in honor of Harley-Davidson's 75th anniversary. Gold striping gold-cast wheels and genuine leather graced the jet-black paint. Read about this classy full-featured Harley.

Chopper fans celebrated when the 1980 Harley-Davidson FXWG Wide Glide was introduced. The Wide Glide featured a flamed Fat Bob fuel tank and wide-spaced fork tubes embracing a 21-inch spoked front wheel. Check out this factory custom Harley bike.

The 1984 Harley-Davidson FXRT built upon the success of the FXR. A stiffer frame with Sportster-style forks handled better than any previous Big Twin and rubber engine mounts and a five-speed made for a smoother ride. Read about the Harley FXRT.

The introduction of the 1986 Harley-Davidson XLH 1100 was big news for fans of the Harley Sportster. The 1986 models got their own version of the Evolution powerplant smoother and more reliable than the old design. Check out the Harley XLH 1100.

Harley-Davidson has produced many specialty machines but few match the impact of the FLSTF Fat Boy that debuted in 1990. The simple silver paint scheme was enhanced by a matching frame and classic design. Learn about the acclaimed Harley Fat Boy.

The 1992 Harley-Davidson FXDB Daytona was named after Daytona Beach Florida. It features a moderate level of chrome trim and Harley's first true pearl paint job. Check out the bike that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Daytona motorcyle meet.

The 1998 Harley-Davidson FLHTCUI was at the time quite simply the best-equipped Harley ever. By combining all the comforts of home with a full complement of electronics Harley created the ultimate touring rig. Read about this spectacular Harley.

From the Springer forks to the wide whitewall tires to the fringed saddlebags the 1998 Harley-Davidson FLSTS Heritage Springer styling mirrors that of a 1940s-era vintage bike. Read about this modern classic Harley motorcycle nicknamed Old Boy.

The 1998 Harley-Davidson FLTRI Road Glide hearkened back to the FLT of the 1980s. The FLTRI's luggage space and convenient instrument panel were aimed at the touring market. Learn the unique feature that distinguishes this Harley from many others.

The 1998 Harley-Davidson FXDWG Wide Glide was aimed at Harley's loyal touring customers. Forward foot controls lend a long look to the chassis and along with the elevated handlebars give the rider a laid-back posture. Check out the Harley FXDWG.

In 2003, Harley-Davidson celebrated 100 years of building distinctly American motorcycles. This article traces the development of the machines and the legacy of the "Harley mystique." Read how Harley-Davidson survived when other manufacturers failed.

When one thinks of Harley-Davidson engines, thundering V-twins is what usually comes to mind. Read this article to learn the 6 unique Big Twin design generations over the history of the Harley-Davidson company and the details for the smaller motors.

The 1975 Harley-Davidson XL-1000 and XR-750 were often altered so few remain their original state. The engine for the XR-750 racer was based on the Sportster but it had dual carbs and high-mounted exhaust. Check out these rare powerful Harleys.

The 1981 Harley-Davidson FXB Sturgis took its name from the week-long motorcycle event held each summer in Sturgis South Dakota. Read about this popular Harley model featuring rich black paint with only small touches of orange and chrome trim.

Built and designed by The Wrench Custom Cycles, The Punisher is a custom chopper with almost all hand-crafted parts. See photos and specifications for this innovative chopper.

Designed and constructed in Ft. Lauderdale by Kaotic Customs, Turbo Spike is a powerful custom chopper that features a boosted engine with a Garrett turbocharger. See photos and specifications for this super chopper.

This cobalt-blue chopper is a mark of ingenious design and paint work. It combines catalog items with enough creativity to make it unlike any other, which is, of course, what every builder aspires to. See photos and specifications for this inventive chopper.

Dave Dupor of DD Custom Cycles is fast becoming one of the nation's hottest chopper builders. His Pro Street features the finest hardware and workmanship. See photos and specifications for this cutting-edge chopper.