1936 Harley Knucklehead Description, Price & Production Data

The Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, Harley’s first production OHV motorcycle, was manufactured and sold from 1936 through 1947 production years. 

1936 Harley EL Knucklehead - Harley's First OHV Motorcycle

Here is some basic information on the various 1936 Harley Knucklehead models and quantities.

1936 Production Year

36-E Solo: 61 cubic inch, medium-compression, OHV V-twin with four-speed transmission. Retail price $380. 152 motorcycle production. 

36-EL Special Sport Solo: 61 cubic inch, high-compression, OHV V-twin with four-speed transmission. Retail price $380. 1,526 motorcycle production.

36-ES Sidecar Twin: 61 cubic inch, medium-compression, OHV V-twin with four-speed transmission and sidecar gearing. Retail price $380. 26 motorcycle production.

36-EM Specialty Model: 61 cubic inch, OHV V-twin for midget car racing.  Retail price unknown. Unknown production numbers.

1936 Harley Factory Options (Dealer prices?)

Standard Solo Group for Knuckleheads $14.00

Deluxe Solo Group for Knuckleheads $34.50

Standard Police Group for Knuckleheads $44.00

Deluxe Police Group for Knuckleheads $80.50

1936 Harley Paint Color Options

Sherwood Green with Silver panels and rims.

Dusk Gray with  Royal Buff panels and rims.

Teak Red with Black panels and Red rims.

Venetian Blue with Croydon Cream panels and rims.

Maroon with Nile Green panels and rims.

1936 Harley Knucklehead First Year Items

The series E Harley OHV Big Twins were all new models.

The OHV engine was a 61 cubic inch OHV V-twin with 3-5/16 x 3-1/2 inch bore and stroke.

Dry-sump recirculating oiling system.

Four-speed constant-mesh transmission.

New design heavy-duty clutch.

Saddle-type twin gas tanks.

Oil in separate U-shaped tank behind the motor and below the seat with battery in the center of the U.

Black painted “Skull face” teardrop-style dash with built-in instrument cover and oil-pressure gauge, ammeter, and ignition switch.  

Stewart-Warner “White face” 100 mph speedometer was standard.

Art Deco tank transfers.

Standard front safety guards.

Standard 18 inch wheels.

Single-check-valve feed oil pump.

Rectangular folding floorboards.

The motors had rockers and shafts in two separate pieces with the rocker pivoting on the shaft.

Rocker shafts were adjustable for oil flow.

Intake manifold made up of an inlet pipe with two inlet nuts and two inlet nut bushings.

Toolbox was rectangular and mounted on the right rear side and was locked with a key.

Two mounting brackets on twin-lead coil body.

Wheels used “Star hubs”quot; that were interchangeable on front and rear.

"Beehive" style tail light.

Manual-advance single-point timer.

“Winged face” style horn.

2-1/2 inch diameter muffler with a fishtail exhaust.

Three-piece header pipe set has front header pipe, S-pipe, and rear header pipe.

Front header pipe fits inside the exhaust port.

Seven-tooth speedometer drive gear.

Horn switch placed near top of the left handlebar with headlight switch directly below.

Aluminum “knuckle” rocker boss on each cylinder head.

1936 Harley Knucklehead Only Year Items 

Air intake was box-like with three horizontal ribs and slash-cut at the rear.

Double down tube cradle frame with sidecar mounts brazed on to continuous frame down tubes.

1936 Harley Knucklehead Changes During Production Year

Early 1936 dashes lack the holes for the speedometer trip meter and speedometer lamp switch. Mid and later year dashed have the tripmeter hole but still lack the lamp switch hole.

120 mph speedometer without tripmeter, the tripmeter became optional in mid-1936.

Frame reinforced on right side, under the transmission.

Rocker-shaft cover nuts replace domed covers.

Air fitting added to front rocker boss.

Pinion-gear shaft revised to improve oil mileage.

Kickstarter gears changed to 16-tooth mainshaft and 24-tooth crank gear.

Two updates of the gear-case cover.

Three types of oil tanks and fittings.

Cylinder-head casting changes.

Cylinder updates.

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11 Responses to 1936 Harley Knucklehead Description, Price & Production Data

  1. Nice history on the 61 EL, especially the options and production changes during the year. Of particular note, the changes to the head and cylinders, early ELs had external oil return lines. The cylinders were weak and failed often enough to cause a design change to built in return lines that strengthened the barrels. This was similar to what would be seen on the later Panhead and Shovelhead models. Of all the models of Harley, the Knucklehead is still my favorite, in my mind, it’s the classic Harley form.


    • classic1903 says:

      Thanks. We hope to have similar info on as many Harley models and years as we can to create a powerful resource for Harley riders and enthusiasts. Care to help us in this?

  2. Chris Haynes says:

    No ’36 had a 120 MPG speedometer. They were all 100 MPH. The rocker box blow out was only on a few of the last machines of 1936 production. There were at least four timing gear cover designs. Three different sets of head castings with multiple machining differences. two different rocker box designs, Two different sets of engine cases. Three different transmission case designs, Three different transmission lids. Two different kicker covers, Two different for stem nuts and cone nuts, two different chain guard mounts on rear fender, two different steering dampener control levers, a few of the last 1936 EL’s had the 5th transmission mount on the frame, two different sets of engine guards. Two different ignition timers, two variations of the M 5 carburetor, Two different spoke designs, two different tail lamps, one for and one without a brake lamp, The prices you are listing are dealers cost, not retail. There are a lot more errors in your listing that your editor should address. :D

    • classic1903 says:

      Thanks for the info. Care to share the accurate info in more detail with illustrations or photos if possible. The initial info was from one source which might have been less than complete.

  3. Steve Peters says:

    Just wondering what color or colors a sidecar would have been for a bike painted Venetian Blue with Croydon Cream panels and rims?

  4. Becky says:

    Do you know why they are called knuckleheads?

  5. EL says:

    What was production of 3 and reverse sidecar trans behind EL?