As another definition states, the shovelhead engine is a type of V-twin engine that was manufactured by the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company between 1966
and 1984. As with all Harley-Davidson motors, the Shovelhead has a distinct sound, and is still quite desirable as a power plant. The motorcycle parts company known as S&S has come out with a "retro" Shovelhead style of motor, thus allowing people who don't want to mess with the motor's notorious headaches can own one that doesn't cause nearly as much problems. The original Shovelhead motors can be cantankerous, but if taken care and properly maintained, they can also last for years. UNLIKE some other definitions here, Shovelheads are not necessarily for people who "can't afford a new Evo". There are quite a few folks who enjoy the older bikes, as they were from a time when it wasn't a passing fad to own a Harley. This is like saying someone who owns a 69' Camaro only does so because he can't afford a Cadillac Escalade. Just because you can afford to buy something new, that doesn't necessarily make it better. Evo engines that came out in 1985 and later on Twin Cam engines are nice, durable and reliable motors that don't need constant maintenance. This makes it nice for the crowd that bought a bike to fit in with the neighbors. But if you want to learn about history, and learn the inner workings of your bike, get a Shovel. You will get a history lesson as well as learn how to work on your bike, but the end result is a beautiful piece of American motorcycle legend.
Evo owner: I say, Biff, your sparkling new Twin-Cam 88 motor is absolutely spotless!
Twin Cam owner: Why yes, Chauncey, for I have yet to ride it over 25 miles an hour. It is a superb piece of Harley-Davidson machinery, indeed. Have you seen my new $300 Harley-Davidson Leather Jacket? It is a wonderous piece of clothing, for I only wear it on the weekend. Shall we head to the local watering hole, for I desire a Michelob Ultra and to partake in some witty biker banter with Cecil and Ophelia.
Shovelhead owner: Why don't you two jackoffs got get a room and fondle each other? I WANNA FUCKING RIDE!!!
*sound of Shovelhead being kicked over*
Shovelhead rides off into the sunset, belching smoke and oil.....
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