To add a bit of information to the subject of how fast a K model was (is) I offer the following excerpt from an article I found on the i-net a few months back, from a forthcoming book by Erik Hoopes titled “The Model K Harley Davidson Motorcycle”. This article also contained the following request – “Erik invites all K owners to contribute any K pictures, with a short story, for the K Book. For more information contact Erik at email@example.com
or by phone at 07-456-1561”.
The specific passage below is taken from the 1954 model year description. I think it is pretty impressive that the KHK’s may have been very similar in performance to the 1958 XLCH!
“The KH had bigger cams and the KHK had the even larger racing type KK cams. These cams were larger than the ones in Brad Andres` 1955 National Championship KR Motorcycle. The KHKs were hand built factory Hot Rods that also benefited from extensive additional port work and head machining. The headwork increased flow and made room for the valves necessary due to the high-lift cams. Valve springs were changed to the KR racer type. A new Linkert M-53A1 carburetor was added to the package. All this translated into a motorcycle that now produced 38 Horsepower and 1/4 mile dragstrip times were over two seconds quicker than the standard K. The KH would now do the 1/4 in 14.75 seconds. I don`t have performance figures for the KHK but obviously they would be even better.
Now I would like to point out that several books often portray the K as being a sub-standard motorcycle, (in the power department), and not really even being acceptable until it received Overhead Valves and was called an XL. However a 1966 XLH took 15.5 seconds to do the 1/4, although a 1958 XLCH would run it in 14.25. The first Sportster in 1957 had only 7.5 to 1 compression and 40 Horsepower, then the 1958 was upgraded to 9 to 1 with bigger valves. Also the 58 XLCH was a lightweight stripped down motorcycle. No battery, etc. The point I`m making is that granted, the first year K was no rocket at 16.8 seconds but all the other ones, KK, KH, and KHK Models were quite fast motorcycles. Even with its` battery, full fenders, large FL type headlight, huge gas tank and full tins the KH was only a half a second slower than the XLCH. I wonder what numbers the KHK would produce? I feel the K`s deserve a lot more recognition for performance than they ever normally receive.”