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The S&S Performance Motorcycle Engine: Origins

S&S motorcycle enginesNowadays, most people know that S&S Cycle offers some of the best motorcycle engines for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, but back in the day, old timers knew S&S for high performance carburetors such as the venerable Super B, the Super E, Super G, and even the now discontinued Two-Throat.  So how did S&S Cycle make the transition from "The Carb Guys" to the "Engine Guys"

It's a long story because S&S has a long history, but here's a brief, condensed version. 

S&S Cycle was founded in 1958, and the first product sold was a solid lifter conversion kit featuring light weight aluminum pushrods.  It wasn't too long before S&S introduced stroker flywheels to make Harley® engines bigger.  Then came larger carburetors for gas and nitro, capable of supplying the demands of larger displacement stroker engines.  The nitro engines were bending stock connecting rods, so S&S came up with stronger connecting rods for both Sportster® and big twin models.  Big bore cylinders and pistons, and the improved Super carburetor were introduced in the 1970's, and the as time went on, more and more parts were added to the line.  Some were purely high performance parts, but many could even be used as stock motorcycle replacement parts.  Predominantly however, S&S was known for carburetors, and the iconic S&S teardrop air cleaner cover made it easy to spot a bike with an S&S carburetor.

performance motorcycle engineBy the early 1990's, with the addition of crankcases and cylinder heads, S&S had enough parts to put together a fairly complete v-twin engine.  These almost complete motorcycle engines were brought to market as "Long Block Engines", indicating that they were not quite all there.  Some stock Harley-Davidson® or aftermarket parts were needed before they were ready to run. 

During this time period, Harley-Davidson® motorcycles were becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, hard to get your hands on.  It could take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to take delivery of a new Harley®.  With that kind of supply and demand imbalance, it didn't take long for enterprising entrepreneurs to start building custom bikes to fill the void.  There were a lot of available aftermarket parts for v-twins, so these new manufacturers didn't have much trouble coming up with parts to build these "clone" bikes as they were sometimes called, with one exception – the engine.

The timing was perfect for everybody. The new "Custom OE" manufactures needed engines, and S&S could supply them.  So the v-twin motorcycle buying public had a choice between waiting a year and a half to two years for a new Harley-Davidson® motorcycle with an 80 cubic inch engine, or taking immediate delivery of a custom built bike with an 88 or 96 cubic inch S&S engine. 

S&S became the motorcycle engine of choice for most of the new manufactures, and as a result S&S became known to more and more people as an engine manufacturer, as opposed to a company that makes go fast parts to hop up a Harley-Davidson® engine.  It's important to note that S&S was, and still is both.  S&S manufactures complete high performance engines, but high performance parts for Harley® engines is still a major part of the product line to this day.

To complete the story, S&S continued to come up with more styles and sizes of engines, and today S&S can supply a complete engine for just about any big twin model from 1936 to 2006 and a fair number of Sportster Buell models as well.  It's quite a list:
(click the Harley® model to view the S&S replacement)

Model Year

Harley® Model / S&S Replacement


knucklehead engine / KN-Series


panhead engine / P-Series


shovelhead engine (generator style) / SH-Series (generator style)


shovelhead engine (alternator style) / SH-Series (alternator style)


Evolution® big twin engine / V-Series


Evolution Sportster® engine / SB-Series


Buell® engine / SB-Series


Twin Cam 88® engine / T-Series


Not Applicable / X-Wedge®

In addition, S&S produces special engines for custom applications such as alternator/generator KN, P, and SH series engines, as well as the new KN-Kone engine that was named "Engine Of The Year" for 2011 by V-Twin magazine.  Let's not forget S&S Cycle's proprietary X-Wedge® engine, which has received a lot of attention in connection with the British Morgan three wheeler and the Italian CR&S motorcycles.

That's our story, and we're sticking to it!


have used many of your products on my own as whell as customers rides with great succes, thank you a million times for your endeavor to provide quality in both function and form!As of late i have been handed down three different customers tuning woes (they say trouble comes in threes) all of them with freshly installed L series carbs, two GBL's and an MGL. Would love to be told i'm blind and just don't see the parts listings, are they avalable?
Posted @ Sunday, June 05, 2011 11:19 PM by milwaukee ghost
So what does the "S" and "S" stand for?
Posted @ Saturday, June 09, 2012 1:49 PM by Rob Henry
Which S&S motor is on my 2001 Indian Spirit? 
Which transmission did Indian use for that bike?
Posted @ Friday, January 04, 2013 7:30 PM by ray
i bought a custom softail and i want to find out what cubic inch s&s engine is on it how can i find this info?
Posted @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:57 AM by DONNY MURPHY
Does S&S even monitor what we say here? 
Also I haven't seen any new information on the touted X-Wedge since 2011. 
I have a 2009 Big Bear "Sled" Chopper with 114" EFI X-Wedge. S&S Bored it to 128", ported the Heads and we went from 52mm Throttle Body to 58mm, Bigger Injectors & the baddest Cam S&S offers for the X-Wedge! 
Posted @ Wednesday, June 05, 2013 12:50 PM by Larry Peteet
I bought a custom chopper with an SS engine. How can I find out the size of this engine?
Posted @ Monday, September 09, 2013 11:07 PM by Carlos
I have a 1999 Indian Cheif with a S&S motor. I have been having trouble with the plugs. I put a new set in and it will run fine for a while but then it will start to miss fire and back fire. Put new plugs in and it fine for a while. Replaced the ign. new S&S carb. Don't know what is wrong.
Posted @ Thursday, September 26, 2013 10:12 AM by Raymond Lenharr
I have a 2004 HellBounw with a 107 S&S motor. I can ride all day without any problems, then I go to start an I hab=ve no spark to the plugs?? If I wait long enough I will then get spark an can turn over the engine. Not sure if this engine has a CPS or not but I need some help trying to figure out the intermittent spark?? anyone have this problem or any ideas I can try.
Posted @ Tuesday, November 12, 2013 7:22 AM by Bill Brimmer
I mean I can turn it off an on 40 times a day and then out of nowhere no spark to the plugs..I can't take the bike far as already drained the battery trying to crank it over. so if anyone has or had or knows how to fix it I would be in your debt.
Posted @ Tuesday, November 12, 2013 7:24 AM by Bill Brimmer
What is the CC's of an S&S 96 CI motor? 
Posted @ Sunday, February 23, 2014 2:15 PM by Joe C
I have a cvo 2003 Roadking with apparently a s&s 120ci engine, I think the number is EPO804  
with 91-7089s heads could you give me the info and specs on this engine,if these numbers are correct, (hp,torque,cams,comp,valve size etc.) 
Posted @ Sunday, April 20, 2014 3:28 PM by Mick Oconnor
Yes I have a 1987 custom softail I bought and it has a s&s engiñe with a super g carb. and the engine has a natural finish would like to know as much As possible about the engine.
Posted @ Monday, May 26, 2014 3:54 PM by Larry Dale Britton
I have a 1992 evo S&S 80 cubic inch 
springer Harley Davidson with super stock bottom and S&S heads how can I tell what size the engine is serial number on the motor base is *A03171*
Posted @ Friday, June 27, 2014 11:16 AM by albert mario allen
Hi I've just bought a Titan motorcycle I would like to no how or what size cubic inch the S&S motor is and what plugs it needs it's got compression valves on it and weird plugs like car plugs help!!!!
Posted @ Monday, July 14, 2014 12:46 PM by Stefano
I have the same issue. I have a 99 Chief the bike has been in the shop more than the road. replaced the plugs runs fine for a while then the battery will go so I am going back and forth with the replacement of both. I put a Harley ignition switch on it helped but it is back to the battery which does not have 20 hrs or 200 miles on it and it is always on a charger. lost alot of confidence in the machine any suggestions.
Posted @ Thursday, July 17, 2014 1:09 PM by david ketcher
G'day all. Just hoping someone can tell me what type of s&s engine I have. The engine number is NE00177X . I'm told it is 111cid but I don't know if it is a twin cam or big twin evo ? . 
Also what carb is recomended E or G. The exhaust I'm running is V&H 2 into1. Many thanks.
Posted @ Monday, September 01, 2014 5:26 AM by Rodney Berghammer
They don't answer your e-mails either. I told them what I thought of their motors now they don't even have a page on their site for a complete evo motor..
Posted @ Thursday, October 09, 2014 6:15 AM by Bill
Can u tell me iv got a Ss motor in my softtail and it got son the motor j000e* and 1080p on motor how many cube is it 
Posted @ Sunday, November 09, 2014 5:10 AM by pat
S&S don't answer e-mails or stand behind their motors. Check around before buying one and compare there are other engine companies out there that would love to have your business..
Posted @ Sunday, November 09, 2014 6:14 AM by Bill
Hi there.. trying to find out what size engine I have, it has *G02795* stamped on it. 
Posted @ Saturday, November 15, 2014 8:00 PM by Scott
Im trying to find out some history on the motor that's in my 1977 FXE Shovelhead. Previous owner inherited the bike and knows no details about it. The serial number on the cases are *T0965* If you can be any assistance at all I would appreciate it. Thanks Jim
Posted @ Thursday, December 04, 2014 7:44 PM by Jim Roberts
I hope you're fine . 
I need your help  
I have a harley bike needs an injector . 
The engine number is :*LC00203* 
on The injector written number :WA14 BAP 
The bike is 2010 Harley Davidson ,Big Bear Chopper
Posted @ Monday, December 22, 2014 7:26 AM by Ali
I have a 1999 ultra, with a s&s super stock motor. I'm trying to find out what size it is
Posted @ Saturday, January 31, 2015 5:24 PM by chili
I have a 2007 Saxon with a 96 cubic inch S&S motor. I'm not getting any spark to either one of the plugs. Does anyone have idea what would be the most likely cause. Sure appreciate answers as soon as possible, thank you.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:07 PM by Dan Kattwinkel
I have a 2007 Saxon Firestorm with a 96ci S&S Motor. I'm not getting any spark to the plugs, and I believe it's just one of the fuses or circuit breakers but I cant locate them since I don't have a owners Manuel. Can anyone tell me where they are located? I believe it's the one for the ignition.
Posted @ Thursday, February 12, 2015 10:13 AM by Dan Kattwinkel
Hello to all, 
I own a 2000 Indian Chief. I would like to find out if the motor is a stock 88" S&S as it is a fully polished all chrome engine with the stamped serial No. A0167....not sure if it is an "O" or a "zero." If anyone can answer this question or guide me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate all input. Thanx, Jason
Posted @ Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:11 AM by Jason
Did you try calling the techs up there? 
Posted @ Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:52 AM by Wolfes Amsoil Synthetics
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