Archive for the ‘harley-davidson’ Tag
I made the mistake once of telling a potential employer (my local Harley Davidson dealer) that the only Harley I really liked was the XLCR from the late 70’s. The minute that sentence came out of my mouth I knew I was not going to be wearing orange and black to work each day. I did my best to backtrack but by then I was being shown the door. Oh well. Ironically, today I do ride a Buell, which is powered by Harley Davidson.
It is true though that I really like the XLCR, it is some sort of mental deficiency I understand that, but there is just something about that bike that works for me. The XLCR was the first bike designed by Willie G. himself and marketing wise it went over like a fart in church. To the faithful it was the bastard stepchild. The Cafe racer had more going against it than for it right from the get go. One, it didn’t look like a Harley should look. Two, it was made during the AMF period and it’s pretty common knowledge that those were as close to junk as could possibly be. Unreliable, poor fit and finish, and just shoddy in general. Fortunately, that period didn’t last too long and The Motor Company came back strong.
In 1977 The Motor Company built a few less 2,000 XLCR’s, 1978 had a production of around 1,000 and the last year, 1979, of the Cafe Racer there were only 9. Back then you could own one for just $3595…actually many were sold for a lot less. Today, a nicely kept or restored original goes for over $10,000!
I found one today on ebay that has a few modifications and is showing its age, but that’s OK. The mods include upgraded rear shocks, a new carb (sans air cleaner), and a what looks to be a loud exhaust. The bike needs some love but not too much from what I can see and might be had for a somewhat reasonable price.
XLCR’s have a very definite cool factor, and it still one of only a couple Harley’s I would like to own.
Click on the pictures below for more pics and more info.
Recently I spent some time with my friend Erik doing a heart transplant on his Sportster. Erik rides hard, he spends more time on the rev-limiter than most people spend on their bikes. But, Erik takes care of his bikes, well, kind of? After 70,000+ miles of abuse his Sporty decided it was done. A good used motor was found on ebay, shipped to California and without too much drama installed.
Erik has been, little by little, turning his Sportster into a Cafe Racer. Suspension mods,clip-ons, exhaust, seat…it’s all coming together nicely but I know he wants to do more.
Erik is considering new wire spoked wheels, new bodywork and pumping up the motor. It’s going to be a really well put together bike when done. But…I found one on ebay today that is already done and looks to me to a perfect example of how a Sportser should look.
I have to digress here a bit though, I have never been a fan of Harley Davidsons, except one…the XLCR, Harley’s (more exactly Willie G. Davidson’s) first design out of the cruiser/touring market. This has to probably be thee most underloved Harley ever built. It may be powered by a Harley motor but to ‘The Faithful’ it wasn’t a Harley Davidson. The XLCR fit into the same category as the little 2 strokes from Italy…maybe even lower. However, the XLCR has become a cult bike and quite valuable.
Today, Sportster based Cafe Racer’s aren’t all that unusual. The first one I ever saw was at one of my semi-regular Sunday stops ‘The Rock Store’ in the Santa Monica Mountains. The license plate on this particular Sporty was ‘DUCHUNTER’ and that was the owners favorite game, chasing down Ducati’s in the canyons. He often won the game.
The ’96 I found today is beautiful. Bodywork is a beautifully shaped 4 gallon tank, a classic Ducati seat and tail section, a sweet looking exhaust, nice clip-ons and classic aluminum spoked wheels. Everything about this bike looks to have been done with a a lot of love and attention to detail. This is how I hope Erik’s turns out but with his own special touches.
For more info and pictures, click on the pics below. And now, I’m going to go out and ride my own Harley powered Buell over to Erik’s and work on his Sporty Cafe Racer.
In 1969 BSA commanded 80% of all the Brit bikes sold here in the USA. Eighty Percent! Who woulda thunk? I, and I think most of us, would have pegged Triumph as the leader but not so say the statistics. What was it about BSA that made it that strong a seller in a time when the Japanese manufacturers were dominating the market? Was it styling? No. Was it performance? No. Was it reliability? Certainly not. So what was it?
Let’s find a bit of perspective here. BSA may have had 80% of the British bike sales here in the states but ‘Made in England’ motorcycles constituted a very small percentage of the total bikes sold here. So small that within a decade, they were all gone from the US market.
From the late 1950’s through the mid 60’s, the British were competing with the very popular Harley Davidson Sportster in the performance category. The Sportster was Harley’s ‘sportbike’, it had a slight horsepower advantage, it had a new look (the peanut tank was quite stylish then), it had the Harley sound and, of course, it had the advantage of being made in the USA. BSA, Triumph and Norton all were better handling motorcycles but back then, straight line speed was king, not the ability to go around corners fast.
Each of the big three from the UK tried styling mods to attract the American market, Triumph with the X75 Hurricane, Norton tried (and miserably failed) with their Hi-Rider chopper model and BSA tried with…well, nothing. Sure, BSA tried a few styling changes like a smaller slimmer tank, the oil in the frame design (which nobody was really happy about), and of course the ray-gun mufflers of the Rocket 3. Personally, I love the ray-gun mufflers but at the time they went over like a fart in church. Anyway, the Brits just faded away into the sunset. Today, Triumph is back in a big way and Norton is getting set to comeback this year with a new Commando and it is beautiful. I hope it succeeds.
I started my street bike life aboard a BSA so the brand has a certain spot in my heart that will never go away. Yes, it stranded me more than once with faulty electric’s, and yes, it leaked more oil in a month than any Japanese bike I’ve ever owned did in a lifetime. It could be a bit (?) temperamental when it came to starting in the morning (or when it was hot and the bike didn’t feel like going anywhere), and it could vibrate the fillings out of my teeth if the carbs weren’t balanced properly, but…when everything was working as it was supposed to, what a joy it was to ride that Beezer. I was raised to ride the canyon roads, to believe in handling over horsepower, and the sound coming from a parallel twin was the sweetest sound in motorcycling.
At one point in time (actually a couple of times) the Japanese manufactures realized that there was something about the British bikes that still captivated the American buyer. Yamaha did great with the XS650, designed to compete with the Triumph, Kawasaki brought out the W650 to head to head with the BSA and Honda tried with the GB500 single. The only one that succeeded over the long run was the Yamaha. Today, the Triumph Bonneville is a huge success because it looks like a proper English motorbike without the oil puddle underneath it.
Lately I have been thinning the herd of bikes in my barn and am starting to look for a new adventure…once I have finished the other four projects I have going, and am being drawn towards a BSA 650. I’m actually looking for one of the last designs more than the old chrome tank styles, mainly because I think they are probably going to be cheaper on the market(?). Today on ebay I found one that might just fit the bill.
On ebay today, there is a 1969 BSA A65 that has been set up for vintage roadracing. Remember, the A65 was BSA’s ‘roadracer for the street’. The A65 put out a very respectable 54HP and would top out at around 105MPH. This particular bike has been upgraded with Marzocchi forks, more modern rear shocks, and a Suzuki twin leading shoe front brake, which was a very good upgrade from the standard brake the BSA had at the time. The motor has been given some extra muscle by way of a 750cc kit But, here is the cool thing about this bike, it can easily be retrofitted with the electric’s to power a headlight, taillight and blinkers so you have a perfect cafe racer with almost no effort! The seller says that it does need some carb work but that’s no big deal. This could be a very sweet Sunday rider.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.
I recently posted an interesting Yamaha XS650 by this same shop (Loaded Gun Customs), and now they have this cafe’d 1989 HD Sportster up for sale. It’s definitely got some nice mechanical bits on it (the rear-sets and clip-ons), and it has a nice simple look to it. My own Sportster hasn’t been converted quite this far yet, but its getting there.
This bike is probably a 1200, but the seller doesn’t actually say. However, they did put new 10:1 pistons in it, and the cylinders look awfully new, so I would guess they plopped a 883 to 1200 upgrade kit on it and called it a day. It is missing the headlight adjustment nut cover, which is kind of odd given that the rider would have to look at the exposed bolthead and any pooling water every time they rode the bike.
Anyways, there are 2 days left in the auction, and the price is just over $3K. Reserve hasn’t been met, and the Buy-It-Now price is $5,200, so your guess is as good as mine as to what the reserve price has been set at. This is a pretty nice example of a Sportster cafe compared to most that we see…
Here again on the blog is another XLCR up for auction right now on eBay. These seem to be (reliably, at least) the most common factory cafe racer appearing for sale. I know, I know, it isn’t truly a cafe racer what with the high-ish bars and lump of a motor. But at least Harley tried. And my friend Paul loves these bikes…
This one is a Canadian model with about 25K kilometers on the odometer. Currently at $8K with 2 days left in the auction. Sorry, there were no pictures of the left side of the bike…
Clip-ons, 15″ Progressive shocks, modded forks, full Harley tax paid, and sticky Bridgestone BT45 tires.
Here we go again. Another XLCR up on eBay right now (about 9 days left). This one is probably the lowest actual mile XLCR I’ve posted (5,318 miles), but it is also in no way a restoration bike like some of them. Bidding right now is under $1K, but somewhat obviously, it hasn’t met reserve yet. The only text in the listing about this actual bike says that it has new tires, a new battery, and had the fluids changed. Since it’s a Harley, I’d assume it probably leaks a bit of oil. That’s it, nothing else interesting to say about this bike. Click through if you want to check it out…
As you may or may not know, I like Sportsters. I have 2005 883 myself, and have been converting it into a cafe racer for the last two years. Cafe conversions of the XL are fairly few and fair between relatively speaking, so when one comes up for sale on eBay, or I find one elsewhere, it tends to end up posted on the blog.
What we have here is a 2002 XL 1200. What does buying a 1200 and not an 883 get you? About 20 extra horsepower and dual front discs. While this bike has some nice mods done to it, it is far from complete. The clip-ons are there. The fender has been bobbed nicely. The bike has the black-out treatment on lots of the parts.
So what’s left?
It’s got to have a new exhaust. I don’t even want to think about how loud the stock head pipes run without mufflers must be. and it probably has moved the power band completely to the top end. I’m going to guess that the carb has been set up properly given that the bike has cams and head-work done to it. Oh yeah, did I mention how loud it probably is?
The wheels: stock Harley wheels are heavy! It needs something lighter. Sportsters can be made relatively light compared to their portly weight in stock form, but one of the most important weight-loss procedures is losing the factory boat-anchors. Plus, Sportsters with 18″ 40-spoke alloy rims built up on nice, stock alloy hubs look really sweet!
Three sets of foot pegs: it’s got three! Pick any two and get on with it. Rear-sets would be best, but lose the highway pegs if nothing else.
That’s it. I’m done complaining. This is a good build-up of a Sportster into an almost cafe racer. A couple of tweeks, and it would be done. And I bet it’s a lot faster than a lot of bikes out on the road…
Mostly for my friend Paul (because he really loves these bikes), here’s another XLCR up on the auction block. This one is a rider, not a 100pt restoration like that last one I posted. Overall, it appears very clean with the usual signs that it’s been ridden (motor is not perfectly painted, some bolts and metal parts appear to have a bit of corrosion, and the rear seat cowl has some kind of scuffing that could probably be buffed out). But for a bike that is 31 years old that has 11K miles, it is in pretty good shape. It does come with the manuals, lots of service records, and a dual rear seat.
Given it’s current state of shine, I’m going to guess that the reserve is $8,500 and $9,500. Good luck if you are bidding on this bike…
This is a really clean example of an H-D XLCR. Since you are at this site, I am pretty sure you have heard of it before, but if you haven’t, it was a factory (mostly) cafe racer from Harley-Davidson that was produced only in 1977 and 1978. Under-powered at 61hp compared to it’s contemporary brethren, but with a full helping of somewhat European styling, it was never a sales hit and disappeared from Harley’s bike roster after just over 3,100 machines were produced. It was something of an oxymoronic bike, as current owners of Harley-Davidsons didn’t care for the styling, and speed-freaks could go 20 miles an hour faster on the top-end with a stock CB750.
Be that as it may, the bike for sale here is very, very clean and has been restored to within an inch of its life. Good luck finding a nicer example, unless it is one that was hermetically sealed as it rolled off the factory floor. The auction hasn’t met reserve yet, but there are 6 days left. I’ll post a “How Much Was It Worth?” on the back end…