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Harley-Davidson Sportster

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A motorcycle produced by Harley-Davidson since 1957. Designated with the product code XL.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Harley-Davidson Sportster page on 9 August 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Harley-Davidson Sportster is a line of motorcycles produced continuously since 1957 by Harley-Davidson. Sportster models are designated in Harley-Davidson's product code by beginning with "XL". In 1952, the predecessors to the Sportster, the Model K Sport and Sport Solo motorcycles, were introduced. These models K, KK, KH, and KHK of 1952 to 1956 had a flat head engine, whereas the later XL Sportster models use an overhead valve engine. The first Sportster in 1957 had many of the same details of the KH including the frame, fenders, large gas tank and front suspension.

Construction

Sportster motorcycles are powered by a four-stroke, 45° V-twin engine in which both connecting rods, of the "fork and blade" or "knife & fork" design, share a common crank pin. The original Sportster engine was the Ironhead engine, which was replaced with the Evolution engine in 1986. Sportster engines, the 45 cubic inch R, D, G & W Models 1929 side-valve motors, and the 'Big Twin' side-valve motors, which were: the flathead 74.0 cu in (1,213 cc) Models V, VL etc. (1930–1936), Models U and UL (1937–1948), and the 80.0 cu in (1,311 cc) models VH and VLH (1935–1936), models UH and ULH (1937–1941) have four separate cams, sporting one lobe per cam.

The cam followers used in Sportster engines, K models, big twin side valve models, and the side-valve W model series were a slightly shorter version of the followers used in the larger motors, but with the same 0.731-inch (18.6 mm) diameter body and 0.855-inch (21.7 mm) diameter roller follower since 1929. The company used similar cam followers for decades with minor changes, from the 1929 to the Eighties.

Sportster engines retained the K/KH design crankcase design, in which the transmission is contained in the same casting as the engine, and driven by the engine with a triple-row #35 chain primary drive and a multi-plate cable-operated clutch. Models since 1991 have five speeds; 1990 and earlier models had four speeds.

The engine was mounted directly to the frame from 1957 through the 2003 model year. While this system allows the bike to be somewhat lighter with more precise handling, it also transmits engine vibration directly to the rider. Sportsters released in 2004 and later use rubber isolation mounts and tie links to limit engine movement to a single plane, which greatly reduces vibration felt by the rider. Buell motorcycles built with variants of the Sportster engine have used a rubber mount system since 1987.

The Model K, from which the Sportster evolved, was the first civilian motorcycle produced by Harley-Davidson with hydraulic shock absorbers on both wheels. Common usage calls this a K Model.

Model K series

This is developed from the earlier 45 W model, but with the revised flat head engine and new 4-speed transmission contained in the same castings as would become the Sportster. The connecting rods would be inherited by the Sportster along with many other design elements and dimensions.

  • Model K and KK 1952–1953: 750 cc side-valve engines, using the 45 model bore and stroke of 2.75" x 3.8125" (69.85 x 96.85 mm)
  • Model KR (racing only) 1953–1969: 750 cc side-valve engines
  • Model KH and KHK 1954–1956: 888 cc side-valve engines, using the 45 model bore, but with the stroke increased to 4.5625" (115.89 mm). This is the only small twin with a longer stroke than 3.8125". The shorter stroke is otherwise universal to the entire 45/K/Sportster line from 1929 to the present (exception: XR750, XB9 Buell).


  • XL series Sportsters

  • XL, Ironhead, 1957–1985: 883 cc and 1,000 cc Ironhead overhead-valve engines with cast iron heads, K series frame
  • XLCH, Ironhead, (unofficial "Competition Hot" moniker) 1958–1971: 883 cc, and 1,000 cc 1972 & up
  • XR-750 (racing with the exception of being Evel Knievel's jump bike while sponsored by Harley-Davidson between 1970 and 1977) 1970–1971: 750 cc overhead-valve engine, iron heads
  • XR-750 (racing only with the exception noted above) 1972–1985: 750 cc overhead-valve engine, alloy heads
  • XLCR 1977–1978-1979: Cafe racer 1,000 cc overhead-valve engine, iron heads, 2000 made in 77, 1200 in 78, and 9 in 1979
  • XR-1000 1983–1984: 1,000 cc street model using XR racing cylinder head and other XR engine parts
  • XLR: 883 cc overhead-valve engines, iron heads


  • XLS Roadster 1979-1982 1000cc ironhead / 4 speed, stock components -- 2" longer forks, 2 up seat, sissy bar, highway pegs, 3.3 gallon tank

  • XLS Roadster, 1983-1985, 1,000 cc ironhead, 4 gallon fuel tank with console
  • XL, Evolution (also known as the "Evo"), since 1986: 883 cc, 1,100 cc and 1,200 cc Evolution overhead-valve engine, alloy heads


  • Significant changes by model year

  • 1957 "Ironhead" overhead-valve engine introduced.
  • 1958 XLH touring high compression model and XLCH sportier "Competition Hot" model introduced.
  • 1972 "Ironhead" 1,000 cc overhead-valve engine replaces 900 cc.
  • 1975 Switched to left-side gear change (DOT mandate)
  • 1977 & 1979 Dual exhaust "Siamese" pipes used, introduced on XLCR in 1977 all models 1979, along with the triangular frame and rear hydraulic disk brake also introduced on the XLCR.
  • 1979 Last year for the kickstart only XLCH, only 141 made.
  • 1985 Last year for the "Ironhead" overhead-valve engine.
  • 1986 "Evolution" engine introduced in 883 cc and 1,100 cc sizes.
  • 1988 1200 cc engine replaces 1,100 cc engine.
  • 1988 Constant velocity carburetor replaces butterfly carburetor.
  • 1991 Five-speed transmission replaces four-speed.
  • 1991 Belt drive replaces chain drive on 883 Deluxe and all 1200 models.
  • 1993 Belt drive made standard on all Sportsters.
  • 1994 Improved oil tank, battery tray, and clutch made standard.
  • 1994 New electrical system with sealed connectors.
  • 1995 Speedometer is now electronic, not mechanical.
  • 1996 XL1200C Custom model introduced.
  • 1998 XL1200S gets dual spark plug heads and high performance cams
  • 2000 Introduced sealed wheel bearings and updated four-piston brake calipers.
  • 2003 Last year for the frame mounted Evolution engine.
  • 2004 All-new frame including rubber-mounted engine for decreased vibration. Elimination of the transmission trap door, New shape hamcan, Exhaust balance pipe moved from running under the air filter and disguised and hidden behind the silencers to show more of engine, new smoother style oil tank right side panel with push and turn filler/dipstick, and the previously exposed battery is now enclosed in a matching side panel on the left
  • 2005 Enlarged rear axle to 1 inch (25.4 mm) for increased stability.
  • 2006 New XR1200 is announced at Intermot in Cologne, Germany. The XR1200 is the first Harley-Davidson to utilize Down Draft DDFI II fuel injection. To be released as a late 2006 model. Introduction of helical gears in transmission (2nd-5th).
  • 2007 Fuel injection replaces carburetion on all models.
  • 2008 front axle enlarged from 3/4 inch to 25 mm, rear axle decreased from 1 inch (25.4 mm) to 25 mm
  • 2009 "One size fits all" front mudguard approach replaced by improved mudguard contour to match each model's respective wheel diameters.
  • 2010 The ECU is relocated to allow more variation in aftermarket seat selection
  • 2010 Side-mounted license plate option on some models
  • 2014 new electrical harness, new larger brakes, antilock brakes (ABS) option, keyless entry, new speedometer with gear indicator/tachometer, increased engine compression ratio, catalytic converter


  • Photographs

    1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1975
    Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
    2012 Remember Our Heroes Car Show
    View photo of 1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster - 4.8MB
    1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1975
    Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
    2012 Remember Our Heroes Car Show
    View photo of 1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster - 4.1MB
    1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1975
    Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
    2012 Remember Our Heroes Car Show
    View photo of 1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster - 4.8MB
    1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1975
    Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
    2012 Remember Our Heroes Car Show
    View photo of 1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster - 4.2MB
    1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1975
    Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
    2012 Remember Our Heroes Car Show
    View photo of 1975 Harley-Davidson Sportster - 3.4MB
    Harley-Davidson Sportster Photo courtesy of Image*After
    View photo of Harley-Davidson Sportster - 867KB
    Harley-Davidson Sportster Photo courtesy of Image*After
    View photo of Harley-Davidson Sportster - 935KB
    Harley-Davidson Sportster Photo courtesy of Image*After
    View photo of Harley-Davidson Sportster - 843KB
    Harley-Davidson Sportster Photo courtesy of Image*After
    View photo of Harley-Davidson Sportster - 832KB


    Documents

    DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
    8 March 1967NHTSA Recall 67V025000
    1967 Harley-Davidson Sportster; Electrical System:Wiring
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Recall Page - 1 page
    5 October 2010Safety Compliance Testing for FMVSS 122: Motorcycle Brake Systems
    2010 Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Motorcycle
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    PDF
    - 21.7MB - 60 pages


    Article Index

    DateArticleAuthor/Source
    9 May 2014Receipt of Petition for Decision That Nonconforming 2011-2014 Harley-Davidson FX, FL, XL, and VR Motorcycles Are Eligible for ImportationFederal Register: NHTSA (Jeffrey M. Giuseppe)
    26 January 2016Notice of Receipt of Petition for Decision That Nonconforming 2010 Harley-Davidson FX, XL and VR Motorcycles Are Eligible for ImportationFederal Register: NHTSA (Jeffrey M. Giuseppe)




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