Sportster History with VINs & Specifications

Look Up Sportsters by Specific Year

Click here to see a year by year catalog of Sportsters with pictures and specifications for each model Sportsters Specifications By Specific Year
  • The listings are under construction and incomplete at this time so please excuse our progress. You can help us populate these pages by contacting the Sportsterpedia Admin Team at any time by clicking on the 'contact' button on the lower portion of the Main Page or logging on to The and posting in the Sportsterpedia section of the forum. We would like to hang a picture of your 'factory original' ride in the catalog pages. You must own the pictures in order for us to use them. Please provide year, model and any small modifications that deviate from factory conditions.

Sportster Year Model and Specification Changes Through History

Below is a summary of the progression of early to present day Sportsters. Included here are general year model changes from models to engines, tires etc. For detailed information on a specific year model go to the link above.
  • Some parts below are excerpts from the book “Harley Davidson Data Book” by Rick Conner published by MBI Publishing Co. 1996. This book does have some errors in it and as the errors are found, they are corrected.
  • 'THE HISTORY OF THE SPORTSTER' contributions by: docjimbob, Tim Schumacher, Tom Riccio, & Kev Maher and Bruce's Harley Page (check for History on all HD models). 1)
  • Other sources are referenced accordingly with footnotes.

1957 - 1959


  • MoCo notes:
    • Willie G Davidson designed a new HD tank logo before actually joining the company.
    • Royal Canadian Mounted Police receive a new model FLH.
  • Production Information:
    • XL (1,983), $1,103
  • The Sportster XL was introduced as “a modern, up-to-date power plant” and weighing in at 204 lbs and making 42 Horsepower at 5,500 RPMs. 2)
    • Wheel base 56-1/2“
    • Overall length 87”
    • Overall width 34“
    • Overall height 40-1/2”
    • Saddle height 26-7/8“ to 29”
    • Road Clearance 2-1/2“ to 4-5/8” 3)
    • 55cid 7.5:1 Compression, hemi-spherical style heads, 90 degree valve angle, OHV V-twin, 4 cams 4)5)
    • 48 ft-lbs of torque at 3600 RPMs.
    • 1-11/16“ Dia. intake valves 6)
    • 3”x3.8“ bore and stroke
    • Piston Displacement (883cc) 53.9 cu. in.
    • Kickstart only
    • 18” wheels standard
    • Speedometer designed into the sheet metal of the fork shroud.
    • Telescoping front forks
    • Fuel tank capacity 4.4 gallons.
    • Oil tank (3 quarts) located under the seat on the right side using a recirculating oiling system
    • 6 volt dry charged battery
    • Two brush 6V generator (29982-52) w / voltage regulator (74510-47A) powering a six volt system 7)
    • Coil-over shocks
    • 'Jubilee' trumpet horn mounted on the right side of the engine, power pack on the left side
    • Paint color, 'HD 100' enamel
    • Standard solo seat
    • Options included
      • Windshield
      • Saddlebags
      • Dual seat
    • Front drum brakes (operated by a lever on the left handlebar)
    • Rear drum brakes (operated by a foot pedal on the left side)
    • Rear swingarm with Timken bearings at pivots.
    • Short-barrel Linkert Carburetor
    • Engine ID numbers on a pad located on the left side between the cylinders
    • Straight retained bearings on gear shaft
    • Roller valve lifters were called (High Speed Racing Tappets)
    • Spark plugs were air cooled and could be dis-assembled
    • Cams ramped on both closing and opening side
    • Stellite-faced exhaust valves
    • Aluminum alloy pushrods extend up through the covers to reach the rocker
    • Cam-ground aluminum pistons w/ chrome plated top ring, non plated center ring and u-flex lower oil ring
    • Aluminum rocker boxes enclose valves and rockers
    • Cast iron barrels and heads
    • Single-unit construction of engine and transmission
    • Four speed transmission with a foot shifter on the right side
    • Seven plate clutch (operated by a lever on the left handlebar)
    • Primary chain and transmission are lubed by an oil bath separate from engine oil.
    • Double tapered Timken roller bearings on sprocket shaft
    • Only Year:
      • Woodruff keys for camshaft gears
      • 6 splines on drive gear/ second gear shaft
      • Choke control operated by a left side lever
      • Tank emblem: Round plastic disc with 2 silver and red quadrants with Red Harley-Davidson name over it, press riveted to the tank.


  • MoCo notes:
    • Gross sales for the year total $16,390,000
  • Racing notes:
    • Jack Hellar (private rider) sets Salt Flats record of 134.881 mph on a Sportster.
  • Production Information:8)
    • XL (579), $1,155
    • XLH (711)
    • XLC was a first and only year production Sportster.
    • XLCH (239)
    • XLRTT (26)
  • XL redesigned with:
    • New oil tank cap gasket
    • Camshaft gears became integrated with the camshafts, eliminating the need for a woodruff key.
    • Drive gear and second gear support shaft was enlarged .125 in and had 8 splines (instead of 6).
    • Choke control lever moved from left side to the air cleaner.
    • Heavier clutch cover and new gasket.
    • New oil resistant clutch hub seal and gearshaft o-ring.
    • Non-valanced front fender
    • Tank emblem redesign to a round plastic disc with two gold and two black quadrants with a red 'Harley Davidson' over it.
    • Optional 1“ extended shock absorbers (same springs with XLCH shocks) 9)
  • XLH (H designates High compression) was introduced with all the features of the XL and higher compression with the same weight of 204 lbs but running 55 horsepower at 6,300 RPMs. 10)
    • Wheel base 56-1/2”
    • Overall length 87“
    • Overall width 34”
    • Overall height 40-1/2“
    • Saddle height 26-7/8” to 29“
    • Road Clearance 2-1/2” to 4-5/8“ 11)
    • 3”x3.8125“ bore and stroke
    • 53.9 c.i. (883 cc) piston displacement
    • Optional turn signals and 1 in over suspension.
    • Compression ratio 9.0:1
    • Optional 1” extended shock absorbers (same springs with XLCH shocks) 12)
    • New 2-brush 6V generator (29975-58A) 13)
  • The XLC (C stands for Competition) is an off-road version of the XL featuring:
    • 55ci 883cc medium compression engine
    • Four-speed transmission
    • Peanut gas tank (2.25 gallons)
    • Tank emblem is a large 'V' with a checkered flag in and between the name Harley Davidson in the area behind.
    • The new XL eight splined drive and second gear shaft
    • Choke control lever on the air cleaner
    • Magneto ignition
    • Stamped steel primary cover
    • lightened tappets
    • No speedometer
    • Wide ratio gearing
    • Short dualies with no mufflers
    • No lighting and bobbed fenders
    • The XLC was discontinued after the 1958 model year.
    • Same shocks as XLCH 14)
  • The XLCH (CH stands for Competition High compression) was also an off-road version of the XL with a lower weight of 188 lbs running 55 horsepower at 6,300 RPMs.15) featuring:
    • Wheel base 57“
    • Overall length 83-1/4”
    • Overall width 29 1/2“
    • Overall height 42”
    • Saddle height 30 1/2“
    • Road Clearance 4-1/8” to 6-1/2“
    • 55ci 883cc high compression engine
    • Compression ratio 9.0:116)
    • Four-speed transmission
    • High domed pistons
    • Light ended tappets
    • Magneto ignition 17)
    • Larger ports and valves
    • Peanut gas tank (2.25 gallons)
    • Stamped metal primary cover
    • Small section semi-knobby off-road tires
    • Short dual pipes without mufflers
    • Roller lifters
    • Choke control lever mounted to the air cleaner
    • Allow rims
    • Shocks are 1” taller than XL, XLH 18)
    • Sprung solo seat
    • Kick start
    • No lighting and bobbed fenders
    • Tank emblem is a large 'V' with a checkered flag in and between the name Harley Davidson in the area behind.
    • Only year:
      • No speedometer
      • No headlight
      • No battery
      • Staggered dual exhaust without mufflers
  • XLRTT (Tourist Trophy Racer) was a specialty model with the 55ci 883 OHV V-twin engine
  • Paint colors:
    • Skyline Blue tank top w/ Birch White sides
    • Sabre Gray Metallic tank top w/ Birch White sides
    • Calypso Red tank top w/ Birch White sides
    • Black tank top w/ Birch White sides
    • Mudguards (fenders) any standard color
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters in the Deluxe Equipment Group: SP-1, SP-2 and SP-3


  • MoCo notes:
    • John Davidson joins the company.
    • Honda comes to America to “meet the nicest people” and become a stiff competitor.
    • The Sportster FSM (99484-59) had a dealer purchase price from the MoCo of $4.00 with a list price of $5.00 19)
  • Production Information:
    • XL (42), $1,175
    • XLH (Super H)(947), $1,200
    • XLCH (Super CH)(1059), $1,285
    • XLR (5)
    • XLRTT (13)
  • Changes for the XL and XLH include:
    • 4.1 gallon fuel tank
    • New dual exhaust with twin mufflers
    • Sheet metal nacelle headlamp with new Trip-O-Meter speedometer mounted in the nacelle
    • Nylon chain tensioner
    • Valanced front fender
    • Single switch ignition mounted on the back of the left fork.
    • End relieved connecting rod bearings.
    • Arrow-Flite tank emblem designed with an oval red ball behind a chromed arrow with 'Harley Davidson' name in red on arrow shaft.
  • XLH also receives high lift intake cams and re-contoured exhaust cams.
    • Optional redesigned buddy seat and dual exhaust with stacked mufflers.
  • Last year of the XL as a standard sportster line.
  • First year XLCH was designed to be street legal.
    • 5-3/4“ diameter headlamp mounted under an eyebrow mount.
    • New electrical system including a generator, headlight and stop/ tail light.
    • Horn moved to the left side of the engine.
    • Trip meter speedometer mounted behind the handlebars.
    • High lift intake cams and re-contoured exhaust cams.
    • High mounted 2 into 1 exhaust system with un-muffled dual exhaust optional.
    • Laconia chrome rubber mounted handlebars are standard.
    • Handlebar clamp cover, standard.
    • Steering damper adjusted from bottom side of fork bracket.
    • Nylon chain tensioner.
    • End relieved connecting rod bearings.
    • 2.25 US Gallon gas tank
    • The '58 XLH 6V generator was installed on the XLCH but with a different voltage regulator (74510-47A) to power the six volt system 20)
  • Magneto Ignition System mounted in a fixed position producing advanced spark timing only—— 21)
  • Option packages offered for XL and XLH in the Deluxe Equipment Group: SP-1, SP-1A, SP-1B, SP-2 and SP-3
  • Color option changes:
    • Skyline Blue: Tank top Skyline Blue with Birch White side panels
    • Black: Tank top Black with Birch White side panels
    • Calypso Red: Tank top Calypso Red with Birch White side panels
    • Hi-Fi Turquoise: Tank top is Hi-Fi Turquoise with Birch White side panels
    • Hi-Fi Red: Tank top Hi-Fi- Red with Birch White side panels
    • Any standard solid color was done at no extra cost
  • 14.5 sec ¼ mile (90 mph)22)

1960 - 1969


  • MoCo notes:
    • Harley Davidson purchases half of the bike division of the Italian Aermacchi Company
    • HD International (HDI) is established to provide better control in the overseas market of their motorcycles and accessories
    • Overseas expansion of the company becomes focal point
  • Racing notes:
    • Last year Daytona motorcycle races are held on beach sand.
  • Fuel notes:
    • Tetramethyl lead introduced as an additive to automotive fuel which changed the face of Tetraethyl lead in place since 1923.23)
  • Production Information:
    • Total of 2,765 Sportsters sold
    • XLH (Super H) $1,225
    • XLCH (Super CH) $1,310
    • XLRTT
  • XLH and XLCH received new re-calibrated shock absorbers, similar to Big Twin 74s.
  • XLCH now has standard 19” front wheel, rear is still 18“.
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters in the Deluxe Equipment Group: SP-1, SP-1A, SP-2, SP-2A and SP-3
  • Paint Options:
    • Skyline Blue with Birch White side panels on the tank
    • Black with Birch White on the side panels of the tank
    • Any standard solid color without side panel change
    • At extra cost:
      • Hi-Fi Blue with Birch White on the side panels of the tank
      • Hi-Fi Red with Birch White on the side panels of the tank
      • Hi-Fi Green with Birch White on the side panels of the tank


  • MoCo notes:
    • John Davidson joins the Dealer Relations Department
    • William H Davidson is named Chairman of Aermacchi.
    • Sprint models are on assembly line at the Varese, Italy factory. Introduction of the Sprint model. 24)
  • Production Information:
    • Total Sportsters sold 2,014.
    • XLH (Super H) $1,250
    • XLCH (Super CH) $1,335
    • XLRTT
  • Both the XLH and XLCH received a standard dual (double duty) seat and a new tank decal, long oval containing a long pointed star divided into four quadrants with the name 'Harley Davidson' across the top.
  • No more option packages for the Sportster.
  • XLH changed to a 3.75 gallon fuel tank
  • Creased edge on fuel tank.
  • Paint colors
    • XLH
      • Solid Pepper Red or Solid Black. Hi-Fi Blue, Hi-Fi Green and Hi-Fi Red available at extra cost.
    • XLCH
      • Pepper Red with White panels or Black with White panels. Hi-Fi Blue with White panels, Hi-Fi Green with White panels and Hi-Fi Red with White panels available at extra cost.


  • MoCo notes:
    • HD acquires 60% stock in Tomahawk Boat Company and establishes their Tomahawk Division in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. H-D recognizes the rising relevance of fiberglass in motorcycle production, and begins manufacturing its own components. As a result, the Tomahawk Division is established.25) That 35,300sq-ft bldg. is now responsible for all golf cart bodies, windshields, saddlebags and misc motorcycle components manufactured.
    • Factory Service Manuals for all Harley models issued for the year 1962 (covering years 1959-1962) had a dealer price of $4.00 with a list price of $5.00. The Sportster part number is 99484-62. The 1962 Master Service Manual covering all Harley models (not sold to customers) had a dealer price of $21.00. 26)
  • Production Information:
    • Total Sportsters sold (1,998)
    • XLH (Super H) $1,250
    • XLCH (Super CH) $1,335
  • Both XLH and XLCH receive a new aluminum upper triple tree and oval shaped tank badges.
  • Sprocket teeth for all models: Clutch - 59, Rear Wheel - 51, Engine - 34. 27)
  • XLH transmission sprocket - 21 teeth, High gear ratio - 4.21 28)
  • XLCH transmission sprocket - 20 teeth, high gear ratio - 4.42 29)
  • All 1962 and future XLCH models, beginning with the engine numbers 62 XLCH-2549, starting Sept. 15, 1961 are provided with an oil level dipstick attached to the oil tank cap (part no. 62625-62). It was recommended to install these in previous year Sportsters. 30)
  • XLRTT disappeared for TT racing this year.
  • Paint colors, both models
    • Black and White or Tango Red and White. Hi-Fi Blue with White, Hi-Fi Red with White and Hi-Fi Purple with White available at extra cost.


  • MoCo notes:
    • The Tomahawk Division is established and is operational as a Harley-Davidson facility by 1963. 31)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (432), $1,270
    • XLCH (Super CH) (1,001), $1,355
    • XLRTT is back
  • Both XLH & XLCH got 1.323:1 3rd gear ratios (were 1.381)
  • Final ratio 5.56:1 on the H
  • Final ratio 5.85:1 on the CH
  • XLH got new a new style starter pedal and the tank emblem is a stylized version of the Bar and Shield with the bar stretched out to the rear
  • XLCH got the same as XLH,new style starter pedal and the tank emblem is a stylized version of the Bar and Shield with the bar stretched out to the rear
  • Plus a rubber mounted sealed beam headlight with a dimmer switch mounted to the handlebar
  • Improved magneto/coil with ignition key lock on the magneto
  • “shorty duals”
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters
  • Deluxe Equipment Group: XLH got the SP-1
  • Highway Cruiser Group: XLH got the SP-2
  • Optional Group: XLH got the SP-2
  • Optional Group: XLCH got the SP-3H (Low road clearance kit)
  • Paint colors
  • Black and White, Tango Red and White and Horizon Metallic Blue and White. Hi-Fi Turquois with White, Hi-Fi Red with White and Hi-Fi Purple with White available at extra cost.
  • 14.3 sec ¼ mile (92 mph)


  • MoCo notes:
    • The three-wheeled Servi-Car becomes the very first Harley-Davidson motorcycle to receive an electric starter. 32)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (810), $1,295
    • XLCH (Super CH) (1950), $1,360
    • XLRTT (30)
  • XLH and XLHC both got a new full width die-cast aluminum brake drum in the front and aluminum tappet guides.
  • XLCH in addition received a chrome panel for the lower fork bracket and a chrome plated primary chain guard.
  • New graphic for the XLH (oil tank).
  • Last model year of the 6 volt generator (29975-58A) for XLH & XLCH 33).
  • Only year with wide White tank panels for both models
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters
    • Deluxe Equipment Group: XLH got the SP-1
    • Highway Cruiser Group: XLH got the SP-2
    • Optional Group: XLH get the SP-2A
    • Equipment Group: XLCH got the SP-3H
  • Paint colors
    • Fiesta Red with Birch White and Black with Birch White. Available for an extra cost were Hi-Fi Blue with Birch White and Hi-Fi Red with Birch White


  • MoCo notes:
    • Gross sales for the year total $30,560,000
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (955)
    • XLCH (Super CH) (2,815)
    • XLRTT (25)
  • XLH and XLCH received
    • New 12 volt electrical system, with a new 12 volt generator (29975-65) with both sharing the same voltage regulator (74511-65) 34)
      • The '58 & up generator brushes (2)-(30426-58) were used on the six volt generators as a replacement to part number (30451-58, which was made of a different material and could only handle the lower capacity of the six volt system. The change to the 12 volt system prompted a Service Bulletin advising not to use the earlier style brushes (30451-58) brushes on the new 12 volt systems which could result in short brush life and damage to the armature commutator. 35)
    • Starting on April 30, 1965, with engine number 65XLH7359, the spark plug has been changed from a #5 to a #4 on Sportsters. The #4 is a hotter plug that gave better results for break-in and normal service. It also eliminated wet fouling tendencies under low loads which are common during engine break-in. The #5 was still recommended after break-in if driven hard at highway speeds (of the era).36)
    • High fidelity horn mounted on the left side of the engine (XLH lost the “Jubilee” horn)
    • Racing-type ball end levers with the smaller 13/32” dia. pivot pin.
      • A quantity of early 1965 motorcycles came with the previous year model clutch & brake levers with the 15/32“ pivot pin. Late production motorcycles were equipped with the new style levers with the exception of the Sportster which only switched to the new throttle side lever. The MoCo directed that all motorcycles brought to the dealers requiring lever replacement be fitted with the new style levers via a hand-lever bracket kit including a 15/32” to 13/32“ bushing for use with the smaller pivot pin. 37)
  • XLH also got
    • (2) - 6 volt dry charged battery upgrade (to make 12 volts). Batteries were thinner with a pad between them. 38)
    • 3.7 gal fuel tank
    • Magneto Ignition System now mounted on a movable plate allowing for advanced or retarded spark timing 39)
    • Adjusting cam for setting shock pre-load.
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters
    • XLH got Deluxe Equipment group: SPH-1, Highway Cruiser: SPH-2 and Group SPH-3.
    • XLCH got Deluxe Equipment Group: SPH-1
  • Both also received new-style tank panels (this year only)
  • Paint colors
    • Black with White tank bottom panels and pinstripes along the panel edge
    • Holiday Red with White tank bottom panels and pinstripes along the panel edge
    • Police Silver (Police only) and Birch White (Police only)
    • Available at extra cost were: Hi-Fi Red with White tank bottom panels and pinstripes along the panel edge and Hi-Fi Blue with White tank bottom panels and pinstripes along the panel edge


  • MoCo notes:
    • The first of the “Shovelhead” engines is introduced on the Electra-Glide models, replacing the Panhead. 40)
    • The MoCo directed the dealerships to check the torque of cylinder base nuts on Electra Glide, Servi-Car and Sportster models before customer delivery due to the discovery at the factory of torque loss and metal stretch due to initial run-in. 41)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (900) $1,415
    • XLCH (Super CH) (3,900) $1,411
    • XLRTT (25)
  • XLH and XLCH received
    • “P” Cams
    • Advertised increase of 15% more power
    • Dual venturi "Tillotson" diaphragm carb with an automatic economizer, positive-action acceleration pump and a large capacity air cleaner. 42)
    • “Ham-can” air cleaner introduced due to EPA regs
    • Patented insulator that isolated the carb from the engine heat
    • The generator brush holders on Electra Glide and Sportster models were reversed so, when it's mounted, the (+) brush will be on the top to protect it from accumulated moisture and possible grounding. Incidentally, a small number of generators on '66 model motorcycles were sent out with the terminals (“F” and “A”) stamped in reverse order. The mistake should have been re-stamped and corrected by the dealership before delivery to the customer. 43)
    • Option packages offered for Sportsters.
    • The right crankcase had a fillet added at the base of the countershaft low gear boss starting with engine no. 66XLCH6117 on Jan. 13, 1966. 44)
    • The transmission countershaft low gear received a counter-bore machined at the right case fillet area to provide clearance and prevent the gear from jamming at that point. 45)
  • XLH got Deluxe Group SPH-1, Groups SPH-2, SPH-3, SPH-4, SPH-6, SPH-7, and Highway Cruiser SPH-5.
  • XLCH got Deluxe Equipment Group: SPH-1, Group SPCH-2, SPCH-3 and SPCH-4
    • Hexagonal tank badge
  • Race developed intake ports, jumbo valves → 60 hp
  • All early Sportsters up until 1966 were kickstart only. 46)
  • Rear (Diamond and Rex) drive chains now come with a press fit side connecting link for improved chain durability. The slip fit connector used previously was suggested for emergency use only. (Duckworth) chains retained the slip fit connector. 47) 48)
  • Last production year for the XLRTT


  • MoCo notes:
    • John Harley becomes active in the Parts and Accessories Division
    • March 6th, Gordan Davidson passes away.
    • New York based 'Bangor Punta' attempts buyout of HD stock.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (2,000) $1,650
    • XLCH (Super CH) (2,500) $1,600
  • XLH got:
    • Prestolite electric starter. This same starter replaced the Delco-Remy on the Electra Glide and Servi-Car models for this year upon depletion of the Delco-Remy stock. 49)
    • The engine case was redesigned to allow for the new starter.
    • New single 12V battery replaced the dual 6V ones. 50)
  • From 1967 to 1969, the factory was making two cases for the Sportster, one for the kick-start XLCH and the other for the electric start XLH. 51)
  • Both XLH and XLCH received new revised shocks.
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters
    • XLH got the Deluxe Equipment and the Highway Cruiser Group.
    • XLCH got the Standard Equipment Group and the Deluxe Equipment Group.
  • In 1967, the frame on the XLH was doglegged (kicked-back) just above the swing arm pivot to accommodate the new battery box and electric start. The XLH swing arm was lengthened accordingly. The long frame has the seat post tubes set 1.5 inches towards the rear, so the upper shock mounts, fender rail mounts got moved rearward. Up through 1969, the XLCH had the early, inch-shorter frame and swing arm. Note that it was common for the Motor Company to use a previous year's frame to build a present year bike, simply because they were already made. 52)


  • MoCo notes:
    • HD faces a financial crisis. With negotiations and meetings with American Machine and Foundry, HD voted on Dec. 18th to merge with AMF.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (1,975) $1,650
    • XLCH (Super CH) (4,900) $1,600
  • Both XLH and XLCH got new M-125 Rapido hydraulic forks 53)(damping and 1” extra travel) and the fork boots were canned.
  • All models now equipped with a new clutch and brake control cable anchor pin. The notch for inserting the cable is now in the side of the new anchor pin instead of at the bottom. 54)
  • Kick start was dropped from the XLH.
  • Peanut tank was an option on the XLH
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters
    • XLH got the Deluxe Equipment and the Highway Cruiser Group.
    • XLCH got the Deluxe Equipment Group.
  • Restyled primary cover?.
  • Beginning on May 1, 1968, all oil is being drained from oil tanks prior to shipment to dealers to prevent wet sumping. If dealer had the bike an extended period of time, they were instructed to drain the oil again and tag it as empty. 55).


  • Some have written that this was the beginning of the Dark Ages (reference to the Era of AMF (American Machine and Foundry) ownership of Harley Davidson from 1969-1981) where sales dropped as well as did the reputation of bikes with some claiming they weren't real Harley's anymore. However, the “Dark Ages” is a matter of opinion, not a fact.56)
    • Sales did NOT drop during the AMF era. Sportster sales actually soared during the AMF era. Sales fell to dismal lows in the decade before the AMF merger. AMF picked them up again, by a factor of about 10 in the end.57)
    • AMF's reputation can't have been too bad if they were selling that many new bikes compared to the previous decade when HD's reputation was supposedly still unviolated.58)
    • One interpretation of the facts indicates that AMF quite probably saved HD from extinction. They spent millions on machinery, plant and tooling that HD had never invested, and never would have. In fact, they brought HD manufacturing and marketing methods OUT of the “Dark Ages” that dated back to the 1920s and '30s and into the modern world. That included the special gear-cutting machines that made the first 5-speed transmission possible and most of the R&D that led to the Evo models.59)
  • Yes there were quality control problems, mostly early in the AMF era, due in part to the rapid expansion in production numbers and also to labor relations problems related to the adopting of new more efficient work methods etc. (EG, 100 day strike in about 1972). But by the mid to late '70s most of these problems had been addressed and quality was comparatively good for the era, as the continuing rising sales figures testified.60)
    • One good source for this particular stuff is “Harley Davidson: An Official History”, published circa 1984 by the MoCo, author David Wright. 61)
  • MoCo notes:
    • HD was family owned until the buyout from AMF. 62)
    • January 7th, AMF shareholders approve purchase of a major portion of HD Motor Company for $21 million dollars.
    • Rodney C Gott becomes chairman of AMF/ HD
    • October, HD petitions the AMA Competition Committee to sanction a new Class C Race, allowing OHV engines.
    • All motorcycles shipped after Jan 1, 1969 are equipped with a stoplight switch on the front brake control lever to conform with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards 63).
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (2,700) $1,765
    • XLCH (Super CH) (5,100) $1,698
  • XLH and XLCH both received
  • New standard exhaust with stacked mufflers and separate headers and the first use of the exhaust crossover pipe with stacked duals
  • Redesigned plastic lens on the tail light
  • Late XLCH got a new 19 tooth transmission sprocket starting 11-04-1968 with engine serial number (69XLCH 5921) 64)
  • Option packages offered for Sportsters
  • XLH got the Deluxe Equipment and the Highway Cruiser Group.
  • XLCH got the Deluxe Equipment Group.
  • Paint colors
  • XLH
    • Black with Black Wrinkle on panel and White strip, Jet Fire Orange with Black Wrinkle on panel and White strip or Birch White with Black Wrinkle panel.
    • Available at extra cost were Sparkling Burgundy with Black Wrinkle panel and White strip, Sparkling Blue with Black Wrinkle panel and White strip or Sparkling Gold with Black Wrinkle panel and White strip.
  • XLCH
    • Black with White Strip, Jet Fire Orange with White strip or Birch White.
      • Available at extra cost were Sparkling Burgundy with White strip, Sparkling Blue with White strip and Sparkling Gold with White strip.
  • Last year of the magneto ignition system on the XLCH
  • Increased hp by 5 to 58 hp ?
  • New head castings.
  • Safety bead wheel rims.
  • 1969 was the last of the original XLCH engine cases (one for kickstart, another for electric start) 65)
  • Starting on models on June 9th, 1969, a 1/16“ vent hole was added to the Sportster and Electra Glide models filter cup in the side 1/4” down from the cup opening to relieve any possible pressure build-up in the tank (which forces oil from the tank when the cap is removed) and to prevent possible siphoning of oil from the tank into the engine after the engine is shut off(wet sumping). It was also suggested to retro-fit earlier motors with this modification. 66)

1970 - 1979


  • MoCo notes:
    • Start of production of snowmobiles with limited availability.
    • HD (#1) logo is designed to celebrate Mert Lawwill's win as the AMA Grand National champion.
    • US Environmental Protection Agency is created.
  • Racing notes:
    • On the Bonneville salt flats near Wendover, Utah, racer Cal Rayborn breaks the world record for land speed set by a motorcycle. The vehicle is a sixteen foot streamliner powered by a single Sportster engine, and averages just over 265 mph. 67)
  • Fuel notes:
    • US auto makers develop catalytic converters and as it was found that the leaded gas was poisoning the converters, fuel manufacturers were ordered to begin building engines to run on unleaded gasoline by 1975.68)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (3,033)
    • XLCH (Super CH) (5,527)
    • XR-750
  • Magneto ignition on the XLCH replaced by the XLH points and coil ignition
  • XLH and XLCH both get an optional boat tail (fiberglass seat/ fender combo) also in 71.
  • XLH received:
    • Headlamp eyebrow of the XLCH
  • XLCH received:
    • First battery is installed on an XLCH (12V) 69)
  • First year for XR-750 as a specialty model with a 45ci OHV racing V-twin. In consideration of new AMA rules for Class C racing, a new Sportster®-based motorcycle, the XR-750 racer is introduced. 70)The XR750, which in basic design was a destroked iron cylinder Sportster engine. The engine was housed in a proven KR-style swingarm chassis with Ceriani forks.The striking orange and black bodywork was the design of the Wixom Brothers. The engine made competitive horsepower, but the heat it produced led to self-destructive tendencies. Though the bike scored a respectable number of victories from 1970-’71, it also broke a lot. While stop-gap measures such as oil coolers and reduced compression helped, the factory knew what the trouble was and was concurrently building the improved “alloy” engine model. When it debuted in 1972, there were still teething problems to solve, but the basic package was a winner. The MoCo produced small batches of the complete machine in 1972, 1975, 1978 and 1980. Since then, only the engine has been available, with the customer choosing an aftermarket frame from manufacturers such as Knight and C&J
    • Total Production – Approximately 530 between 1972 and 1980, Aluminum Barrels, OHV, Bore and Stroke – 3.125 X 2.98 Inches, Displacement – 45 Cubic Inches, 750cc, Brake Horsepower – 90, transmission – 4 Speeds, Wheelbase – 56.75 Inches, Weight – 295 Pounds, Wheels – 19 Inches, tires – 4.00 x 19, Brakes – Rear Disk .71)
  • Starting with 1970 production model Sportsters, a rocker arm gasket was added between the rocker box and the head to prevent possible oil leakage caused by slight differences between the two surfaces. There was no gasket installed here in prior years. This following the use of this gasket on Electra Glides from May 8, 1969. This gasket could be retro-fitted back to 1958 Sportsters. 72)73)
  • Global paint colors were Birch White or Hi-Fi Sparkling Blue.
  • MoCo started stamping corresponding VIN numbers into frames. *


  • MoCo notes:
    • First year of the AMF/ HD logo
    • William J Harley, engineering vice president passes away
    • John Davidson named executive vice president
    • William H Davidson named chairman
    • Engines and transmissions now built at the Capitol Drive Plant
    • Full swing production of snowmobiles
    • Begin of partnership with Evel Knievel
    • First year of publication of Easy Rider Magazine 74).
    • In response to the customizing craze, Harley-Davidson introduces the FX 1200 Super Glide®, which combined a sporty front end (similar to that of the XL series) with the frame and powertrain of the FL series. A new class of motorcycle, the cruiser, is born. 75)
    • Fuel notes:
      • In regard to low leaded or unleaded gas, in HD 2 & 4 cycle engines, the octane rating is lower than regular or premium leaded gasoline, therefore not recommended for use. The new fuels contain additives such as phosphorous which replaces tetra-ethyl-lead and test results reveal that these additives may not provide the same type of performance and engine protection received from leaded gas. Extensive use of low or non leaded gas may cause piston damage in 2 or 4 cycle and accelerated wear and scuffing of the valves in 4 cycle engines. 76)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (3,950)
    • XLCH (6,825)
    • XR-750
  • XLH and XLCH receive
    • Wet clutch system with dual (inner & outer) springs.
    • Points and condenser moved behind plate on timing case cover.
    • Paint colors include Birch White, Hi-Fi Sparkling Blue, Sparkling America & Sparkling Burgundy.
    • Tillotson Carburetor


  • MoCo notes:
    • The new, more powerful, more reliable aluminum alloy XR-750 debuts. It becomes the dominant dirt track racer through the next three decades. 77)
  • Racing notes:
    • Mark Brelsford wins Grand National Championship on a XR-750 78)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (7,500) $2,120
    • XLCH (Super CH) (10,650)
    • XR-750 (200) 79)
    • XRTT-750 (10) 80)
  • XLH and XLCH both get
    • New engine bore size (3.18“). The 61 cid (called a 1000cc) XL replaced the 900.
    • Rated for 61 hp, 9:1 CR, 110+mph, 13.38 sec ¼ mile (97.7 mph), and 43 mpg.
    • Changed to Bendix/Zenith carb.
    • Wet clutch.
    • New oil pump.
    • Oil tank placed near chain
    • Seat is thinner w/less padding.
  • Global paint colors were Birch White or Hi-Fi Sparkling Blue.
  • XR-750 debuts with two versions including a dirt track and a road racer model. 81)
    • 45 degree V-twin OHV 4 cycle 750cc (45ci)dry sump engine and 4 speed transmission 82)
    • 10:1 CR, Bore/Stroke 3.125” x 2.983“ maxed at 8,000 RPM.83)
    • Rod length 6.438” 84)
    • 42 mm / 33 degree intake and 35 mm / 35 degree exhaust valves 85)
    • “E” cams
    • Cam gear assemblies comprised of a shaft and a one piece cam / gear unit
    • Engine weight: app 150 lbs.86)
    • Rocker arm ratio 1.5 87)
    • Primary drive ratio 20/59 88)
    • Ceriani front forks with 4.40“ travel89)
      • Dirt Track Version: 90)
        • Overall length 83”, width 33“, height 31”
        • Wheel base 56.75“ with a minimum ground clearance of 7” on 4.00“ x 19” tires front and rear
        • Steering head angle 26“, trail 3.44”
        • Rim profiles are WM-3 front and rear
        • Brakes: front not required and not supplied for the rear
        • Total dry weight of 295 lbs.
        • Fiberglass and Team Colors: Jet Fire Orange and Black
        • 2 gallon gas tank
        • Oil tank holds 2.75 quarts
      • Road Race Version (one year only in production) 91)
        • Overall length 78“, width 21.5”, height 28“
        • Wheel base 54” with a minimum ground clearance of 8.25“ on 3.25” x 18“ tires on front, 3.5” x 18“ on the rear.
        • Rim profiles are WM-2 on front and WM-3 on the rear
        • Front drum brakes: 4-shoe, 250mm dia.
        • Rear (10” dia.) disc brakes
        • Steering head angle 27“, trail 3.62”
        • Total dry weight of 324 lbs.
        • Fiberglass color: white
        • Team Colors: Jet Fire Orange and Black
        • 6 gallon gas tank
        • Oil tank holds 4 quarts


  • MoCo notes:
    • William H Davidson, chairman, retires from the company. John O'Brien (AMF production expert) takes his place.
    • John Davidson named president
    • The Juneau Avenue Plant is turned into a huge warehouse/ office complex combo. Motorcycle production is upgraded when all assembly operations are moved to a modern 400,000 square foot plant in York, PA. All other production operations remain in Milwaukee and Tomahawk. The Capitol Drive plant in Milwaukee begins production of engines. 92)
    • Sputhe Engineering Developed the “mini-sump” for the XR-750 (Harley-Davidson has adopted this feature on every model engine that they build). 93)
  • Racing notes:
    • After winning at Daytona in 1969, the road racing program struggled as the motorcycle manufacturer entered a period of financial difficulties and could no longer support a team. Though the company would continue to dominate dirt track, and would make a brief return to Daytona in the Battle of the Twins in 1983, Harley-Davidson effectively said goodbye to road racing in 1973. But it was just a matter of time before it returned. 94)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (9,875)
    • XLCH (Super CH) (10,825)
  • XLH and XLCH get
  • Single disc front hydraulic disc brakes 95)
  • Japanese “Kayaba” brand front forks
  • Plastic switch housings for handlebars
  • Global paint colors were still Birch White or Hi-Fi Sparkling Blue.
  • First AMF production Harley
  • Mandatory turn signals.
  • New 35mm Kayaba forks, single disc front brakes.
  • Initial production of '73 models XL, XLCH-1000 were made without a retaining clip to hold the wires to the fender near the tail light bulb socket which allowed the wires to loop outward into the tire well. To keep from instancing a traffic hazard due to possible wires rubbing into tires and short circuiting the tail light, a safety defect bulletin was issued for dealerships to fix this issue by installing the proper retaining clips.96)
  • Some cases of frame breakage, poor handling and possible loss of control prompted HD and in compliance with the National Motor Vehicle Safety Act, to issue a safety defect notification on 1973 XL and XLCH frames. All affected vehicles required welded reinforcing braces to be installed to prevent possible breakage at the welded junction of the frame tubes and the rear fender and shock absorber bracket. With this gremlin plus an earlier safety defect bulletin regarding tail light wiring within the same VINs, it was decided upon to repair both at the same time. 97)
    • Affected motorcycles:
      • XL, XLCH VIN 3A or 4A from 40000 - 50772 98)
      • XL, XLCH VIN 3A or 4A from 60000 - 71568 99)


  • MoCo notes:
    • Union goes on strike for 101 days over the cost of living wage increase
    • Plant security tightens with stricter security procedures in place following the then -current employee, John Buschman, for major theft.
    • Last year of business partnership with Evel Knievel after failed Snake River Jump on Flash Gordan rocket.
    • Beginning with the 1974 year model XL & XLCH, a directional arrow was incorporated into the design of the rear tire which mandated pointing the arrow toward the forward rotation upon installation to assure the best performance of the tread under severe acceleration. 100)
  • Production Information:
  • XLH (Super H) (13,295)
  • XLCH (Super CH) (10,535)
  • XLH and XLCH throttles now given return springs.
  • Global colors now include Birch White, Vivid Black, Sunburst Burgundy or Sunburst Blue
  • Last year of the right side shifter 101)


  • Fuel notes:
    • New US car models made with catalytic converters which require unleaded gasoline.102)
    • All current HD motorcycles require the use of “Premium Grade” leaded gasoline of 98 octane or higher (this is usually equivalent to 95 Road Octane which is usually posted on service station pumps). Regular leaded may be used as temporary until premium can be located in case certain stations are out at the time. HD still cautions against the use of low or no leaded gas. 103)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (13,515)
    • XLCH (Super CH) (5,895)
    • XR-750 (100) 104)
  • XLH and XLCH both got a new shifter linkage to put foot shift on the left side and a new rear brake linkage to put brake on the right side. (Fed mandated)
  • Global colors include Birch White, Vivid Black, Sunburst Burgundy, Sunburst Blue or Sunburst/ Vivid Orange
  • New 35mm Showa forks.
  • XR-750 (dirt track) rim profiles changed to WM-2 in front and WM-4.5 in the rear 105)


  • MoCo notes:
    • John Harley, son of founder William H Harley, passes away.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (12,844)
    • XLCH (Super CH) (5,238)
    • XLH Super H Liberty Edition
    • XLCH Super CH Liberty Edition
  • Liberty editions of XLH and XLCH were offered in Black Metal Flake paint with Red, White and Blue decorations.
  • Standard paint colors were, Birch White, Vivid Black, Sunburst/ Vivid Orange, Vivid Blue, Vivid Red, Vivid Brown or Champagne Silver.
  • Pre-1977, There is a timed breather valve built into the oil pump drive, which vents crankcase pressure into the cam timing chest. A six-inch metal tube hanging down from the timing cover near the generator drive, at the 6 o’clock position vents that controlled pressure to atmosphere. A metal disc on the end of the generator drive gear centrifugally separates oil from the air as it is discharged overboard. 106)


  • MoCo notes:
    • Vaughn Beals named President
    • Rodney C Gott HD Museum opens
    • First year of HDOA, HD Owners Association, organized by Carl T Wicks
    • HD controls 21 percent of the 750 cc and larger motorcycle market
    • Harley-Davidson introduces the FXS Low Rider® to the public in Daytona Beach. With drag style handlebars, unique engine and paint treatments, the Low Rider lives up to its name by placing the rider in a lowered seating position than was typical.107)
    • Willie G. Davidson's dynamic version of the Sportster, the Cafe Racer, is released. 108)
  • Racing notes: Jay Springsteen wins Grand Nation Championship and a Number 1 Plate running a XR-750
  • Alan Sputhe designed and built a set of dual carburetor aluminum heads for the 1000cc street Sportster that he raced at El Mirage Dry Lake in Southern California. This machine was timed at 157 m.p.h. 109)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (12,742)
    • XLCH (Super H) (4,074)
    • XLT (1,099)
    • XLCR (1,923) $3,623
  • XLH and XLCH got
    • New cases to accommodate the left side shifting.
    • Frame designed for removal of oil pump with engine in frame.
  • XLT (touring version of XLH) became available, included
    • Thicker, low seat
    • Large 3.6-gallon tank 110)
    • Touring handle bars
    • Saddlebags from the FLH
    • Higher gearing
    • Windshield
    • Turn Signals
    • Rear passenger pegs 111)
    • Rear passenger hand hold behind seat112)
  • XLCR (Café Racer) was introduced at Daytona (available again in 78) featuring
    • Morris cast aluminum wheels
    • Fiberglass tail section w/solo seat
    • Wrinkle black engine paint
    • Bikini fairing
    • Black siamese exhaust
    • Rear disc brakes
    • Dual disc front brakes
    • Low bars
    • Wheel base measure 58.5“
    • Gloss Black paint scheme [on everything]
    • Four speed transmission
    • Rear-set foot pegs
    • 4-gallon gas tank
    • 61.00 HP (44.5 kW)) @ 6200 RPM 113)
    • 70.51 Nm (7.2 kgf-m or 52.0 ft.lbs) torque @ 3800 RPM 114)
    • Max 6800 RPM 115)
    • Bore/ Stroke 81.0 x 96.0 mm (3.2 x 3.8 inches) 116)
    • 10” front and rear brakes 117)
  • New oil pump design using gerotors instead of gears.
  • Carburetor Changed to Keihin non-CV 118)
  • Paint colors were, Birch White, Vivid Black, Vivid Blue, Vivid Brown, Charcoal Silver, Midnight Blue Metallic, Arctic White or Bright Blue.
  • 68 horses, 9:1 compression, 110 mph
  • 1977-78 only, The timed breather on the oil pump drive was dropped. An external non-return valve was plumbed into that vent tube sticking down from the timing cover at the generator drive. This allows air out, but not in. It is sometimes referred to as the foo-foo valve. Searching for foo foo or foo-foo will lead to extensive discussion of this mystical device. 119)


  • MoCo notes:
    • HD celebrating 75th Anniversary
    • The last year of business connection with Aermacci Company in Italy and HD. HD closes the factory down in June
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (11,271)
    • XLH Anniversary Model (2,323) $3,127
    • XLCH (Super CH) (2,758) $3,370
    • XLT (Touring)(6)
    • XLS (Roadster) (2)
    • XLCR
    • XR-750 (83) 120)
  • XLH Anniversary model (HD 75th Anniversary Addition) featuring a Midnight Black with Gold trim paint scheme limited anniversary graphics, and aluminum wheels finished in Gold.
  • XLH, XLCH and XLT all got
    • Dual disc front hydraulic brakes
    • Electronic Ignition
    • Siamese exhaust systems
    • Battery and oil tank moved inboard
    • Revised frame with the XLCR rear section
    • Optional cast wheels including retro-fit to prior years down to 1954, XL & XLCH on rear and down to 1974 for front 121)
  • XR-750 engine got a bigger (44mm) intake valve
  • Last year for the XLT *
  • Optional dual seat for XLCR, also last year for the XLCR
  • Paint colors
    • Birch White, Vivid Black, Brilliant Red, Charcoal Silver, Arctic White, Concord Blue, Chestnut Brown and Black Cherry
  • Last year of the Battery Ignition System


  • MoCo notes:
    • The heavyweight models receive first priority
    • Sales in the USA fall to less than 4% of motorcycle market
    • Introduction of the FXEF Fat Bob, “Fat” because of the dual gas tanks, “Bob” for the bobbed fenders. 122)
  • Racing notes:
    • Sputhe Engineering began building complete Sportster based 1300cc aluminum XR-750 type engines.
  • Fuel Notes:
    • Maximum permissible level of 0.13 g of lead per liter of gasoline established thru a ruling from US Court of Appeals in March of 1976.123)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH (Super H) (6,525)
    • XLCH (Super CH) (141)
    • XLS Roadster (5,123)
    • XLCR Café Racer (9)
  • Last year for the XLCH
  • XLH and XLCH get
    • Rear drum brakes replaced with disc brake and master cylinder 124)
    • Brake system placed where kickstand was
    • Kick starter was dropped as a standard feature but left as an option.
  • First sales year for the XLS (later named Roadster). A new model based on the 'Sportster' version of the FXS Low Rider and features
    • Extended forks
    • 16“ rear tire
    • Siamese exhaust system
    • Drag bars on 3 1/2” riser
    • Sissy bar with leather pouch
    • Highway pegs
    • 2 - piece seat
    • Chromed rear sprocket
  • Paint colors
    • Birch White, Vivid Black, Brilliant Red, Concord Blue, Chestnut Brown, Classic Tan, Classic Chreme, FXS Silver and Charcoal Gray.
  • Last year of XLH and XLCH (Super) mantra
  • Last year of the “P” cams, 125) last official year for kickstart engines 126)
  • A breakerless electronic ignition added 127)
  • 1979 -1985, The external foo-foo valve and the six-inch metal vent tube at the front of the timing cover were done away with. Instead, a one-way foo-foo valve was built in inside the timing cover. A rubber breather hose then ran from the generator drive area of the timing cover, at the 9 o’clock position. It connected to the stock air filter so that any oil mist was fed back through the engine, making the EPA pollutocrats more happier than they were with the idea of engine oil spraying out into the atmosphere. 128)
  • XL, XLCH, XLS had a swingarm change to include a rear fork cap for adjusting the axle. 129)

1980 - 1989


  • MoCo notes:
    • US Government asked the MoCo to 'complicate' their identification numbers due to an increase in theft.
    • In April, Charles K Thompson named president and deputy group executive of HD.
    • Harley-Davidson debuts the FLT with its vibration dampening, rubber-isolated drivetrain and unique trailing front fork. The engine and five-speed transmission are hard bolted together.130)
    • A kevlar belt replaces the chain as the final drive. The belt is cleaner running, and needs less adjustments and maintenance. It isn't long before belt final drive is standard on all Harley-Davidson® motorcycles.131)
    • Harley-Davidson releases the FXB Sturgis model, employing belt drive, black chrome appointments and 80 cubic inch engine.132)
    • The FXWG Wide Glide is introduced for the 1980 model year. 133)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 1000 (11,841) $5,867
    • XLS 1000 (2,926)
    • XR-750 (180) 134)
  • XLH gets an optional Hugger package with shorter shocks and thinner seat.
  • Paint colors
    • Birch White, Vivid Black, FXS Silver, Charcoal Grey, Rich Red, Bright Blue, Saddle Brown and Candy Red
  • New Magnavox Electronic Ignition system (all models) with a full electronic advance
  • New “Q” cams installed. 135)
  • A 16 in wheel replaced the XLH 18 in.
  • First year that the carburetor idle mixture screw is set and sealed off at the factory due to EPA regs 136)
  • XR-750 (dirt track) got new Marzocchi front forks with 5.31“ travel and a 2.5 gallon gas tank 137)
  • Also last year model of the XR-750 as a full motorcycle production bike. Engine kits (only) were sold from 1990 to 2003 138)


  • MoCo notes:
    • Feb 26, Vaughn Beals heads up a group including Charlie Thompson and Wilie G Davidson and ten other HD executives who sign a letter of intent to buy HD back from AMF. 139)
    • June 16, HD history is made when they successfully buy HD back from AMF. HD shareholders celebrate with a York to Milwaukee ride.
    • Close to 200 clerical positions are eliminated. 'The Eagle Soars Alone' slogan is born.
    • A gold dipstick was inserted by Vaughn Beals into the first non-AMF motorcycle to roll off the assembly line at York, Pennsylvania.
  • Racing notes:
    • Scott Parker begins racing for team Harley-Davidson on the AMA dirt track circuit. He will become the most successful racer in Harley-Davidson history, accumulating 93 career victories and, more incredibly, winning 9 Grand National Champion titles in a 10-year period. 140)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 1000 (8,442)
    • XLS 1000 Roadster (1,660)
  • XLH and XLS both got an optional wire or cast wheel option 16” or 18“ rear wheel and
  • XLS also got
    • Buckhorn handlebars,
    • Shorty dual exhaust
    • 3.3 gallon gas tank with an optional 2.2 gallon tank
  • XLH got
  • Shorter front forks
  • Optional 3.3 gallon gas tank
  • Longer wheel base (60”) 141)


  • MoCo notes:
    • First year application of MAN (materials as needed) or just in time for production.
    • HD celebrates the Sportster's 25th Anniversary
    • First year of new custom paint program
    • HD petitions the International Trade Commission for tariff relief from Japanese motorcycles
    • US President Ronald Reagan imposes a five year tariff on all Japanese 700cc or larger imports.
    • Lay-offs total 1,600 out of 3,800 employees
    • Aggressive program initiated to clean up all bootleg HD merchandise.
    • In May, more than 100 riders leave the Capitol Drive Plant on protest ride to Madison in response to Wisconsin State Police using Kawasaki motorcycles.
    • Advertising budget is estimated at about $3 million.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 1000 (5,015)
    • XLS 1000 (1,261)
    • XLHA Anniversary Sportster (932)
    • XLSA Anniversary Roadster (778)
  • Both XLH and XLS got
    • Lighter frame and longer wheel base
      • Wheelbase XLH (60“)142)
      • Wheelbase XLS (60.76”) 143)
    • Oil tank repositioned
    • Battery re-positioned
    • Thicker head gasket to lower compression ratio (to 8:1 for XLS)
    • Larger rear disc
  • Paint colors
    • Birch White, Vivid Black, Classic Tan, Classic Creme, Metallic Blue, Light Red, Dark Carmine, Orange, Brown, Emerald Green, Red, Pewter or maroon.
  • Both anniversary models came with 25th anniversary graphics and special paperwork about the bike's history signed by Chairman Vaughn Beals, President Charlie Thompson and Styling Vice President, Willie G Davidson.


  • MoCo notes:
    • Factory sponsored 'Harley Owners Group' (HOG) is founded.
    • International Trade Commission levies a five year tariff on Japanese motorcycles 700cc and over.
    • Dick O'Brien, long time manager of HDs factory race team, retires.
    • The first production XLX was given to Jay Springsteen 144)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 1000 (2,230)
    • XLS 1000 Roadster (1,616)
    • XR-1000 (1,018) $6,995
    • XLX-61 Sportster (4,892)($3,995)
  • A Vacuum Operated Electric Switch,(VOES), added to the ignition system on all Models.
  • XLH, XLS received passenger footpeg mounts on the swingarm 145)
  • XLH got
    • High bars
    • 3.3 gallon gas tank
    • New seat
    • Less restrictive exhaust
  • New model XLX-61: Striped down version of the XLH and built to sell for $3,995, featured
    • Solo seat
    • 2 gallon peanut gas tank 146)
    • Black staggered shorty dual exhaust
    • Black flat track handlebars 147)
    • Speedo only, no tach
    • 9 spoke cast aluminum wheels
    • Small front fender with fender struts. 148)
    • Satin finish cases.
      • Only year
        • Six coil springs in clutch
        • 156 watt generator mounted at the front of the cases
        • Loose output roller tranny output shaft
        • Output shaft oil seal secured by a bolt on cover
        • 3 generator drive gears
        • 10“ dual front disc brakes
        • Wheel base (60”) 149)
        • Engine covers 150)
        • Very little chrome. 151)
        • First year only, first models were available in black paint only. The later ones were available in other colors (mainly red and blue) with chrome pipes. This model Ironhead is what the '86 883 Evo styling was based on. 152)
    • New model XR-1000, based on XLX chassis. Engine is a hybrid or cross of the XR-750 and XL-1000 matched to an identical XL 4 speed transmission.
      • Aluminum XR style heads w/intake ports on right, exhaust on left, heads ported and polished by Jerry Branch
      • Helicoil inserts where rocker boxes bolt to head
      • 9:1, XR aluminum pistons
      • Light aluminum pushrods
      • Eccentric rocker shafts adjust valve lash
      • Iron cylinders (shortened half an inch to make room for the 'Branch' heads)- w/through bolts
      • Vacuum advance-V-fire III breaker less ignition
      • Twin 36mm Dell'Orto carbs with accel pumps
      • Satin textured cases
      • Left side high megaphone dual mufflers
      • 9 spoke cast aluminum wheels
      • Oiled felt air filter
      • New designed cailpers
    • Paint codes
      • Birch White, Vivid Black, Classic Tan, Classic Crème, Pewter, Maroon, Indigo Blue, Claret Red or Slate Gray Metallic
    • The XR-1000 had 71HP @ 5,600 rpm, 125 mph, 490 lbs, 2.5 gallon gas tank and a 2.5 quart oil capacity


  • MoCo notes:
    • The new V2 Evolution engine introduced on many Big Twin models is more oil tight, maintenance free, lighter in weight, cooler running and more powerful.
    • Also witnessed is the debut of the Softail design and its trend-setting method of “hiding” the motorcycle's rear shock absorbers. 153)
    • Bill Davidson, Willie Gs son, joins the company overseeing the National Demo Ride Program.
    • HD wins California Highway Patrol contract with 155 motorcycles ordered.
    • HD receives a US Navy contract for production of gun shell cases.
    • HD brand beer is sold.
  • Fuel notes:
    • City of Chicago first to order end of all leaded gasoline sales since New York City ended ban on leaded gas in 1928.154)
  • Production Information:
    • XLX-61 (4,284)
    • XLH (4,442)
    • XLS (1,135)
    • XR-1000 (759)
  • Generator replaced by the Alternator. (mid year)
  • XLH, XLS and XLX began the use of tubeless tires on the cast rims. 155)
  • XLH
    • One large front disc brake
    • Diaphragm clutch spring (mid year)
    • Alternator (mid year)
    • Used the Peanut tank again.
  • XR 1000
    • Improved brakes
    • Orange/black HD racing colors option
  • XLS Roadster got
    • One large front disc brake
    • Diaphragm clutch spring (mid year)
    • Alternator (mid year)
    • Shortened wheel base (60“)
  • XLX-61 Sportster got
    • One large front disc brake
    • Diaphragm clutch spring (mid year)
    • Alternator (mid year)
  • Paint colors
    • Birch White, Vivid Black, Classic Tan, Classic Crème, Indigo Blue, Claret Red, Candy Purple, Rose Metallic or Slate Gray Metallic.


  • Last year of the Iron Head engine
  • Production trimmed in anticipation of the Evo XL.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 1000 (4,074) $4,795
    • XLS 1000 Roadster (616) $5,599
    • XLX-61 1000 Sportster (1,824) $4,695
  • Paint colors Birch White, Vivid Black, Classic Tan, Classic Crème, Slate Gray Metallic or Candy Blue.


  • MoCo notes:
    • June, HD goes public to refinance and pay off debts with $2 million in company shares of common stock. The Motor Company is listed on the American Stock Exchange, the first time Harley-Davidson is publicly traded since 1969, the year of the AMF merger. 156)
    • Harley-Davidson releases the Heritage Softail®. 157)
    • December, to diversify its holdings, HD purchases the Holiday Rambler Corporation, producers of quality motor homes.158)
  • Fuel notes:
    • Japan became the first nation to fully phase-out leaded petrol.159)
    • Sportster Fuel Requirements: 89 Octane or higher (leaded or unleaded)160)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 (8,026) $3,995
    • XLH 883 Deluxe (2,322)
    • XLH 1100 (3,077) $5,199
    • XLH 1100 Liberty (954)
  • Beginning with the following crankcase numbers, a new crank pin bearing set and revised flywheels were installed.161)
    • 883 (1786 083 003)
    • 1100 (1886 090 012)
  • Beginning of the EVO era
    • Sportsters had an all new Evolution V-twin engine and updated chassis
  • XLH 883
    • Engine: 883cc OHV V-twin with 3 x 3.81” bore and stroke
    • Aluminum heads and cylinders
    • Hydraulic roller lifters
    • Standard 34 mm fixed venture Keihin carburetor
    • Redesigned and powder-coated frame for the new engine
    • Four speed transmission
    • Cast aluminum wheels: 19“ in front, 16” in back
    • Solo seat
    • Low bars
    • Speedometer only
    • Single disc front brake
    • Peanut tank
    • Final drive is single-row chain
    • Turn signal that double as running lights
    • Seat height is30“
    • Wheelbase is 60”
    • weight is 478lbs
    • Upgrade package Deluxe offered with special paint and trim
  • XLH 1100 same as 883 with deluxe trim
    • Engine: 1100cc OHV V-twin with 85.1 x 96.8mm bore and stroke
    • Turn signals double as running lights
  • XLH 1100 Liberty edition
    • 1100 version with Statue of Liberty graphics on tank and front fender and certificate of ownership
  • Paint colors
  • Birch White, Vivid Black, Candy Red, Slate Gray Metallic, Candy Blue, Candy Pearl and Signal Red.
  • Deluxe Model Mid-year Introduction
  • Laced Wheels
  • Dual-seat
  • Passenger Pegs
  • Dual Gauges (added Tach)


  • MoCo notes:
    • March, Richard Teerlink named president of the motorcycle division
    • HD exports 1,600 motorcycles to Canada, 1,200 to Western Europe and 1,300 to Japan.
    • HD again wins California Highway Patrol contract.
    • March 17, HD moves to have 5 year tariff lifted earlier than expected, sending a message to Japan that HD can compete.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 (4,990)
    • XLH 883 Deluxe (2,260)
    • XLH 883 Hugger (2,106)
    • XLH 1100 (4,018)
    • XLH 1100 Anniversary (600)
  • Sportster's 30th Anniversary celebrated with an anniversary edition XLH 1100 with 30th anniversary graphics on both the front fender and gas tank.
  • Hugger Model - Mid-year Introduction
    • Fork tubes shortened 2“
    • Revised shock angle by lengthening Swingarm 1/2”
    • Softer seat at 26.75“, (1.75” lower than standard)
  • All models have a new crankpin and revised flywheels 162)


  • MoCo notes:
    • August, Richard F Teerlink named President and CEO of HD
    • August, James H Patterson named President and CEO of the motorcycle division
    • First year of the HD traveling museum pulled by a Peterbilt tractor. The museum displays HD memorabilia and seven motorcycles
    • HD, celebrating 85th anniversary with a Homecoming in Milwaukee attended by over 60,000 enthusiasts, organizes a ride (app 6,000 riders) for muscular dystrophy. Proceeds total near $600,000. 163)
    • H.O.G. membership totaling over 90,000
    • The springer front end returns in the FXSTS Springer® Softail®. 164)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 (5,387) $3,995
    • XLH 883 Hugger (4,501) $4,199
    • XLH 883 Sportster Deluxe (1,893) $4,428
    • XLH 1200 (4,752) $5,875
  • XLH 883 got
    • 40mm constant velocity Keihin CV slide carb as a standard component
    • Taller shocks
    • Longer swingarm
    • Stiffer 39mm front fork tubes replaced the older 35mm unit
    • Solo seat and cast wheels
  • XLH 883 option package included
  • Two tone paint
  • Spoked wheels
  • Dual seat
  • Extra chrome
  • Tach
  • XLH 883 came with a Hugger option including
    • Lowered suspension
    • Lowered seat
    • Buckhorn handlebars
  • First year for the XLH 1200 (replacing the XLH 1100) featuring
    • 1200cc Evolution OHV V-twin with 3.498 x 3.812 bore and stroke
    • 39mm front forks
    • Two tone paint
    • Dual seat
    • Buckhorn bars
    • Speedometer and tach
  • Paint colors
    • Vivid Black, Bright Cobalt Candy Blue, Bright Candy Plum, Candy Brandywine, Brandywine and Crimson, Bright Cobalt Candy Blue and Brilliant Silver, Candy Crimson, Candy Bronze and Crème, Vivid Black and Crème, Metallic Blue and Cadet Blue Metallic or Champagne Gold.


  • Racing notes:
    • The HD 883 Twin Sports Road Racing Series begins with full sanctions from the AMA.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 (6,142)
    • XLH 883 Hugger (4,467)
    • XLH 883 Sportster Deluxe (1,812)
    • XLH 1200 (4,546)
    • XR-750 Engines Only (37) 165)
  • XLH 883 and XLH 1200
    • Aluminum intake manifold
    • New air cleaner element
    • Offset piston pins
    • Protective coating added to battery positive cable
  • XR-750 engines got an upgrade 166)
    • 12:1 CR 167)
    • 37mm exhaust valves 168)
    • Primary drive ratio 25/59 with optional 30/59 169)
    • Cam lobes and gears are now pressed onto the shafts individually and then welded. Gears on #s 2&4 shaft assemblies are locked with a grooved pin.
    • Max 9,200 RPM 170)
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 and XL 883 Hugger: Vivid Black, Metallic Blue, Candy Brandywine, Bright Candy Plum. 171)
    • XL 1200 Hugger: Vivid Black, Metallic Blue/ Silver, Candy Brandywine, Candy Crimson/ Candy Brandywine, Bright Candy Plum. 172)
  • Kickstand repositioned further rearward

1990 - 1999


  • MoCo notes:
    • The European parts and accessories warehouse opens.
    • Upon its introduction, the FLSTF Fat Boy® almost instantaneously becomes a modern legend of motorcycle design.173)
  • Racing notes:
    • Nigel Gale wins the Twin Sports Championship.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 (5,227) $4,250
    • XLH 883 Hugger (4,040)
    • XLH 883 Deluxe (1,298)
    • XLH 1200 (4,598)
    • XR-750 Engine Kits (only)
  • XLH 883 and XLH 1200 received
    • New paper air filter and paint options
    • 40mm Keihin carb - constant velocity with an accelerator pump
  • XR750 engine kits (only) were sold from 1990-2003
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 and XL 883 Hugger: Vivid Black, Bright Candy Plum, Bright Candy Ruby, Bright Candy Hi-Fi Blue. 174)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Bright Candy Ruby, Dark Candy Ruby/ Bright Candy Ruby, Candy Hi-Fi Blue/ Silver. 175)


  • MoCo notes:
    • HDI offices are moved from Connecticut to Milwaukee which triples the staff.
    • Production begins on a new $31 million state of the art paint facility at the York, PA, factory. It becomes fully operational in 1992. 176)
    • June, European H.O.G. rally in England.
    • Bill Davidson named director of operations of H.O.G. and it's 135,000 members with 650 chapters worldwide.
    • Motorcycle exports up over 30%.
    • June 1st, HD stock splits 2 for 1 to almost $56
    • HD earns 62% market share of 850cc and larger motorcycles.
    • HD sponsors 'The Moving Wall', Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
    • The Dyna line of motorcycles debuts with the 1991 FXDB Dyna Glide Sturgis®. 177)
    • New assembly line for 883cc and 1200cc Sportster engines at Capitol Drive Plant results in relief on old line and overall improved quality.
  • Racing notes:
    • Scott Zampach wins Twins Sport Series and US Twin Sports Championship with Nigel Gale placing third.
  • Fuel notes:
    • Sportster fuel requirements changed: 87 Octane or higher (unleaded)178)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 (4,922) $4,359
    • XLH 883 Hugger (3,487)
    • XLH 883 Deluxe (3,034)
    • XLH 1200 (6,282) $6,245
  • All models receive
    • 5 speed tranny replaced the 4 speed
    • Hydraulic lifters were replaced with automotive type units
    • Oil pump given internal cast feed lines
    • Breather system moved from the crankcase to the heads with (umbrella valves) in rocker boxes
    • Alternator moved from behind clutch to the crankshaft
    • Primary cover redesigned for easy removal
    • New rubber mounted rider foot pegs
    • Old Dunlop k-291 tires replaced with K402's
    • Turn Signals became self-canceling with signals from speedo
    • Right side timing hole
    • Tappet blocks, rear motor mount, oil filter integrated with case
    • One piece push rod tubes
    • 5/8“ hex Champion spark plugs
    • 40 oz fluid level for primary/ transmission
    • New primary chain adjuster
    • Jiffy stand re-located further back on frame
  • XLH 883 and XLH 883 Hugger has o-ring chain final drive
  • Belt drive replaced chain on 883 deluxe and 1200 models
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 (all models): Vivid Black, Wineberry Pearl, Bright Sapphire Metallic, Vivid Yellow, Bright Candy Ruby. 179)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Dark Sapphire Metallic/ Bright Sapphire Metallic, Vivid Yellow/ White, Dark Candy Ruby/ Bright Candy Ruby, Candy Sapphire Sun Glo. 180)


  • MoCo notes:
    • World wide licensing of trademarks and logos
    • The last year of Japanese made carbon canister emission filters.
    • $32 million robotic painting system set up at the York Plant.
    • HD stock worth almost 7 times original price.
    • Miss HD, Krisann Whitley, is crowned at Daytona.
  • Racing notes:
    • Scott Zampach wins the Twin Sports Championship with Nigel Gale in second place.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 $4,499
    • XLH 883 'Hugger' $5,075
    • XLH 883 'Sportster Deluxe' $5,559
    • XLH 1200 $6,400
  • All Models receive
    • Improved brake pad material
    • New style grease fittings
    • New halogen headlight assembly
    • Standardized Sportster hand controls
    • Re-located ignition switch, now preventing scratching of the horn cover
    • Continuously vented gas tank
    • Harder plunger in neutral switch
    • New style horn featuring more power
  • XLH 883 also has O-rings chains
  • XLH 883 Hugger model now has a thinner seat and lower suspension
  • XR-750 now has a key (replacing the splines) to drive the pinion and oil pump gears
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 (all models): Vivid Black, Bright Candy Ruby, Red Voyage Metallic, Candy Sapphire Sun-Glo. 181)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Bright Candy Ruby, Turquoise/ White, Dark Candy Ruby/ Bright Candy Ruby, Candy Sapphire Sun-Glo. 182)


  • MoCo notes:
    • Now using an American made carbon emission filter manufactured by Miniature Precision Components in Delavan, Wisconsin.
    • HD buys into the Buell Motorcycle Company, expanding it's capacity to further research and development. Erik Buell created the Company to manufacture American sport motorcycles using Harley-Davidson® XL 883 and 1200 engines.183)
    • New Buell/ HD model on the drawing board, the “Thunderbolt”.
    • June 12th, for 90th year reunion, first time an interstate highway was ever closed down specifically for HD motorcycle riders. An estimated 100,000 people ride in a parade of motorcycles. 184)
    • June 12th, Willie G leads 15,000 strong, 35 miles North from the airport in Kenosha to the 90th year reunion held at Milwaukee's Summerfest grounds.
  • Racing notes:
    • Scott Zampach wins the Twin Sports Championship
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 $4,775
    • XLH 883 Hugger $5,420
    • XLH 883 Deluxe $5,820
    • XLH 1200 $6,800
  • All models
    • Belt drive now on all Sportster models
    • Finger tip “blade” profile brake and clutch levers on all models
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 (all models): Vivid Black, Mandarin Orange, Scarlett Red, Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Bright Aqua Sun Glo, Bright Aqua Sun Glo, Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Scarlett Red. 185)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Scarlett Red, Dark Victory Red Sun-Glo/ Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Bright Aqua Sun Glo/ Silver, Bright Wineberry Sun Glo, Silver/ Charcoal Satin Bright, Candy Sapphire Sun-Glo. 186)


  • MoCo notes:
    • Harley-Davidson enters Superbike racing with the introduction of the VR1000, a dual overhead cam, liquid-cooled motorcycle. 187)
    • The classically-styled FLHR Road King® is introduced. 188)
    • Las Vegas Metro Police unit now totals 8 HDs in their fleet
    • June 1st, Michigan State Police return to riding Harleys on the freeway
  • Racing notes:
    • In 1994, HD returned to the top level of pro road racing with the VR-1000 Superbike Race Team. Despite memorable performances during its eight-year run, including a pole position in 1996 and podium finishes by Pascal Picotte in 1999, Harley-Davidson concluded in 2001 that the VR 1000 was at the end of its development cycle and was no longer competitive in the AMA Superbike series. While the program was ended following the 2001 season, the VR 1000 Superbike racing program helped Harley-Davidson develop and refine technologies such as liquid-cooling and electronic fuel injection. The program also led to the development Harley-Davidson's first production liquid-cooled motorcycle, the 2002 VRSCA V-Rod. 189)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883
    • XLH 883 'Hugger'
    • XLH 883 'Deluxe'
    • XLH 1200
  • Oil tank revised (visually identified by relocated oil drain line which now runs to the frame instead of nipple on underside of battery tray)
  • Replaced small Derby cover with large 4-bolt full Derby cover and quick-release clutch cable
  • Revised rear struts – straight w/ chrome steel covers
  • New electrical system (wiring harness/weatherproof electrical connectors
  • New electrical component tray under the seat
  • 883s got an aluminum lower triple clamp which was previously stock on only the 1200’s
  • Interference-fit carburetor float pin pedestal on all models
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 (all models): Vivid Black, Aqua Pearl, Bright Victory Red Sun-Glo.190)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Aqua Pearl/ Silver, Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Dark Victory Red Sun-Glo/ Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Aqua Pearl. 191)


  • MoCo notes:
    • October 1st, HD announces plans to double production to 200,000 motorcycles annually by the year 2003 (100th anniversary)
    • HD announces the probability of building a new plant to accommodate the proposed increase in production.
    • The 30th Anniversary Ultra Classic® Electra Glide® becomes the first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle to include sequential port electronic fuel injection. 192)
  • Fuel notes:
    • December, US phases out leaded gasoline for road-use vehicles.193)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 $4,995
    • XLH Hugger 883 $5,700
    • XLH Deluxe 883 $6,120
    • XLH 1200 $7,200
  • New Larger 3.25 gal gas tank on 1200 models (Bigger Peanut Tank - crimped bottom)
  • New Vacuum operated petcock - Located on leftside of tank
  • Ignition switch moved to steering column (because of petcock location)
  • New electronic speedometer with resettable trip-meter
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 (all models): Vivid Black, Aqua Pearl, Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Nugget Yellow, Burgundy Pearl. 194)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Aqua Pearl, Aqua Pearl/ Silver, Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Dark Victory Red Sun-Glo/ Bright Victory Red Sun Glo, Nugget Yellow/ Vivid Black. 195)


  • MoCo notes:
    • Jan 22nd, sale of the Holiday Rambler Recreational Vehicle Division to the Monaco Coach Corp. for $50 million.
    • Feb 5th, Initial attempt to trademark the 'Harley' (Potato-Potato) sound. Company spokeman Steve Piehl “We don't want the sound of our motorcycles to become the generic sound of motorcycles”.
    • A new, state-of-the-art Parts and Accessories Distribution Center opens in Franklin, WI. By the beginning of 1997, all inventory is moved from the original warehouse at Juneau Avenue to the new 250,000 sq. ft. facility. 196)
    • August 24, HD breaks ground for a new production center in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883 $5,095
    • XLH Hugger 883 $5,760
    • XLH 1200 $7,360
    • XLH 1200C Custom $7,910
    • XLH 1200S Sport $8,360
  • All models received a larger gas tank now 3.3 gal w/rounded bottom edge on 1200 models
  • XL 1200S is a new model based on the XLH 1200 featuring adjustable-damping front forks, adjustable rear shocks and a slight power increase. The Sport was first to have
    • fully-adjustable front & rear suspension
    • dual front floating-disc brakes
  • XL1200C, also based on the XLH 1200, features dual staggered shorty pipes, laced front 21” wheel and cast disc rear wheel with slots
  • Handlebar switches revised to more rounded style
  • Cast Wheels upgraded to 13-spokes
  • First year for 1200 Custom and Sport models
  • Paint colors
    • XL 883 (all models): Vivid Black, Patriot Red Pearl, States Blue Pearl, Platinum Silver, Mystique Green. 197)
    • XL 1200: Vivid Black, Patriot Red Pearl, States Blue Pearl, Violet Purple, Two tone Victory Sun Glo and Platinum, Two tone Violet and Red Pearl, Platinum Silver and Black.198)


  • MoCo notes:
    • A new 217,000 sq. ft. Product Development Center opens next to the Capitol Drive plant in Milwaukee. The building is dedicated to Willie G. Davidson. 199)
    • Powertrain Operations at Capitol Drive expanded its capacity by moving FL engine and transmission production to a newly purchased plant located in Menomonee Falls. XL engines and transmissions, as well as Genuine Parts Manufacturing, remain at Capitol Drive.200)
    • A new 330,000 sq. ft. plant in Kansas City produces its first Sportster. 201)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883
    • XLH 883 ‘Hugger’
    • XLH 1200
    • XLH 1200C ’Custom’
    • XLH 1200S ’Sport’
  • Larger gas tank (3.3 gal) on 883 models also


  • MoCo notes:
    • HD celebrates its 95th Anniversary. 140,000 plus riders are warmly received by Milwaukee to help with the celebration. 202)
    • A new assembly facility opens in Manaus, Brazil, the first operations outside of the U.S.203)
  • HD buys a remaining 49% interest in Buell Motorcycle Company. Erik Buell is named Chairman of Buell operations. 204)
  • Production Information:
    • XL 883
    • XL 883C 'Custom'
    • XL 883 ‘Hugger’
    • XL 1200
    • XL 1200C ’Custom’
    • XL 1200S ’Sport’
  • Jiffy Stand gets replaceable bushings
  • New ignition module (still dual-fire) - All in nosecone (except 1200S)
  • First year for Bank Angle Sensor (BAS) (External - All models)
  • XL883C introduced with the standard 883 powertrain on a 1200C chassis.205)
  • XL1200S received upgrades:
    • 1200S only - Single-fire ignition module (underseat) & quad-output coil
    • 1200S only - Dual-plug Buell Lightning heads (with hotter 'W' cams)
    • 1200S only - Manifold Air Pressure (MAP) Sensor (NO VOES)


  • MoCo notes:
    • The Touring and Dyna motorcycle families receive the new Twin Cam 88® engine. 206)
  • Production Information:
    • XLH 883
    • XLH 883 ‘Hugger’
    • XLH 883C ‘Custom’
    • XLH 1200
    • XLH 1200C ’Custom’
    • XLH 1200S ’Sport’

2000 - 2009


  • MoCo notes:
    • The FXSTD Softail® Deuce™ is introduced .207)
    • The 2000 model year Softail® models are outfitted with the Twin Cam 88B™ engine, a counter-balanced version of the Twin Cam 88. 208)
    • Buell introduces the Blast®, a single-cylinder motorcycle. 209)
  • Fuel notes:
    • European Union bans leaded gasoline at the pump.210)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883 'Hugger'
    • XL883C ‘Custom’
    • XL1200
    • XL1200C ’Custom’
    • XL1200S 'Sport'
  • First year for sealed wheel bearings
  • First year for 4-piston calipers
  • Pressed together flywheel assembly (supposed to be stronger and hold it’s trueness better)


  • MoCo notes:
    • The VRSCA V-Rod® is introduced for the 2002 model year. Inspired by the VR-1000 racing motorcycle, the V-Rod is Harley-Davidson's first motorcycle to combine fuel injection, overhead cams and liquid cooling, and delivers 115 horsepower. 211)
    • Harley-Davidson announces expansions at the Product Development Center (Milwaukee), as well as Tomahawk, WI, and York, PA, facilities.212)
  • Racing notes:
    • Harley-Davidson Racing announces the latest addition to the team: 17 year old Jennifer Snyder, the first woman to win a national event in the Formula USA National Dirt Track Series. 213)
  • Production Information:
    • XL 883
    • XL 883 'Hugger'
    • XL 883C 'Custom'
    • Xl 1200
    • XL 1200C 'Custom'
    • XL 1200S 'Sport'


  • MoCo notes:
    • The Buell® Firebolt® is introduced.214)
    • The Open Road Tour debuts in Atlanta, GA, in July to celebrate the upcoming Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary.215)
  • Racing notes:
    • HD launched the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Pro Stock Motorcycle team in 2002 with rider GT Tonglet to compete in the NHRA Drag Racing Series. Harley-Davidson teamed with Vance & Hines Motorsports, winner of 23 NHRA titles, to develop a V-Twin engine that would be competitive with the four-cylinder engines prevalent in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. 216)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883 'Hugger'
    • XL883C ‘Custom’
    • XL883R 'Roadster'
    • XL1200
    • XL1200C ’Custom’
    • XL1200S 'Sport'
  • First year of 883R 'Roadster'
  • First year for bullet-style turn signals across the line


  • MoCo notes:
    • Buell Motorcycle Company introduces the Lightning® XB9S. 217)
    • More than 250,000 people come to Milwaukee for the final stop of the Open Road Tour and the Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Celebration and Party. 218)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883 'Hugger'
    • XL883C ‘Custom’
    • XL883R 'Roadster'
    • XL1200
    • XL1200C ’Custom’
    • XL1200S 'Sport'
  • New style mirrors.
  • Special HD 100th Anniversary paint/badges
  • Last year for 1200S 'Sport' models
  • Last year for solid mount engine-to-frame on all models


  • MoCo notes:
    • For the 2004 model year, the Sportster® family models receive rubber engine mounting, a new frame, and a wider rear tire. Some Sportster® models receive a redesigned gas tank. 219)
    • The FLHRSI Road King® Custom is introduced. With its low rear suspension and wide handlebars, the FLHRSI brings a beach look to a classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle. 220)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883C ‘Custom’
    • XL883P 'Police'
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200R 'Roadster'
  • Rubber Mount Engine in redesigned frame
  • 883 heads have minor changes
  • 1200 Models get Buell XB-style Heads and 'W' Cams
  • First Year cylinders have larger fins
  • First Year for oil squirters for new piston design
  • First Year all models have Single-Fire Ignition & Coil
  • First year for Crank Position Sensor (CKP)
  • Bank Angle Sensor (BAS) integrated into Turn Signal Module (TSM/TSSM)
  • Trap door transmission eliminated (cases must now be split to access transmission).
  • Oil tank is mounted further under the seat
  • Seat height is lowered by an inch
  • Rear tire width increased to 150 mm
  • Custom models get 4.5 gallon gas tanks
  • New air cleaner cover
  • New 2-Piston Brake calipers
  • Brake calipers & master cylinders are Sportster only versions
  • Switch housings & handgrips are Sportster only versions


  • MoCo notes:
    • The XL 883L Sportster® 883 Low brings a lowered seating position to the Sportster® line.221)
    • The FLSTNI Softail® Deluxe adds a sleek look to the Softail® line and a paint scheme reminiscent of 1939 Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Also, the FLSTSC/I Softail® Springer® Classic revives looks from the late 1940s. 222)
    • Harley-Davidson and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) mark the 25th anniversary of their partnership. 223)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883C 'Custom'
    • XL883L 'Low'
    • XL883P 'Police'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' – Mid year intro
    • XL1200C ’Custom’
    • XL1200R 'Roadster'
  • Swing arm & rear wheel re-designed to 1″ rear axle.
  • Last year for straight cut gears in the transmission. 224)
  • Shifter shaft diameter and thus the primary cover different due to bushing opening being larger in 2005 from 2004 225)


  • MoCo notes:
    • The first of the 6-speed transmissions are made available on 2006 model year Dyna™ motorcycles. Also joining the Dyna™ family is the FXDB/I Street Bob™. 226)
    • The 2006 model year includes the all-new FLHX/I Street Glide™, a lower profile touring motorcycle.227)
    • Harley-Davidson unveils plans for an all-new museum in Milwaukee, scheduled for opening in 2008. 228)
    • Harley-Davidson appoints Beijing Feng Huo Lun (FHL) as the first authorized Harley-Davidson dealer on mainland China. 229)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883C 'Custom'
    • XL883L 'Low'
    • XL883P 'Police'
    • XL883R 'Roadster'
    • XL1200C ’Custom’
    • XL1200L 'Low'
    • XL1200R 'Roadster'
  • First year of 1200R (black engine)
  • Last year of carbureted engines


  • MoCo notes:
    • The XL 1200N Nightster is introduced with black rims, fork gaiters, and a side mount license plate holder. 230)
    • The new FXCWC Rocker introduces Harley-Davidson’s first swingarm-mounted rear fender and 2-into-1 Trick seat. 231)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883C 'Custom'
    • XL883L 'Low'
    • XL883P 'Police'
    • XL883R 'Roadster'
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200L 'Low'
    • XL1200R 'Roadster'
    • XL1200N 'Nightster'
    • XL50 50th Anniversary of Sportster- Only 2000 Produced - Only This Year
  • First year for Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
  • First year for Neutral Switch & Clutch Switch Interlock - Prevents starting if in gear and not holding clutch disengaged
  • EFI Ignition implementation means some parts from 04-06 won't fit anymore including seats and rear fender due to ECM location
  • 883 models receive 'W' cams also
  • 883L lowered further
  • 883 & 1200 model heads each have minor changes - including modified intake manifold mounting surfaces
  • Introduction of 1200N mid-year (model different in some markets including taller shocks in Europe, no cut fender or side-mount plate in Canada)
  • Last year of 833R Roadster in the US
  • Last year for 3.3 gallon tank on 1200R


  • MoCo notes:
    • The Touring family now has an all new frame, providing longer wheelbase, lower seating position and better maneuverability. 232)
    • The all new Harley-Davidson Museum opens in Milwaukee on July 12. Located at 6th and Canal streets, the Museum showcases hundreds of classic and custom motorcycles, interactive exhibits and never-before-seen films and photographs.233)
    • Hundreds of thousands of riders from around the world converge on Milwaukee to celebrate Harley-Davidson’s 105th Anniversary. Riders and dealers raise more than $6.7 million for MDA. Entertainment includes the Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen. That same weekend, HOG marks 25 years with its own party. 234)
  • Financial notes:
    • The U.S. Great Recession of 2008, also known as the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. U.S. households lost on average nearly $5,800 in income due to reduced economic growth during the acute stage of the financial crisis. 235)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883
    • XL883C 'Custom'
    • XL883L 'Low'
    • XL883P 'Police'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom
    • XL1200L 'Low'
    • XL1200R 'Roadster'
    • XL1200N 'Nightster' *
    • XR1200 (HDI only)
  • Only year 1200R had 4.5 Gallon tank (in US)
  • Intro of hollow axles – front changed to 1“
  • Last year for base 883 and 1200R in the US
  • Last year 883 cylinders can be bored for 1200 upgrade
  • Intro of XR1200 in Europe


  • MoCo notes:
    • Harley-Davidson announces expansion into India. 236)
    • The 2009 model year brings the first three-wheeler for public purchase in the new FLHTCUTG Tri Glide Ultra Classic. Also new is the history-inspired Cross Bones, a bobbed factory custom.237)
  • Production Information:
    • XL883 (HDI only)
    • XL883C 'Custom'
    • XL883L 'Low'
    • XL883LP 'Low Police'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200L 'Low'
    • XL1200N 'Nightster'
    • XR1200
  • First year of XR1200 in US (Limited edition 750 models)
  • First year 883N Iron - Blacked Out similar to Nightster
  • Front fender revised - closer to tire

2010 - 2019


  • Production Information:
    • XL883C Custom (HDI only)
    • XL883L 'Low'
    • XL883LP 'Low Police'
    • XL883R Roadster (HDI only)
    • XL883N 'Iron
    • XR1200
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200L 'Low'
    • XL1200N 'Nightster'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XR1200X (HDI only)
  • Revised Oil Tank, Electrical Junction Box and ECM
  • ECM relocated behind rear jug (allows seats and rear fenders from 04-06 to fit)
  • First year of XL1200X 48
  • Last year of XR1200
  • (HDI only) Intro of XR1200X - an XR with floating discs, and adjustable front and rear suspensions (including Showa Big Piston forks)


  • Production Information:
    • XL883L 'SuperLow' (re-engineered Low)
    • XL883LP 'Low Police'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200L 'Low'
    • XL1200N 'Nightster'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XR1200X
  • SuperLow replaces 883L 'Low' (first stock XL with radial tires but on smaller wheels with more shock travel - seat height slightly higher than previous 883L)
  • First year of XR1200X in US:
    • Higher-grade Showa suspension w/ Big Piston Fork similar to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000 or Buell Barracuda 2.
      (smoother, more responsive action and reduced weight, due to fewer internal parts)238)
    • Showa shocks with piggyback nitrogen-charged reservoirs (controlled ride at the rear - spring preload, plus
      compression and rebound damping - can now be adjusted at both ends)239)
    • Full-floating Nissin front brake rotors (292mm) 240)
  • Last year of XL1200L 'Low'


  • Production Information:
    • XL883L 'SuperLow'
    • XL883LP 'Low Police'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200N 'Nightster'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XL1200V '72'
    • XR1200X


  • Production Information:
    • XL883L 'SuperLow'
    • XL883LP 'Low Police'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XL1200V '72'


  • Production Information:
    • XL883L 'SuperLow'
    • XL883LP 'Low Police'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200T 'SuperLowT'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XL1200V '72'
  • First year of XL1200T 'SuperLowT'
  • Significant changes for 2014 241):
    • All 2014 Sportsters will utilize the “HDLAN electrical system” (aka CANBus).
    • The BCM (Body Control Module) controls all things electrical; including the horn, headlight, and starter.
      • The BCM eliminates the need for separate TSM/TSSM modules.
      • Eliminates the need for load balancer for running LEDs.
      • Marketed that there are less wires and fuses needed.
    • Exhaust changes:
      • All US/Domestic models now have catalyst in the mufflers.
      • Welded cross over pipe.
    • Brake system changes:
      • The front calipers change from dual 25mm pistons to 34mm.
      • The rear brake is now a dual 35 mm piston.
      • ABS optional.
    • Bikes fitted with the security system will be shipped for “keyless” operation and ignition switch eliminated.
    • The rear swing arm mounting changes.
    • Oil Tank changes.


  • Production Information:
    • XL883L 'SuperLow'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL883R 'Roadster' (HDI only)
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200T 'SuperLowT'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XL1200V '72'


  • Production Information:
    • XL883L 'SuperLow'
    • XL883N 'Iron'
    • XL1200C 'Custom'
    • XL1200T 'SuperLowT'
    • XL1200X '48'
    • XL1200V '72'


  • MoCo notes
    • February 2nd, 2017 Harley executives rode to the White House to meet President Donald Trump.
    • July 18, 2017 HD's (HOG.N) shares skidded to a more than one-year low after the motorcycle maker cut its full-year shipments forecast as demand weakens among its aging baby-boomer customers and fewer millennials take to motorcycling. They also said it would need to cut production in second half of 2017, resulting in hourly workforce reductions at some of its U.S. plants. Harley's shares were down 9 percent at $47.17 in late morning trading on Tuesday. 242)
  • Production Information:
    • XL1200T 'SuperLowT' $11,899 243)



Sportster Parts Chart

This is a chart of the variation in parts that appear on different years of Sportsters… For instance, the size of the axles -and- the various brake pads used… 244)

Sportster Model Years in Production

Additional information needed to complete the Ironhead chart 245)

sportster-ironhead-models-years.jpg sportster-evolution-models-years.jpg

Sportsters Specifications by Specific Year

Model K








Online Links to Sportster History Information

The following links are presented for your reading enjoyment. There is no claim of accuracy for the information presented in the destination links.

2) , 3) , 10) , 11) , 15) , 16)
1959-1964 HD Sportster FSM pg 1A-3
5) , 8)
Credits to the Harley Davidson Data Book by Rick Conner 1996 MBI Publishing Company
1972-2003 HD Shop Dope Service Bulletin No 392 11-27-1957
1955-1965 HD Sportster & KH Model Parts Catalog pgs 26,95
9) , 12) , 14) , 18)
1953-1963 HD Sportster and K Model Parts catalog pg 58
1955-1965 HD Sportster & KH Model Parts Catalog pg 24
HD Service Bulletin #403 dated December 15, 1958
1955-1965 HD Sportster & KH Model Parts Catalog pgs 24,95
21) , 39)
-1985 Clymer Sportster Repair Manual pg 215
Harley Davidson Service Bulletin No. 465 dated Dec. 1, 1961 page number OA-1
27) , 28) , 29)
HD Shop Dope Service Bulletin No 455 December 6, 1961
HD Shop Dope Service Bulletin No 454 December 4, 1961
HD 1955-1965 Parts Catalog pg 24
HD 1955-1965 Parts Catalog pg 24, 96
HD Service Bulletin #503 dated December 31, 1964 pg OC-149
Harley Davidson Service Bulletin No. 515 dated June 11, 1965 page #OC-169
HD Service Bulletin #507 dated Feb. 18, 1965 pg OC-155
38) , 50) , 69)
1961-1971 HD Sportster Parts Catalog pg 95
HD Service Bulletin #523 dated October 18, 1965 pg OC-199
Shop Dope Vol 4 Service Bulletin No 518 Sep 10, 1965
HD Service Bulletin #521 dated October 11, 1965 pg OC-193
44) , 45)
HD Service Bulletin #537 dated March 22, 1966 pg OC-221
HD Service Bulletin #534 dated February 17,1966 pg OC-215
1957-1967 HD Sportster / KH Parts Catalog pg 39
HD Service Bulletin #536 dated March 7, 1966 pg OC-219
Shop Dope Vol 4 Service Bulletin No 563 Nov 29, 1967
Shop Dope Vol 4 Service Bulletin No 572 June 10, 1968
HD Service School service bulletin #570 dated May 21, 1968
1970-2010 Haynes Sportster Service and Repair Manual pg 0.5
Shop Dope Service Bulletin #588A dated October 9, 1969
Shop Dope Vol 4, Service Bulletin No 582 Dec 17, 1968
Shop Dope Service Bulletin #592 dated June 17,1969
Shop Dope Service Bulletin #593 dated June 17, 1969
HD Sportster Parts Catalog 99451-78 pg 5
HD Service School service bulletin #625 dated August 2, 1971
79) , 80) , 104) , 120) , 134) , 165)
1972-2003 HD XR750 Service Manual XR 750 Production Schedule pg 69
81) , 82) , 83) , 84) , 85) , 86) , 87) , 88) , 89) , 90) , 91) , 105) , 137) , 166) , 167) , 168) , 169) , 170)
1972-2003 HD XR-750 Service Manual pg 3
1954-1978 HD Sportster Parts Catalog pg 89
HD Service School Service Bulletin #650 dated May 15, 1973
97) , 98) , 99)
HD Service School Service Bulletin #656 dated February 11, 1974
Harley Davidson Service Bulletin #655 dated November 15, 1973 page #OC-449
HD Service School service letter dated July 23, 1975
1977 HD XLT Owners Manual Supplement pg 3
111) , 112)
1977 HD XLT Owners Manual Supplement pg 2
2010 Haynes Sportster Service and Repair Manual pg 3.1
HD XLH, XLCH 1000 Sportster Parts Catalog pg 91 (99451-78B)
1979-1985 HD Parts Catalog pgs 63,65
125) , 135)
1979-194 Sportster FSM pg 3-35
1985 Clymer Sportster Repair Manual pg 225
1979-1985 HD Sportster Parts Catalog pg 87
1959-1985 Clymer Sportster Service and Repair Manual pg 79
1972-2003 HD XR-750 Service Manual pg 69
141) , 142) , 143) , 149)
1979-1985 HD FSM
1979-1985 HD Sportster Parts Catalog pg 89
1979-1985 HD Sportster Parts Catalog pg 73
1986-1990 HD XLH FSM pg 1-6
161) , 162)
1986-1990 XLH FSM
171) , 172)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-58
174) , 175)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-50
1986-2003 Clymer Sportster Repair Manual
179) , 180)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-42
181) , 182)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-34
185) , 186)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-26
190) , 191)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-18
194) , 195)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-10
197) , 198)
HD 1989-1996 Painted Parts Book pg 1-2
1998 HD Sportster Parts Catalog pg 135
244) , 245)
Chart by IXL2Relax of the XLFORUM
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