Though often maligned by the Motorcycle Club crowd and many "Big Twin" riders, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has always had a special place in my heart. The history of the bike is as cool as they come, and after 55 years, the bike still retains much of its original styling. Almost as importantly to me, my first Harley was a 1978 XLC 1000 Sportster. A beautiful pain in the butt that was one of the coolest bikes I ever owned, but easily the most tempermental as well, spending a lot more time in the garage on a lift, than on the street.
The Sportster (aka Sporty) was first produced by HD in 1957, probably making it the longest continuously produced motorcycle models.
Developed to compete with the surging import market, the Sportster was a bare-bones street machine with full suspension and a 4-speed transmission. Its engine had cast iron heads, developed 40 bhp, a formidable output for the size of bike at the time. For marketing purposes, its engine was measured in cubic centimeters (CC's) as opposed to cubic inches, as The Motor Company had designated their prior models. The bike accounts for almost 25% of Harley's sales — almost half a million bikes each decade.
In honor of the great Sportster, and its significance in the history of motorcycles, tomorrow we will be posting another Biker Spotlight, featuring Fast Freddy, who rides the mean streets of Los Angeles on a 2011 Harley Davidson XL1200X Forty-Eight. The Forty-Eight, for those of you of you who don't know, is a recent addition to the Sportster lineup — a bare bones, retro-styled throwback to the golden age of the model. An eye catcher for anyone who appreciates the bikes of decades past.