The 1977 Harley-Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster was one of the more simplistic designs offered up by the company. One of the things that made it special was the fact that depending on how you ordered it, you could get the motorcycle in a “stripped down” version, where there was nothing included that didn’t genuinely need to be there. On the other hand, you could also order a more aerodynamic version, complete with flanges and everything else that made it look like it could cut through the air like a knife. Thinking back to 1977, it’s obvious now that some people loved this bike so much, they could scarcely even imagine riding anything else. Of course, there were others who didn’t really consider themselves fans of this particular motorcycle. That being said, there are still some dedicated riders who faithfully keep their Sportsters running smoothly. Therefore, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that there are also more than a few Harley-Davidson aficionados who want to get their hands on one. That’s why it’s so important to remember this dynamic little bike. For those who loved it, it was something truly special to ride, something that they remember with a smile, even today.
Getting Down to Basics
Harley-Davidson made the decision to break out early and do something that a lot of other motorcycle companies had never done before in manufacturing this particular bike. They made it so that it could be customized to a certain extent, therefore officially classifying it as both a custom bike and a cruiser. The idea was to reach as many customers as possible and get more people interested in the potential of owning the motorcycle. The base model was relatively affordable, meaning that it appealed to even more individuals. Of course, the price went up as the bike was more heavily customized, but that is to be expected. Overall, the bike had a relatively decent engine, a V2 four stroke that was capable of producing roughly 57 horsepower. That engine was married to a 4-speed gearbox that shifted through the gears relatively smoothly and gave the bike a respectable amount of speed. Like most bikes that were manufactured at the time, the brakes consisted of a single disc brake on the front. However, Harley-Davidson decided to do something a little bit different with the rear brake, incorporating an expanding brake instead of the more traditional disc brakes. This was all done with the intention of helping the rider stop the bike more precisely, thus allowing them to travel at faster speeds and use their brakes more effectively when stopping on short distances. The expanding rear brake was also meant to be more reliable and in turn, to require less maintenance. Just to keep things simple, the motorcycle was air cooled. This reduced its curb weight, meaning that it got better fuel mileage. Considering the fact that it was only capable of holding a little under 2.5 gallons of fuel in its tank, this was a smart move. The air-cooled engine also meant that there was less maintenance to be done on the motorcycle, mainly because you didn't have to worry about dealing with a coolant system along with everything else. In short, it was a system that appealed to potential buyers because most of them were looking for something that wasn't going to cost them an arm and a leg to purchase, nor to maintain.
Speed and Longevity
The light curb weight and the relatively powerful engine combined to make this bike one of the faster options available during 1977. As a matter of fact, this particular motorcycle was capable of traveling at a top speed of approximately 110 mph. A few people argue with that fact, saying that the bike's top speed was actually closer to 112 mph. The truth of the matter is that nobody is really going to be terribly concerned over a difference of one or two miles per hour. The point is, the bike was more than fast enough to get people wherever they needed to go in a short amount of time. In reality, it's not even safe to ride a motorcycle that fast in most situations, so it's definitely not a problem for most people. Despite the fact that this bike was fast, it also had a fairly decent range, especially for a motorcycle that had such a small fuel tank. Unless you were traveling over vast distances, there was no reason to assume that you couldn’t enjoy the ride by filling up the tank only once or twice throughout the course of the entire day. In 1977, there was a fuel crisis going on and that was one of the major selling points for this bike. People didn't want to spend a ton of money on gasoline and utilizing this particular motorcycle meant that they wouldn't have to. At the moment, many people find themselves in exactly the same situation and they're looking for viable solutions. Isn't it interesting that the very same thing that came to the rescue of some individuals more than 40 years ago might be the same thing that comes to their rescue today?
Finding One Today
If you're wondering whether or not it's possible for you to find one of these little gems today, it definitely is. It may not be the easiest task in the world, but there's nothing about it that's impossible. Depending on the condition of the motorcycle you find, you can expect to spend anywhere from just over $2,000 to approximately $9,000 in order to make it your own. That's definitely affordable, even by today's standards. The good news is that once you have one of these bikes in your possession, it is likely to perform almost flawlessly despite being several decades old. One of the main things that made this bike special was the fact that it could take a lot of punishment and keep going. As a matter of fact, it had an excellent reliability rating. That's something that still serves it well today. If you're looking for something that is a true classic and is both affordable and reliable, then this particular bike is hard to beat. That's exactly why it's worth remembering and if you get the chance, it's also worth owning.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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