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Old 03-25-2015, 06:43 PM   #1
Kiba OP
Dances With Huskies
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Joined: Nov 2013
Location: Houston, Motorcycle Purgatory
Oddometer: 182
1973 Harley-Davidson Sportster Survivor

Got this last week.

Contrary to all available evidence, I am somewhat poor, so it takes a pretty damn good deal to justify a motorcycle purchase. Let's just say I did well on this one.

It's a 1973 XLH1000, electric start only, with roughly 9000 miles on the clock and about 95% original. It leaks a little but otherwise seems to run and ride very well excluding some old bike quirks.

I took out my grandad's old set of imperial car tools and tossed them into a bag with some oil, rags, pliers and screwdrivers, and proceeded to ride it around. So far it hasn't skipped a beat except for a dead battery (now charging) which was already a known issue.

I've always admired old bikes of all kinds, most from a distance due to the cost, but I've never considered myself an "HD guy" so this has been an interesting new experience. As long as it remains reliable with proper maintenance though I like it, and don't mind the myriad quirks it comes with. It's a cantankerous, vibey creature, it has an extremely heavy clutch and is geared such that you have to slip the clutch at any speed under 20mph. It's jneither easy to ride nor what you would call comfortable.

But on the plus side, it's a hot-rodded tractor engine in the absolute best way, has mountains of torque, sounds great (with stock pipes, by the way), brakes acceptably for a bike its age and actually corners well.

It also looks amazing and distinctive- the engine is really one of the nicest designs I have ever come in contact with, visually at least, and so many details on the bike are attractive in their execution.

I would post more but have finished a long day at work. In the meantime, any suggestions on sources for parts and maintenance advice, etc?

Harley seems less forthcoming about parts fiche and so on than the Japanese makers are, so every little bit helps.
Wherever you go, there you are.
1986 Yamaha XT600 (daily driver) - 2004 Kawi EX500 (on loan) - 1971 Suzuki TS185 - 1996 Suzuki DR350 (project) - 1982 Honda CM450 (loaner/beater)

Wolves do it in the snow.
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Old 03-26-2015, 02:12 AM   #2
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Summerville, SC
Oddometer: 3,340
Very cool! An unmolested Sportster of that vintage must be a real rarity.
2007 Buell XB12X Ulysses
1983 Honda VT500FT Ascot
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Old 03-26-2015, 03:40 AM   #3
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Joined: Mar 2010
Oddometer: 1,402
Now THAT'S a Sportster! Love it man. Congrats!
Nawfick, Virginny
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:29 AM   #4
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Joined: Jan 2005
Location: Riding with my pal Richard Cranium
Oddometer: 4,469
Nice find !!!

Cogswell Rides To Big Bend
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The good thing is, your damn motor can't read. If it says oil on the container, it's pretty much OK to dump in there.... ED.
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:32 AM   #5
Joined: Sep 2009
Oddometer: 84
Congrats Kiba - potentially a beautiful bike. Shame about little things like the butchered guard on the front.
They are a labour of love but as time goes by, rarer and rarer in stock trim.
I had a 76 or thereabouts once upon a time and they certainly are tractors, but their beauty is in their simplicity and you don't have to be a mechanic or computer geek to work on them. I really hope you enjoy it.

My old XLCH -

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Old 03-26-2015, 05:51 AM   #6
Old Mule
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Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Chihuahuan Desert in Texas
Oddometer: 429
th arch-enemy of

my 70s Triumph, love to run into you at that red light on the edge of town, middle of the night.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:47 AM   #7
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Waukegan
Oddometer: 2,422
Awesome! I have a 72. I have to admit, I wasn't prepared to like the bike as much as I have. Yours looks pretty orginal. It's a shame they cut up that front fender, they're kind of hard to come by. You even have the original exhaust which another thing that gets lost. Are you sure about the mileage? That's an aftermarket speedometer. All the same, the bike is (mostly) original. It seems that with Harleys, it takes more effort to keep them original than anything else. Many people succumb to the temptation to fiddle with them in less than beneficial ways. Check out the They'll be pretty excited to see that bike and probably offer some good pointers on getting it up to snuff. Enjoy.

1976 R90/6
1972 XLCH
2010 Triumph Thunderbird SE
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:19 AM   #8
Carl Childers
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Joined: Dec 2012
Location: Northern New Mexico
Oddometer: 732

Nice Sporty, pretty much unmolested! Check out J&P Cycles vintage catalog for sheet metal and more if you go the resto route with this one.
New Mexico, not really new, not really Mexico.
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Old 03-26-2015, 03:02 PM   #9
Joined: Oct 2007
Location: Biddeford, Maine
Oddometer: 360
I just picked one up on Saturday. Same color but 1980.
I bought it from a guy that had stripped it down to the bare frame and was going to power coat it. That was three or four years ago. From the look of it, I would say that it spent most of its life under the porch, but I should have it back together in a couple of weeks.
Is this the kind of bike Evel Kenevel used to jump with? He was nuts!
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:24 PM   #10
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Joined: Dec 2006
Location: The Valley eh
Oddometer: 2,353
Not a harley guys but that's a really nice find, love how original it looks.

care to share what you paid for it?
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky.
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:59 PM   #11
What could go wrong?
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Beautiful Revelstoke BC
Oddometer: 5,615
Sweet, nice to find a survivor.
Kawasaki H1 build thread

71- 450 Honda CL re & re

Just another pathetic sheep following the herd

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Old 03-26-2015, 08:36 PM   #12
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Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Beautiful Downtown Springville, Alabama
Oddometer: 8,308
there's a '74 kicking around the garage here. Heavily modded to look like an early '60s model.

Unusual to see one with the stock AMF tank.
Loose nut holding the handlebars
He’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith. Spread your arms and hold your breath, always trust your cape. Guy Clark "The Cape"
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Old 03-27-2015, 01:19 AM   #13
Joined: Oct 2012
Oddometer: 22
+1 on the XLforum, particularly the ironhead forum found here.

My first H-D was a 73 Sportster and you know what5 they say avbout your first love.
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Old 03-29-2015, 09:25 PM   #14
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Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Heart of Dixie
Oddometer: 388
Nice find! I wouldn't take too much to get it back pretty close to original. A couple fenders painted to match the tank and a stock seat would go a long way. Handlebars and instruments would just about finish it. I have an '83 Ironhead that's fairly close to stock...

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Old Yesterday, 07:14 AM   #15
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: North America
Oddometer: 140
Do as little as possible to it to keep it reliable and rideable. In your spare time collect the few original parts it does not have and put them in a box or on the bike, your choice.

Harley only made 20,000 Sportsters of all types in 1973, a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousands of Japanese appliances scattered all over the earth like confetti at a wedding.

After forty plus years how many are left intact? Hardly any at all. Back then Harley was the number-one bike to chop and butcher .
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