HOW SPORTSTER® BECAME A LEGEND
One Sportster enthusiast sums it up when he says it's "the best hill climber, drag racer, land speed racer, ice racer, road racer, flat-track racer, all-around road bike or you-name-it bike that Harley-Davidson® ever made."
Production started in 1957 and never stopped. That year Harley® introduced Sportster® with the new OHV pushrod 883 cc air cooled engine that made it famous. That first year the manufacturer only built 1,983 of the XL model.
Sportster had the same frame, fenders, large gas tank and front suspension of its predecessor the KH. It so outperformed mid-sized bikes in the same range the next year Harley® dropped KH, KHK and KHR and added Sportster models.
Its competition was the Triumph 650 and the Bonneville, and H-D® Sportster left them in the dust. By 1970 Sportster was the top production model.
SPORTSTER® MODELS YOU ALREADY KNOW
There were significant changes between model years. Here are some of the most noteworthy:
Fast, Faster and Disaster
- XR-750 -- This bike was built for racing. It was also Evil Knievel's jump bike.
- XLCR -- This cafe racer built between 1978 and 1979 had an 1,000 cc overhead-valve engine.
- XLH -- This 1969 model smashed the world speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1970.
- Nightster -- 2007 was the first year this Sportster came with a bobbed rear fender, low seat height and side mounted plate.
- XR 1200 -- In 2009 H-D® released this one in the U.S. in Mirage Orange, nodding to its dirt-bike heritage. The first ones released were autographed by Kenny Coolbeth and Scott Parker.
- Forty-Eight -- The classic peanut tank, wire wheels and forward controls came from Sportster's roots. The low solo single seat placed riders close to the road for extreme control paired with Harley® power.
- Roadster -- One of the most recently released Sportsters has mid-positioned pegs, cafe styling and a slammed drag bar.
- SuperLow -- Sportster style with a low center of gravity puts riders close to the road in a comfortable cockpit.
HOW SPORTSTER® CHANGED RACING
With bikes, the key to winning has always been accelleration. By the time Sportster® made its debut, America had drag strips in urban areas and small towns from coast to coast. Racers preferred the Sportster® XLCH in the late 50's and early 60's.
AMA hall-of-famer Leo Payne was a drag racing champion who built carburetors to run on a combination of nitromethane and gas. His Sportsters had names like Quarter Horse, Drag Sport and Turnip-Eater. The last set several speed records including a top speed of over 201 mph. Tom Reiser's competitive drag Sportster is on display at the Harley-Davidson® museum in Milwaukee.
PHOTOS FROM OUR ALLEN, TEXAS SPORTSTER® FANS
Randy Payne shared this photo of his wife Kelly and her 2017 Iron 883.
Lisa Hart shared her Sportster photo.
Charle Whitted shared this fabulous '05 Custom Sportster named Babbs.
WHERE TO BUY A SPORTSTER® NEAR DALLAS
If you're looking for a new Superlow, Iron 883, Iron 1200, Forty-Eight, Forty-Eight Special or 1200 Custom here are a few helpful links:
- 2019 Sportster
- New 2018 Sportster
- Buy a used Sportster Near Dallas -- Our pre-owned Sportster® inventory