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The Harley XLCR. From unsalable to unaffordable

Harley XLCR

Harley-Davidson has a legendary reputation. And in all the hallelujah shouting, it usually disappears that the company has lived through just as shaky a corporate history as many an Italian motorcycle manufacturer and that under the Harley flag a nice bunch of bicycles have rolled down the gate that just couldn't be worn. Real Harley Riders laughed at the Boattail and the Harley XLCR. Not Harley riders, by the way.


The Harley-Davidson XLCR

Based on the Harley-Davidson Sportster, the Harley XLCR Cafe Racer had a new frame that leaned somewhat on that of Harley's XR750 racers, that tiny tub, the strikingly shaped four-gallon gas tank, and a fiberglass butt. Footrests, brake and gearshift pedals were set in 'sporting position' and thanks to the low steering wheel the pilot was leaning forward dynamically. The Harley XLCRs were 'in every color, as long as it was black'. Even the engine block was covered in black shrink (wrinkle) paint.

The Harley XLCR specifications

The Harley Cafe Racer shared the same V twin as other 1977 Sportsters. The displacement of 997 cc was obtained through a bore and stroke of 80,8 x 96,8 mm. With a compression ratio of 9.0: 1, the V twin delivered 57 hp at 6.000 rpm. The conjoined exhaust was different from previous Sportster models, it made the accessibility of the block less, but compensated by supplying 5 hp extra. The valve timing on the Harley Cafe Racer was also slightly more radical than other Sportster models. The Harley XLCR models were equipped with only a starter motor. Some are retro-equipped with the kick-start mechanism of the 1979 Sportster XLCH.

A double - somewhat basic looking - disc brake on the front and the cast aluminum wheels, which were optional with other Sportsters that year, were standard on the Cafe Racer. The seven-spoke wheels, made by Morris, were 19 "front and 18" at the rear. The Goodyear tires had white upright letters. There was also a disc brake on the back, and it would appear from 1979 afterwards. Harley XLCR models also received a solid-state voltage regulator, like all models from 1978 and later.

"If you know everything in advance, you can go around the world with a duppie"

That was once a wise saying. We don't know everything. But in the meantime we have seen that, with a view to the future, it is best to invest your money in vehicles that were not doing well in their time. Because they were sold little at the time and now scarce: so expensive. We do not buy classics ourselves for investment reasons. We drive for pleasure. And a hobby can cost a bit.

But still

Quite a few Harley XLCRs were sold. And apparently very little was driven with it. The few copies - the real ones, not the replicas - that we encountered over time all had low mileage.

This is of course because this primordial café racer was not expected to regularly do coast2coast rides in the US from A. Even more than other Harleys, the Harley XLCR was meant to attract attention. And they were second-hand in the States below the price level of the ordinary Sportsters.

Unsold? Priceless!

In the meantime, count on € 24.000 for a topper


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The photos also show the XCLRs of Thijs van Rhoon of CCR 95 Motorcycle & Mecanix. Not all are equally purebred. But they are no less beautiful.

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Austin Maestro

Austin Maestro. Moderately miraculous

Classic driving

Organizing and driving classic trips: Quite a job