While today’s Harley Sportster sells mainly on the basis of it being a Harley, that wasn’t always true. The original Harley Davidson Sportster was introduced in 1957 to stem the growing tide of British bikes that offered lighter weight and better handling than what HD was building at the time. These British machines offered a challenge to the American company on both road and track, with fierce rivalries being born as Harley, Triumph, Norton, and BSA all competed on dirt tracks across the country.
Unlike today’s Sportster, the new machine was right in the mix, and offered good power and nimble handling to match the imports. The engine was decidedly old-tech: nicknamed the “Ironhead” motor, it featured all-iron construction and overhead valves, but 883cc’s gave it great bottom-end torque. The “H” in XLCH denoted the “hot” version of the engine that included higher-compression pistons.
The rest of the bike was more progressive: unlike period Triumphs and modern Sportsters, engine and gearbox featured unit construction, with the engine and transmission sharing a single set of cases. This powertrain was mounted directly to the frame for a more rigid platform with improved handling, with the added benefit that it offered improved numbness for the rider’s hands and feet… Weighing in at about 500lbs wet, the bike was good for a top speed of about 115.
Fast, stable, and reasonably reliable, it sold well and took the fight to those pesky imports. At least until the Japanese crashed the party and basically put everybody out of business…
From the original eBay listing: 1960 Harley Davidson XLCH Sportster
A very nice and recently restored classic 1960 Harley Davidson XLCH Sportster with Hi-Fi Blue and Birch White paint scheme. Fully rebuilt and run in motor and transmission with matching lower case numbers and high pipe exhaust. Correct alloy wheels, solo seat, and 1038 CP hardware with correct finishes and more. Recently judged and scored in the high 90% range at the 2014 El Camino Classic Motorcycle Event in So. California. Ready for show or go!
Located in Southern California.
NOTE! This motorcycle is selling with a clear title.
With three days left on the auction bidding is active and up to $8,000 with the reserve not met. That’s no surprise: this looks like a very sharp, very nice example with the higher-performance “CH” engine and matching numbers.