Looking for a lighter appearance, customizers began swapping Sportster forks onto to Harley-Davidson Big Twins. Willie G. Davidson and The Motor Company picked up on this trend and built production machines using the “parts bin” approach. Starting with the Super Glide, 1971, it proved very successful. By 1977 the formula was refined and the product got the name Low-Rider. The rest is history.
Sales soared on these models as they offered a cool, kicked back look, a low 27 inch seat height which was inviting to women, too. The Low Rider then outsold all other Harley models. Low bars, 32 degree steering head angle, mag wheels with raised white letter tires, a stepped seat, a two-into-one slash cut exhaust and forward foot controls gave the machine a custom look. The venerable Shovelhead motor, already ten years in production, offered plenty of torque and good sound.
The new 80 cubic inch engine arrived in the Low-Rider in 1979, belt drive in a few years as well. Saving design and engineering time, the Sturgis and SuperGlide models were also based on this build approach.
Looking back to this era, we also saw 1977 bring us the Harley-Davidson XLCR Cafe Racer, a Sportster variant, as well as the MX250 motorcrosser. It was an important time in Harley’s history with new ideas and great expansion in manufacturing volume.
This Low Rider, on loan from Iowa resident Jeff Ott is just one of dozens of Harley-Davidsons you can see when you visit the National Motorcycle Museum. Street, competition and custom, they are all here awaiting your visit.
- Engine: Overhead Valve, 45 Degree V-Twin
- Displacement: 1200cc’s / 74 Cubic Inches
- Bore & Stroke: 3.44 x 3.97 / 87mm x 101mm
- Horsepower: 58HP
- Carburetor: Bendix
- Transmission: 4-Speed
- Primary: Chain Driven
- Electrical: 12 Volt
- Ignition: Coil & Points
- Starting: Kick & Electric
- Final Drive: Chain
- Frame: Double Down Tube
- Suspension: Hydraulic Fork / Twin Shocks
- Brakes: Triple Disks
- Wheels / Tires: 3.50 x 19 / 5 .10 x 16
- Wheelbase: 63.5 Inches
- Weight: 623 Pounds