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
45 replies
  1. mark harrigan
    mark harrigan says:

    I bought my 1978 Low Rider used in 1979 with 5400 miles, today it has 109,000 and has been mostly “retired” for 20 years but I still ride it several times a year, always fires right up.

  2. Robert Schlichting
    Robert Schlichting says:

    I wish I’d of kept mine too. I see this one is missing the turn signals. I took mine off for some dumb reason. The transmission went out around 6500 miles. the 3rd gear heat treating was the reason it blew. I got this new from Dorothy Wilwert in DBQ, Iowa for $3,500. I had about 65,000 on it when I sold it. Family and boating became the bigger need of my time then.


    I wish I still had mine too. It was stolen 20 years ago. It was the best HD I have ever owned. 60 MPH for real. I still have my 82 Sturgis lucky to get 30 MPH with this one. Rebuilt at 75000 miles now has 5500 on it.

  4. James
    James says:

    Love my 78 I got mine from my foster father, it came into my life at 10 years old an he got it ñew from pates Harley in Chattanooga, it sat for 18 years so it took me years to make it ware it is today but worth every minute

    • Dr. James T. Bacon
      Dr. James T. Bacon says:

      In 1977 the FIRST SERIES HD FXS 1200 – 3,742 motorcycles.
      The color is Original: Gun-Metal-Gray. Only MY 1977 available.
      With RED “1917” Harley-Davidson logos on the fuel-tank.
      Dr. Bacon.

  5. Joe Kucic
    Joe Kucic says:

    Still riding my 77 FXS. Bought it off the showroom floor in 77, I was 23. I’m 66 now, had the topend done twice through the years and new seals in the bottom. My FXS came stock with a Keihin carb, not a bending as stated in the specs…Runs like a top…keep the shiney side up!

  6. Joe martinez
    Joe martinez says:

    Wow on google it tells you they called it FXSsilver only color on the 1st yr ..i thought they called it Argent. Silver..my friend john remembered it be a gray and he said gunmetal Gray there are alot of poeple saying and thinking it was silver Fxs silver thank you for being right to many opinions and they all think there right but there not again thank you very much for the help

  7. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Still got mine bought new one of the first in Kansas City had dealer take the back then ugly header off still have it it’s never been back on the bike thinking about putting it all back stock an freshimg it up

  8. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    I’m 40 and the second owner of a 77 FXS. My Dad bought it new at Ukes HD in Kenosha, Wi. Sat for years and finally talked it off of him. It runs like a dream and sounds bad ass with drag pipes. I have been offered crazy amounts of money for it but i will only let it go to one person, my son when he’s ready. He’s only 8 now so I still have some time to ride.

  9. Susie
    Susie says:

    My father in law just passed away –we have 1977 Harley Davidson FXS Low Rider. Been sitting for years in the basement. . What do you think its worth?

  10. Bobo
    Bobo says:

    1st factory custom IMO. Kicker cover, primary, rocker boxes & cam cover all painted grey. Bought mine on 84 with 2500 miles on it. I’ve had 9 Harley’s &worked as mech at HD dealerships for 30 years. Seen & rode lots of bikes but this one was the one that took my heart !!

  11. Mike Richling
    Mike Richling says:

    Bought mine new in Toronto Canada $5100… Honda dealer wouldn’t take a cheque, so had to go to the bank and pay cash, something about looking like a biker and didn’t trust me with a cheque. I’ve driven all over the States and Canada with it, and still have it. Back in 79, took my girlfriend at the time on a 4000 mile trip and afterwards, her not complaining or leaving part way through, I then asked her to marry me. Still have the bike today and the wife. As a matter of fact, I just got the wife’s bike up and running today (650 Silverado, had to look good next to mine) and tomorrow I will pull my putt putt out of the shed and see how she does. Over the years, I changed out the lifters to solids, put a coffin windshield on, custom leather horse saddle bags and a backrest (so the ‘girlfriend’ didn’t fall off), put on forward controls and last year put on an S&S carb, the keihin finally just wore out.. but the new S&S carb is leaking fuel every time I shut it down so that will be my project tomorrow.
    It’s only got about 40,000 miles on it and maybe 1/2 a mile of road rash sliding down the road for one reason or another, otherwise it’s still pretty stock/good shape. Back in the day, the saddle bags held 24 cans of beer which didn’t last much during the trip (had to stop to pee more often then for gas to fill the bike), but I could also drive with a case of 24 bottles on my lap if I needed to and if it wasn’t too far. Back in the early days, only Harley riders waved to Harley riders… and every time you went out on the road the cops would pull you over because you looked like someone who was wanted for something. Don’t ride it much now, it’s an antique, but I don’t want to give it up either. My kids will be fighting over it.

  12. Jeff S.
    Jeff S. says:

    I have owned my 77 FXS since 1996 and I am the 3rd owner, no idea how many miles are on it but it is far from stock now. I still have all the original parts and sheet metal except the exhaust and may put it back some day. I still love to ride every chance I get. I hope my son will want it when the time comes.

  13. Allem Freeman
    Allem Freeman says:

    Hello. Just found this site on Low Riders. I my self own two 1979 low riders early and late so I have the 74 “and 80 “. Also own a 1980 sturgis. I have a good size collection of parts for this era so I am pretty informative on these bikes.
    I dont want to loose anyone with this question but 1977 was the first year for the low rider. They came through the factory with a FLH frame ( running board tab on right side by foot peg ). The original exhaust from 1978 and later do not fit the 1977 because of tab. Did HD rotate exhaust flanges on two into one pipe for 1977 ? Did they indent the pipe around tab on frame ? I cannot see HD doing a head redesign for tab on frame .
    Any thoughts and documents would be great . I have numerous original exhausts for the LR and sturgis for 1978 and later but the fitment is not correct.

    • Stephen Navarra
      Stephen Navarra says:

      I bought new $4400 OTD I sold it to help buy my first house ,I miss it every day I should have never let it go .
      77 first year ,

  14. Stephen Navarra
    Stephen Navarra says:

    I bought new $4400 OTD I sold it to help buy my first house ,I miss it every day I should have never let it go .

  15. Mike Dull
    Mike Dull says:

    1978 (all 1977 parts) Pristine Low Rider (duplicate in National Motorcycle Museum. No low bids. Asking $14 K. 13 k miles. Garage kept. 717-665-2885. Beautiful, if you appreciate antiques Needs inspected and detailed.

    • Ed Ancona
      Ed Ancona says:

      Hello Mike, I am looking for a true FXS Lowrider. Please send me pics. I will call you once I check it out. Thanks in advance

  16. Ed Ancona
    Ed Ancona says:

    Hello, Thanks for everyones submissions and stories. I would like to find a near Original FXS Lowrider 77-78 also later 80cu models if original. Thanks in advance.

  17. Jed Martin
    Jed Martin says:

    for anyone who might be interested, i have a 1977 harley davidson lowrider for sale. call or txt 262 339 4615 if interested. its located in wisconsin.

  18. Knocker
    Knocker says:

    Bought a leftover ‘77 in ‘78, for get this; $2300.00. Kept it until 2015. Sold it with 154,000 miles for $15000.00. Just got tired of moving it around.

  19. Ed Hayes
    Ed Hayes says:

    I was left a 79 low rider in my best friends will. probably picking it up next week. Hasn’t run in years but has good bones and low miles, going to be my retirement project


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