One of the beauties of the Harley-Davidson Sportster and its long run is the relative ease of parts swapping by the Motor Company to make new machines. And after waiting for ten years for a street version of the supreme race winning XR750, something had to give in the Harley performance category.

So Harley-Davidson took their newest, 1982 Sportster chassis and engine bottom end, and added new, better cylinders and heads and through bolted them to the crankcase. Jerry Branch had a hand in developing the heads and his shop built each one for the Motor Company. Similar to the XR750, a single carb with competition-look K&N air cleaner fed each head. The exhaust was high level, again with a nod the the XR750. Wheels were handsome cast aluminum, similar to magnesium Morris road racing wheels of the time. But tank, fenders and seat were more conventional, did not share the wonderful styling lines of the track-only XR750. Paint was more subdued as well; most of the two year run were charcoal in color, a run of 177 were black with orange. Harley also advertised a hop-up kit with 10.5:1 pistons, hotter cams and an unmuffled exhaust system that claimed to offer an extra 20 horsepower.

Recall this bike had a short development time of just a few months and came about soon after 13 Harley-Davidson executives had bought the company from AMF. It arrived in time for the Ronald Reagan tariff which jacked the price on imported motorcycles over 700cc’s by 49%. Still, where the basic XLX Sportster was just $3995, the XR1000 was nearly $7000 so never sold well. But it was a race shop bike of sorts and at least the engine figured into four Battle of the Twins championships from the team of Don Tilley, tuner and Gene Church, rider. Project leader Dick O’Brien nicknamed the race bike Lucifer’s Hammer.

Today XR1000’s, like XLCRs, are sought after by collectors. By most standards of the early 1980’s when the British industry was gone and Italian and Japanese bikes ruled the performance wars, the XR1000 was not competitive but is still a cool piece of Harley-Davidson history. And with only about 1100 built in 1983 and 1984, and for 1984 less than 200 in the black and orange we see here, it’s relatively rare.

This nice, stock XR1000 has been owned by David Allbaugh since new. Wanting to share the bike with future National Motorcycle Museum visitors David decided to loan the bike for display. It’s one of over 65 Harley-Davidsons of all types from 1909 forward you can see when the Museum reopens.


    • Engine: OHV 45 Degree V-Twin
    • Bore & Stroke: 3.19” x 3.81”
    • Displacement: 61 Cubic Inches, 1000 ccs
    • Compression Ratio: 9:1
    • Horsepower: 71HP @ 5600RPM
    • Carburetion: Two 36mm Pumper Dell’ Ortos
    • Ignition: V-Fire CDI
    • Starting: Electric Only
    • Primary: Triplex Chain
    • Transmission: Four-Speed
    • Final Drive: Roller Chain
    • Wheels/Tires: 110/90×19 / 130/90×16 (18 Optional)
    • Brakes: Triple Disks
    • Electrics: 12 Volt Battery
    • Frame: Steel, Double Down Tube
    • Suspension: Telescopic Fork, Twin Shocks
    • Wheelbase: 60 Inches
    • Weight: 490 Pounds
    • Top Speed: 125mph
9 replies
  1. James Brown
    James Brown says:

    I worked as a dealership mechanic in the late 80s and there were a couple of these XRs nearby that would come into our shop.
    The finicky dual carbs, clunky Sportster gearbox and uncomfortable seating for anyone over 5’ 5” tall, brakes that you had to apply a block before you needed to stop…
    Man I loved it.
    I was the junior wrench so I was lucky when I got the chance to service one and then take it on a short “test” ride. Now thirty years later, I still keep looking for the chance to pick one up. Sadly many are wrecked from overly enthusiastic owners, butchered by weekend racers or carefully locked away by owners that want to preserve that rude, crude, snarling little Sporty with an attitude.

  2. John Gregory
    John Gregory says:

    Look again. There are 2 carbs as in the specs. Your opening description says one. This was a great bike. Too bad the price was so high. When I was an AMA Drag-Bike tech in the 80s, Pete Laub (a real rocket scientist) was the street bike champion with his XR1000. Pete had a lot of tricks, but I measured stock bore and stroke. His play back tack showed him shifting at 9000 RPM! At the final he ran it all out to about 10:30 ET @132 MPH. He was going to loan the engine to the H-D race team for Daytona, but the rider crashed before the engine swap. For comparison; In 1977 my son Willy Gregory bought a Moto Guzzi Daytona Superbike. After a lot of work he lowered the ET by a second and set the E Modified Street record at 11:18 ET @ 121 MPH. Willy was the 1977 street champion. The 1978 Reno Leoni – Mike Baldwin Moto Guzzi Superbike engine was set up similar to Willy’s. John Gregory Norton HogSlayer Race Team

    • George Hutto
      George Hutto says:

      The statement was “Similar to the XR750, a single carb with competition-look K&N air cleaner fed each head”. So, one carb per head is what he was saying therefore his description is correct.

    • Roger
      Roger says:

      John, if you were with the Hogslayer team, you should be writing an article for this site! That 10.30 on a Sportster is amazing, as is 11:18 on a Guzzi. I’m a MG fan, and would love to know more about that bike – the Guzzi Daytona was built by the factory in the 90’s – I assume this was a bike that actually raced there in the days of Pridmore and Neilson?

      • John Gregory
        John Gregory says:

        sorry I must have missed the each had part. Willy Gregory’s Guzzi was ridden by George Vincenzi in the 1977Daytona Super bike race. won by Cook Nielsen on his Ducati.

  3. Mark
    Mark says:


    It says: “Similar to the XR750, a single carb with competition-look K&N air cleaner fed each head.”

    ((Two heads + Two carbs.))


  4. Kickstand
    Kickstand says:

    I know of a few of these beauties around in the New England area. One is in Saugus, MA with around 800 miles on it. Throttle is stuck. Been sitting in a hoarder’s machine shop since new and “WILL NOT” part with it at any cost. He has no heirs, a single bachelor in his late seventies.
    The other three or more are in mid-central MA. This guy has a huge inventory of sportsters including XR1000’s. This owner is in poor health with adult children to inherit the gold mine. Again,”WILL NOT” part with these gems.
    I’ve seen all these with my own eyes, sad ones at that.


  5. Mark
    Mark says:


    In answer to your question regarding how many XR1000s were built in black and orange, I am taking that information from the owner, Mr. Allbaugh. He related to us that he spent some time talking with Harley execs, had a conversation with Rich Teerlink during Harley’s 85th celebration and there discussed his personal XR1000 with Teerlink. Later had a frame warranteed through renewal of his contact with Rich. Note this would likely be factory records. A friend of mine had a gray XR1000, but purchased a set of new bodywork in black and orange from HD, so it is possible more exist than were manufactured new in orange and black.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *