With the new for 1957 XL model line, the “H” for touring, the “CH” as the new for 1958 high performance off road version, Harley-Davidson satisfied the needs of riders looking for lighter, nimbler high performance motorcycles. This is a great almost totally unaltered CH that’s part of the Jill & John Parham Collection.
Following in the tracks of the K model, which remained only in racing form after 1956 as the KR750, the XL Sportster arrived in 1957. The biggest advancement over the K was overhead valves plus eventually electric starting on the basic XLH model. But the XLH options list included saddlebags, a windshield, buddy seat and riders could even opt for two ride heights by specifying 18 inch or 19 inch wheels. Seat options varied from traditional sprung post to rigid mount like on this ’61.
Some new, some as K model carryover, a wide range of racing parts were made available by the factory. The competition-only XLR, made in very small numbers for about nine years, shared few engine parts; a production racer. It became a threat on drag strips, hillclimbs and even in AMA sanctioned TT racing. Stripped, the Sportster served well at the drag strip; men like Leo Payne and his tuner Mike Wilson were even able to tune it for assaults on the Land Speed Record at Bonneville. While it has not played a significant role in the military, or often as a police mount, like its predecessors the K Model and the WL model, the Sportster has been a very universal machine.
After over 60 years in the model line-up the Sportster lives on. Recently with big changes to bring it comfort, 76 cubic inches and more than twice the horsepower and even Blue Tooth technology, it brings speed, smoothness and overall sophistication. The Sportster is as cool as ever.
Plan a trip to the Museum before it closes September 4, 2023, and check out this fine Sportster.
- Engine: 45 Degree Overhead Valve V-Twin
- Displacement: 54 Cubic Inches/ 883 cc’s
- Bore & Stroke: 3.00″ x 3.81″
- Carburetor: Linkert
- Primary: Triplex Chain
- Clutch: Dry, Multi-disk
- Transmission: 4-Speed, Foot Shift
- Ignition: Magneto
- Horsepower: 55
- Frame: Steel, Double Down Tube
- Suspension: Telescopic Fork / Dual Shocks, Swingarm
- Brakes: Drum, Internal Expanding
- Wheelbase: 58.5″
- Weight: 530
- Wheels/Tires: 3.50 x 19 / 4.00 x 18