Harley Davidson

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Sportster With the exception of the street-going XR1000 of the 1980s, all Sportsters made for street use have the prefix XL in their model designation. For the Sportster Evolution engines used since the mid 1980s, there have been two sizes of Sportster Evolution engine. Motorcycles with the smaller engine are designated XL883, while those with the larger engine were initially designated XL1100. When the size of the larger engine was increased from 1,100 cc to 1,200 cc, the designation was changed from XL1100 to XL1200. Subsequent letters in the designation refer to model variations within the sportster range, eg. the XL883C refers to an 883 cc Sportster with cruiser or custom styling, while the XL1200S designates the now-discontinued 1200 Sportster Sport

Introduced in 1957, the Sportster is the longest-running model family in the Harley-Davidson lineup. They were conceived as racing motorcycles, and were popular on dirt and flat-track race courses through the 1960s and '70s. Smaller and lighter than the other Harley models, contemporary Sportsters make use of 883 or 1,200 cc Evolution engines and, though often modified, remain similar in appearance to their racing ancestors.

Up until the 2003 model year, the engine on the Sportster was rigidly mounted to the frame. The 2004 Sportster had a new frame accommodating a rubber-mounted engine. Although this made the bike heavier and reduced the available lean angle, it reduced the amount of vibration transmitted to the frame and the rider.[2] The rubber mounted engine provides a significantly smoother ride for rider and passenger. For a bike which isn't really thought of for long rides or trips, the smoother ride allows for this opportunity.

In 2007, Harley Davidson celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sportster and produced a collectors' edition called the XL50 1200 Custom, of which only 2000 were made for sale world wide. Each motorcycle is individually numbered and the colors came in two colours, Mirage Pearl Orange and Vivid Black. Also introduced to the Sportster family in the 2007 model year was electronic fuel injection. The XL1200N (Nightster) was introduced midway through the 2007 model year. Compared to the other models in the XL line up, the 1200N sits lower and is blacked out with very little chrome. It has a bobbed front and rear fender and a side-mounted license plate.

 The beginning

The company considers 1903 to be its year of founding, though the Harley-Davidson enterprise could be considered to have started in 1901 when William S. Harley, age 21, drew up plans for a small engine that displaced 7.07 cubic inches (116 cc) and had four-inch flywheels. The engine was designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame.

Over the next two years Harley and his boyhood friend Arthur Davidson labored on their motor-bicycle using the northside machine shop of their friend Henry Melk. It was finished in 1903 with the help of Arthur's brother, Walter Davidson. Upon completion the boys found their power-cycle unable to conquer Milwaukee's modest hills without pedal assistance. Will Harley and the Davidsons quickly wrote off their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.

Work was immediately begun on a new and improved machine. This first "real" Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a bigger engine of 24.74 cubic inches (405 cc) with 9-3/4 inch flywheels weighing 28 pounds. The machine's advanced loop-frame was similar to the 1903 Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle. They also got help with their new engine from outboard motor pioneer Ole Evinrude. Elder brother William A. Davidson also lent a hand.