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-   -   Ironhead 79 forward controls...why no products? (

myguitarwantstokillyourma 6th June 2021 18:01

79 forward controls...why no products?
I’ve got a 79 xlh, pretty much stock and original except for a super E. Been off the road for a while now and as I’m checking stuff the mid controls feel more and more awkward for me. From all I’ve heard there are no direct-fit products for forward this because of the funky 79-only rear master cylinder? Are there mounting issues up front too? Someone told me I’d only have to modify the connecting rods, but I’m no metal worker, so here’s what I’m thinking: As far as I know any Sportster sprocket cover from 80-03 will fit. If I just change my sprocket cover and master cylinder setup can I mount forward controls without having to modify? Is there another reason(s) why an off-the-shelf kit wouldn’t fit?

Bigshankhank 6th June 2021 21:44

Most forward controls won't fit because of the OEM rear master cylinder location as well as the OEM siamese exhaust setup. Since aftermarket manufacturer's have to design based on OEM specs (since there's no way to know what mods have been made to your bike) and considering the headers & rear master setup were a 1 year only thing, well there you go. Swapping the rear sprocket cover and master cylinder with a 1980-85 would work, and swapping headers with a more traditional 2-on-the-right setup would alleviate these problems.

PatW 16th June 2021 01:42

Check, in the “shop online” drop down chose “1979 only”. There is a forward control kit. I haven’t ordered them yet but I will be soon. I did email them to ask if their kit will fit with drag pipes and they said yes it will.

kobra50 16th June 2021 04:10

I have a set that I bought, only to find out my legs were to short to reach them comfortably. You can have them if you can use them.

PatW 16th June 2021 14:39

Wow! I would like that, I’m also concerned about reach. My son has a 1996 Sportster with forward controls which I can reach. Let me know how you would like to work this out.
Did you get the kit from Sporty Parts? I haven’t ordered anything from them yet.
Thank you

kobra50 16th June 2021 16:28

I got the from J&P Cycles or Dennis Kirk via ebay.

IronMick 16th June 2021 16:36

Almost all of the forward controls for 1979-on IronHeads are the infamous Danial Boone model. They are no good. They break at the welds. They can be made more functional by welding in gussets but will still most likely fail. They are very long reach as they install in front of the exhaust pipe. Proper forwards install behind and are an easy reach. It would be interesting to see an installed pic of the ones from Sporty Parts as his stuff is good.

ryder rick 16th June 2021 17:29

AFAIK I have never seen a nice forward control kit for an Ironhead.

Poorly engineered, most are.

I have had to rework many (every one i worked on).

Yes, real pics of the Sporty Specialty offering would be welcome.

I looked at the kit and it has plenty of problems,
The shifter lever has so much travel it shifts worse than a worn out cowpie trans!
The levers are extremely heavy and placement is not ergonomic.
The levers are not splined, they clamp on with pinch bolts, very hard to keep tight and they damage the shaft splines.

If you are refitting I would update to the newer style MC setup. This lowers the MC and eliminates the one year only exhaust deal and the stupid monkey motion brake linkage inside the sprocket cover.

ThenCameHarry 16th June 2021 18:02


Originally Posted by PatW (Post 5900333)
Check, in the “shop online” drop down chose “1979 only”. There is a forward control kit. I haven’t ordered them yet but I will be soon. I did email them to ask if their kit will fit with drag pipes and they said yes it will.

I ordered that kit. Received it. Try to install it on one of my 79 IH restoration projects outfitted with drag pipes.

It did NOT fit.

It’s been a while ago and I forgot the details of what parts did not fit. Suffice it to say that I put in a hell of a lot of time trying to make it work.

I verbally communicated with Kirk several times. I replied to him with emails with measured parts and showed that the kit does not fit.

On occasion I have communicated with Kirk. The majority of times the communications were objective and to the point. But this time not so.

He kept telling me that he’s never had any complaints about this kit from anybody. Comments like that just don’t cut it with me. Let’s talk about the technical aspects of the kit and how it is supposed to fit. But I hardly could get a word in edgewise.

So I followed up with measurements of the different components and show them it does not fit. I emailed that to him. I really never got an objective answer back. In fact I didn’t get any email reply at all.

I did ship the kit back and they refunded my money.
However I never got a refund of the out and back shipping costs.

I have done a lot of business with Sporty Parts and will do business with them again as I need parts. I think we are pretty fortunate to have available to us a Sporty Parts only warehouse.

But this forward controls issue left a pretty sour taste in my mouth.

ThenCameHarry 16th June 2021 18:26

I do have a set of forward controls on my 1999 and 2013 EVO Sportsters. I had them also on my 1996 EVO sporty (that I wished I had never sold).

They all work great and fit me just right. But like Mick and others have said, I have yet to see forward controls for Ironheads that fit/work.

So I just make do with highway pegs. At my age of 78 having my feet forward has become more important.

At least now when riding the lone highways in Wyoming and South Dakota I can stretch my legs and not worry about my feet not being close to the controls.

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