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Ironhead Sportster Motorcycle Talk (1957-1985) For all those that wanna talk about Ironhead Sportster Motorcycles

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  #1  
Old 5 Days Ago
Zari Zari is offline
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Sportster/Buell Model: Xlh 1000
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Smile Ironhead yes or no

I heard garage owners say. Iron Head is a motorist who constantly needs a mechanic and should buy a 1986 motorcycle and above what do you think ???
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  #2  
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Default Why not

I've had this for 15 years and the only problem I've had is I've dropped the chrome cover to the generator, no major problem. I bought it from a friend who had taken it apart and I put it together to be able to travel with it for a long time. Have been in almost every country in Europe with it for a 10 year period. I can't say that all Ironheads are good, many owners and they are old so it may have happened a lot over the years.

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  #3  
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The problem is usually fixing years of previous owners good intentions gone wrong. After that period, you end up with a motorcycle that you know intimately and is reliable.
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Yep, the biggest problem with an Ironhead is its owner.

Don't run it out of tune and keep clean oil in it.

Don't pay someone to fix it that can't fix it right, best to do the work yourself.

Don't tear it down to make it a "Bobber" or try to make it into a big twin.
Get it running and live with it for a season before making any big decisions.

Read this forum for more advice.

Note: you will spend way more than you can sell it for to "restore" it, sometimes you will spend way too much to just make it reliable.
DON'T expect to recover that money, you will need to keep it and ride it for years to make that worthwhile.
If you are not comfortable with any of the above, Dont Buy an Ironhead.
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I have to say, while it's been a lifetime ago since I had my '73xlh, it ran like a dream. I did put a screamin eagle carb on and it had drag pipes but always ran great and at the time a nice copper colored spark plug reading was possible when it was properly tuned. Never a hiccup and always fired right up.
Sold it 6 years later for what I paid for it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zari View Post
I heard garage owners say. Iron Head is a motorist who constantly needs a mechanic and should buy a 1986 motorcycle and above what do you think ???
If you want the Most riding with the Least work, you want a 1991 and newer Sportster in good condition.

If you want the "coolness" of an Ironhead and can work on things yourself, then go for it.
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I bought my '82 brand new off the showroom floor in Smyrna, GA in August of '82. As I was waiting for them to roll it outside for me, an old Harley mechanic walked up to me and told me if I'd just leave the bike as it was, it would run forever. He said it was the guys who tried to make it "better, faster, whatever" that always had problems.

Back then I didn't have the knowledge, confidence, tools, or place to work on a bike, so I left it alone. After the warranty was up I took it to a local Indy in Atlanta a couple times and let them take a look at it and tune it up.

I've replaced tires, batteries, and the voltage regulator a few times (until I found and replaced a bad battery cable). I also replaced the rear drive chain once. I added the sissy bar and pad, saddlebags, and the highway pegs out front. And I had to replace the speedometer, drive unit, and speedo cable once. Other than changing the fluids, I haven't done anything else to it. And it still starts every time and runs great.

I was even able to keep up with the guys on the ride at the GBB in New Jersey this fall, which is good enough for me.

So even though it hasn't been "forever" yet, the old mechanic guy has been right so far.
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maintenance.
i like ironheads anyway. couldnt gimme 3 or 4 86-90 for mine. 4spd n alt design kill em for me.
5 of em, id hafta start thinkin...
as said 91 & later are pretty good n low maintenance.
had couple rh shift 1000s, now on 70 xlch. always wanted 900.
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Speaking as someone with firsthand experience, if you are young and dumb and know nothing about motorcycles except that the honey sitting next you in class told you Harleys get her wet, don't get an Ironhead. You will end up frustrated in two very different ways.
If you are surrounded by people who are long-in-the-tooth as bike mechanics and can help you figure them out, they can make for a decent 1st bike but I would still recommend you either find one in great running shape or else get something newer and easier to live with.
If you have a good daily rider and are looking for something with tons of vintage character, there is probably nothing easier to live with than an Ironhead. Better parts availability that just about anything out there, super easy to work on, and let's face it an Ironhead Sportster is the kind of motorcycle that people who don't know what motorcycles look like think a motorcycle should look like.

My first bike was an Ironhead and it was a mess, mainly because of what the other posters in here wrote; a long list of bad POs and I didn't know jack-shite about wrenching. It took me 25 years of riding anything and everything under the sun and learning to wrench on all of it along the way before I decided I had earned my ironhead wings properly and got another one.
I still really wish I'd gotten in that girl's pants, though.
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i agree that buying other peoples head-aches is the #1 issue. the ironhead is extremely forgiving even if you ride out of tune, even hd says anything in the hole will run.
i was fortunate that i got mine out the crate and as far as money into it, i will say nada, only the candy items and consumables.
she was running good but bird in hand to restore frame paint after 40 years, i up the ponies and that was at 170k on the clock.
my iron will turn heads more so than the evo. btw: she take 3k trips with ease two up, just not comfortable, but hey, the wife invented air ride, just wasn't smart enough to capitalize on it.
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