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Sportster Motorcycle Tires, Wheels, and Brakes Discuss issues with Sportster motorcycle tires, wheels and brakes.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago
olderthanme olderthanme is offline
Join Date: Sep 2023
Location: Buffalo, NY
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Sportster/Buell Model: XLCH
Sportster/Buell Year: 1972
Reputation: 10
olderthanme is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Tire size question, 1972 XLCH, regular/high/low clearance?

Just got a 1972 XLCH. Was reading Sportsterpedia, and it mentions regular, high, and low ground clearance models on the year-specific page, with different tire sizes for each. Doesn't mention that on the main tire/wheel page though.

The front of the bike is a 19" laced wheel, with an Dunlop K181 MJ90-19 tire. This would be a 2.75-3.00 inch tire. Which is odd because that size is listed only for cast wheels up to '78, although it seems to have been an option in '79. Also of note, the front end is off a later model, presumably '78-79 as it has dual disc (rest of the bike is stock, but he hated the front drum). The year-specific page lists 3.25-3.75 up front, depending on ground clearance.

The rear currently has a 4.25-18 on it, which seems right according to the main tire page, but the year specific page mentions 3.5-4.25, depending on ground clearance.

So, my questions are first, how do I find out what clearance model it was? And second, why do the tire sizes on the year-specific page ( not match the sizes on the main tire page ( The main page seems to line up with what's on there, but I want to make sure to get the right sizes.

Side note, probably covered here but I haven't had a chance to look yet, wondering what a good tire for these would be for regular street riding, no racing/etc. Doesn't matter if it's the vintage style either, I'm more concerned with how it rides/handles than how it looks. Thanks!

Last edited by olderthanme; 3 Weeks Ago at 14:07..
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Old 3 Weeks Ago
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wardie wardie is offline
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Youngstown Ohio
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Sportster/Buell Model: XLH 1200
Sportster/Buell Year: 1993
Other Motorcycle Model: BMW R 1150 Roadster
Other Motorcycle Year: 2003
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wardie is on a distinguished roadwardie is on a distinguished road

handling Dunlop Road Smarts or Michelin Road Pilots. I put on Shinko 712's and they are only good for mileage. You don't get a lot of feedback in the curves and it's not a good tire in the rain. I am told the reason is the low silicon content. I'm no chemical engineer so not sure what that means.
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