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Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders Discuss Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders problems, advice, and/or how tos.

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  #11  
Old 5 Days Ago
45Brit 45Brit is offline
Senior Chief Harley Engineer 2nd Class
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1,641
Sportster/Buell Model: XL
Sportster/Buell Year: 1992
Sportster/Buell Model #2: 1978 XLCH project
Other Motorcycle Model: Sportster XLH
Other Motorcycle Year: 1975
Reputation: 771102
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My ‘92 XL came to me with 11.5” shocks, short forks (I think, from a Hugger) and a Biltwell seat which felt like sitting on a milk crate. It actually handled quite well, and had no clearance issues (once I fitted the high level 2:1 exhaust; the original SE pipes were like riding a Shovelhead!).

However the ride was very harsh, and damping was very poor. I fitted 13.5” rear units (cast-offs from an older bike, cheap from a local chopper shop), stock XL length fork tubes from the same source, Hagon springs and Ricor Intiminators. That transformed the bike. Now I’ve got Hagons (originally fitted to a Dyna) and they’re pretty good, too. Avon Cobra tyres were a good investment, too.

I fitted a Sportster seat (£20 on eBay) which helped; right now I have a different one, a “touring” seat from a past HD catalogue and that’s better.

Right now I’m looking at either fitting a 1960s type seat, or a Motone or similar flat track seat, and possibly, low rear-sets.


You have to understand that the original Sportster represents the ultimate development of the cycle parts of the bike as a conventional “performance motorcycle”, which by 1950s standards, it was. The riding position, with buckhorn bars and the 1950s/1960s bench seat was “just right”, the Showa forks were state-of-the-art (also true of the “banana calliper” disc, because the drums were poor even by contemporary standards) and the 19”/18” wheel sizes were also state-of-the-art. The later, all-welded, triangular-rear frame, derived from the XR750 was similar to then-current Japanese practice, or what BSA had done with the A series frame years before.

Anything which deviates from that, makes things worse. Lowering the seat (a fashion trend from the early 1970s onwards) does nothing to improve handling or comfort. Same goes for forward controls, short forks, short shocks and all the rest of the ballyhoo. The rubber-mounted engine (basically derived from the Norton “Isolastic” system, along with the diaphragm clutch when HD employed the same designers in the early 1980s) adds weight, comprimises handling and masks the vibration which, as they are now realising, could have been designed out long ago.

The Norton Commando was a tall bike, seat height 31” and so was the original Sportster. Riders back in the day, just dealt with this; I’m 5’8” and rode a Commando, the pogo-seat Shovelhead was also pretty tall with the “white sofa” seat so I had a police saddle for daily use, and put the white one on for trips.

The closer you get to the original layout, the better the bike is. It really is that simple.
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  #12  
Old 9 Hours Ago
Jerry P Jerry P is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 36
Sportster/Buell Model: XL1200C
Sportster/Buell Year: 2005
Sportster/Buell Model #2: 2005 XL1200C
Other Motorcycle Model: Yamaha Classic V Star
Other Motorcycle Year: 2005
Reputation: 10
Jerry P is an unknown quantity at this point
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Rubber engine mounts are still good after 15 years and 14K miles, thankfully

Am trying out #3 setting (225 lbs & solo) shock pre-load setting

Front tire (21") 30 psi & rear (16") 36 psi (for solo rider under 300 lbs)

Got quality Mustang replacement seat

Seems to be getting more comfy......Any more suggestions? Thanks everyone.
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  #13  
Old 9 Hours Ago
45Brit 45Brit is offline
Senior Chief Harley Engineer 2nd Class
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1,641
Sportster/Buell Model: XL
Sportster/Buell Year: 1992
Sportster/Buell Model #2: 1978 XLCH project
Other Motorcycle Model: Sportster XLH
Other Motorcycle Year: 1975
Reputation: 771102
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Personally, I don’t believe that any 500lb-plus Road-going motorcycle, anywhere, should be running on a narrow 21” tyre, although modern 21” tyres are much better than the older sort. I’ve got an Avon AM26 Road Rider on my Yamaha XT500 and it is not bad.

Front springs on Sportsters repay attention. If you don’t have modern progressive springs, they are a good buy. Ricor, or similar cartridge emulators, or cartridge forks, they are a good investment. The upside-down forks on the XR1200 are far superior to anything else, on any other Sportster, anywhere.
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