Classic Bike Guide

Harley XR1200 knowledge


Hi, and a Happy New Year to all. I too have an XR1200 hotrodded ‘09 model; 20,000 kms. My opinion is it’s the best Sportster ever. Not a big fan of Harleys, but this is my fourth: ‘78 1000; ‘86 1100 hotrod; ‘96 1200 hotrod; and now the XR. Do like a good Sporty. Easy to hotrod and has to be the easiest bike there is to service.

They are quite different from usual Sportsters. They have downdraft, not side fuel injection, oilcooled heads and under piston oil sprayers, big rotary oil pumps and cooler, ram air induction

(long side inlet for torque and trapdoor ram air for top end), and their own H-D sparkplugs. Mine has K&N air filter and, like yours, a Remus front pipe and modified H-D Supertrapp muffler with full diffuser pack and open-end cap, and braided brake lines. Oil cooler has an R&G protector. Been dyno’d at 88bhp with a torque curve like Quasimodo’s hump! The gearing is short cos on the dyno sheet at 7000rpm, the bhp line is still pulling at 45 degrees, so could have more top end with longer gearing. Loves 130kmh/80mph and will run 180 in a blink. Pulls 30kmh per 1000rpm, so good for 210 at 7000rpm. However, this is about their idiosyncra­sies. You may well know all this, but if not could save you some grief in the future.

Oil tank: Do not overfill at cold. They will wet sump and drain down into crankcase if let sit for a while. Always check and top up when hot, especially if synthetic oil. It expands more. I use H-D synthetic 20/50. Look after ride, and top, if necessary, with bike level not on s/stand.

Some models of these years’ Sportsters can have the oil cap not go on fully. Should almost sit flush. If not and overfull or big lean, can leak out onto back tyre. Heart-in-mouth stuff. If not flush, you have to force turn last bit of cap turn. I’ve seen other Sporty models with same problem.

Fuel tank: Do NOT use fuel with any alcohol in it. If you do, the plastic tank under the cover will swell and deform and cover will no longer fit properly. Back in the day, Harley did some warranty tank replacemen­ts, but not for long. Alarm. If you have stock option alarm fitted, when removing battery, do it with ignition on. When refitting, do with ignition on. This protects electronic settings.

Battery: Harley battery average at best. Put up with them for years thinking that’s best for bike. Went aftermarke­t and big difference to starting. Can be slow on initial cranking. Make sure earth stud/nut are tight and clean/sand cables to bright copper at battery terminals, and smear of Vaseline. The original stock h/bars are trick thin chrome molly or such, too. That is rare info. Replacemen­ts are stock Superglide. Hope this is helpful.

Tony Kowalik

I hope this is of use to other XR and Harley owners; certainly is for us! Appreciate it – Maria and Matt

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