Motorcycle: Sportsters - XLCR Cafe Racer, 1977 - 1978
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 22:52:02 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
XLCR Cafe Racer, 1977 - 1978
If black truly is beautiful, then the XLCR was sublime. So dark, it practically drank in the light, the Cafe Racer was another of Willie G. Davidson's variations on an old theme, in this case re-working the basic 1,000cc Sportster which had first appeared in 1972. When it arrived for the 1977 model year, the XLCR looked revolutionary - the most unashamedly different Harley-Davidson yet.
At its heart was the then biggest XL engine grafted into a redesigned frame, with extended rear frame rails allowing more vertical shock absorbers than before. Most striking of all was the "Black-on-Black" paint job. This included gloss black bodywork, crinkle-black engine finish and a black Siamesed exhaust which snaked together below the air-filter housing -which, naturally, was black.
The 3.8 gallon (14.5 litre) fuel tank -black, of course — was unique to the XLCR, as were a fibreglass "bikini" fairing and single seat. The latter ended with a racing-style "bum stop" - although a dual seat option was available for 1978, the model's second and final year of manufacture. Cast aluminium Morris wheels, as well as rear-set "race replica" footrests and controls, were also provided as standard.
The move to more vertical shock absorbers was a not particularly successful attempt to improve the Sportster's habitually sloppy handling.
At the same time, twin hydraulic front discs were fitted in much-needed pursuit of improved braking. They proved moderately powerful, if rather lacking in feel.
Visually, this "top Sportster" was superb. True, it wasn't to everyone's taste, but most bikers would cast admiring glances at this stylish symphony in black. For all its eye-grabbing credentials, however, the
XLCR was far from a runaway success.
On the one hand, most Harley die-hards found it visually too radical. On the other hand, more neutral buyers found sport-bike image and performance far more effectively packaged in
Japanese and Italian machines. For all that, the XLCR is a desirable classic now, though at the time it was neither a vintage Harley-Davidson model nor a competent sports machine.
With around 60bhp and a top speed close to around 110mph (177kph), the XLCR was certainly no slug, but the bald truth was that it went at least 25mph (40kph) slower than rival sports machines, with equally inferior handling and braking. Worse still, the XLCR bore all the worst hallmarks of the AMF years. Contemporary road tests might praise the marque's "indefinable magic" but they would equally slate the Cafe Racer (and its siblings) for being "appallingly built and hideously unreliable," to which was usually added "prohibitively expensive".
By the end of the modeFs brief reign, Harley-Davidson's share of the American motorcycle market had slumped to a paltry four per cent, yet it would be several years before the reborn company would seriously set about tackling its manufacturing shortcomings. This wasn't specifically the fault of the XLCR, of which just 3,124 examples were built,, but this model did illustrate Harley-Davidson's problem - that beauty had to be much more than skin-deep.
Engine: ohv V-twin
Power: around 60bhp might 5401bs (245kg)
Wheelbase: 58.5in (1,485mm)
Top speed: 110 mph (177kph)
This article comes from Free Vin Check, Get Vehicle History Report, Free Car History, Used Car History, Auto History, Free Vehicle History, VIN Number Check, Car History, Lemon, Check
The URL for this story is: