Bartels' XLR 1200 - Motorcycle.com
Not many things have stayed the course of American racing for twenty five years - but one of the most successful will soon rack up a quarter century of race wins. That most traditional, most successful racer is the alloy-engined Harley-Davidson XR 750.
The history of the winningest motorcycle in AMA history goes much further back than 1972, really it goes back to the days in the 1930s when the AMA decided to ban factory race specials, and keep the racetracks open to stock-type motorcycles. That's how 750cc Class C racing was born, and from the start, Harley 750cc V-twins raced in it. The XR750, which debuted at the start of the seventies, was just another in a long line of winning Milwaukee dirt trackers.
Only difference, it was matched against BSA, Triumph and Yamaha instead of Indian.
After all those years, and as makers of the winningest motorcycle around, you'd think Harley would market a replica model. Well, you'd think that. They even tried, back in the early eighties, with the XR 1000, a Sportster-based street bike with twin Dellorto carburetors and reversed, reworked rear cylinder head.
And in fact, hundreds remained in the warehouse for months, until word started going around about how well they responded to just a little bit of tuning. With a lot of extra work, they turned into 90 hp monster bikes. Suddenly, they were gone from the showrooms: but then they were gone from the catalog too, and Harley-Davidson has never again sold an XR lookalike. More's the pity, according to many enthusiasts.
The combination of aftermarket cams, carburetor and tuned exhaust give this XL the kind of pulling power you'd expect from 1200cc
Still want to build your own XR? Well, just in case you changed your mind, the XLR 1200, built by Bartels', combines the looks and lightness of the race bike with the practicality and ease of service of the stock Sportster power plant.
The combination of aftermarket cams, carburetor and tuned exhaust give this XL the kind of pulling power you'd expect from 1200cc. Down low in the rev range, there's enough torque to overcome the fairly high first gear. As you twist the throttle grip further, the power keeps building to the rpm peak (87 hp at 6200 rpm). Without looking at the rev counter (actually, there isn't one) the gear shifting point is easily found: it's time to shift when your feet vibrate themselves off the pegs...
Another characteristic shared with the XR 750 is the vibration level. Yes, like any rigid mounted Sportster, this engine shakes. But there's no means of damping this particular kind of vibration before it hits the rider: it's the price of a race-replica machine (actually, the price is in the region of $18,000, but you know what we mean).
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