7. XR

1972 Harley-Davidson XR750 courtesy motosolvang

Unsurprisingly, Evel Knievel’s favorite Harley was on the lists of many of our panelists. Another racing legend, the XR750 took the mantle from the KR and zoomed away with it, and remains to this day the winningest bike in AMA racing history.

For Will Benedict, a Brooklyn-based software engineer, avid builder and motorcyclist, there’s no doubt which Harley is the choice of the enthusiast who relishes diving and dodging. “All time? I’d take an XR750,” he says. “And even if we’re talking production Harleys, I’d pick the XR1200. It was unique and compelling model in an endless sea of giant cruisers. Dunno why they stopped making them.”

That question is also on the mind of the Seattle musician Andrew McKeag, who races vintage motocross at AHRMA events when he’s not touring. “Mine [XR1200] is my favorite!” he laughs. “But of all time, I’d have to say the XR750. It’s got racing heritage [going] back to board trackers of the teens, and it’s still winning today. Name another bike that can say the same.”

Lucifer's Hammer

The XR spawned another racing legend. Jay Springsteen, Gene Church, and finally Scott Parker rode an XR1000 known as Lucifer’s Hammer to championships well into the ‘80s. “I made my bones on an eighth-mile track here and could only imagine an XR tearing up that thin blue line of speed available to our Oklahoma red dirt,” Shannon “Shoe” Gower, owner of HotShoe Customs of Tulsa told us. “Kenny [Roberts] destroyed the competition on his smoker and then, there was Lucifer’s Hammer. It was the fiery flame-out of Harley’s true racing cred!” – Photo by Craig Howell