1980 FXB Sturgis

Harley Davidson continued with the next FX series, in following the style of cruiser type machine with the FXB Sturgis. The B, being the addition of a new belt drive for the primary and final drive, instead of the chain, and the 'Sturgis' for the South Dakota town that hosted the annual summer gathering once a year of Harley Davidson motorcycles from all around the country. . There were a lot of questions and many were skeptical about the new belt. The FXB was the most recent version of the upper Glide and the newer models for 1980.


The FXB, had an engine displacement of 81.65 cubic inches, 3.50 x 4.25 inch bore and stroke, a compression ratio of 8:1, with 65 horsepower. It came with a Bendix carburetor, a 4 speed transmission, a belt primary and final drive, front and rear drum brakes, 12 volt battery, and electronic ignition. The belt was developed by Gates Rubber company, using Aramid nylon fiber for the strength of the belt. The belts provided for a quieter operation, no adjustment or lubrication was needed, and outlasted the steel chains. The FXB, came with a steel double down-tube frame, front telescopic fork, hydraulic shock rear suspension, with a wheelbase of 64.7 inches, weighing 610 pounds, with a fuel capacity of 3.5 gallons, a 4 quart oil capacity, 3.50 x 19 inch front, and 5.00 x 16 inch rear tires, and a top speed of 106 miles per hour. There were those who were skeptical about the new belt: durable it would be, what if it broke in the out in the middle of nowhere, what kind of emergency repair/replacement would be required and what would it involve, but the return to the belt, (after after seventy years of development), had proved to be effective, and able to withstand enough abuse that returning to a belt drive, proved to be a safe and reliable alternative. Replacement of the 'final' drive wasn't a simple ordeal, as it required the removal of the primary drive and inner cover. It turned out that the belts proved to have a longer operating life than expected. The belts lasted anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

Black, with orange and chrome trim was the color scheme for the new FXB, and the styling was popular as soon as it debuted. A new transmission came along to accompany the new driveline with revised gear ratios. The new 4 speed transmission had a 3.27:1 overall gear ratio, which meant highway speeds of 60 miles per hour at just a little over 2,500 rpm. The new FXB Sturgis had quick acceleration, and was relaxed for easy cruising as it was designed. An oil cooler was standard equipment, and a new electronic ignition was new for the Sturgis. Only 1,470 of these were built for their first year, though increased the following year. The FXB Sturgis was a limited edition machine, lasting only two years, but proved through it's design and performance that the new belt drive would hold up, and  would be carried through to other models. The price of the FXB Sturgis's was $5,687.00.


                                               1980 FLT                                 1980 FLTC

Another FX series in the line-up for 1980 was the FLT Tour Glide. The FLT had an 81.65 engine displacement, 3.5 x 4.25 inch bore and stroke, 7.4:1 compression ratio, 65 horsepower, Bendix carburetion, a 5 speed transmission, chain primary and final drives, triple disc front and drum rear brakes, 12 volt battery, CDI ignition, with a steel double down-tube frame, front telescopic and hydraulic rear suspension, and a 62. 5 inch wheelbase, weighing 781 pounds. The FLT had a 5 gallon fuel capacity, 4 quart oil capacity, 5.00 x 16 tires front and rear, and a top speed of 95 miles per hour. The FLT was more a completely new machine in comparison to the FX editions. The engine which compared to that of the FLH-80. Though hard times, and internal differences were still being sorted out, and the next generation of big twins still in the design stage, the plan was to bring the larger shovelhead up to a new and better standard of performance, by reducing chassis vibration and improving handling. The FLT Tour Glide was designed to combine long-distance touring and riding comfort while still maintaining sport bike handling. Along with the 5 speed transmission, the engine had a transistorized (CDI) ignition and a spin on oil filter. The designed goal for improving handling, required a new engine mounting system and frame. The companies engineers designed a three-point attachment system using runner-shimmed mounts between the frame and the engine. This worked to absorb vibration. The swing-arm bolted directly to the transmission case, so that the entire engine drive-train assembly was isolated effectively from the rest of the motorcycle. A more compact gearbox reduced the distance to the crankshaft, allowing a shorter primary chain, and the final drive chain was fully sealed and enclosed. The free-floating energy was directed to the rear wheel first, by the new 5 speed transmission. The FLT was distinguished by it's dual lights and frame-mount fairing. With full time lubrication, it performed longer without adjustment, and was significantly cleaner. The frame had a distinguishing protruding steering head and trailing fork. An extended frameset with a steep, head first steering stem set at 25 degrees was designed by the company's engineers to improve the low-speed handling of the heavier weight of the FLT. The 28 degree et back fork offered enough trail for stability at highway speeds. The five-gallon fuel and cargo capacity and enclosed drive-train were appreciated by touring riders, and the frame-mount stepped seat fit lower in the chassis, which pit the seat height at 29 inches from the ground. The 80ci FLT Tour Glide, with five-speed transmission,
oil bath enclosed rear chain and a rubber-mounted engine is considered the predecessor to today's Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles.
4,480 FLTs were built, costing $6,961.00. The FLT came in Rich Red, Vivid Black, Saddle Brown, and Bright Blue. The triple disc front brakes and five-speed transmission suggested a new commitment in design  for AMF/Harley Davidson.


1980 FXWG  -  Wide-Glide

Another addition to the FX series was the 1980 FXWG. The WG, being for 'Wide-Glide', the FXWG, a fat bob Super Glide with the Electra Glides front fork, had a lower seat than any of the other models in the line this year, a 21 inch front tire, and a flame paint job, an 80 cubic inch, (1340cc), engine. Harley-Davidson, had created with their FX series, motorcycles, that could, through interchangeable components, create a wide variety of models of machines, all operating on the basic platforms of of interchangeable mechanical components, and infinite variation of design. The 80 cubic inch engine, also became optional for the Low Rider, and Super Glide models. Because of the inter-changeability of components, as the style and identity of each model grew, it could adopt features in the process.


1980 FXS Low-Rider

Sales dropped slightly in 1980, and again the FX models accounted for over half the sales and machines produced for the year. Other than the Wide-Glide, the 80 cubic inch, (1340cc), motor was now optional in the Low Rider and Super Glide. 1980 was the last year of the 74ci shovelhead motor.


1980 XR-750



                                              1981 FLT                                 1981 FLH

In 1981, The FLH became the final Electra Glide of the American Machine and Foundry partnership in connection with Harley Davidson, representing an end and a beginning for the FLH. The limited number of FLH's production for '81 was designated the Heritage Editions. The relationship with AMF helped Harley Davidson to develop new models, and increase production, but had also created some un-trust in confidence wit both Harley Davidson riders, and dealers. The Harley Davidson returned to private ownership this year, and there were issues that new owners intended to address to the company. Restoration and reconciliation was a program which was of a major concern to the newly bought back company. New and better motorcycles were between design and preparation for the assembly line stage. A new management team of thirteen former officials who had together pulled their resources in re-securing the company from AMF, proceeded with an enthusiastic, though cautious re-formation of the companies production, and standards. Sales had dropped in an economic recession, though new models and styles were arriving from overseas, meaning a smaller and tougher market. New thoughtful  examples of efficient management, design, engineering, marketing, and production needed to be demonstrated by Harley-Davidson again. The new owners, in order to meet these challenges, undertook a new three-channel plan for better quality control which maintaining control of production costs. Part of their new system gave more responsibility to factory workers in the assembly processes and manufacturing. The standard windshield of previous years type, also kept the Heritage from having an 'over' modern look.

1981 FLH

The 1981 Electra-Glide, was the first 'non'-AMF connected machine off the assembly line this year: A limited Heritage Edition of which 784 were built. They came with a color scheme, of orange and green, and the first one off the assembly line was given a gold dip-stick by the new officers of the company. The new Heritage Edition got old-fashioned saddlebags with fringe, and the new nostalgia of the Heritage began, having been initiated in previous years. It took several years, but Harley-Davidson, was back in full force producing motorcycles of the expected quality they were previously known for. Sales of the new Electra-Glides averaged sales of better than 10,000 machines a year, for several years. These sales were cut to just under 6,000, the following year, (1982), with overseas produced touring type machines becoming available in these economic times, which were being produced and offered for less money than the machines Harley-Davidson was producing. The FX models remained the companies best sellers and accounted for over half of the motorcycles that were built, the second being the Sportsters. The Electra-Glide 'tourers' sales suffered in comparison from the newer touring machines that were in production from overseas.

Completely new versions of the FX and the FL had been approved for production, and the main focus for the company's new models. The FX series models accounted for approximately 23,000 motorcycles, and the Sportsters, had a figure of just over 10,000 machines. These numbers didn't set any 'records' for sales and production, but demonstrated a enough to maintain the company's production and continue with work and design of new machines. The Sportster was to keep most of it's original components through the period of corporate transition, and was to remain in the style of Sporster in the years to follow. The fans of the XL insisted hat the basic fundamentals of these machines weren't changed unless it was to make it run better or look better. Not many of the Sportster fans could see how there could be any improvements in how the XL's could look any better, other than the individual custom touches they did on their own personal bikes, and didn't want anything changed, that wasn't an addition of their own.

The factory's custom/cruiser were another matter, so the company continued to design new and include new engineering developments to the next generation of Low-Riders. The new FL touring machines were two years from the showroom floor, and development continued with these models along with the FX series machines. A larger ham can air cleaner cover was added to met required federal emissions standards, and footboards were added to the '81 FLH, as an added touch of tradition. The Super-Glide's 74ci was increased to 80ci this year, the seventy-four was dropped in 81, because all the models were 1340cc.


1982 FXR Super Glide II

The FXR was the first of the next generation of the middle Glides, which was debuted with the designation of Super-Glide II. It came with another version of the FLT frame, and had a strong box-section backbone with a rubber mount system. The letter R differentiated the new model from the standard FX models, which had solid mount 4 speed engines. The 80, (1340cc) inch, 5 speed kept the lower compression that the FLT had, with an improved transmission improved through revision of the shift mechanism and linkage, which produced more positive gear changes, shorter lever throws, and making selection neutral easier. The large backbone and larger-diameter frame tubes provided a stiffer chassis, and rocking and twisting in the frame was prevented by Heim-jointed turnbuckles. The Super-Glide II, with an 81.65 cubic inch displacement, 3.50 x 4.25 inch bore and stroke, had an 8:1 compression ratio, with 65 horsepower, Bendix carburetion, a 4 speed transmission, duplex chain primary, and chain final drive, a 12 volt system, with electronic ignition. The steel double down-tube frame, with telescopic front forks, and hydraulic shock rear suspension, had a 64.7 inch wheelbase, weighing 610 pounds. It had a 3.5 gallon fuel capacity, 4 quart oil capacity, 3.50 x 19 inch front, and 5.00 x 16 inch rear tires, a top speed of 115 miles per hour, with color options of vivid black, metallic blue, candy red, metallic green, brown and black. 3,190 of these were built for the 1982 line up, the FXR, 3,065, selling for $6,690.00.


                                               1982 FLT                              1982 FXB Sturgis

The FXR Super Glide, benefited from the development of the Tour Glide, gaining a 5 speed transmission, and rubber mount engine. The standard FXE stayed a solid mount four speed. The FXR's engine had been upgraded, with more displacement, and power, and the gearbox and mounting system was a welcomed advancement. Reliability was enhanced with improved lubrication delivery, better valve guides, and electronic ignition, and the new chassis provide for better comfort, performance and handling. New improvements were in the works of design for newer models in upcoming years' models. The FXR's seat height was the same as the FXT's at 29 inches, and the stepped seat with separate passenger pad, was in accordance with the newer styling of the companies newer machines, and added more comfort. The 31 degree steering head extended the wheelbase to 64.7 inches, which created a 'longer' motorcycle. The lower speed and starting were different, and slightly more difficult in relation to awkwardness, to some, but handling at higher speeds was noticeably stable, and the FXr could handle twistier roads more comfortably with the new chassis. The FXR was considered by most to be the best handling big twin produced to date. The newer handling was also accompanied with new brakes in the form of two discs in front, and dual piston caliper disc rear, giving better braking performance. The redesigned brake and clutch levers offered better leverage than the previous controls of previous models. Many saw these improvements as a sign that Milwaukee was intent to bring better and higher performance standards to the customers. The tachometer and speedometer were mounted side by side.


                         1982 XLS 1000cc                   1982 XLH                    1982 XLCH 1000cc

The XLH Sportster was 25 years old this year, and anniversary editions were made in both the XLH and the XLS's. 932 in the XLH's style and trim, and 778 in the XLS's style and configuration. Sportster production was staying at around 8.000 machines a year, but low octane fuel and federal environmental regulations created limitation for the 82 Sportsters. The Sportsters compression ratio was dropped to 8:1 having a lower horsepower, and speed, but kept it's weight under 500 pounds and could still do the quarter mile under 14 seconds with a speed of 110 miles per hour. The XLCR exhaust system was discontinued for XLH, and dual pipes on one side were added, and it kept the sprint tank and passenger back rest. 110 miles per hour was about the top speed for the XLH's. A special silver and black edition was made this year, in honor of its 25th anniversary. A change in the Sportster line, (and price), were planned for the following year.



                                         1983 FLH - 1340cc                      1983 FXRS - 1340cc

1983 brought some new models into the Harley Davidson line up. One new machine was along the road-racing lines. There had been considerable pressure from the fans of the XR-750, for the company to build a high performance street version of the racing XR-750. The XLCR, wasn't considered by many to be be a real racing machine, and thought of by some, as more an altered version of the Sportster, without the horsepower, than a racing machine. High performance and horsepower were in demand, and a Sportster style racing machine.

1983 FLHTC - 1340cc

The 1983 FLHTC - Electra-Glide, with it's 80ci, (1340cc), engine, had a 3.496 x  4.251 inch bore and stroke, (88.8 x 108mm), 8.5:1 compression ratio, electronic inductive two-stage advance ignition, dry sump lubrication, produced 71.5 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, 82.5lb ft torque at 5,000 rpm, and a five speed constant mesh transmission. It's gear ratios were: 10.45:1 for 1st gear, 7.13:1 for 2nd gear, 5.17:1 for 3rd gear, 3.98:1 for 4th gear and 3.22:1 for 5th gear, a wet multi-plate clutch, duplex primary and enclosed chain in oil bath final drive, telescopic fork (4.6in travel) front, and swinging arm, twin hydraulic dampers, (3.6in travel), rear suspension. The wheelbase was 63 inches with MT90 - 16 front, and MT90-16 rear tires, twin disc 11.5 inch front, 12 inch disc rear brakes, a seat height of 30 inches, a 5 gallon fuel capacity, and got about 47 miles per gallon for fuel consumption. The FLHTC's top speed was normally 96 miles per hour. At 6,500 rpms the gears per speed was 36mph for 1st, 56mph for 2nd, 78mph for 3rd, 101mph for 4th gears, (at 6,500rpm). It weighed 762 pounds, and went from 0 to 60, in 6.9 seconds.

1983 XR - 1000

There were new plans in the company for a new engine, and a majority of the companies focus was on the new engine which was to debut soon, and the competition from the oversea market was increasing, and the production of a complete higher performance street racing machine was more than the company felt the sales with the competition would allow. The new chassis Sportster, could handle more horsepower and many of the basic components were already part of its foundation. The new machine for the street racing market was designated the XR-1000. With the new evolution engine project being a major focus and the companies priority, the XR, was built as a back-room-side project, giving priority to the new engine that was of the company's main focus. The XR-1000, had a 61 cubic inch displacement, a 3.19 x 3.81 inch bore and stroke, with a 9:1 compression ratio, 71 horsepower at 5,600 rpm's, a 4-speed transmission, two 36mm Dell Orto carburetion, with triple disc brakes, V-Fire CDI ignition with a 12 volt system with a weight of 490 pounds. It had a steel double down-tube frame, front telescopic fork, and rear hydraulic shock suspension, with a wheelbase of 60 inches. The XR-1000 had a 2.5 gallon fuel capacity, 2.5 quart oil capacity, 110/90 x 19 front, and 130/90 x 16 rear tires, and had a top speed of 125 miles per hour.1,108 of these were built and came in the color options of steel gray, and optional orange/black. The price for these was $6.995.00. The XR-1000 came to be, as a machine to meet the demand for a street version of the XR-750. With 70 horsepower, in a street version, the engine could be tuned for 95 on the track. It was considered expensive and troublesome for road machine. It remained in production half way through the following year, when the new evolution engine came out. The new heads, which were larger, and the cast iron cylinders had to be shortened a half inch to fit the engine into the frame. The engine, rated at 70 horsepower could do the quarter mile in under 13 seconds, and at 125 miles per hour, was faster than the XLH. As more of a success at the raceway/track, than the street, the XR-1000, proved itself on the track, and went on to win three successive titles in the 'Battle of the Twins' competition.


                                    1983 FXRT                    1983 XLX - 61                     1983 FXWG

The XLX-61, though the XR-1000 was responsible for the image, had the traditional cubic inch displacement, and had a price below $4,000.00, which got immediate attention from prospective buyers. The XR-1000, with a price of nearly $7,000.00 was more costly than the competitions machines of the same class. The XR-1000, was an image builder for the company, and brought back some of the interest, and respect, lost through some of the AMF periods of their motorcycle production, and gained points with the high performance crowd. It almost instantly became another collectable. The XLX brought back the 'stripped stock' Sportster image that had gained popularity through some of the earlier types of machines bought by those of a less professional 'street legal' racing type machine, sold for $3,995.00, and came with a bare minimum of accessories. It came in basic black, as the standard color, a solo seat, little chrome, and low handlebars, no instrument panel, center stand, sissy bar, or tachometer, basically just a bare bones motorcycle with a big engine. The XLX got the attention of the riders who had become drawn away from the company's machine for economic reasons, and with the reduced price, previous customers regained faith and became part of the company's process of evolution again. It brought a sportster within reach economically for more riders, and reinstated customers into taking a second look at the XLX-61. 4,892 of these were produced for the 1983 year.


 1984 brought the transition from the shovelhead engine to the new engine called the 'Evolution'. The new Evolution was an alloy engine with iron cylinder liners, flat top pistons, squish band combustion chambers, closer tolerances, stronger rods, better oiling, stronger valve train, tighter joints, smaller valves set at 58 degrees, and computerized ignition. The new Evolution engine brought forth new machines with new technology for the company. The result of these improvements was a lighter, stronger, tighter, cooler running, higher power, more fuel efficient and longer-lasting engine, performing within all the standards in relation to safety, comfort, maintenance, and reliability. The new evolution went through extensive testing, to the point of extreme endurance testing, and survived to bring the new generation of machines to the Harley Davidson company.


1984 FXST - Softail

One of the new Evolution generation of machines to debut this year, was the FXST Softail. The new FXST, had a 81.65 cubic inch displacement, 3.5 x 4.25 bore and stroke, 8:5.1 compression ratio, 55 horsepower, a four speed transmission, duplex chain primary and chain final drive, 38mm Keihin carburetion, disc front, and drum rear brakes, a 12 volt battery, CDI ignition, front telescopic fork, shock rear suspension, a wheelbase of 66.3 inches, a steel double down-tube frame, 5 gallon fuel capacity, 3.5 quart oil capacity, 3.00 x 19 inch front, 5.00 x 16 inch rear tires, weighing 628 pounds. The FXST's top speed was 110 miles per hour, with color options of vivid black with pinstripes, and candy red with pin stripes. The price for these was $7,999.00 of which 5,413 were made. The FXST was one of the new models with the new 'Evolution' engine. The FXST had the look of the old rigid frame machines, but a softer ride. The engine had shock absorbers which were hidden below the transmission, presenting a rigid looking frame, and style. The FXST's engine was still mounted solidly to the frame, and had a four speed transmission with a kick-starter.

There was skepticism when American Machine and Foundry, (AMF), bailed out of the business, as to the company's future. The overseas competition had progressed in a reduction of production time, and new designs, and many thought that the company's last years of motorcycle production were coming to an end. American Machine and Foundry's involvement with Harley Davidson, bought time that the company needed, and shares some of the credit for financing the new 'Evolution" engine.


                                              1984 FLHX                                1984 FLHTC

Another machine to debut this year, was the '84 FLHX.  The FLHX Electra-Glide was built as a limited edition, marking the end of the shovelhead's engine. The FLHX, was a solid mount four speed shovelhead, of which 1,258 machines were produced. The 1984 FXEF 'Fat-Bob', was the last of the shovelhead engine Super Glides, and the last year of the chain final drive.


 1984 FXEF  Fat-Bob

The Harley Davidson FXRDG, (DG designating 'Disc-Glide'), 1340cc Evolution, was made in the second half of 84, as a limited edition. It had a solid aluminum disc rear wheel, a chain drive, and one of the first models to have the 1340cc Evolution engine. It was considered the buy-back, (from AMF), model and has a rare 'Genuine Harley Davidson' emblem on the tank. Only 853 of these were made.


                            1984 FXRDG                     1984 FXRT                            XR-1000


1985 FLHTC

Design variations to identify the type and function came as the "Evo" engine became the only big twin in 1985. The V2 Evolution engine became known as the revitalization driving force for Harley-Davidson. The 1985 FLHT Electra-Glide Classic came with a new improved diaphragm clutch, (introduced the year before), that was designed for less slippage, cooler running, and had easier operation. Less effort for the rider came with the 5 speed transmission and belt drive. Other than the old-time Bar and Shield tank emblem, the styling was traditionally unchanged. The FXRS Low -Glide replaced the Super-Glide II, as the 'Fat-Bob' made it's final appearance, and the FLTC Tour-Glide Classic gained popularity with frame mount fairing.


                                                 1985 FLHT                         1985 FLTC

The 1985 FLHTC had an 81.65 cubic inch displacement, 3.5 x 4.25 bore and stroke, 8:5.1 compression ratio, 38mm Kelhin carburetion, 55 horsepower, duplex primary chain, and belt final drive. Weighing  760 pounds, with a 62.9 inch wheelbase, it had dual disc front, and disc rear brakes, CDI ignition, a 12 volt battery, telescopic fork front, rear shock suspension, a 5 gallon fuel capacity, 4 quart oil capacity, steel double down-tube frame, 3.00 x 19 inch front, and 5.00 x 16 inch rear tires, with a top speed of 110 miles per hour. Candy red, vivid black, candy blue, candy burgundy/candy pearl, tan/cream, and candy burgundy/slate gray, (all with pin stripes), were the FLHTC's color options. 1985 production for these was 3,409 machines, selling for $9,199. The FLHTC Electra-Glide marked a great step forward for touring comfort, engine reliability, reduced maintenance, and overall roadworthy performance. Lowering the seat height of these larger motorcycles, was a goal for the company, making them easier to balance, at stops, and the top cargo box, combined with saddlebags, gave the rider plenty of cargo space for travel. More rider came to appreciate the windshield's wind protection. The bar-mounted fairing, which had little change in 25 years, was a pore popular fairing than that of the larger touring fairing.


1985 FXST Softail

The FXST Softail, which was introduced the year before, kept it's nostalgic style and design with new contemporary engineering. The Softail accounted for close to 9,000 machines between the FX and the FL the following year. The rear-frame section, designed to look like the old 'rigid', (or 'hard-tail'), frames, hid the shock absorbers underneath the transmission. The new Soft-tails not only resembled the old in appearance, but rode like the older model in having the engine solidly connected to the frame. 

The FL series lagged behind in the market which was becoming crowded with different choices of touring machines. The Electra Glide Classic went up to 3,409 machines in '85, then dropped down to 1,879 the following year.


 1986 FXSTC

Softail got a custom model in '86, with a rear disc wheel, and both models had 5 speed transmissions. The FX softie, (FXSTC), had a solid disc rear wheel, old time lettering on the fuel tank, black engine, and sissy bar. The 'Custom' accounted for 3,782 machines where the standard soft-tail's production was 2,402. The Electra-Glide Classic sold 3,409 motorcycles, in '85, but dropped to 1,879 in '86. Harley Davidson cross-bred the chassis of the soft-tail, and the front end of the Electra-Glide to create the FLST Heritage Softail in 1986.


                                         1986 Electra-Glide                           1986 FLST

It had all the '50's styling, and a two-tone paint scheme from that time. A "Special' version included leather saddlebags, windshield, wire wheels, and foot-boards. Both the FL and FX were successful in their first years, and continued to selling well into the nineties. The '86 FLST ha a 81.65 cubic inch displacement, 3.5 x 4.25 inch bore and stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio, 55 horsepower, with a 5 speed transmission, duplex chain for the primary drive, and belt for the final drive, front and rear disc brakes, 38mm Keihin carburetion, a 12 volt battery, and CDI ignition. The frame was steel double down-tube, with front telescopic fork front suspension, and shocks for the rear, a wheelbase of 62.5 inches, with a 5 gallon fuel capacity, 3 quart oil capacity, weighing 650 pounds, MT-905-16 tires, and a top speed of 112 miles per hour. 2,510 of these were built this year, and sold for $9,099.00. The color scheme for the FLST was signal red/creme, and bronze/creme. The Electra-Glides had added a few pounds over the years, and the FX soft-tails, took some of those pounds off in the cruiser category, with room in between for the updated version of the Hydra-Glide: the FLST Heritage Softail.


                                        1986 Softail Standard                 1986 Heritage Softail

The engine was solidly mounted, in place not rubber mounted as it was with thee FX series. The Hydra-Glide front end, with it's deeply skirted fender, sergeant-stripe cowling, and large headlight was complimented by the rigid looking rear frame section. The deeply stepped saddle put the seat height at only 26.5 inches. The FXST's brakes were single disc both front and rear. The same technologies were applied to the FL after the success of the FX series soft-tails. The large headlight and squared aluminum fork cover replicated the front end of the Hydra-Glide from 1949, and the three ribs were from the 1955 style, and the fenders were the fifties style bespoke wheels, hub and cap. The riding position, with a lower seat and the handlebars pulled back was designed to accommodate footboards, with the feet between the standard touring position and the reclined position with highway pegs. It shared some of the components with the FXS 'Low-Rider', but was different. It was 2 inches shorter in it's wheelbase, had 16 inch front wheels, reduced ground clearance. It's weight was fifty pounds heavier. With paint schemes from the past, standard seats and saddlebags, and rocket fin mufflers, the company brought back a modern classic with uncluttered lines, a low maintenance engine and running gear, it was brought back the next year with the Heritage Soft-tail Classic.


                                               1986 FXRD                            1986 FXWG

The Sportster was given the 'Evolution' engine this year. A 1100 version joined with the 883cc line up, which came with larger valves, and a ten horsepower jump to 63 horsepower. Along with a slightly revised frame, the Sportsters got new transmissions and clutches.

1986 Sportster 883cc


In 1987 the Custom outsold the ST standard better than two to one, and the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was over the hump of recovery from the AMF years, and plans for celebration were made for the companies 85th anniversary party in 1988.


                              1987 Sportster                 1987 XLH 1100cc             1987 Sportster 1100cc

With the Sportster getting the 'Evolution' in 1986, the 1100cc was added to the line up this year with the 883cc model. The 1100cc version had larger valves and a ten horsepower increase to 63 horsepower. A revised frame, new clutches and transmissions were added this year. Including the lowered 'hugger' model, the 1987 XLH-883 made up the bulk of the sportster production with 9,356 bikes. The 1100 accounted for 4,168 machines, 600 of which, were the Anniversary editions. The special celebrated the Sportster's 30th anniversary with a black and chrome engine, orange and black paint scheme, and commemorative graphics. The '87 1100 had a 67.2 cubic inch displacement, 3.35 x 3.81 bore and stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio, 63 horsepower, Keihin carburetion, a 4 speed transmission, chain primary and final drive, front and rear disc brakes, and CDI ignition, with a 12 volt battery. Weighing 492 pounds, with a wheelbase of 60 inches, it's top speed was 112 miles per hour. It had a steel double down-tube frame, MT90-19 front, and MT90-16 rear tires, a 2.25 gallon fuel capacity, 3.5 quart oil capacity, front telescopic fork front, and dual shock rear suspensions and color schemes of: (Anniversary) vivid black, candy bronze, candy brandywine, black and orange, metallic blue and silver, and brandywine/crimson. The 1100's sold for $5,199.00.Celbrating the thirtieth anniversary of the Sportster, 600 of the 4,618 machines that were made this year, came with an orange and black paint scheme and a black and chrome engine and commemorative graphics.


                               1987 883cc                  1987 Sportster 883cc          1987 Sportster 1100cc      

The hugger, named for it's lower seat height, was aimed for smaller guys with shorter legs, and the female riders that had become enthusiasts. By revising the shock absorber angle, shortening the fork tubes two inches, and offering a softer seat, the seat height came down to 26.75 inches, (1.75 inches shorter than the standard sportster), and allowed those of smaller demeanor to plant their feet on the ground firmly when stopped. A deluxe version of the 883cc was also offered with wire wheels and a dual seat. In 1987 buyers of the XLH 883 were offered a guaranteed  exchange value of $3,995.00 if they traded within two years for an FX or FL.


                       1987 Heritage Softail             1987 Softail Custom           1987 Heritage Softail


                          1987 FXSTC            10th Anniv. Low-Rider Custom     1987 FLHTC Ultra


1988 FXSTS

1988 brought a new version of the Springer from earlier years back. Adding additional nostalgia to the old time styles of previous years, the leading link/spring assembly was characteristic of the Knucklehead years. Though the look was nostalgic of the 40s, the performance was better than the one of previous years. The spring fork design had been a good design to start with. The addition of new and better materials and computer aided engineering, it's performance was superior to that of previous years. The '88 FXSTS, (springer), had he 81.65ci displacement, 3.5 x 4.25 in bore and stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio and 55 horsepower. It came with 38mm Kelhin carburetion, 5 speed transmission, duplex chain for the primary and belt final drive, front and rear disc brakes, CDI ignition a 12 volt battery/system, a steel double down-tube frame, springer front, shock rear suspensions with a wheelbase of 64.5 inches weighing 635 pounds. It came with MT90-21front and MH90-16 inch tires, 6.4 gallon fuel capacity, 3 quart oil capacity, and had a top speed of 114 miles per hour. The color scheme was black with red pin-stripes. 1,356 FXSTS's were built for '88 that sold for $10,279. Some felt that the travel and damping wasn't as good as the telescopic fork, but there were benefits that made the springer a compromise between style and comfort that was more than accepted by most. Compared to the telescopic fork, the springer had a 20 percent disadvantage over the telescopic fork in relation to terms of wheel travel. The girder-and-yoke assembly didn't have the same problems the hydraulic tubes had in relation to stiction. It offered a more rigid attachment between the frame and axle. The 21 inch front wheel managed potholes with less problems and the braking was acceptable, and noted that any limit of braking was due the narrower 21 inch tires than the front forks.


The new fork had to meet higher performance standards than the older 'lower-case' springer of earlier years, and more than double the wheel travel, which created the need for strong bushings and close tolerances at pivot points. The Harley Davidson system hinged the suspension arm at the rigid fork, with the axle in front and the sprung yoke fitted at the fulcrum. Spring action is damped by a small hydraulic shock, and the wheel is braced by four fork legs rather than the telescopic's two. Pivoting-link forks, with the axle either ahead or behind the pivot, were used on the earliest motorcycles. The problem of needing stronger bushings, and close tolerances at pivot points was solved with adjustable Teflon bushings that proved durable and efficient. The company integrated a compact disc brake carrier above the axle.

The company tested the market, building only 1,356 Springers for the year It's debut was aimed to coincide with the company's 85th anniversary celebration. Commemorative graphics on the tank and front fender were featured with the FXSTS. It's styling was an instant success. The company saw the success of the new Springer, and was encouraged to increase production for 1989, which they did producing 5,387 Springers the following year. The only complaint  given the FXSTS was the raised front fender, which height above the front tire reminded people of a dirt bike and not in accordance of the Springer style. The mounting brackets wee changed and the gap closed. The triangular swingarm provided 3.4 inches of rear wheel travel

The Softail was already a successful machine for the company. It's low seating was perfectly situated for the kicked back, cruising, easy chair riding position that the comfort cruiser crowd preferred, and without any cutting, welding or modification on the owners behalf. The addition of the Springer front fork attracted many of the older enthusiasts and those who remembered the times during the war. The mixture of the older Knucklehead style with the new evolution engine, belt drive, hidden rear shocks, and modifications which brought back some of the nostalgia mixed with a machine of better performance standards.

1988 FXRS

The 1988 FXRS was slightly lighter than the FXRS of previous years even with a larger 4.5 gallon fuel tank, and with the new 'evolution engine and belt drive. It was rated at 55 horsepower. IT had a 81.65 displacement, 3.5 x 4.25 inch bore and stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio, 5 speed transmission, 38mm Keihin carburetion, duplex chain primary drive and belt final drive, dual front disc and disc rear brakes, CDI ignition, a 12 volt system, steel double down-tube frame, front telescopic fork, rear shock suspensions, a wheelbase of 63.1 inches weighing 580 pounds. The oil capacity was 3 quarts with it's 4.5 gallon fuel capacity, front MT90-19 and rear MT90-16 tires and a top speed of 110 miles per hour. 2,637 of these were built, 818 Sports, and 519 Anniversary Editions, and came in color schemes of bright candy plum, champagne gold/black (anniversary), candy brandywine/candy crimson, vivid black, and bright cobalt/candy blue and silver. $9,245 was the price for these. The FXRS was given a traditional fat bob fuel tank, and kept the dual disc brakes on the front wheels, shorter shock absorbers, accessory exhaust system, and spoked rather then cast wheels. The standard FXS was now named the Super Glide, the FXRS the Low Rider, and the FXRS-SP was the Low Rider Sport Edition. The 519 FXR's were produced as one of four special anniversary editions in this year, commemorating the 85th anniversary of Harley Davidson. New names and letters came with the new variations of machines as they were introduced. With the FXSTC, (Soft-tail Custom), and the FLSTX, (Heritage Soft-tail Custom), there was now the standard FXR Super-Glide, FXRS Low-Rider, FXRS-SP Low Rider Sport, FXLR Low Rider Custom, and the FXRT Sport-Glide. Also the FXDB Dyna-Glide Sturgis, and the FXRS Convertible were in the line up. The new evolution engine was added to the FXRS which got longer suspension in '85, and dual front brakes it gained three years earlier.  The Low Riders popularity saw new soft-tail models, but the performance minded riders preferred the FXRS for its rubber-mount engine and its sportiness on the road with a choice of a more tradition styling in a standard model. The Low Rider came standard with forward mounted highway pegs, and  had a single disc brake on the front wheel. Front fork tube diameter increased from 1.38 inches to 1.54 inches and the turn signals were now attached to the mirror mounts instead of the handlebar.

The Sport Edition still had it's instruments on the handlebar, and the gas cap in the center of the tank, and featured a new version of the air-assisted fork, first used on the '83 Super-Glide. The system incorporated an anti-drive feature to reduce nosedive under braking, using the handlebar as an air reservoir. Air volume was adjusted using a Schrader valve at the left end of the handlebar. Front dual disc brakes were standard on the Sport Edition. The Sports Edition also had 1.4 inches more wheelbase than the standard model. The steering was different also, the sport fork set at 31 degrees instead of 29, and the handlebar was lower flatter. Only 818 of the Sport Editions were made this year. The Super-Glide and Low-Rider versions remained the more popular models for 1988.


1988 also brought forth the 1200cc Sportster. The 1100 cylinder bore was taken out to 3.50 inches, combining with new combustion chambers, smaller valves, and a 40mm carburetor producing 12 percent more horsepower. The new Sportster  got the larger 39mm fork tubes that were given the FX series, and the gear ratios between the first three years had been tightened up the year before, helping with acceleration, and the new carburetor had an enriching circuit, which allowed smoother running in city riding and improved throttle response. Two rear view mirrors were also added. The new 1200cc Sportster had considerably more torque and horsepower than the 1100, and was a quicker and faster machine.

FLHTC - 85th Anniversary Edition

A 85th Anniversary edition of the Electra-Glide was also part of this years line up.


1989 XLH 883

The 1989 Sportster line up remained at four different models. The 883 with solo seat and speedo only, with the price of $3,999, the similar equipped Hugger version with buckhorn bars, the 883 Deluxe with dual seat, wire wheels, and passenger pegs, and the 1200 package with more horsepower. All models got a newer kickstand which was moved farther back and within easier reach. The evolution Sportster was offered with solo or dual seats, spoke or cast wheels, and 883cc or 1200cc engine.

The Springer production was increased to 5,387 machines for '89

The company also introduced the Tour Glide and Electra Glide Ultra Classics this year. The Ultra Glide being the full-dress with the most; Ultra, meaning, "the most". The Electra Glide with the bar-mount fairing, and the Tour Glide, featuring frame-mount fairing. Both models got an 80-watt four-speaker stereo system with tuning controls for the passenger, CB radio/voice activated intercom, cruise controls, and fairing lowers. All the touring models got high-output alternators, new fuel tank designs, and self-canceling turn signals. The Ultras were distinguished by silver and black paint schemes, circular graphics on the tank, and Ultra Classic nameplates on the front fender and saddlebags. The popularity of long distance touring, in comfort and style was growing and starting to show signs of strength in a long lasting type of motorcycle riding.

the demand was on

Recognizing the growing popularity of the "luxury of riding" market, Harley Davidson, as well as other motorcycle companies, chose to support the supply and demand of new growing market. More focus on the passengers luxury was given and new comforts were being built into the seats every year. Backrests, shapes, heights, armrests, grab rails, and footboards  were all re-designed and added each year for more comfort. What the customers required had expanded as the company's ability to make and match those needs. Many of the after market touches, were expected as standard Deluxe touring equipment right off the line as standard touring accessories.

Harley Davidson recognized the strength, in the 'luxury of riding' market, and recognized the competition for dominance, and maintaining plush as a standard for the touring models.







Author: Dermage,/Wm.R.G./Webmaster: wm.grett@yahoo.com