Ironhead sportster FAQ’s

The Sportster and K models have a unit construction this is when the primary, and transmission are all part of the same Casings

XL is the call letters used to describe sportsters
XLH is used to refer to Electric-start sportsters
XLCH refers to kick start only models

X was in the normal series, following the U and V used for flathead Big Twins.

L stood for high compression (7.5:1 in 1957). In 1958 came the XLH with H meaning Higher-power or High-compression (9:1) or Hot. Also in 1958 was the XLCH: The C in XLCH was intended to mean "Competition", but the late Hal Robinson used to claim the CH on his bike stood for "Charley Horse" because it was highly modified and had enough initial ignition advance to kick back rather severely

The kick-starter on the 1957-79 models left much to be desired

The years that an electric and kick start may be incorporated on an Iron Head are 1967-1979 All 1980 and Later sportsters have electric starters. 1980 and later engine cases are not machined to take some of the kick starter components

The Sportster engines were originally actually 53.9ci. (883cc) but were designated as 55ci. This was upgraded (in 1970?) to 61ci (1000cc), redesigned in '73 but still 61" and stayed relatively unchanged untill the '84 evo version.

The 883 and 61" were both produced the first year of the 883. Options for Sportsters abounded but these same letters have been used since 1958 in various combinations, plus the XLCR (a "cafe racer" style, with bikini fairing) and the XLT (Touring, with bigger tank, thicker seat, and hard bags straight off the FLHS), both produced 1977-1978 only.

Factory Forgets to Put Oil Filters on XLCH’s


Cant find the oil filter on your kick start Ironhead Sporty XLCH?

Well, you can stop looking because for some reason unknown to most people, the Factory neglected to provide this very necessary component on your IronHead.

What to do?

You should buy an aftermarket bolt-on oil filter kit that uses a metal enclosed oil canister filter like those found on the Evos.

Installation is easy.

Bolt on the canister bracket, usually around or on the front motor mount. If there is no "in" or "out" stamped on the unit, don’t worry about it since the lines are universal. The kit always interrupts the return oil line from the engine to the oil tank.

If there are in/out markings, then the return line from the engine oil pump goes to the "in". The "out" goes from the out fitting on the oil canister bracket to the return spigot on the oil tank.

Last but not least. Mount this unit where it will be protected from unforgiving obstacles like sidewalk curbs and, of course, it is better to have the filter exposed to the wind, to aid in oil cooling.


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