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1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR: Cafe Style

1977 Harley Davidson XLCR

Cool to look at – but not much else. That might be the spirit of Harley-Davidson’s foray into making a cafe-style sport bike, at least based on some reviews I’ve read of this XLCR listed here on eBay with bidding over $5,000. Harley was not known for making compact, sport-style bikes, but at first glance, the XLCR’s appearance might convince you otherwise. Riders had a hard time warming up to it, however, especially given the class of motorcycles it was taking on: the Italian purebreds that had been churning out cafe-style machines for years, and the XLCR was more expensive than those bikes. Your traditional Harley Fatboy rider wasn’t impressed, either. But today, the bike stands out as a rarity and is desirable given the limited production and still eye-catching good looks. This one is all about the emotions it stirs inside of you. It’s the only way I buy my cars; why should bikes be any different?



  1. Peter

    I remember these when they came out–I was in high school.

    Liked the looks then, and still do.

    And I’ve read there is growing collector interest.

    And I’m not a big Harley fan, either, but this was a bold move for them, echoed decades later by the (much more serious) Buells.

    I hope it finds the refresh/resto it deserves.

    Found an article, but don’t have time to read it before my “edit time” expires:
    Harley-Davidson XLCR


    Like 1
  2. randy

    Not a Harley guy either, but I’s like to have it. I believe they made an XR “speedster” also. I’d take one of those as well as a 1200 sportster sport with twin spark plugs.

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  3. David

    Michael Douglas rode one of these in Black Rain, I remember when it came out.

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    • krash

      …one of the lamest motorcycle street races ever filmed….

      Michael Douglas resembles the Great Gazoo (Flintstones) wearing that open face helmet


      But I really loved the XLCR styling when it was first introduced….

      Like 1
  4. Marc Lawrence

    Around the Spring or Summer of 1976 the XLCR was featured on the cover of Cycle Magazine – It was described as a “styling exercise” by Willie G Davidson – well maybe a little more than that because in the Fall my buddy that owned the Harley Shop in Stockton, Ca. called me. Chris had been bugging me to buy a Harley. I was a cafe racer road racer fan boy and told him that if Harley ever made the XLCR I would buy one. Bottom line – I made a deal with him at a very reasonable price – site unseen off the cover of a magazine at his cost in cash that day in October. I took delivery of what was probably one of the first XLCR’s in California in about February of 77. It was the fastest production Harley at that time I believe – and it was pretty fast – faster than any of the local Harleys I rode with and raced. It was also beautiful. However, it had it’s quirks and some tall gears that made riding around town a bit of a chore. A 5th gear wouldn’t have hurt. But all in all I enjoyed owning the bike and decided to sell it a few years later. I figured I would just end up dead or maimed – I knew it would be worth some money at some time as not that many were built but self preservation ruled and a friend took it off my hands for the price I paid with only 3k on the clock. I never bought another bike but I have some pretty fond memories of Harley runs and too many bar runs to count. And – It still is a stunner in my opinion, warts and all.

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  5. Tirefriar

    i was very surprised at the market demand for the XLCR. IMO, XR1200R is a much better bike that is also quite uncommon. The prices for the XRs are still going down making them quite a bargain…

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  6. Dolphin Member

    I had a short ride on one of these years ago that was owned by a relative, and I guess because it was the first big engined bike I ever rode I was amazed at the effortless torque. HP is good but It’s torque that turns wheels, and this bike had lots of it. It also generated a lot of vibration, which was a downside. When you looked at the tach there was so much vibration it was hard to read. But it was an impresssive bike and I liked it a lot more than the big cruiser bikes that that HD sells so many of. Just not for a cross-country trip.

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  7. Peter

    A modern successor to the XLCR that I was unaware of, as recommended by Tirefriar?
    2009 Harley Davidson XR1200R–at $8,370., isn’t it cool enough?

    And here is the backflip the salesguy, above, is talking about (at least, the one I could find):
    Kain Saul Backflips a XR1200 Harley Davidson to dirt

    Newer bike, presumably WAAAY better suspension, braking, (absence of leaking), apparent ability to IDLE without DIDDLING, and LESS money?

    Maybe one could get it painted black, like the 1977-1979 XLCR….


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  8. Howard A Member

    While I like all bikes, this is still a gussied up Sporty, and I’ve found, when I had my Harley FXR, “Big Twins” ( Electra-Glides, Softtails, Low Riders, etc) are the bikes to have, and Sportster’s are ok for beginners, but don’t have near the zing of Big Twins. Don’t get me wrong. My ex-gf had a ’99 Sportster 1200 Custom, and it was cool bike, just not the Big Twin. Now, if Harley made a Sportster dirt bike, THAT would be cool.

    Like 0
    • Dean

      Sorry Howard, you are wrong. The XLCR will smoke the majority of big twins. Most are slugs in comparison. I have an XLCR…girlfriend has a 103 Softtail and I can still beat it (not just because she is riding it…I ride it too, and despite feeling quick, it’s no Sportster…lol). Glides don’t have a chance. Remember the XLCR is right around 500 pounds. Quarter times ran about 13 flat…soft tail is closer to 13.4. The current 1200 Sportster is faster yet…I think the V-rod is the only thing quicker than a 1200 Sporty!

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      • Howard A Member

        Hi Dean, you are right. Perhaps I mislead you with the word “zing”. My ex-gf’s 1200 Custom did have plenty of power. It just seemed to me, it was just cooler to have a “Big Twin”, than a Sporty, although, no one actually came out and said that, but you could feel it. And heaven forbid, someone with a non-Harley wanted to tag along. I love ALL bikes, and that was one of the biggest things I didn’t like about the Harley crowd, their motto was/is, “If it isn’t a Harley, it’s crap”, and that’s just not true.

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  9. mtshootist1

    When I lived in Cheyenne, had a friend who had one of these. I always liked the looks, but it was still a late seventies Harley, which was on the tailend of the AMF venture into building motorcycles. AMF probably saved the company and introduced a number of machining equipment etc. that the old company couldn’t afford. currently in the process of building a 1969 XLH sportster that was a basket case, ie. in boxes. The guys who rode sportsters back then were pretty small statured guys. The rest of us rode big inchers. The one to have back then was the XR1000, which had individual carbs for each head, and was a street legal version of the XR750 flat tracker. It was Willy G.’s first foray into pushing the envelope, and he has had a tremendous influence of the direction of Harley’s designs

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    • Marc Lawrence

      When I had my 77 I weighed 130 if that – lol. I always assumed the reason the bigger HD bikes were called fat boys – was pretty obvious!

      Like 0
  10. boxdin

    I’ve always been a jap bike guy, In 1981 I rode one of these and it was loosy goosy all over the place w frame flex and generally lousy handling. Same guy also had a Kaw 1350 road bike. The Kaw was so much better, tighter all around.
    Never rode a harley since then.

    Like 0
  11. randy

    I bet it gets close to 10K

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  12. Doug Towsley

    I always thought these were cool, and they have been a very collectible bike and will only grow in value. People have a nostalgia these days for Iron head sportys thats been growing. But that being said…. It was JUST an Ironhead sporty. From a time period that was rather ugly in HD history. So, this is a super collectible bike, but if you dont care about value and investment, which some really do. But if you want the looks, restyle an Evo sporty to look like this. The parts are out there. I owned a lot of HDs, and i just never cared for Lazyboy recliners on wheels big twins. If you want performance, Sportsters where its at. Cafe racer sportys are really growing in popularity, also Bobbers. Check out the online forums and Bike mags, especially the Horse, Backstreet choppers and chock full of sporties. We currently own 3 Evo Sportys and I have 2 basket cases Im selling this weekend. I also have 4 Buells, 2 tube frames and 2 XBs. 100hp at the rear wheels, go ahead and call it a chick bike all you want. My ol lady on hers will smoke your butt. Be kinda embarrassing. Next winters project is a 2002 Buell S3 stuffed in a Norton Wideline frame, 70s akront wheels, Dominator tank, AvonAire fairing and built to look like this. Ive got the donor bike (lightly wrecked Buell, and all the parts been 5 years collecting, im super excited)

    Like 1
  13. Doug Towsley

    Hey! nothing like a good Motorcycle discussion to get my blood pumping, Check this out, I posted these pix in 2014 over on a Buell Forum I am a member of. These pix were taken in the storage area of a local HD dealer, Latus HD. George Latus the owner offered up some parts stashes and I was over there working on a pile of Buell parts for my hoarding addiction. I *THINK* he might still have this, not cheap, but could be reworked into a semi legal street hot rod if you have the cajones. Or,, be the coolest kid on the block. Heres the spiel:
    So… I got many of the details on it today,. This is a hand built hot rod, This was specially built back in the late 1990s for a special AMA race class called street tracker series, Joe Kopp won the title on THIS bike in 2000. And if he won it, that makes this the fastest bike of the series. if thats not cool enough, feast your eyes on some hot stuff,
    Big bore and 1300cc, short stroke motor, Specially made castings by world famous Baiseley cyl head specialties right here in Oregon, The heads alone were $2500 each, Im told monster big valves plus special ports and those special castings on the side for the race style intakes and the exhaust on the other side. Its got special early race 4 speed with tunable ratios and gear sets, and beefed up trans, remote starter set up, Custom built one off C & J race frame (Frame was $3200) special swing arm, Mono shock with a Penske adjustable race shock< Alloy rims, stainless spokes, Yamaha R6 forks, over 100 hp, dyno tuned. Yours for $13,250.

    Like 1
  14. Doug Towsley

    Other side, Cafe racer, or flat track-Street tracker. Sportsters are FUN!!!!!
    Proud member of the Quad Cam Bastards & God Bless Erik Buell my hero.

    Like 1
  15. Doug Towsley

    BTW, If you dont have the coin for an original, and want to build a modern bike evo sporty replica, heres a place that I have dealt with and strongly recommend, good people, good products. They have body kits for building a tribute/replica of the XLCR see:

    Lots of other body work as well, I have some of their CR750 Honda, as well as some of the Kawasaki vintage green meanie body work as well.

    Like 0
  16. Chris A.

    This HD is sort of a toe in the water styling exercise. They had to try. Get serious, get a Buell. Or get into all the way like Doug Towsley.

    Like 0
  17. Blindmarc

    Sold for $7300

    Like 0
  18. randy

    Not bad!

    Like 0

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