In 1977, H-D suprised the world by debuting a model that went against the style of everything they had ever produced... the XLCR Cafe Racer. The XLCR was designed and built in the greatest secrecy by the three men at the core of the project; Willie G. Davidson, Lou Netz and Jim Aubert.

The idea behind the project was to create a machine capable of capturing some of the Japanese sportbike market while taking the design concept from the popular British Cafe Racer movement.

The prototype was unveiled in Daytona at Bikeweek 1977 and after an initial good reaction from the press, production started in earnest.

The all black motor was sourced from the sportster range and displaced 1000cc, fed by a single 38mm Keihin carburettor. The engine made 68hp @ 6200 rpm by using a siamesed exhaust to improve scavenging and was the most powerful sportster engined machine the Motor Company had ever produced.

The tank was quite narrow (holding only 12 litres total), the handlebars flat and the footpegs were rearset in true Cafe Racer style. Saddle height was high at 760mm, gross weight was 227kg and a top speed of 180kmh was sadly not enough to compete with the Italian, Japanese and British bikes it was aimed at.

Notably, it was also the first production Harley to come from the factory with a twin disc front end.

Only produced for three years, a total of only 3133 machines were made from 1977-1979 with only nine bikes made in the final year (they were built from spare parts). Unfortunately for H-D the XLCR was not received well by the buying public.

It was too heavy and underpowered for sporting riders and its scintillating styling too racy for the Harley faithful.

The Cafe Racer went largely unloved on the showroom floors and due to its rarity and good looks is very, very collectible today.

If only H-D had jammed a 96" stroker inside those 1977 frame rails......

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