Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Harley-Davidson XLCR

Fri, June 3rd, 2011

1977–78 Harley-Davidson XLCR 1000 Cafe Racer
The XLCR, for all its svelte raciness, houses just another ironhead Sportster mill that, combined with the clunky 4-speed tranny, must struggle to get much over the 'ton.' Despite lots of torque down low, excessive driveline lash ruins low-RPM operation and vibration ruins it at higher speeds.
The frame and running gear was sadly lagging behind the market when the XLCR was built. It steers like a tractor, hammers the rider over bumps, and feels vague in corners. Despite triple discs, the brakes are also poor, with a wooden feel and high lever effort.
The XLCR has a legion of cultish aficionados, based almost entirely on how it looks. A flop when produced, it has aged supremely well. Despite using many of Harley's clunky standard components of the era, the XLCR transcends those parts; a few more recent Sportster models have been fitted with the CR's basic bodywork with more-or-less tepid results.
To the extent that it is left stock, any AMF Harley will be troublesome.
It's slow, it vibrates terribly, it can't carry a passenger without the accessory double seat (which is rare and ruined the looks). Despite its narrow waist, the slow steering and narrow steering lock hamper parking lot maneuvers. Furthermore, authentic CRs are now incredibly expensive for the function they provide.
For many people, this is the only Harley they're interested in owning, which is indicative of how iconic its sexy look has become. Frankly, Milwaukee has produced many other bikes that perform much better.
It has one thing going for it — looks. But man, what a looker it is!