History of the Harley-Davidson Sportster

Written by Carly Hallman

The Harley Davidson Sportster had been produced since the late 1950s but its roots date back as early as 1919 with the iconic Model W motorcycle, which featured a unique flat-twin engine. The Sportster has seen many changes over the years but one thing has always stayed the same: the die-hard fanbase behind them. Whether someone is just getting into motorcycling or has been riding motorcycles for decades, the H-D Sportster has all the power and attitude a rider could ever need. Share your Harley Davidson and Sportster memories with us @Titlemax on Twitter.

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The History of the Harley-Davidson Sportster

Pre-Sportster Small Twins

Name Engine Years in Production
Model W 584 cc flathead flat-twin 1919-1923
D-series 45 739 cc flathead 1929-1932
R-series 45 739 cc flathead 1932-1936
Servi-Car 739 cc flathead 1932-1973
W-series 45 739 cc flathead 1937-1952
Model K 750 cc flathead 1952-1953
Model KR 750 cc flathead 1953-1969
Model KH 888 cc flathead 1954-1956

The Age of the Sportster

XL Ironhead 883 cc & 1,000 cc 1957-1985
XR-750 750cc 1970-1985
XLCR 1,000 cc 1977-1978
XR1000 1,000 cc 1983-1984
XL Evolution 883 cc, 1,100 cc & 1,200 cc 1986-
XR1200 Nightster 1,200 cc 2008-2012
XL883N Iron 883 cc 2009-

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