A Little Iron Head Sportster History 1972 early 73

Posted on 26th February 2010 by Electra Glide In Blue in Harley-Davidson,sportster - Tags: , , ,

In 1972 Harley introduced the 1000cc Iron Head Sportster, replacing the 900cc. To accomplish this, for some reason they cast the cylinders using a wall thickness of 3/32. This is why the 1972, E73’s can’t be bored more than .030 over. The bolt hole patterns are also unique for 1972 and early 73 cylinders. For what I have seen and read, the cylinders and heads for 72-E73 Sportster are not compatible with any other years.


Also new in 72 was the Bendix/Zenith carb. The Sportster had the Tillotson diaphragm carb since 1966.

1973 brought on mandatory turn signals and 35mm Kayaba forks with single disc front brakes for more stopping power. Late 73 1000cc cylinders and heads did not change until the introduction of the Evo engine in 1986.

1972 production numbers;
XLH (7,500)
XLCH (10,650)

1973 production numbers;
XLH (9,875)
XLCH (10,825)

The 1972 XLCH is owned by Peter, he has quite a collection of old Harleys. You can check him out here.


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  1. Love them Ironheads. Makes me want to take mine out for a spin later.
    Peter sure has a full time job taking care of that collection. Wonder what his hobby is?

    Comment by Willy D. — February 27, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  2. Willy D,
    It would be nice to have a stable full of old iron. I wonder if Peter ever has a problem picking one to take for a spin.

    Comment by Electra Glide In Blue — February 27, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  3. Yea right. Of all the problems I could have, that’s one I would welcome.

    Comment by WILLY D. — February 28, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  4. Dear Sir:

    I have parallax vision when it comes to Harley’s. There is no doubt that H-D has built some of the most beautiful, sexually-charged motorcycles in the history of transportation. The profile of an H-D conjurs up images of great rides through majestic American countryside, with poignant stops in the arms of apple-pie blondes. The anachronistic (but unbelievably classic) Electra Glide is the first image that comes to my mind when thinking of motorcycles.

    I once saw a Jaguar XKE hardtop on display at the Museum Of Modern Art, in honor of its great lines. Harley deserves the same accord. I will own an Electra Glide (or the modern equivalent) one day.

    Yet I have consumed the KoolAde and gone to sleep next to the giant pod. While my own vintage Teutonic mileage Viking is as ugly as a bowling shoe, it has made me understand the significance of engineering perfection, and mechanical vision. Über alles, if you catch my drift.

    Fonderst regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad

    Comment by Jack Riepe — February 28, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  5. Hello is there anyone thath can tell me were to find parts to my iron sportster 1973 i need camchaft mm

    Comment by soren — August 4, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  6. Soren, try: http://www.jpcycles.com I have used them extensively and their parts selection is huge and very reasonably priced.

    Comment by Edward — August 22, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  7. XLCH 1972
    the best,,,,,
    my is blue..all original

    Comment by secondo — October 24, 2010 @ 3:38 am

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