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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatman View Post
    Ironhead sporty or bigtwin evo, go evo 2 cents
    Yes sir.........

  2. #22
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    I would buy any man/woman/beast a beer who can keep an ironhead on the roads for a long period of time. The things are money pits.

    Re your first Harley, like tattoo has mentioned, read, read and read some more. You need to have a head like a soggy sponge and absorb absorb. I've been fortunate that a few of the older guys over the years have been more than patient. I still make a load of mistakes *See my knuckle thread*. I don't know much about shovels, but like all old harleys, maybe albeit evo's they take a lot of time to fix, repair and diagnose.

    People will start stripping the heads when all they needed was a new condenser. It's usually the little nuances and small issues that suck your time. My first big twin was a 54 panhead, I had many issues with it as the guy who sold me it ripped me off.. it was a bag of ass. But a great example is I took the cam chest cover off, did some shit, put it back together and had a shim left over? I had no clue where it had came from. Investigating and talking to Russ who is sadly no longer with us he was like try running it without that and it'll be the end of the engine... It was the shim that goes with the oil pump behind the chest. Something as simple as that could have fucked the whole engine.. I got lucky I found what it was, asked somebody far more knowledge than myself and ruined another gasket and quart of oil!

    I guess my point is, approach it with ears and eyes wide wide open. Ask for help, and buy a manual!! Good luck and I look forward to seeing what ya get!

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhysmort View Post
    I would buy any man/woman/beast a beer who can keep an ironhead on the roads for a long period of time. The things are money pits.
    just shy of 10 years here! With no one else that could work on it in less than a 350 mile distance! You owe me a beer

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugarcubes View Post
    just shy of 10 years here! With no one else that could work on it in less than a 350 mile distance! You owe me a beer
    I'll get you a few. One of my pals has an XLCH which is mint also. Keeps eating carb intakes though...! I admire the work as albeit engines are cheap, the work to maintain is a lot!! :]

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhysmort View Post
    I would buy any man/woman/beast a beer who can keep an ironhead on the roads for a long period of time. The things are money pits.
    Nope, and you would be broke as hell if you were around me...... I rode this bike off and on for 5 years before I sold it many years ago and did nothing but maintenance on it.... It's called knowing what your doing..........
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 65 sporty2.jpg   65 Sportster.jpg  
    Last edited by Tattooo; 04-01-2020 at 5:23 AM.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhysmort View Post
    I guess my point is, approach it with ears and eyes wide wide open. Ask for help, and buy a manual!!

    You left out a very important part............ Listen to what you are told and actually do what is asked of you...............

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tattooo View Post
    Nope, and you would be broke as hell if you were around me...... I rode this bike off and on for 5 years before I sold it many years ago and did nothing but maintenance on it.... It's called knowing what your doing..........
    Seriously good looking car in the background to boot!

  8. #28
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    Another Ironhead lover here. After a complete overhaul the '69 XLCH in my avatar took me all over this country. I rode the snot out of that bike for over 5 years before finally selling it to buy a '55 Panhead. Once that bike was overhauled it was also a reliable machine until the accident.

    The truth is, any motor over about 35 years old needs TLC. My current Panhead is an example, the bottom end was a total disaster when I brought it home and Jesse is just now getting the heads straightened out on it. However, once that is done I fully expect to get many years of trouble free riding out of it.

    When I look at an old bike I automatically add $5,000 to the price as I know a rebuild will fall into that price range. ( Unless you let Jesse start whispering in your ear....then the sky is the limit, lol)

  9. #29

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    The one thing I will say about going for an ironhead with no prior experience on old Harleys -its a massive learning experience and very rewarding once you get to know your way about the mechanics of the thing. Doing stuff like pushrod adjustments, timing tuneups, carb adjustments and servicing are all things you can apply to other old Harleys should you ever decide to get a different bike. Me personally, I mostly enjoyed the work I needed to do on mine and looked after it like a spoiled child haha

  10. #30
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    My advice is to get yourself a evo, better yet a big twin evo. They are all over the place for stupid cheap, they look super good as a chopper and will crush many many many miles for you. Cool is what you make of it. There are some seriously rad evo choppers out there for inspiration. I love my shovelhead and I would never sell it. But you have to know what you're getting into and be prepared to open that wallet up.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    I'm 100% willing to learn how to work on one, and spend the time with her in the garage.
    Good..

    I'm in your spot exactly. Just really wanted a shovel and jumped in and bought it. Zero Harley experience whatsoever. Just because they're cool.

    You WILL absolutely want to make sure the numbers match and you have a clean title. There are many bikes out there with issues in this area. One in particular I texted about on CL, the guy just answered "LOL!" when I asked if it had a title.. Funny, but not so funny if you bought a bike and can't ride it.

    You will want to avoid bikes that are project status. I bought a junk one and if you do that, the first thing you will find is you have to make an incredible investment in tools and parts to get any enjoyment out of it. I think a lot of people get in over their head here and end up with basketcases that they either can't afford to finish, or they lose motivation and move on. It is an expensive way to go. So, avoid it unless you're willing to step in and invest a lot time and money.

    You will want to invest in a shop manual and a parts catalog, because you either have to be handy with the tools or have a lot of money to repair it. Dealers don't even know what a shovelhead looks like now and even a bunch of the indys (at least in my area) either don't fool with them or want top dollar to even bother. So, plan on either paying for the work or learning to do it yourself.

    You will want a good working relationship with your local engine or machine shop, because Harleys aren't like cars. There's no "bolt together" anything. It all requires clearancing, honing, reaming, etc, etc, etc.. It isn't like a chevy short block you can basically just assemble in your garage. I really can't emphasize this point enough.

    You will want to familiarize yourself with wiring, diagrams, testing and repair techniques. It is amazing the number of people who get stuck because they don't understand the basics.

    If you have an indy close, it is worth while to spend some time and money there.. It will pay off when you have a question. This forum is a great and knowledgeable resource as well.

    Good luck, bro!


  12. #32

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    Yeah lots of great points. I think I should probably look for an older Evo, I'm thinking 1999 and before? There's a few around here under 4k. At least I've rearranged my plan in my head. My plan is that I should focus on getting an old bike to be able to ride on, and learn my regular maintenance, then going into fucking with shit, choppin er up. THEN I will consider a shovel. Thanks again guys for the feedback. I was hesitant to post online asking stupid questions but it's really helped already. Better than wasting money on a basket case. I'll return with my decision when the time comes, though it will probably be a while. My research continues

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    I was hesitant to post online asking stupid questions but it's really helped already.

    You asked a question that wasn't stupid and you asked it so it could be answered....

    You thought through it before you asked it....... And asked it so we didn't have to guess what you were asking...

    You did just fine.....
    Last edited by Tattooo; 04-02-2020 at 2:21 AM.

  14. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    Yeah lots of great points. I think I should probably look for an older Evo, I'm thinking 1999 and before? There's a few around here under 4k. At least I've rearranged my plan in my head. My plan is that I should focus on getting an old bike to be able to ride on, and learn my regular maintenance, then going into fucking with shit, choppin er up. THEN I will consider a shovel. Thanks again guys for the feedback. I was hesitant to post online asking stupid questions but it's really helped already. Better than wasting money on a basket case. I'll return with my decision when the time comes, though it will probably be a while. My research continues
    Interesting thread. Always good to hear that a younger person is interested in motorcycles and especially older machinery. For the sake of conversation, I'll throw in my $.02. Sorry it's a bit wordy..

    As a young, impressionable, new rider in the mid '70s, I was deeply under the spell of choppers and that black leather bible of all things outlaw, Easyriders. At roughly the same age as the OP, I bought my first brand new HD, a '78 Sportster. I rode it hard for a couple years but AMF reliability coupled with matrimony and a return to school meant the Sporty had to go.
    After a couple of Japanese bikes, I got my next HD, a 4 yr old ex-police bike, FLH Shovel. It showed me how truly evil (and dangerous) a worn out old Shovelhead could be to a mechanically and financially challenged rider. After 7 or so years, most of the time spent with the bike in pieces, it got sold off after a full frame up rebuild/restoration.

    Several years later, to finally scratch the chopper itch, I bought a wrecked 1980 FLH. Only the drivetrain and rear wheel were salvageble. It was resurected into a rigid, mostly handbuilt custom. It's been 20 years and I still have and ride it. But over the years I have been fortunate to have been able to afford a 2nd appliance bike for touring and generally worry free riding.

    So, to sum up and offer some things I've learned...

    Even the newest pristine HD Shovelhead model is at least 36 years old. So unless you get a unicorn, it will probably need to be rebuilt to be reliable.
    Maintenance and upgrade parts are fairly available but can be real dodgy quality if not USA (expensively) made.
    General maintenance is straightforward but it helps to have a good place to work, proper tools, lift etc.
    Vibration does break things.
    They shake like a chrome jackhammer. So, long miles will be taxing.
    They all leak. Some a bit, some a lot
    The electric start system is junk.
    They were antiques, even when new, based on decades-old designs.
    They are heavy and slow.
    But, they are classics and (to me) the coolest looking HD motor.

    The last brand new HD I purchased was a '97 Dyna Superglide. From 20 ft back it kind of looked like the 70's 4 speed frames, but was a rubber-mounted EVO with a 5 speed. I sold it after I built my shovel, but it was a good bike. In the last couple of years I've wished I kept it. I see lots of cool Dynas around.

    OP: If you've never owned a bike, but want something vintage to get into riding with, a mid-90's EVO Dyna may check off a few boxes. They are now over 20 years old. But still easily serviced and maintained. As others have said, get a running one, in fair shape with a clear title. Learn to ride, learn what ownership is all about and have fun. You'll figure out eventually if it's a Shovel you really want.
    Last edited by Hdshovelfan; 04-11-2020 at 10:44 AM.

  15. #35
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    ^^^ that was a good post

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatman View Post
    Ironhead sportsters might be cheaper in the initial buy in but can cost as much, sometimes, more than a shovel to repair and fix. Ironhead sporty or bigtwin evo, go evo 2 cents
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  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hdshovelfan View Post
    Interesting thread. Always good to hear that a younger person is interested in motorcycles and especially older machinery. For the sake of conversation, I'll throw in my $.02. Sorry it's a bit wordy..

    As a young, impressionable, new rider in the mid '70s, I was deeply under the spell of choppers and that black leather bible of all things outlaw, Easyriders. At roughly the same age as the OP, I bought my first brand new HD, a '78 Sportster. I rode it hard for a couple years but AMF reliability coupled with matrimony and a return to school meant the Sporty had to go.
    After a couple of Japanese bikes, I got my next HD, a 4 yr old ex-police bike, FLH Shovel. It showed me how truly evil (and dangerous) a worn out old Shovelhead could be to a mechanically and financially challenged rider. After 7 or so years, most of the time spent with the bike in pieces, it got sold off after a full frame up rebuild/restoration.

    Several years later, to finally scratch the chopper itch, I bought a wrecked 1980 FLH. Only the drivetrain and rear wheel were salvageble. It was resurected into a rigid, mostly handbuilt custom. It's been 20 years and I still have and ride it. But over the years I have been fortunate to have been able to afford a 2nd appliance bike for touring and generally worry free riding.

    So, to sum up and offer some things I've learned...

    Even the newest pristine HD Shovelhead model is at least 36 years old. So unless you get a unicorn, it will probably need to be rebuilt to be reliable.
    Maintenance and upgrade parts are fairly available but can be real dodgy quality if not USA (expensively) made.
    General maintenance is straightforward but it helps to have a good place to work, proper tools, lift etc.
    Vibration does break things.
    They shake like a chrome jackhammer. So, long miles will be taxing.
    They all leak. Some a bit, some a lot
    The electric start system is junk.
    They were antiques, even when new, based on decades-old designs.
    They are heavy and slow.
    But, they are classics and (to me) the coolest looking HD motor.

    The last brand new HD I purchased was a '97 Dyna Superglide. From 20 ft back it kind of looked like the 70's 4 speed frames, but was a rubber-mounted EVO with a 5 speed. I sold it after I built my shovel, but it was a good bike. In the last couple of years I've wished I kept it. I see lots of cool Dynas around.

    OP: If you've never owned a bike, but want something vintage to get into riding with, a mid-90's EVO Dyna may check off a few boxes. They are now over 20 years old. But still easily serviced and maintained. As others have said, get a running one, in fair shape with a clear title. Learn to ride, learn what ownership is all about and have fun. You'll figure out eventually if it's a Shovel you really want.
    Just saw your comment, appreciate your input. I will be taking yours and others advice to start with an Evo when I find the right deal. If im lucky down the road I hope to end up with an old shovel to tool on, but I need something to ride on until then.

  18. #38
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    You can also hyper rationalize yourself right out of a Harley.. I did it for years. Because, frankly? They're old junk.

    You'd be a lot better off with a metric. And you'd be a lot better off avoiding an inconvenient, unnecessary, inefficient mode of transport altogether, and should probably buy a Chevy Cobalt or something. You can play this out till you're digging through "Consumer Reports" to tell you what you need. Because nobody "needs" a special interest vehicle of any sort.

    But what do you want? That's the question.

    And when you temper that against your financial wherewithal, your desire and your mechanical ability? (And only you can do that) Then you're ready to choose what will make you happy!

    That is the real reason to own a special interest vehicle. Because it makes you happy.


  19. #39
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    Man, I have literally 6 Harleys. I can tell you the older stuff takes work. I love my shovel, but it wasn't my first bike, were I you, i would look at an early 2000's twin cam. You can bump them up to 95" for little money, the early ones came carbed, and they aren,t hard to work on. There are a lot of low mile dynas and softtails out there. Get a bike you can ride now, get some miles under you, and if you still want a shovel, save your pennies for a project to work on slowly so you can learn your machine. It will require much more maintenance than a newer evo or twin cam.

  20. #40
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    Evo

    Shovelheads require some type of overhaul in the off season and if you are lucky no major repairs during riding season (I live in Connecticut).

    For example. This winter I had to overhaul the 4 speed.

    Next winter the heads (well the rear head) needs new valve guides.

    Winter after that who knows. If you aren't doing something to them you either aint riding it or you are neglecting it.

    That's just how it goes with Shovelheads.

    A well cared for Evo... your off season projects will be doing cool shit... not fixing shit.

    And for the love of the motorcycle gods please do NOT even consider an Ironhead Sportster!
    Last edited by garystaven88; 3 Weeks Ago at 8:51 PM.

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