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  1. #1

    Default Best year for an evo chop build?

    Hey everyone, just wondering if theres a certain "special" year evo thats good for chopping I should look out for. In my area theres quite a few sportsters but most are out of my price/year range im looking for. There's a 91 1200 I believe and a 03 883, both belt drive and set up with bags/ highway pegs/ "live to ride stuff" all that. I'm just wondering if I should wait and which I might have to do until this virus stuff is over with anyway, or go for one of the two, or hold out for something better to come onto the market. Planning on doing a full on 70s style hardtail. Fork extensions, small frisco tank with a wild design, the works. Just wanting some opinions thanks!

  2. #2

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    If you are talking about evo XLs, you want to steer clear of the four speed ones. And in '04 they started rubber mounting the motor, and they got bigger and heavier.

    Jim

  3. #3

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    Yeah, I knew about the 4speeds and I've read a little bit about them, and the rubber mount years too. So out of the 91-03 models is there any weird years like the 79 Ironheads I should avoid, or any certain year thats the best for part availability or just in general?

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    I am curious about this too, hopefully a guru will show up here shortly.

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    Of the five speed, solid mount XLs, '91 - '03, there isn't much difference. The frame was changed in '94 to eliminate the droopy rear fender struts.The primary cover was also changed in '94. In evos, especially the big twins, the newer the better. HD really did improve them over time. For an XL to chop up, any of the five speeds will serve.

    Jim

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    2018 Thread: Best years for Sportsters drive train
    View Poll Results: Which year of Sportsters
    http://www.chopcult.com/forum/showthread.php?t=52134

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    Of the five speed, solid mount XLs, '91 - '03, there isn't much difference. The frame was changed in '94 to eliminate the droopy rear fender struts.The primary cover was also changed in '94. In evos, especially the big twins, the newer the better. HD really did improve them over time. For an XL to chop up, any of the five speeds will serve.

    Jim

    I see what you're saying about the droopy struts and primary cover, since its gonna be hardtailed and switched around none of that matters anyway. Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for the newest pre 03 1200xl I can find then.

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    Not a guru, but the 03's are pretty bullet proof, if you think about it that was the last of the rigid mounts and by that time Harley had worked out most of the bugs, and there is a ton of aftermarket stuff.

  9. #9

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    A lot of people say the 4 speeds are bad etc blah blah. If you can find a killer deal on a nice clean 4 speed I’d take that over a beat up chromed out 5 speed. I got my 87 for $900 it wasn’t perfect but I finished the build recently and it’s solid. On top of that it comes chain driven so that saves you some time and money on that aspect. The biggest problem the 4 speeds have is the stator. Just my .02 I’d rather be Into a 4 speed I’m going to rebuild for $900 than be into a 5 speed for $2500 that I’m going to rebuild. But to answer your question. From 86-03 the evo Sporty’s all have pretty much the same frame aside from the kick stand. So if I ever feel like I want a 5 speed the motor will bolt right in.

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    Ive owned 2 4 speeds. Loved both very much. But have also owned 4 5 speeds and those are the ones to get. My preference is 91-95 (I own a 95 currently) mostly because they did change some internal parts on their transmissions in 96 and some of the shifter dogs were wearing prematurely and would cause some expensive repairs and issues with slipping out of gear. This wasn’t a high number of bikes with this, but documented on forums for sure. I owned a 2001 with this issue, but traded it for a shovelhead so I didn’t own it that long. My gf has a 97, hers is rock solid and gives her zero issues (I’ve recently posted it in the NorCal bike thread, black tank with flames and shotgun pipes). So there’s plenty of good ones, I just have my own preference.

    2000+ came equipped with much better brakes front and rear which are easily adaptable to a chop. I ran just the stock 4 piston rear brake on my 02 chop and it worked great. This brake upgrade also changed the wheel spacing too so pre 2000 wheels and front ends aren’t bolt on compatible with 2000+. Easy to address but technically not the same.

    I lucked out with my 95, I got it nearly stock and in immaculate condition with 3k miles on it. It was stored in a garage and always maintained. That’s what I look for first because the condition of the bike, to me really plays a part in the happiness of the final product you end up with. If that bike was a 96+, I probably still would have looked at it so I rarely rule out bikes of any year from 96-01 but I tend to look at bikes first in the earlier years.

    Haven’t decided if I’m gonna chop this one but if I do, I have one of the nicest ones I’ve ever started with as a base. I tend to always modify them to some degree. For now I did a few upgrades and it’s nice just as a stock bike.
    Last edited by brooklynbomber; 04-25-2020 at 12:53 PM.

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    You can swap primary covers to the later version to for much easier clutch cable swaps.

    When you have bike down replace the starter motor solenoid contacts since pulling the starter motor is a primary cover pull because of the two socket head bolts holding the starter.

    It's a strong arrangement but next one of mine I tear down may get studs and nuts or threaded inserts for hardware installation from the starter side because buying a primary cover gasket kit offends me swaps would be as fast as a typical car starter. Of course I thought of that AFTER my last install (doh!).

    I suggest making a folder on your PC and collecting info like all the (factory) parts books and service manuals you can find to download even if they don't match your yeat so you have them for interchange info. Start life with a system and wrenching goes so much easier. When I was a lad everyone focused on the bikes and ignored systematic information gathering. They also didn't focus on shop equipment as a system of systems.

    It's a buyers market so don't be shy about offering lower than ask. I bring cash because people hate turning down dead Presidents. The economy is fucked and it's not 2019 any more. It's not even 2008, and business is business.

    On a topical note, my mentor couldn't bear then became too cognitively impaired to sell his hoard of vintage British and Jap bikes ("sand cast" CB 750 etc) and XLCR. He held onto them but only took care of his Vincent and Commando while the rest just sat for decades under blankets. He died and while the widow got a good price for the Vincent and a couple of the others, the rest went for peanuts because they were neglected and now need re-restoration. Most of the potential buyers are also too old to do anything with more bikes than they already have (the vintage British community make the vintage Harley community look like teenagers) and a lot of hoards will be flushed in the next few years. They're (mostly) done appreciating because appreciation requires buyers who want those particular toys.

    Younger buyers will get them and the hobby will thrive but this is the time for younger bikers to go on the hunt. Old bikers who stopped riding will be gone soon and their estate sales will often be epic plus the flood of old buyers with money is drying up. The pre-2008 HD and clone chopper boom dumped a lot of chopper bait onto the market when the recession hit and now this recession will finish the job. This is AWESOME for bikers who buy to ride! Just as their predecessors bought their scoots from old bikers a fresh wave of scoots will move onto the market. The owners pretend they're saving for retirement but they're really just hoarding or they would have cashed out. Now far less cash is available.

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    Hammer performance told me 96s are notorious for pulled cylinder studs. “Possibly over torqued from the factory “. Though Ive had a 96 for years and had no issues. Heads come off ever couple years for valve stem seals.

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    Interesting. If they pull they can be repaired by inserts. Odd that valve seals only last a few years though. I'd try different brands as they should be good to around 80K miles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    Interesting. If they pull they can be repaired by inserts. Odd that valve seals only last a few years though. I'd try different brands as they should be good to around 80K miles.
    Guess the top hat seals are problematic. They are xb12 heads set up by NRHS with their valves and seals. I can tell when the stem seals are going as they will let oil sneak by n get a smoke screen on fire up. Last time I did them I Ported n polished and shaved the head to bring the comp ratio up also(10.7:1). This set of valve seals seams to be lasting longer. So far 25-30,000 miles on them...

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