CHOP CULT HOME
Email Password
Search
  1. #1
    Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    46

    Default Absolute NOOB looking for opinions

    Alright being an absolute noob to wrenching but wanting something I can truly make mine own. I have a lead on a running and in decent shape 79 ironhead my other option would be to look at something in the 883 iron range of more recent years. I am leaning towards the ironhead but not sure what I will be getting into. Would value all opinions!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    1,955

    Default

    Five speed evo XL every time. Ironheads are old classics, but they are all OLD, and most were not treated kindly by the previous owners. I personally am fond of the ironheads, but I am a motorcycle mechanic, and even I would not choose one as a daily driver; maybe as a long‐term project, and I do mean looong.

    My 2c,
    Jim

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    2,157

    Default

    When buying an old Harley I've had a long standing philosophy to add $5k to the purchase price for a motor and/or tranny overhaul. Might not need it, I am still waiting on one of those projects, but better to have it and not just have an old bike sitting in the garage cause you can't finish it. Been there, done that!

    I loved my Sporty to death, it is my avatar pic, but for a first project, I would tend to follow JBs suggestions.

  4. #4
    Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    46

    Default

    Appreciate the feedback. Some additional context because you brought up a great point. This will NOT be a daily driver. looking for something to work on during the winter here in Ohio.

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    127

    Default

    If you read as many threads you can stand pertaining to Ironheads, on this and other boards, you will find that most bikes have been abused to the point of diminished returns. I too thought I wanted an Ironhead. They have a rich history and look cool as hell when done right. I started researching as much as I could only to be turned off by the "damaged beyond repair" posts by many a would be Ironhead hero. I think alot of it has to do with grenading the transmission and in turn destroying the engine cases. There goes the title if its prior to '71. Dont buy someone else's abortion.

    I picked up a running but abused '95 883 XL last year for $1700. Tons of spare parts available. Ridiculous amounts of new parts available. No matter what I find that may be mangled due to neglect or poor style choice by previous owner(s) I always have options. Im not much for conformity but if you follow in the footsteps of others who have made the mistakes and came out on top you cant go wrong.

    Look at top of this forum and you will see "Everything Sportsters". Good place to start.

  6. #6
    Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    46

    Default

    First I appreciate your feedback! Second I have been doing exactly what you said all day and at this point in time I am now looking for a 1995 or there abouts 883 before I even read your post! Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    2,157

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RepoJoe View Post
    ... during the winter here in Ohio.
    As a Chicagoan you have my condolences

  8. #8
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    104

    Default

    I have a 1980 Ironhead chop. The only reason I chopped it was because I picked it up as a basket case for $600. I wouldn’t even pay that much for one now. The problem is that they cost just as much to maintain/improve/chop/customize as a Big Twin but they’ll never be worth as much.

    I’d never buy a 1979. It’s an odd ball year and a lot of parts don’t interchange with other years.

  9. #9
    Sugarcubes
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RepoJoe View Post
    Alright being an absolute noob to wrenching but wanting something I can truly make mine own. I have a lead on a running and in decent shape 79 ironhead my other option would be to look at something in the 883 iron range of more recent years. I am leaning towards the ironhead but not sure what I will be getting into. Would value all opinions!
    I started with an 08 1200 sporty and sold it to buy a 79 ironhead many years ago. I knew what I was getting into in terms of the reliability issues and the need for regular upkeep but I wanted to learn my way around a bike. I kept that ironhead on the road for nearly 10 years and rode it everywhere. I read the owners manual back to front more times than I can remember and joined up to forums like XL forum and chopcult to get advice when I needed it.

    It was a good decision because I went from not being able to do a damn thing on my 08, to being able to rebuild the bike from the crankcase up on the 79. I made friends with guys in machine shops and I took the time to learn and work on my own stuff which made it feel extra special when I was out riding the bike.

    Yes there were the odd occasion something annoying would happen like a kicker ratchet gear failing, top end needing redone but wrenching was part of the experience owning it and I am happy that I got to learn so much from owning it.

    So long as you know you wont always have a turn-key and go scoot, dont be scared of the 79. Most Harleys are money pits, regardless of what you buy. Old stuff may have more wear and tear but people buy big twin Evos and then immediately learn that they should be replacing the main bearing with a torrington..oh and whilst in there may as well put a nice EV27 cam in there, oh and add adjustable lifters etc etc. Its always the same regardless. Also, these bikes from the 90s may have heavy duty motors and drive trains but they still have wear and tear and need maintenance. Replacement parts cost money no matter what the year.

    I built an evo chop out of a 1995 heritage and I ride the piss out of it every week and do all my own work. Its simple mechanically like the ironhead but with a 5 speed and a smoother power delivery its a nicer bike to take on long rides.
    Last edited by Sugarcubes; 08-16-2021 at 9:10 AM.

  10. #10
    Sugarcubes
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TomK View Post
    I’d never buy a 1979. It’s an odd ball year and a lot of parts don’t interchange with other years.
    Its really not. It was the start of the XLCR type frame which was actually an improvement over previous year stock frames. The chopper guys dont like them as much because its harder to get a nice straight backbone line when you hardtail them.

    They had a funky set of exhausts when new and the rear master cylinder was mounted in a different position to previous years which caused some difficulty in finding replacement pipes. However you could easily change the location and use an earlier year sprocket cover. Or make your own pipes.

    They were the first year sporty with electronic ignition which was iffy. However, I like most others swapped it out for points or a Dyna S.

    Other than that, there really isnt anything oddball about them and I never had a problem getting parts for mine

  11. #11
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    813

    Default

    thats the difference between a person that owns a harley and a motorcycle nut. one owns, the other lives.

  12. #12
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    1,069

    Default

    I love the ironhead. Plan on having to rebuild it.

    I learned a lot about this when I bought an 80 big twin.

    Even if you have a well equipped shop and you're familiar with engines and transmissions, you're going to have a minimum of thousands in special tools if you do the work yourself. Probably just as much if you farm it all out.

    Unless you have special access to someone who does this regularly? There's no cheap or easy way to rebuild an older harley and do it right.

    Doesn't mean it's a deal breaker, but you are going to need more capital to see it through or you will end up stuck in the middle with a forever project.

    OTOH, the evo sportster is supposed to be one of the most reliable bikes Harley ever made. But they're not an ironhead, right?

    Your call.

  13. #13
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    1,069

    Default

    PS: Something else about an older bike.. They're a blast and a joy to ride. They're a joy to look at in ways the bikes your pals bought aren't and never will be. But eventually you want to day trip it. Then three days..

    And there's always that in the back of your mind when you take something out on the road that nobody has parts for, and nobody works on.

    Harley won't even touch them..

    You are COMPLETELY on your own with your own skills and resources, or the local indy.. If you're lucky enough to even have one near you.

  14. #14
    Sugarcubes
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    I love the ironhead. Plan on having to rebuild it.

    I learned a lot about this when I bought an 80 big twin.

    Even if you have a well equipped shop and you're familiar with engines and transmissions, you're going to have a minimum of thousands in special tools if you do the work yourself. Probably just as much if you farm it all out.

    Unless you have special access to someone who does this regularly? There's no cheap or easy way to rebuild an older harley and do it right.
    The ironhead is still a basic bob bike in terms of mechanics. I was able to do probably 90% of the work on mine with a decent socket and wrench set. On the one occasion I needed a top end done, I sent the heads to a local shop who replaced the valves and cleaned em up for a couple hundred. The cylinders got honed for 50 a piece and I just bought replacement Vtwin cheapo pistons as I wasnt running a hopped up motor and it ran sweet as a nut.

    The odd tool I needed to buy for things like bearing removal etc, I was able to rent or borrow or make out of stuff from the hardware store. No need to buy an expensive clutch lockup tool when I could use the old chain adjuster shoe to lock it in place etc. Now if you are planning on truing flywheels and doing some more detailed intricate work then for sure the cost of tools is gonna go up but for just everyday maintenance and upkeep you wouldnt need a massive amount in my opinion.

  15. #15
    Senior Member

    Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

    Get Adobe Flash player


    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    1,069

    Default

    You did extremely well. Bravo to you.

    I had to rebuild the crank and then true it. Change bushings and ream them. Fit pistons. Lap rod journals. Torque things to hundreds of foot pounds. Balance. Change case inserts and lap them to fit and for alignment. There was a lot involved, but it needed all that.

    I had a thread with a spreadsheet breaking the costs down that went with the crash. I think it was a little under 2500 in special tools, and that was really winging it.

    The cost of old bikes..
    Last edited by confab; 08-16-2021 at 9:24 AM.

  16. #16
    Sugarcubes
    Guest

    Default

    having had to go through that recently with an 80" evo with a mangled left side case mainshaft bearing (previous owner appears to have wedged a screwdriver into it whilst trying to remove the mainshaft oil seal), I too know the pain and cost of having to go that far into a motor! Thankfully due to the basic design of the motor I was still able to strip the motor down to the flywheels and leave them in the left side of the case for the local shop to do the bearing replacement and tidy up before I put it all back together!

    I was lucky in that I never had to go that far into my ironhead but thankfully it shouldnt be something you would need to do often as part of regular upkeep.

Share This



Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Log in

Log in