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  1. #1
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    Default Question about frames and titling

    Hey guys. I have what is titled as a 1979 sportster. I bought this thing pushing 27 years ago when I knew little about harleys. Afterwards, life happened (kids, divorce, etc.). Anyway, fast forward to today. I decided to go through the topend and get it back on the road. After really looking into it, I found some things that bother me about it. The vin on the neck looks right. It is in the right place and the right weird ass font that harley used. The problem I have is that everything else about the frame looks pre 1970. I am thinking a previous owner chopped off the neck (and maybe the backbone) and attached it to a pre vin frame. When I bought it, it came from one state over from where I live so it had to go through the state vin inspection to transfer the title. What type of shitstorm am I looking at here? Is this legal? Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I think you are golden if you have a title that matches the frame number. I doubt anyone will look at it as closely as you yourself. Of course it varies state to state, but really the authorities don't care about old motorcycles.

    Jim

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Jim.

  4. #4

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    JB: I have to disagree with you on auth dont care about older bikes. Built a custom bike in 96 in Aberdeen NC. State Troopers there inspected it prior to issuing a number/title

    Detectives actually used a knife to scrape the brand new paint job off the frame to look for covered numbers and welded up neck. It REALLY pissed me off. I had every build reciept, MSO, etc

    But like it was said, if you have a title already, its pretty much legal
    It all depends on the personality of the inspector. Having 3 bikes stolen over the last 40 years, thats what you have to deal with, but it sucks at times to the honest builder

  5. #5
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    Depends on your state. If the numbers themselves and the neck are correct the odds of a cop knowing the rest of the frame dimensions (which one is free to change i.e. hardtail kits) are modest.

    Not many Ironhead owners take them cross country for obvious reasons (there's no reason to suffer that much) so if in doubt keep it local. An annual or safety inspection on an old runner is different than inspecting a custom built motorcycle. Does everything look perfectly natural on the bike to an untrained or moderately informed eye?

    You should ALWAYS mention your state (nobody else's state matters except Florida where they look to bust folks because idiots proved that pays off) so someone from there can weigh in, but a glance at the MO website says it's a "safety" inspection prior to registration and you have an old title. (BTW check to ensure your title is still recorded in the DMV system in case you lose it because some states purge titles and/or lose them.)

    The custom build hassle is why I just buy titled frames since the cost is trivial next to the value of the project.

    Tip for dealing with authority is to look like them and speak like them or better. That can get you a long way in many places. Life should not be like that but nobody who matters gives a fuck so I live in reality. Little touches like grooming and what you wear when dealing with people get them to subconsciously empathize with you. I even speak differently depending on my audience. If you're the "easy" customer they can get on with their day.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info, guys. It will definately be an in town local scoot. It still looks like a sportster. Shit, I've owned it for 25+ years and didnt give it a second thought. It wasnt until I started reviving it after a long hiatus that I started noticing things.

    In particular, everybody calls the 79s the bastard year where other year parts dont fit. In reality, the rear master cylinder and the corresponding different rear exhaust are the only 1 year issues (maybe more that I dont know). Mine has forwards, which I assumed was to deal with the oddball read master cylinder. Therefore, it has a set of normal ironhead drag pipes.

    It also has a kickstart add on. Pulled the sprocket cover off. Inside, the cover is marked "universal cycle". Clearly, an aftermarket add on.

    I started getting more curious about what else was "added on". Opened a can of worms there, lol! Cant really explain all the things I found. Suffice it to say, about all of the frame and suspension that I can say is likely 79 is the neck, maybe the backbone, rear swingarm (to keep the rear disc), and the dual disc frontend. The rest is way different.

    Rear shocks attach to the saddle support casting. Bottom of right side saddle casting gusset is cat with the code L8, which I believe means it was made in dec of 68. For 25 years I have had no issues with this bike at all. In the last couple weeks I have learned enough to make me uncomfortable. Needed to talk to people that knew much more than me.
    Last edited by StuJ66; 12-02-2020 at 11:28 AM. Reason: Paragraphs, aren't they great!

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