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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default 1981 Harley xlh kick start question

    1981 Harley Davidson xlh 1000 electric start only, is there any way to put t kick start on this bike ?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2018


    No, the case was redesigned in '80 or '81, eliminating the features that allowed installation of a kicker. '79 or maybe early '80 were the last cases that had the bosses for the kick shaft.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2010


    79 was the last year for kickers ...

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2013


    Good news if you're having starting problems is the 1981 Ironheads have the quality Denso-style starters.

    However the original starters were the early versions of the OSGR and later (direct swap) is better. If it's giving starter problems I'd inspect everything, replace the starter motor or at least the solenoid contacts (inspect those by removing the solenoid end cover) which are about 20 bucks, power cable, ground cable, relay etc since 1981 was a very long time ago and none of those parts age well. The starter replacement requires pulling the primary cover to access the large Allen bolts. so you'll need a gasket kit for that. The early OSGRs (now out of production because the upgrades are the fix) don't have aftermarket pushbutton solenoid end covers available. Those buttons are an extremely good idea.

    Solenoid contacts can sometimes be replaced on the bike if you can get the cable nut free but most of them corrode in place. If so I slice 'em off with a cutting disc. They are a standard cause of starting problems since HD starter motors lead hard lives.

    If I had to choose I'd much rather have the Denso than a kicker. HD starter systems are very simple and the formula I use for ancient electrics is simple, replace them before they fail. ("Time change" maintenance is why aircraft don't fly until failure.)

    Photo for reference only (these starters are nothing special and made by the same few companies)

    This is worth owning (I have the Kindle version, which if you want a .pdf you can rip using Calibre which is free) for every Ironhead enthusaist.

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