modifying 03 XLH 2003 Sportster 1200 for handling with corners
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modifying 03 XLH 2003 Sportster 1200 for handling with corners

This is a discussion on modifying 03 XLH 2003 Sportster 1200 for handling with corners within the Technical forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hey there, this is the follow up question re: modifying a 2003 XLH Sportster 1200. I'm going to do a cafe style rebuild and would ...

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  1. #1
    Junior Member Marc A.'s Avatar
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    modifying 03 XLH 2003 Sportster 1200 for handling with corners

    Hey there,

    this is the follow up question re: modifying a 2003 XLH Sportster 1200. I'm going to do a cafe style rebuild and would like to improve the handling in twisties. Any comments, or tips?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?

    nobody is going to do your homework for you sonny.

    There is no such thing as a cafe "style". YOu are either building a performance based street racer or you aren't.

    Look here:
    SXR Street Tracker - Phil Little Racing ~ Vintage Racing Motorcycle and Snowmobile Parts

    before you get all uppity about how you don't want a tracker or don't like the look or whatever just have a look at the brochure. I mean there are many ways you can go on this but I am guessing you are going to try and be as cheap as possible. So here is my advice, start with the suspension. 15" shocks in the rear to jack it up is a good place to start. There is some buell interchangibility so if you want better stuff like a buell front end that is up to you to research. If you want to start small shocks, a fork brace, and some better fork springs are a good place to start. Also the 19" rear wheel conversion is pretty neat, or you can put an 18" on the front.

    here is another site with sportster performance parts:
    STORZ PERFORMANCE MOTORCYCLE ACCESSORIES

    again, look at what guys are doing and try to figure out why - this will lead you to think about how a motorcycle works and then to ask better questions that can better be answered.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
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    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
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  3. #3
    Senior Member dirkchecken's Avatar
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    storz.. go with this. one good lookin machine..Attachment 1609
    I like my shocks like I like my women. Cheap and Chinese.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member bmartin's Avatar
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    To be fair - even the newer XL's don't handle that well. I had an opportunity to watch a TV race of just XL's and I have to say the boyz were all over the track. Mind you these bike were race prepared types and not your normal street trackers. If you have the wallet - Storz can sell you some nice parts to help your bike along. As one man once said - you can dress up a pig, but it's still a pig.
    Bob - Palmyra NY
    2 - 69 CB750, 1 Turbo
    1 - 71 CB750

  6. #5
    Senior Member crazypj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?
    I was always convinced that was a miss-quote, should have been
    'Speed costs money, how fast can you afford to go'
    I've always said, it IS possible to chrome plate a turd (then you can pick it up by the 'clean' end)
    I dabble in rocket science, when I\'m not picking my nose
    The other night I gave my girlfriend an orgasm, but, she spat it back at me

    'you can take my word for it or argue until you find out I'm right'

  7. #6
    Senior Member kenessex's Avatar
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    I would be concerned that the frame is the final weak link in this bike. I would replace the rear shocks with some that will raise the rear a bit. I would replace the entire front end with one from a Buell XB series. I would also replace the rear wheeel and swingarm with ones from a Buell XB. All of those parts should be available somewhat cheaply on E-bay. I suspect at this point the frame will flex at the steering head and swingarm pivot.
    WERA 119
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    \"Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.\"
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  8. #7
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    At which point it probably would have been cheaper to buy a tube frame buell
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  9. #8
    Senior Member Acemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    There is no such thing as a cafe "style".
    Sure there is. You've seen my bike. Is it "performance" or merely "style"? Wait... don't answer because I already know your thoughts on it. I can buy a fiberglass body for a VW Beetle that looks (kinda) like a GT40, which makes it a sports car "style" vehicle but it sure ain't no GT40.

    Regardless, if Marc wants a true cafe racer from a Sportster it's going to take a lot of work, but it really depends on how it will measure against other bikes. In the last five months I've ridden pretty much every bike HD has made in the last 10 years. Aside from the XR1200, most of them wallow like tugboats. The Sportsters are my personal favorites but they still have big limitations. I rode a customer's 1200 fitted with clipons, a great pipe, a single seat and a small fairing. It looked good but the stock pegs made for an uncomfortable riding position, plus they dragged in fairly shallow turns. The stock brakes are OK. The forks compress too quickly. The shocks are soft. The steering itself felt fairly neutral so I'm not sure if I would change rake/trail much, although raising the fork tubes up the triple clamps would allow easy adjustments.

    So, back to how it will be measured. A modified Sportster will out-perform stock Sportsters but sure won't beat all-out, focused road racers. If Marc's goal is to have a better XL1200 than his friends, it can be done but will take some time and money. If he wants it to just look better, it'll cost a lot less because style-only isn't substance.

    Marc: Geeto wrote "If you want to start small shocks, a fork brace, and some better fork springs are a good place to start." That's damned good advice. Follow it.
    Last edited by Acemon; 02-13-2013 at 10:57 PM.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Have you ever seen those old fiberfab gt40 beetle kits. You have to squint pretty hard and be myopic to mistake one for a gt40. Plus you can actually make a beetle handle. But nobody will say its sports car style - they will just call you a poseur and tell you you wasted your money. Surprisingly a halfway decent "sports car" can be built out of a beetle pan when you aren't trying hard to make it look like something else. For example see the sterling kit cars and the manta kit cars. Both of which usually only use the pan and repower it too. And then we are back in the territory of George Washington's ax.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  11. #10
    Senior Member Acemon's Avatar
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    The Kelmark bodies weren't much better and you're right about having to squint. The Manta Montage kits were very nice but if I had $70-80k I'd go for a true GT40 reproduction. Saw one in Chicago two months ago - what a beauty. There are a couple of kits that use a stretched Fiero with a Northstar V8 but there's nothing like the real McCoy.

    I took one of our Sportsters out for a semi-authorized ride today. It actually handled OK but I scraped the pegs far too easily. I think the best combo is buy an 883, then upgrade with a 1200 kit because the gearbox ratio gives it a little better kick off the line

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