You may need more than a rake change to get an xl to handle better than it already can. Realistically; you may want to look into purchasing a triple tree set that is adjustable for rake. They are expensive but it will give you a chance to experiment with different rake settings without having to take one guess at cutting and welding up the frame. There are other ways to change your front rake like installing longer/shorter rear shocks on the rear and/or lowering the front end by shorting up the front forks in the triple tree. As far as what rake setting will serve as the best depends on what you consider to be good handling.
Don't be so quick to cut. If you do what most people do... shorten the seat with a hoop that will cause you to have to lift the back with longer shocks to not bottom out on every bump then you eat in to that rake pretty quickly. Then the length of forks will cause a bit of change on the rake. Changing rake is easy to screw up. Do it last... if you absolutly have to.
I assume that you haven't done all that stuff yet because if you did you would come to us with an existing number for the rake and trail.
It never ceases to amaze me how little information these noobs post in tech questions with the expectation of it being answered. First off the sportster has been in production since the mid 1950s - that is a lot of models with a lot of different frame configurations. Second on average the rake on a stock sporty tends to be around 27 degrees...which isn't terrible for handling. Depending on the frame there are about 100 million different things that need to happen to those frames to get it to handle, but none of them involve changing the neck rake.
Buell spent decades making sportster handle and the rake used on his bikes? 27 degrees (at least according to a 2003 CW article about the then new XB9R). Harley makes a sportster that handles decently also in the XR1200.
I mean it just makes my head hurt to read this stuff because I just know in my heart of hearts at the other end of the keyboard is a noob with not the faintest idea what he is doing and is literally asking questions about shit he read and only half understood on the internet (including this site). Marc, if you want to give so little information your post should have read: "Hi I have a XX year sporty (insert model here) and I want to make it go around a corner. How?"
I think the later ones had 21 degrees rake and HD let those into production. Still it isn't all rake, it is rake plus trail, plus swingarm pivot location, plus center of gravity.....etc...in other words you are messing with forces you cannot comprehend.
Thanks for all the responses. As stated I'm completely new to the rebuild world, so all the responses are appreciated. I think Geeto67's comment is correct re: model AND year of the sportster and the focus on way to better cornering. So I will put this as a new thread.
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