Harley-Davidsontm XLTtm
This site is dedicated to the 1977 Harley-Davidson XLT - The Touring Sportster, sometimes called a "Baby Dresser."  It is apparently one of the rarest modern Harley-Davidson models, with only 1,099 having been built in one year of production.  The pictured bikes are the three of four examples known to exist in their original configuration.  The latest sent us by Galen Bliss in November 2007.

The origins and the official history of this model are lost.  Harley Davidson occasionally produced a touring Sportster into the 70s, although none apparently carried a unique model designation like the XLT.  These earlier tourers were reportedly special orders from the factory, as was the XLT.  According to Tom Bolfert, Harley-Davidson company archivist, "The 1977 XLT was not a standard production model.  Consequently, we have virtually no information on it.  It does not appear in the literature or even on the retail price list."  Oddly, we recently discovered a sales handout for the overseas market.

The differences between the XLT and its sister models included a larger fuel tank (originally from Harley's Sprint 350 model), a larger, more-padded saddle, touring handlebars, and a higher geared final drive. Windshield and saddlebags were standard equipment.  The brochure mentions such features as a calibrated carburator, scavenging 2-into-1 exhaust system, and 3-way adjustable shocks.

According to the dealer at time of purchase, mine was originally used by the factory as a police demonstrator.  It was painted Birch White, had no tank decals, and carried a luggage rack in addition to the stock saddlebags.  Later it was released for sale to Suburban Motors, Grafton, Wisconsin, where I bought it in December, 1978 - hastily repainted Chevy Chevelle green. (See H-D's latest
Sportster-based police bike .)  One XLT is known to have been put in law enforcement service, having been demo-ed by the Pittsburgh PD and later purchased by the Upper St. Claire (PA) PD.  It saw service into the 1980s..

We know that many of these bikes were stripped of their bags and windshield by dealers, and sold as Sportsters at deep discount prices.  It appears, given that all the known ride review articles come from the European press, that the XLT may have also been targeted to the overseas market.  While Harley Davidson's own archives are bare, the only known sales brochure was published by the company's international sales organization - which, I believe was separate from the American firm - essentially a resale agent.

One of the few contemporary descriptions of the bike found so far is an article in Motor Cycle Mechanic, a British magazine, dated June 1977.  It concludes,  "In terms of performance alone the XLT could never be worth two and a quarter thousand pounds (about $4,500), and yet this living legend has an indefinable magic that no other bike possesses."  (BTW, a 1977 Honda Goldwing sold for 1600 pounds, about $3,200.)

Thanks to Terry Blair, we also have a May 1977 Road Rider magazine ride review of the XLT.  (See link  below.)  It reads like most Harley reviews of the time - looking for something nice to say, often damning with faint praise.  From experience, most of the observations ring true.  Unlike today's riders, those of even a few years ago needed to have some facility with hand tools for regular owner maintenance, if not roadside service.  NOBODY took their machines to dealers for oil changes and chain adjustments!  When it broke, you fixed it.

There is also a review from the June 1977 Motor Cycle Mechanic, another Brit enthusiast magazine.  (See link below.)

Restoration parts were available after searching.  The most difficult to find were H-D authentic Compact Windshield parts.  These clear plastic parts have largely yellowed and become brittle over the years.  Several dealers, notably Doug's H-D (Florence, SC), Zepka H-D (Johnstown, PA), and Lancaster H-D (Willow Street, PA), proved helpful.  Other suppliers who helped me: J&P Cycles, Iron Eagle, and MotorcycleUSA.com.  E-bay proved a fair source of odd parts - and this model carries a few.

The XLT Owners Group is dedicated to preserving these H-D rarities, giving owners a chance to meet and exchange information. If interested in  joining, please contact me through the e-mail account below.  There are no dues or other charges involved.

- Brian Boettcher

BTW:  The first question I am often asked is "What's it worth?".  I don't know.  I have been told anywhere from $6000 on up.  I've not seen a complete XLT sold anywhere - not e-bay, or any of the auction houses.  I have seen earlier "Baby Dressers" offered for as much as $15,000.  Indeed, these are rare in any XL year model.
(Last Updated: 11/07)
Terry and Brian meet in Waukesha, WI, during the Harley-Davidson 100th  riding the only two streetworthy XLTs known to exist at the time in original touring configuration.
Brian's '77 XLT, box stock except for the shocks and tires.
Terry's restored XLT - Featured in
August 2005 
American Iron Magazine!
Brian about to leave for Milwaukee. His XLT completed the 1,947 mile round-trip from Maryland to the Harley 100th Anniversary Celebration.
Click Here To Contact 1977 XLT Owners Group
1977 XLT Specifications:

45 Degree V-Twin OHV
997.5 cc/60.9 c.i.
Compression Ratio:
:  61 bhp at 6200 rpm
: Single 38mm Keihin 

Mechanical Points and   

Fuel Capacity:
3.5 gal.
Oil Tank Capacity
: 5.8 pints
Electric Starter only

: Four-speed gearbox,   
                            Chain final drive
Gear Ratios:1st: 10.63; 2nd: 7.70;
                       3rd: 5.87; 4th: 4.22

: 58.5 inches
: 87.3 inches
eight: 578 lbs. (w/fluids)
61 degrees
: 4.53 inches
(Front) 11.5 inch single disc
                 (Rear) 8.0 inch drum

: (Front) 3.75 x 19 Yokohama
                         with Tube
           (Rear)  4.25 x 18 Yokohama
                         with Tube

Standing Quarter Mile
: 14.2 seconds
                                           at 92 mph

Top Speed
: 110 mph claimed.
Click above to see a RARE copy of an XLT sales brochure - Even Harley doesn't have one of these!
A New Find: What a beautiful piece! Owned by:
Galen Bliss, Bellingham, WA
Useful Links:
Sporty Specialties, Inc.
Established in 1993 to provide the Harley-Davidson® Sportster® owner the best source for new (N.O.S.), used, and reproduction after market parts.
$tealers and Dealer$
Want to get the low-down on your local dealer, including pricing, service quality, or whatever? This site has a listing for nearly every dealer, and indie shops nationwide.
Click above to read original '77 XLT Road Rider review.
If you're a Sportster enthusiast, this is your site.
Offers information on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a huge community of owners, classifieds, owner galleries, how-to articles, product reviews, guides, links, and more.
The Red Bagger's Big Bike Roadhouse
Click above to read re-print of American Iron Magazine August 2005 article featuring Terry Brown's XLT.
Brian's blog site where we talk baggers, touring and easy ridin'.  Bring enough beer for everyone!
Click above to read a 1999 letter from the XL Products Team, and a letter from Tom Bolfert, Archivist Click above to see Motor Cycle Mechanic XLT Ride Review, June 1977
This site is totally unassociated with Harley Davidson Motor Company.  Use of any trademarks or references to any trademarked or proprietary stuff is for entertainment and informational purposes only.  Links above are for convenience, and not an endorsement.  This notice is so some overzealous company legal beagle doesn't sue!  All trademarks remain the  property of the Harley Davidson Motor Company, or their other legit owners.
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