Bolt On Hardtail Conversion
Life's a bitch... Thank God there's Harleys...
Last week L&T took delivery of the bolt on hardtail. This subframe simply bolts on to the back of our pre-1973 Sportster's factory frame, providing for an easy hardtail conversion. Although a bolt-on or weld-on hardtail conversion, is not an absolute necessity for creating a bobber, a hardtail does reinforce an oldschool bobber retro look.
L&T's bolt on subframe is made by Custom Chrome, part number 08892, for Harley Sportster frames from 1957 thru 1978. This bolt on hardtail simple connects to the XL frame by a couple of sturdy bolts and requires no more than a proper spanner.
Custom Chrome also carry a weld on subframe, part number 08889, for the same XL Sportster frames. The weld on hardtail requires quite a bit of cutting and grinding to the XL frame to make it fit, and of course you need a qualified welder to make the proper and safe connection between the XL frame and the subframe.
Have a Nice HD !
L&T's subframe was provided by Freek of "Have a Nice HD" Harley Service in Tilburg, the Netherlands, one of the supporters of L&T's Ironhead Oldschool Bobber project. Freek gave us a warm welcome in his great little repair shop. The first thing that struck us was the order and tidiness of the shop, with all facilities available to build great custom bikes and make quality repairs.
Harley Service Tilburg also do mail order service throughout Europe, by phone or fax, and through the "Have a Nice HD" webshop. Check it out. And if in doubt whether you're ordering the right kit, just give Freek a call at +31 (0)13 468 7250. He will assist you in making the right choice.
Harley Sportster Frame Variations
As far as we are aware, there are 4 types of Ironhead Sportster frames:
- From 1957 until 1972, the Sportster frame was constructed from steel tubulars connected through cast steel nodes.
- The rear shock absorber connects to the swing arm about halfway between the rear axle and the pivot point on the frame.
- See for example the steel casting underneath the saddle position on our Harley XLH Sportster Frame Details webpage.
- From 1973 until 1978, the Sportster frame was constructed from steel tubulars connected through forged steel nodes.
- The rear shock absorber still connects to the swing arm about halfway between the pivot point and the rear axle, like on the Sportster frames of previous years.
- See for example Affe's 1974 XLH Sportster Frame Details and Steve's 1974 Harley XL Sportster Frame.
- From 1979 until 1981, the Ironhead Sportster frame was constructed from welded steel tubulars.
- The rear shock absorber now connects to the swing arm at a point very close to the rear axle.
- See for example: 1980 Ironhead Ratrod Bobber.
- From 1982 until 1986, the Ironhead Sportster frame was still constructed from welded steel tubulars, but with modifications,
particularly to the tubulars underneath the saddle.
- The rear shock absorber connects to the swing arm at a point very close to the rear axle.
- See for example: Robert's 1983 XLH Ironhead 1000.
Although the license paper says we've got a 1973 XLH, our Sportster frame is definitely a type 1A, i.e. with the cast steel connection node below the saddle position. It probably took a couple of months between the motorcycle leaving the Milwaukee factory and the date of sale to the first owner.
Our Bolt-on Hardtail Subframe
Here we have temporarily hung the subframe on to the Sportster frame to see how it fits. To get a more even flow of the upper tubular of the original Sportster frame into the upper tubulars of the subframe we will grind off the rear fender strut attachments behind the point where the shock absorber used to be attached.
Klick here to view the Sportster frame modifications that we made to accommodate the hardtail subframe.