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A brief history of the XR-750:


In 1970 the XR-750, a Sportster based motorcycle was created by Harley-Davidson for Class C racing, according to AMA rules of the time.  The 1970 Iron XR was the first year of production.  There were close to 200 of these “Iron” XR’s made to meet the AMA’s racing criteria.  The HD race department found out shortly after a few races that the frames needed modifying.  The steel top end of the motor was heavy, extremely hot and locking up due to the heat.  When HD realized the Iron XR just wasn’t competition worthy, they disassembled and destroyed about 80% of them.  They cut the frames in half and thru them in the dumpster.  (I have seen one of the frames that had been cut in half).  When the Iron XR was abandoned a lot of the guys turned them into street bikes because it was almost a sportster motor. 


In 1972 a new, aluminum alloy XR-750 is introduced.  It is more powerful and more reliable than the earlier 1970 “Iron” model. 


There were a total of 520 XR-750’s produced approximately 200 in the second year.  Your’s is one of the 200.


A service bulletin came out from the factory early in 1972 that the XR needed oil for the flywheels.  Most motors were then cut for a sump body. 


XR-750’s are a rocket ship without brakes, 100 HP, 295 lbs., sleek and stylish.  The designer of the tank and tail, whom I am still in contact with, agrees this bike is extremely popular around the world.  I have people call me up just to talk about them and others that can’t afford them just want to buy a sales brochure. 


The first one we restored went to a museum owned by the owner of the LA Times.  It is still there.  Your XR was originally sold to a gentleman in Florida who put it in his office for display.  It has never been started.  He then purchased the XR-1000 which you currently own to have next to it in his office. 


This bike is correct and original in every way, right up to the non-glossy original gel coat tank and tail.  This is exactly how the gel-coat looked when taken right out of the box from the factory.  


Every XR is rare, but a stock XR is the rarest. 


The last production year was 1980.  In between this they made 1974/75 and 1977’s.  They only made a total of 76 bikes in 1977. 


The 1980 is a refined sleek looking, XR.  The reason HD stopped producing a complete bike in 1980 is because the racers would pull the motor, roll the chassis into a corner or throw it away, and then put the motor into a complete aftermarket racing chassis. 


In 1980 to 1988 Harley only sold the motor.  By 1985 most of the other XR parts were considered obsolete and no longer available. 


In 1988 Harley stopped assembling the motors for sale because the racers would tear the completed motors apart and rebuild it their way.   Then they stopped porting the heads because no one wanted Harley’s porting.  The motor was just sold in kit form as parts from that point on.


Most of the XR-750’s are in museums, collections or are being vintage raced.  A good many of the XR’s ended up in junk piles by the hill-climbers.  Racers of all types from 1972 to present have and still value the XR motor for racing. 


I have bought several motors that came to us as basket cases.  Many of the motors were completely blown apart in six to eight pieces that I have since had repaired.   The hill-climb riders forget to turn off the nitro fuel and drain it before restarting for the next climb.  What happens then is the motor explodes when fired and blows off the rocker boxes, cylinders, heads and cases sometimes while the guy is sitting on it. 


The motor virtually unchanged with the exception of porting, bearings and a standard 40 over bore, is still being raced at the time of this letter.  Externally viewed it is the same as it was in 1972 and a new motor will still bolt to a 1970 frame. 


By the mid-1970s, Harley-Davidson was the leader in the AMA Grand National Series.  The XR750 based racer would go on to become the commanding dirt track motorcycle in the history of the series.  Mark Brelsford won the Grand National Championship in 1972 on the XR-750.  Scott Parker, a friend of mine, won the Grand National Championship on an XR-750 nine times.  Evel Knievel used a 1972 XR-750 motor in a 1970 chassis for his famous jumps. 




A brief history of the XR-750TT:


There were 10 original factory XRTT’s made.  They were raced for several years and then interest went away on them.  At that time, they were just a road race bike that the factory put out.  These were not really considered a production racer.  The 10 factory riders used them just as they would any other race bike.  The H-D race department would build and tune their bikes. 


There were quite a few other XRTT frames that became available to privateers.  These came in the form of a kit; frame, wheels, forks, glass, everything but the motor.


Back in the 1970’s racers would compete on a TT course, dirt track course and a road race course.  Riders that wanted a lot of points would compete on the road race circuit when they weren’t dirt tracking.  This meant they had to take the TT rolling chassis along with their dirt track bikes.  They would pull the dirt track motor, refine the gearing and put the motor in the road race chassis.  Few were lucky enough to have a spare motor to put in their TT chassis. 


Over the years these XRTT’s were just parked around the country and never given much consideration.  When vintage racing began and collectors realized that the XRTT was an extremely rare bike, everyone wanted one. 


The original factory race bikes were raced, modified, disassembled and the parts were scattered throughout the country.  There may be an original out there somewhere but I have yet to see it.  I get a lot of calls from people that believe they have an original or want to sell an original but when I ask for detailed photos I never get them. 


The AMA had a XRTT on display.  I had seen this bike several times and this was truly an unmolested original.  A guy in New York, who shall remain nameless, asked if he could borrow it and the AMA sent it to him.   The AMA got the bike back about a year or so later with almost half the original parts missing or replaced.  Needless to say, they were very upset.  This same guy was able to buy a truck load of parts from the H-D race department because the race department had no interest in the TT’s and wanted to get rid of them.


A short time later I received a call from the same NY guy and a friend of his.  They wanted me to be involved in building XRTT’s with parts and passing them for originals.  I passed on this.  Next thing I new, there were XRTT’s being sold around the world for over $100,000 as original XRTT’s.   


During this time we were restoring XRTT’s with original parts that we could find and new parts.  Every XRTT that we, Hi-Speed, ever restored has a designated stamp on the chassis and motor and I am the only one that knows where or what it is.  I never put any racers name on the tail section nor have I ever represented any XRTT as one of the original ten.


After a while I started to get calls from around the world because the bikes were now trading in upwards of $200,000.   I remember one such call from a gentleman in England that said he just bought one of my XRTT’s.  I asked him several specific questions and it was one of my XRTT’s.  It was presented to him as an original.  It had been made to look weathered and had a racers name on the tail section.  Unfortunately he had been taken by someone that said it was an original factory bike.  He was unhappy but glad to have an XRTT in his collection.


Over the years I have received many calls on XRTT values and authenticities.  I just recently had a gentleman fly in from Germany.  He was purchasing a modified XRTT chassis to race.  He showed me photos of his XRTT that was presented to him as a factory original.  He had purchased this bike from the person in New York.  He had paid over $100,000 believing that it was one of the original ten.


Another example is the one that just sold this year at the J Wood auction in Daytona.  It sold for just a hair under $200,000 to a guy in Australia.  It was represented as Cal Rayborn’s original bike.  This bike was assembled out of remaining parts at the race department.  It was then given to Dick O’Brien for his retirement from the Race Department at Harley-Davidson.  After Dick passed away his daughter decided to sell it after a few years.  Needless to say Cal never rode the bike.  After the auction I was contacted by the race department to give them some original parts to make the bike even more to original specs for the new owner.


All the parts on your bike are to original specs.  I don’t believe there is anyone that can build the XRTT’s as complete and as perfect as I have done over the years.  I have had original factory fairings and they were never shinny.  I do not clear over the paintwork and I do not polish them, as I want them to look exactly as an original.  I get the front Fontana brake set up from Italy and I make sure that every Fontana we use has the makers initials stamped on the arms.  Most people never look for this.


It takes me two to three years to complete an XRTT.  I will be out of parts to do a complete perfect restoration in the near future. 


It wasn’t long ago that I found out that in 1972 the factory used a big twin front fender special bolt that was used to connect the windshield to the fairing.  I called every Harley Dealer and bought every one of these bolts I could find in the US and Canada.  I found a total of about 75.  You can see that I go the extra mile to make sure the bikes are as perfect as I can get them.


The tires on your bike are from 1972.  They are NOS racing slicks.  I was talking to a couple of guys that referred me to an old warehouse in Florida.  I called and told them I was looking for some early race tires.  He called back a few days later and said he had about a dozen brand new road race slicks that were pilled up in a corner still in mint condition.  I bought all twelve.  They had original inventory markings on them from being inventoried over the years.  I left these markings on because they look good.  The markings can be removed if wished but I think it just adds to the character of the XRTT. 


All the TT’s we have done are either in a museum or a private collection.  My motor builder is the best.  He has done over 100 of my XR motors.  If you saw a motor before it’s restoration you might consider throwing it out.  Most of the racers at some point blew them up and had to do what they could to fix them or just let them sit until they fell apart.  It is quite a process to get the motor back to good shape, especially after 30 plus years. 


Last but not least, I have one more story.


I built a TT for a guy in Japan several years ago, he wanted to race it but he wanted it original too.  We finished it and shipped it to him.  He called me when he received it and proceeded to tell me we have a problem.  He said he never expected it to be as nice as it was and there was no way he could race it the way it was.  His friend that has a museum in Japan wanted it and he would sell it to him only if we could build him a full out race XRTT.  It is still being raced in Japan.




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