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Hagerty Employee

Stock Stories: 1957 Harley Davidson XL Sportster

With custom bike culture exploding in recent years, the history and importance of the two-wheeled machines that first rolled off of the production line are often overlooked. Stock Stories tells the tales of these motorcycles. In 1957, the USSR launched both the first intercontinental ballistic missile and the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.

In our small town we use to live there was a Harley dealer and as young lads we use to hang out at the town center and watch the older guys cruzing their new rides Sportsters were hugely popular then I always imagined tearing up the highway on one.Alas my father was dead set against bikes sports cars no issue it wasn't till my late teens game fully employed and on the cusp of moving out that bikes became a part of my life,in between that time the people who ran the dealership knew me on a first name basis as i would wander the showroom from the time I was on a bicycle,altough that dealership moved 20 miles to a bigger city it is still going strong today started in 1955 they also sponsored heavily the local dirt track great memory's on Saturday nights Harley Davidson Motorcycles had a big impact on our area and created jobs and a great place to hang out.Cheers to H.D
Pit Crew

Great article and nice illustrations! I have a 52 K and a 72 XLCH. Have gotten used to the shift/brake layout but it still requires attention to not accidentally do a clutchless downshift instead of braking! One thing I had read in one of my books is that HD originally intended the K to be OHV but they hadn’t gotten it worked out in time. There is also a story that some dealers didn’t like that the K looked bigger than the FLs in the showroom. My local HD dealer said the same thing about the new Sportster, that he’s concerned it will look bigger than the Big Twins.
Pit Crew

Great article. I owned Harley's beginning in 1973. An AMF Sportster then onto an AMF Low Rider. Then Harley became a woman's bike. Once I saw a woman driving and a man riding as a passenger. I had to pull over a puke my guts out. From Harley I went to Ducati, now BMW. I love my Vespa Scooters. Have you ever watched Harley riders checking themselves out in the rearview mirrors? "Oh yah, I look just like Captain America. I'm the coolest of cool. I will trailer my Harley to Sturgis and walk around with all the other old dopes trying to find naked woman to gawk at." Not that I find anything wrong with that mind you. It's just Harley's like those old bags have lost their appeal.