Question about 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

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I have a 1973 ironhead sporster it kicks back when kick starting it how can i fix it it allmost braks my leg

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You might want to check your advance mechanism, and make sure it is resetting all the way. The springs wear out sometimes. Or the weights no longer want to come back because of corrosion, or oblong holes, or worn pivot pins. Having too much advance will fire the plug before the piston gets close enough to the top, so the flywheel inertia can push it over and the gas can then expand. You also have to really give it a major effort kick to get the flywheel turning fast enough. It is a balance between kick back, and bottoming out and have the start arm start to travel towards the front of the bike. This is called "Sportster Knee". If the Rachet slips and you bottom out, it nearly breaks your knee. I don't know what the Start timing is supposed to be, since they have changed it over the span of years in my manual, and it does not cover your year. I would imagine it would need to be close to, but not past, TDC. maybe a few degrees advanced, say 4 or 5 degrees. The more towards TDC, the easier it will start while kicking. On the other hand, you will be moving the Max Advance as well as you adjust this. you will lose upper end performance if you go too far.

Good Luck!


Posted on Dec 30, 2013

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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SOURCE: how to install a rear brake switch on a 1972

Been a long time since I've worked on one of those but the '72 model Sporty has mechanical brakes on the rear. There is a rod that runs from the rear brake pedal back to the rear brake lever on the brake backing plate. The rear brake light switch was a mechanical pull or push type switch. I seem to remember the '72 as being a pull type with a spring that connected in the brake rod and when the rear brake pedal was depressed, it pulled the switch making the brake light come on.

Posted on Apr 06, 2010

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SOURCE: 1973 Ironhead. white smoke from

Not uncommon on the Ironhead. As long as it's just a little white smoke for a short while. Probably some oil ran down the valve stem. You can do a compression test or a leakdown test to check the rings.

Good luck

Posted on Oct 04, 2010

  • 4565 Answers

SOURCE: i own a 1976 hd

Pull one of your spark plug wires off and put another spark plug in it. Ground the plug against the head. Turn the switch on and then back off while watching the plug. You should see a single spark. If your bike is still set up with the original points type ignition system, you may simply need a new set of points installed in it. You also need to check the mechanical advance unit behind the breaker plate that the points are mounted to. Make sure you mark the position of the breaker plate before you take it out in a manner so that you can reinstall it back in the exact same position. To test the coil, disconnect the two small wires on either end of the coil. Using a digital volt ohm meter, set the meter's function selector switch to R X 1. Put one of the meter's probes on each of the small terminals, Your meter should read between 5 and 6 ohms. Reconnect the white or blue wire to the coil. Turn the ignition switch on and check the voltage. You should have battery voltage at the coil.

Good Luck

Posted on Jul 02, 2011

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You probably need to adjust your valves. Ironhead Sportsters are equipped with solid lifters and must be adjusted with zero backlash. If one of the pushrods is adjusted just a bit tight and holds a valve open even slightly, the bike is almost impossible to start with the kickstarter.

To adjust the valves, the bike must be stone cold. Take the spark plugs out, raise the rear wheel of the ground, and put the transmission in fourth gear. Turn the engine over by bumping the rear wheel in the normal direction of rotation. Bring the piston of one of the cylinders up to top dead center on the Compression stroke. Pop the pushrod tube covers and check the pushrods. You should be able to spin both pushrods with your fingers. If not, adjust the pushrod so taht it's tight. Then back it off to where you can just spin it with your fingers. Keep in mind that on a Sportster, it's better to have the pushrods slightly loose than tight. Once you get that cylinder's pushrods adjusted, do the same thing with the other cylinder.

Now, once you get this done, starting your bike is simply a matter of figuring what works with it. I've always said that kickstarting a Harley, especially a Sportster, is a ritual. Some bikes like for you to milk the throttle twice, kick the engine through twice with the choke on and ignition off, then turn on the ignition and kick it. Other bikes seem to want only one milk of the throttle, one kick with the ignition off, and then kick it. Each bike seems to have it's own particular ritual that you must figure out to get reliable starting. I'd try milk the throttle once, put the choke on, kick it through with the ignition off once, then turn the ignition on and kick. If the bike spits back through the carb, you need to start all over again. If you get the engine flooded, hold the throttle wide open and kick until it fires.

One other thing about a Sportster. Did the old man you bought it from have a limp in his right leg? A Sportster is notorious for "slipping through" when you try to start it. The result is that all your weight comes down on your knee without any resistance. The result is your knee tries to bend backwards, the way it wasn't designed to do. This can tear ligaments and cartilage in the knee and it even has it's own name, "Sportster Knee". Be careful.

Ride Safe

Apr 20, 2011 | Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster...

1 Answer

1973 Ironhead. white smoke from exhaust when started

Not uncommon on the Ironhead. As long as it's just a little white smoke for a short while. Probably some oil ran down the valve stem. You can do a compression test or a leakdown test to check the rings.

Good luck

Oct 04, 2010 | Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster...

1 Answer

Locks up while kicking it over

If you are fairly new to this unit , be careful, don't break your leg.
When kick starting, you must first push the kick lever down until it gets hard, then let it up all the way & then give it a full hard kick. Trust me it works. (i'm still healing)

Aug 17, 2009 | 1992 Honda XR 600 R

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"kick starter will not turn motor over" i let a freind ride my 1999 380 exc last night and he told me while he was riding the kick starter hit him in the leg then heard a vibrating sound,i'm thinking more...

this is due to the mechanism inside the gearbox, try draining the gearbox oil and takeing the side case off and putting the mechanism back in the correct place but be very careful of the kick start spring that it doesnt hit you wen it comes off, the spring will need to be twisted round twice then hooked back on the locator when putting back together

Mar 02, 2009 | KTM EXC 380 Motorcycles

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