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Harley Ironhead Engine PartsThe birth of the now world famous HD Sportster also brought about the now legendary Harley Ironhead engine. Powering the Sporty for years, the Ironhead brought with it a new wave of performance. It vaulted the MOCO into contention with the very competitive British and Japanese cruisers that were coming over to the U.S. The 883 Ironhead debuted with the XL Sportster in 1957. It was given its name due to the iron cylinder heads. The XL’s 883 was a big step up from the K model’s flathead mill. With overhead valves and a higher rpm, it was able to achieve more power, torque and an increased cruising speed.
While most of HD’s competitors were using alloy cylinder heads at the time, Harley bucked the trend by using Iron. One reason for doing so is because they felt that it would be more dependable. They faced leakage problems with the allow heads on the Pan, but were able to overcome them by using iron. The new dependability and the increased performance allowed the Sportster to be very competitive with the Norton, BSA and Triumph cruisers of the time. The XL proved to be even more powerful than the British motorcycles. The engine design was so successful that HD engineers took the cylinder head design and used it on the Shovelheads.
Through its lifespan from 1957 to 1986, the Ironhead powered many different styles of Sportsters. HD released many different configurations of the Sportster, from a Café Racer to flat track bikes. Ironhead Sporsters were one of the consistent sellers throughout the down AMF era of HD. It was during these years that some of the most desirable bikes were built. Not all of these iterations were a hit at the time, but they are all desirable to Sporty fans today. To keep up with the competition in the 70’s, the Ironhead was given a displacement boost to 1000cc.
With proper care and maintenance, the Ironhead can be one of the most dependable vintage engines. To keep it running great, you need to have access to quality aftermarket parts. At Dennis Kirk, you will find a great selection of Ironhead parts. We keep the most in stock and ready to ship to you the same day that you order. That way, you can get back out on the road as soon as possible. And when your order is over $89, we will ship it to you for free. Use the Ride Selector at the top of the page to find all of the parts for your specific motorcycle. Also, feel free to contact our knowledgeable Tech Team if you have any questions on which parts are best for you and your Harley motorcycle.