Special Order Racer: 1965 Harley-Davidson XLRTT

Bill Sherman reunites with his old Harley-Davidson XLRTT after more than 30 years.

| November/December 2015

  • 1965 Harley-Davidson XLRTT
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • 1965 Harley-Davidson XLRTT
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • 1965 Harley-Davidson XLRTT
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • 1965 Harley-Davidson XLRTT
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • The XLRTT is slim and trim, a minimalist race bike designed to do one thing and one thing only: go fast.
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • Bill Sherman in 1965: He won every race he entered aboard the XLRTT, amassing an impressive collection of trophies.
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • Bill Sherman in 1965: He won every race he entered aboard the XLRTT, amassing an impressive collection of trophies.
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • The XLRTT in its drag race-winning form. A small fuel tank took the place of the headlight and there was no seat; Bill sat on the frame.
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • Everything on the restored XLRTT is as it left the factory, including the race-prepped engine with its vertical magneto (pictured) and the rare aluminum rear fender
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • Everything on the restored XLRTT is as it left the factory, including the race-prepped engine with its vertical magneto and the rare aluminum rear fender (pictured).
    Photo by Doug Mitchel
  • Everything on the restored XLRTT is as it left the factory, including the race-prepped engine with its vertical magneto (pictured) and the rare aluminum rear fender.
    Photo by Doug Mitchel

1965 Harley-Davidson XLRTT
Top speed:
115mph (observed, 1/4-mile)
Engine:
883cc air-cooled OHV 45-degree V-twin, 3.005in x 3.8125in bore and stroke, 82hp @ 7,500rpm (est.)
Weight (dry):
350lb (159kg)
Price then/now:
$1,350/$65,000-$100,000

The clutch lever is pulled tight to the handlebar and the throttle opened. Both eyes are on the lights as they blink from amber through to green. 

Dumping the clutch, Bill Sherman launches his Harley-Davidson XLRTT down the straight asphalt track. He uses the clutch once more for the shift to second, and then only feathers the kill switch and nudges the shifter to move into third and finally fourth gear.

Following the same drill every time he drag raced with his XLRTT, Bill was undefeated in 1965. He set two track records, even winning the Rockford 500 Nationals on the July 4th long weekend with a quarter-mile elapsed time of 12.10 seconds at 109.74mph. According to Bill, who now lives on a farm near Peru, Illinois, the XLRTT was simply a firecracker, a factory hot rod and an unbeatable competition motorcycle — especially on the drag strip.



The competition



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