Tom Myers’ 1969 XLCH Sportster

The story of a 1969 Harley-Davidson XLCH that’s been in the same family for more than 50 years.

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by Nick Cedar

An American who wanted to buy a new motorcycle in 1969 had a lot of choices.

Honda was building the CB750, BSA had both a twin and a triple on offer, Kawasaki was selling its iconic H1 500cc 2-stroke, and Norton was selling the Commando twin. Triumph Bonnevilles were popular, as were Ducati singles and BMW twins. Tom Myers walked past all these alluring imports and bought one of the 5,100 Harley XLCH Sportsters produced that year. “My Dad was always a Harley guy,” he explains. More than fifty years later, Tom still has that XLCH.

“My first bike was a Yamaha YDS-2, but I lusted after a Sportster since I was very young. After the YDS-2, I had a Sportster, bought used, but it was stolen. Understandably, I was pretty upset. My parents helped me buy this 1969 Sportster as a replacement for the one that was stolen.”

Survivor

Tom Myers’ XLCH is unusual in many different ways, besides being a one-family survivor. To start with, Tom bought it to use as transportation, and chose options based on functionality. At the time, Harley was building two different Sportster versions: the XLH (4-gallon tank as standard, touring tires, a 12-volt battery and coil ignition and an electric starter) and the XLCH (peanut tank standard, magneto ignition, no battery, and racing tires). 1969 Sportster buyers had an optional choice of either tank, and Tom wanted the larger tank that was standard on the XLH version of the Sportster. The dealer Tom bought his bike from swapped the tank with the one on an XLH on the floor.

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