A Restored Sportster and Ripper With That Big Single

Readers' letters about a BSA 441 Shooting Star and a 1959 XLH.

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by Patrick Cristofaro

Restored Sportster

Reader Patrick Cristofaro shares the story of his 1959 Harley-Davidson XLH restoration with us. Thanks Patrick! — Ed.

silver dash of a blue motorcycle

Here is my story about my 1959 XLH. I live about 30 minutes from Zurich, Switzerland. I own a number of Sportsters, including a 1975 XLH, a 1975 XLCH, this 1959 XLH, a 1969 XLH (Sparkling Gold), and a Swiss Army Condor 580 from 1949.

This 1959 XLH was imported into Switzerland in 2013 from Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania. It has now been completely restored and outfitted with many new old stock parts. The spokes were sent to the U.S. for cadmium plating, and the engine cases were water jet cleaned. Thanks to the K model page, I was able to implement a lot of information and tips on restoration.

The original color sample Skyline blue was sent to me by John Pierce. After that, we were able to mix the exact color and chase the individual parts. Only CP bolts were used according to OEM. I was also able to organize the nacelle. The hardest of all was to find was the KPH speedometer. This great bike was brought to life with a lot of love. A special thank you goes to the memory of Jim Black who has actively supported me over the years. My friend passed away before the end of the project. Greetings from Switzerland.

Patrick Cristofaro/Switzerland

blue motorcycle facing right

Big thumper

Reader Mark Kurth shares the results of his latest project with us. Good job Mark! — Ed.

I kept myself busy during the pandemic, working on a project that really should’ve been deemed too bad to do. It’s what happens, I guess, when you lock a guy up with a pile of parts and tools for 4 months!

This is a 1967 BSA 441 Shooting Star that I’d purchased years ago as a parts bike. I already had a lot of spare parts that fit the unit single, including a 1960s-era American Competition Engineering body kit that I’d acquired with another bike. After riding my brother’s 441 Victor, I decided I’d like to build one for myself. In 2021, when things shut down I didn’t have a project in the queue, I took another look at the parts bike and ended up using it as the basis for a flat-track inspired period custom.

The 441 engine was rebuilt (by Bob Goodpaster) and the stock frame was repaired. Otherwise, most of it came from the parts pile. The fork is a 1973 B50 unit and the rims are flanged Excels. The diamond-pleat seat upholstery is original to the ACE body and the exhaust was fabricated from used pieces. It’s relatively light, handles well and is a ripper with that big single! Cheers!

Mark Kurth/via email

red motorcycle parked in front of a green motorcycle

Norton 500T

A short way into the article about the 1949-1954 Norton 500T it occurred to me that the cadence of the writing was familiar. The specifications presented, the descriptions of the different machines, and the history depicted had a pleasing and familiar flow. I stopped. “Who wrote this?” I said to myself. Aha! Clement Salvadori. How nice.

Thanks for the great product, Motorcycle Classics folks. Your work provides readers genuine pleasure in a world that, of late, seems less than friendly.

Doug Shelley/via email

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