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Thread: Harley VL motor size

  1. #1

    Default Harley VL motor size

    What would be a good motor sprocket size for a stock VL, mix of flat and hilly riding, and solo 160 lb rider. Mostly 30-60 mph. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
    Posts
    1,097

    Default

    Harley specified 23 tooth as the standard solo drive sprocket 1930-33, then changed it to 22 tooth for the 1934 season with the more powerful motor and emphasised the flashing acceleration. A good VL with tall gearing will do 100 mph on paved roads, so I think they undergeared them back in the day. With the extra high 27 tooth drive, or the optional 25 tooth, you feel the gap between second and third gear, so I'd try 24 tooth for reasonable town riding plus good highway speeds on paved roads.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    New South Wales, Australia
    Posts
    109

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    Hi Buster.

    I agree with Steve completely. I run 25 engine and 28 gearbox and have tried smaller, both engine and gearbox. This is what I am happy with. I do mostly hilly country riding and long open stretches. We have a lot of those here in Australia with the distances between towns and inland cities. Very few hills require second gear. Really only if you hit a corner below about 40 kph. I do look forward to mountain terrain with a mix of low speed corners, leaving the bike in second and going for it a bit. With this combination she pulls effortlessly from 20 kph to whatever you want, probably about 90 kph without stressing the engine. You need to consider one other major factor, engine condition. The motor that I ride country with (I have 2 VL's) is stock but the bottom end is balanced, new valves and and valve seats, pistons and rings etc. In other words this engine revs out and pulls better than the other especially on the open road. The other is not a slug but noticeable, it certainly is.

    The last consideration is your weight. I weigh 72 kg so if you are a lot heavier a 24 would give you more pulling power without knocking your cruising speed around dramatically.

    If you are doing this type a riding I would not consider going below a 24.

    Good riding, enjoy.
    Last edited by downunder vl; 12-25-2017 at 03:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Steve,

    What would you use with a side car, flat ground 155 pound rider and 120 pound passenger in car with 18 inch wheels?

    Thanks Steve

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
    Posts
    1,097

    Default

    I'm not a regular sidecar rider, so out of my comfort zone here. Harley specified 17-21 tooth drive sprockets for sidecars, with the small numbers being used for commercial rigs carrying heavy loads around town. I have a UK customer heavier than you but with a light sidecar running a 22 tooth drive sprocket, and I've ridden this outfit and had fun. I'd start there, then shade it up or down a tooth if you have, respectively, flat paved roads or struggle pulling away.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Thanks Steve I have some sprockets to play with.

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