# 137 of 1,546

1991 Harley-Davidson Sturgis

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Featured on the cover of many Harley-Davidson books, the Harley Sturgis is one of the most destiguished models ever made by the Motor Company.

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Easily identified by a Darth Vader-like appearance, the bike wears black from top to bottom, save for contrasting orange-red accents on various components. The '91 Sturgis was the factory prototype for the new Dyna series, conceived to replace the controversial FXR models.

The FXR's exposed frame with plenty of tubes didn't quite match the look commonly associated with a Harley. The Sturgis changed all that, with a huge central backbone frame that only shows what matters most.

Despite -- or because of -- its rarity, the Sturgis is still somewhat overlooked by the Harley crowd, which makes it surprisingly affordable.

The FXDB-ST featured here was built in June of 1990 and is number 137 out of 1,546 made. Initially, the Motor Company's plan was to manufacture 1,600 bikes, but that didn't pan out.

It's a 100% matching numbers 49-state bike, uneffected by the Golden State's stricter emission standards. All factory stickers, even on the air cleaner housing, are present and undamaged.

The bike is equipped with its original engine and unique 5-speed transmission.

I purchased all period magazines introducing the "new" bike, a factory owner's manual plus the Sturgis-specific supplemental manual, and even an original shop manual. I never needed the shop manual, as I have the bike professionally serviced at a nearby Harley specialist, but it's nice to have all those things.

The bike has been dead reliable while under my stewardship. It never fails to start, never let me down, never leaked any oil, smoked, or misbehaved in any way. Quite the opposite of my 1966 Triumph Bonneville!

It's currently registered and insured in California.

In an effort to further enhance the look, the Sturgis got a 33" long fork with a chopper-like, 32-degree rake.

At the same time, the swing arm was extended by 1 inch. As a result, the Sturgis puts 65.0 inches of real estate between its axles, longer than anything else in the H-D pantheon save the Softail and Softail Custom. Longer and lower are the two main components of the look.

The Sturgis is powered by the most trouble-free engine ever made for a H-D: the V2 Evolution. The power starts at idle and is always there, regardless of rpm. At 3500 rpm, the Sturgis' prime cruising speed, it's making 7 horsepower more than Kawasaki's flagship, the ZX-11.

The rubber-mounted engine is bolted to a long primary case that moves it forward slightly, and rotates the cylinders 4 degrees back in the frame. The re-angled engine makes room for the oil tank, which now sits below the transmission where it acts much like the sump on a car. This also eliminates the external oil lines, making for a cleaner appearance.

With its extended wheelbase, stout frame, and conservative geometry, the Sturgis handles well, even in the twisties, while being super relaxing to ride.

Cycle Magazine called the Sturgis ". . . the best Harley custom yet which handles . . . day-today living as competently as an FXRS Sport, yet the new chassis gives it a smoother, broader operating range."

This Sturgis is highly original, down to the beautifully preserved factory exhaust. Changes are limited to the Metzeler tires, smoked turn signal lenses, a genuine H-D oil cooler, and an accessory luggage rack. All those modifications could be easily reversed for a 100% stock appearance, if so desired, but I have no plans of going that route.

Given that it's 26 years old, this Sturgis looks stunning. It has always been garaged and has never seen rain. There are some minor signs of use, a few paint chips and scratches in isolated places, but nothing to lose sleep over. Thinking about it, this is the best Harley I ever owned.