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Lucifer's Hammer, 1983!

Text: Luís Cardoso

Photos: web

XR 1000 Lucifer's Hammer, 1983

With a modified version of the XR 1000, inspired by the 1972 XR 750 TT, in 1983, HARLEY-DAVIDSON returned to the spotlight of the North American roadracing racing scene.

It is known that it was named after the wife of the legendary director of the brand's racing department: Dick O'Brien, the hybrid built for this purpose became known by the suggestive nickname of Lucifer's Hammer, an analogy to the book with the same name, written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, published in 1977, whose action takes place in a post-apocalyptic scenario caused by the fact that our planet was hit by a comet: Lucifer's Hammer, a name originating from an Irish legend, in which a comet was sent by the Devil to destroy a village that had been invaded by foreigners so evil that Lucifer himself became jealous!

In the spring of 1983, after more than a decade of official absence from the Milwaukee brand, this bike marked the proud return of the HARLEY-DAVIDSON racing colors of black and orange on the famous Daytona circuit!

XR 750 TT, 1972, the motorcycle that served as the basis for the Lucifer's Hammer project

In the main event of this circuit, 200 Miles of Daytona, the bike, with Jay Springsteen at the controls, performed perfectly, handily winning the race, Battle Of The Twins (BoT), aimed at 2-cylinder bikes!

In the same year, October 1983, Gene Church authoritatively won the final, also held in Daytona, in the final of the BoT championship.

In addition to many other outstanding sporting benefits, the fact that this bike marks the welcome return of HARLEY-DAVIDSON and broke the hegemony that the Italians held at that time among 2-cylinder racing bikes, having achieved this in a short period of time. 2 months, from the beginning of the project to the first participation and victory, make this bike an icon, because, among other constraints, at the time the brand's competition department was made up of half a dozen elements!

1984, Gene Church

In the following years, when the Superbike World Championship was created, an initiative of the France family (owner of the Daytona circuit) who delegated the European embassy that gave rise to the aforementioned championship to Steven Mclaughlin, the technical regulations favored from the beginning the motorizations of 2 cylinders (larger displacement and lower minimum weight) to try to entice HARLEY-DAVIDSON to participate based on the enthusiasm that Lucifer's Hammer provoked among the people of Milwaukee.

Steven's crusade was successful, in 1988 the first edition of the SBK World Championship took place, however, HARLEY-DAVIDSON was not convinced by the regulatory advantage presented and the one who largely benefited, in this particular, was, as can be seen, the DUCATI!

For anyone who has doubts about this regulatory advantage, just remember the quick success that HONDA and APRILIA achieved when they used this argument with the 2-cylinder VTR and RSV!

1983 HARLEY-DAVIDSON XR1000R Lucifer’s Hammer



Air cooled, ohv rod, 45 degree V-twin, 4T with 2 valves or cylinder, 998cc, 81mm x 96.8mm bore & stroke, two ignition coils with 12v total loss battery, 2 MIKUNI 42mm carburettors, box of 4 speeds, primary drive by triplex chain with multi-plate clutch in oil bath.


Steel single tube backbone with triangular subframe and double lower cradle

40 mm FORCELLA ITALIA telescopic forks, rectangular section steel swingarm, 2 FOX gas shock absorbers, 2 300 mm BREMBO discs with two-piston BREMBO calipers, 1 240 mm BREMBO disc with two-piston BREMBO caliper, 22, 5 x 6.5-16 GOODYEAR slick on 3.50" CAMPAGNOLO magalloy wheel, 26.5 x 8.0-18 GOODYEAR slick on 5.00", 1420 mm wheelbase.


104 HP/7,000rpm (boxed), 251km/h with 11km/h head wind (Daytona 1983), 153kg with oil and without fuel.

Don Tilley's restauration



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