“The traditional story goes that Harley-Davidson really needed a strong entry into the middle weight class to go head to head with the British imports and the Flathead K models that H-D had introduced in 1952 weren't cutting the mustard against the faster and sportier Triumph and BSA twins. Enter the 1957 XL Sportster with 55-cubic-inches of overhead valve power and all was right with the world! Hardly; the original Sportster wasn't exactly what you would call sporty. It was an awful lot like a mini FL; it had full fenders, a large fuel tank, the freight train sized headlamp and fork shroud like it's larger sibling and a heavy two-into-one exhaust system that exited out past the rear tire. To top it off it was saddled with with a very conservative 7.5:1 compression ratio and small valves that wouldn't allow the motor to breath properly. Magazines and buyers both criticized the bikes for being too slow.