Comparison between a XL and XR1200 Head Gasket
 

 
The XR1200 uses a different head gasket than ordinary XL Sportsters, due to the cooling oil passage in the XR1200 heads.  The head gasket for the XR1200 is wider, to act as a seal for the hole in the cooling oil passage, that is left open due to the manufacturing process.  The following pictures show the differences, and why...
 

 
 
The below is a picture of a standard Harley 16770-84f head gasket for a 1200 XL Sportster.
 
 

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XL 1200 16770-84f Head Gasket

 
 
 
 
The below picture has the XL head gasket overlayed on the XR1200's head gasket to show the difference in width.
 
 

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Head Gaskets Overlayed

 
 
Here is a full view of the head deck showing the opening in the cooling oil passageway.  This head has been CNC ported, but preserves the XR1200's stock 62 cc combustion chamber.
 

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Mildly Ported (62 cc Combustion Chamber)

 
An alternative to the stock XR1200 head gaskets is the below Cometic MLS head gasket.  The Cometic can be had for the XR1200 in a .042 stock thickness, and thinner .030 and .027 thicknesses to improve squish and bump compression slightly.  A MLS gasket is also available through Zippers Performance for 88" builds on the XR1200.
 

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Cometic .027 MLS Head Gasket


 
In comparison, the below is the XR1200's 16771-08 head gasket.  The gasket is wider, and has metal tabs formed into it to seal the oil cooling galleries in the heads.  Only one tab is needed for each head, but the gasket is made symmetrically to be used on either head.
 

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XR1200 16771-08 Head Gasket

 
The metal tab on the XR1200's head gasket seals this passageway in the XR's heads.  This opening is in the middle of the oil passage that passes inside the head.  It is simply a vestige of the manufacturing process.  It might be possible for a skilled welder to seal this passage and resurface the head, but thediameter of the passageway is narrow and there is the risk of obstructing the cooling oil flow.
 

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Alternately, the below head has had the valves unshrouded and the combustion chamber opened up to 69 cc's to accomodate a domed piston and higher compression.  Even with the oil cooling galleries, quite a bit can be done with porting the XR1200's heads.
 

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Ported - 69 cc Combustion Chamber

 
 
 
The below picture shows the three layers of the MLS gasket.  This particular Cometic gasket is a .027 head gasket.
 
 

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Layers of a MLS Head Gasket


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