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I think a lot of people give the sportster some crap just cause it's smaller is all.
Smaller? A little but not by much. A Road King is 93.7" long and a Sportster is 90.3" long. Seat height on a Road King is 26.9" and it's 25.7" on the Sportster. The biggest difference is weight where the Road King weighs in at a hefty 763 lbs compared to the significantly lighter Sportster at only 565 lbs.

What the hey, motorcycles are like women. Some men like fat women and others like skinny women but we all like women.
 

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....the problem is that Sporty guys (some) have a need to convince "big twin" guys that their bike is actually better.
A rather silly thing to do considering that whatever motorcycle you happen to be riding at the moment is the best possible motorcycle for you at the time regardless of brand, size, or any other consideration least of which is what someone else is riding.

I remember riding a little Yamaha 70 with a friend on his 1960's Harley 50 over to a friend of my bother's house one day. He had a knucklehead (torn down for overhaul) and was making fun of the two motorcycles we were on. My brother, a serious motorcycle racer, calmly addressed him saying, "They're riding and you're not." End of story.
 

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To look at the Sportster, we should put it in a historical context. In the postwar era, the British pound was devalued and British motorcycles became unnaturally cheap. Both Harley and Indian were in a desperate situation because they were nowhere near price competitive. Add to that the fact that the British iron was more quick and nimble on the road. It was a slaughter. Indian responded with the 440cc Scout in 1949, which was an OHV parallel twin and looked kind of like an Americanized Triumph. Everyone said it was too slow, so they upped it to 500cc and renamed it the Warrior in 1950. It still couldn’t compete and by 1953, Indian went belly up.
Meanwhile Harley came out with the side valve 750cc K model in 1952. In its day, it was revolutionary, especially compared with the WL that it replaced. It had swingarm rear suspension and unit construction. The Triumphs of the day were still rigid rear suspension. The only missing ingredient was OHV heads. Harley wanted to give it OHV, but they were in a desperate struggle to survive and they just didn’t have the time or money for development at that time. They stroked the K out to 900cc a few years later. But it wasn’t until the Sportster appeared in 1957 that everything fell into place. As the name suggests, the Sportster was intended to be a sport model and in the 60’s, the XLCH was the hardest, ass kickingest bike on the road.
If you look at 60’s photos, you can see a lot of Hell’s Angels on sportsters. Try telling one of those guys their bike is a “half-a-Harley”, they’d whack you in the head with a ball peen hammer.
In those days, there were just 3 basic kinds of Harleys, lightweights, Sportsters, and touring models.
My first bike was a 1967 Triumph Bonneville. My first Sportster was a 1988 1200XLH. The Sportster struck me as a machine frozen in time. Although times have changed and it’s no longer considered a sport bike, it still gives the feeling of being a 1960’s standard motorcycle. It was conceived to be a response to the British threat and they made it with a unique American flavor.
I’ve had the Triumph, a 1972 Ducati 750GT, and a 1980 Moto-Guzzi Lemans. I’ve also ridden a bunch of other bikes belonging to friends, like a Honda CBR900RR. But nothing is as much fun as the Sportster: It brings out the hell raiser in you. You ride around making noise, popping wheelies and provoking dirty looks from “respectable” people. It’s a blast!
 

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This is a good read. Not that I need validation in my motorcycle choice, but interesting in the history of the Sportster. I initially bought mine because I like the platform. They're easy to work on, easy to modify, and cheaper to modify in most cases. Sportsters are pretty readily available for a budget minded shopper. My choice was mostly due to finances though. I picked my bike up for a fraction of what I would have paid for an equivalent year Dyna. I would love to have a Street Bob at some point, but for now my piglet does me just fine. My 1200 is enough bike to get me in trouble. =)
 

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I test rode a XL1200C, then a softail standard. I went with the softail. The Sporty just felt like too much bike for me.
 

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Wow, ten months and no new post on a sticky. Guess everyone finally figured out the Sportster is an every person bike. Last BT I had was an Ultra, and I traded it in on an '09 XR1200, my second one. I know it's top end isn't equal to my Concours 14, or any other bike in the garage, for that matter, but its key is the one I reach for the majority of the time I ride.
If MoCo built a Sportster, with the standard (not cruiser) dimensions of the 60's with the technology of today, I would add one to the garage tomorrow.

Yamaha and Ducati Scramblers, Triumph Bonnevilles, Honda CB1100 series, and even Suzuki's we will never see here, are prime examples of what folks want todaY, BUT MoCo still insists that cruisers with an inch or two of suspension is what people want. What's with that???

Guess I will just keep my XR and my money for now. tp dd50
 

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Nobody has ever called my girl "a girls bike" they just say that i ride "a badass harley that makes me look like i pack a 13"er in pants". Actual words from my best Friend.
 

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Well

I had a fatboy 96c from new sold it.
Bought a EFI enfield loved it but reliability Probs got to me.

I wanted a small light weight replacement that I can easily work on with twin front stoppers, I ended up with. Black 883r, im rely suprised how well it goes with a fair bit of welly.
The fatboy had presence but was crap around the twisties this little 883r is so much more fun
 

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Your post was awesome, I found your info really awesome. My brother's dad (we had different dads) used to race sporty's in the 60's and 70's around Illinois, he beat everybody, used to have a room full of trophies.
If you didn't read my intro post, I used to ride with Iron Riders when I first started riding and they were simple, "I don't care, you have wind in your hair."
 

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This perpetual INCREDIBLE thread is why I joined this wonderful forum. Goddan I freakin LOVE my 1996 XLC 1200! Long live the HD Sportster!!!
 

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Not your typical Sportster but probably not a bike that the average girl would ride. Sure there are some, but typical... tp


Old thread that I must have missed.


Took me a minute to realize what I was looking at.

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I realize this is a old, but perpetual thread. And I didn't read all 27 pages but I just wanted to point this out...
The first post is a quote from Donny Peterson that says he never saw Evel ride a big twin. Well he did. And here's proof. Just like most of us old pharts, we may have started out on Sporters, and still hold a huge respect for them, but as we become old and broken we tend to slow down and cruise! LOL!

20201112_080851.jpg
 

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I think Donny meant back in the 70's & he was right. ^ Evel looks to be in his 70's in that pic IMO. I don't care either way. The Sportster is waaay better than the Softtail in every meaningful category.
 

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Its odd IMO how the Sporster is basically the 'sportbike' model in the HD line (cheaper, smaller, faster, higher center of gravity, cheaper, etc.) yet its looked down by the owners of the non-race models (Softtail, Breakout, FLs) which are much more expensive, larger, slower, lower center of gravity, etc.) but this doesn't happen in Japanese manufacturer families. A Goldwing owner doesn't look down on a CBR owner & call his cheaper, smaller, faster, higher center of gravity motorcycle is a girl's bike or 'half a honda'. I think this says alot about the BS macho HD culture which is total crap. Not all Harley motorcycles are predetermined to be 700+lbs, 96nches long with 25inch seat heights, w/ 115+ci motors & cost $27k just because their HDs and if they don't their some kinda HD imitation just as because CBRs cost $12k doesn't mean they MUST be the same dimensions as a Goldwing or their imitation Hondas. The HD culture is such hot air crap. I love the 'my wife owns a Sportster' lie I always read when in reality in most cases 'she' can barely ride it and because he's soo macho (in his fantasy world) it's predermined by gender he MUST own/ride the large/more expensive motorcycle. This is such BS when you see most of these punks in real life, their physical/muscular size/strength and how short they fall from being such Alpha males they fantasize of being in their delusional minds not to mention in most of cases have butt faces and personalities to match. I love HD Sportsters because their about as stripped down as can be and still be a street legal motorcycle & damn sure not because their sooo macho. Some if not most of guys that buy or finance rather a $25k 'real' man's HD' are such jokes they'd have to ride the biggest, heaviest motorcycle in the line just to appear somewhat more male than the avg woman who rides girl's bike.
 

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Haha obviously you ^^^ never rode a Goldwing. Wingers just put up with the peons beneath them. I have had Yami's, Suzie's, beemers, wings and harleys. The best bike I ever had was the bike I had at the time. A softtail is as good as any harley model. The trick is to keep up with the condition of the shocks and forks. People buy a 03 and think the po took excellent care of it, because the bike is so clean on the exterior. If the owner is stupid enough to let you test ride it then ride over some railroad tracks. I have a buddy that rode a dyna all around the country then bought a shark rode that for awhile. He caught the virus from the Cult and bought a fxr. Well guess what after riding a couch for a year the fxr is too small. Ride that 1200 for a couple years and you will buy something a little bigger. Everybody does.lol

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