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the TRUTH about Sportsters

10552 Views 31 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  IrishStash
I'm posting this for a friend since he is not registered:

OK, guys...i'm getting a new bike....i really like the 883R Sportster....so....what do you guys REALLY think about them??...I will be using the bike for commuting, short trips (50 miles), and a few longer trips (150 to 300 miles, nothing further than that)....i am 6'0' tall, and weigh 185....will i fit?...are sportsters too small for what i want to do?...(it IS almost 900cc, after all)...will i be happy...i only have the money for a sportster...and i want a NEW bike...not a used BT....i have a friend with a sportster which is faster than any BT i know of, i'm not looking to be a RUB....so, OK....don't "pull any punches"....give me your REAL feelings about these bikes....i'm also 51 yrs. old, and i will be keeping it for a long time....too OLD for a Sportster??...back in the early 70's they were considered "superbikes"...what happened?....i really need your advise...and please, NO "girl's bike" comments!!!!
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With a good aftermarket 1200 kit 883's are quite fast.

Other then that take one for a 200 or 300 mile ride at speed, and you should be able to answer the question. Personally the one thing that is utterly unacceptable in any bike, is the very limited range.
I have an 88/1200 Sporty and have some thoughts. The 883 can be quite capable as is or can be quite fast with some mods (cash). I'm 6' and 200 lbs. (holiday food) and I don't feel too cramped since I went to forward controls, flat bars with custom "dog bone" risers and a different seat. Stock left my knees above the gas tank. Swapped carb for one with accelerator pump, ignition (Crane single fire) and changed drive sprocket to lower rpm's. Fairly acceptable performance (not a hot rod yet) this way over stock. Rode from Chicago to Austin, Tex. and the darn thing broke the gas tank mounts, battery tray mounts, and two heavy duty hose clamps that held in the battery. The beast nearly self destructed due to excessive vibration at combat speed on the highway. Do not replace any stock part with one from the factory, look for aftermarket stuff. The suspension and brakes suck as compared to what is stock on a rice grinder. The Sportster will be an adequate bike as stock but you will probably want to do mods and upgrades, this will require cash and more cash. I have a love/hate relationship with this bike as compared to the two rice grinders I have. Quality control at HD is poor, customer service is worse after they have your money. On the plus side: Great gobs of torque, simple design, and great fun in doing performance mods. I would recommend the 1200 instead of the 883 to get more cc's, better head config, bigger valves, better ignition, bigger carb. This is probably what you would want for your upgrades anyway. Slap a better air filter on whatever you do get. Good motoring to you!
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I reacently got a 1200C and I love it. Forward pegs take alittle getting use to but they're real conftable. With the stage I kit I got the power and sound I was looking for at an affordable price, and some ISO grips to reduce vibration. This combination makes for a real nice ride for the money without extensive upgrading.
Good luck! Ride safe!
Well, the forward controls suck on the custom sporty. The handlebars give me a GIGANTIC pain between the shoulder blades. The stock seat is an abrupt fitness test to your ass, and the goddamn thing is slow as hell. Your old lady will hate you from now until you buy a dresser, and all BT riders will call you a fuckin' puss. The sporty is probably one of the worse motorcycles I have ever owned, and I still owe 2 more years of $80 a month payments on this piece of ****.

Would I own anything different????

Personally I don't think the Sportster is a "girly bike" and I'm a woman who rides one. The 883R gets a lot of in town looks. My husband has been stopped by a cop just to see what it looked like up close. I was skeptical on the looks when he told me he wanted one, but once he got it, I have to say, it is nice to look at and it has a little more scratch power than my hugger. The only thing that didn't "sit" well with me was the seat position. For a single rider it is great, but if you are going to have anyone significant riding behind you, add a sissy bar straight off. Unless of course you like the feeling of the person behind you pulling you off the bike with them when you take off. Overall, good ride.
The only regret I have with my 883 is that my wife wants me to sell it. Great bike but she says we don't need to start a collection. (I hate it when they don't have a sense of humor):D
hey sheepboy

Tell your wife to ride it. She will want to buy more! I know I do!
I know this thread is a few weeks old but what the hell. Here's my $.01 worth. (it ain't worth $.02)

I bought a used'94 883 Hugger with 26k miles on it. I wanted to get back into riding after a long absense and the Sportster fit the bill.

First of all, I loved the bike for short trips. I loved the way it handled, the way it sounds with the baffles drilled out and the fact that it cost less than 1/2 of what a BT would cost.

What I didn't like was that I couldn't depend on this bike. In the few short months I owned it, it was in the shop three times. Twice for fixing carb leaks and once for other minor work.

The first time I rode it to work, a 17 mile interstate ride, I knew I would get rid of it and find a bigger, smoother bike.

The Sporstster has a vibration at speeds above 50 mph that, for me, was not comfortable.

One day last summer I pulled into my local Honda dealer just to look at their products and ended up trading the Sportster for a beautiful 1100 Virago they had just got in. The Yamaha is smooth, powerful and dependable. I love the Virago but, because I feel the need for a bigger bike, will probably trade it next year on either a BT or a Kawasaki Mean Streak.

Anyway, I now understand the "love/hate" relationship with the Sporty that some of you write about. I felt the same way.

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I saw a special on the Speed Channel last night where they rated several "Cruiser" motorcycles and the Mean Streak got the best ratings in areas of price/performance/comfort.

I believe the name of the show was Motorcycle Cruiser magazine hosted by David Spain of Bike Week. Look for the re-run if you get a chance.

Really a nice looking scoot!
There is a great article in the current Motorcycle Cruiser magazine where
they take a Mean Streak and add a stage 2 kit to it to boost the hp to just
over 100. Not that I need that kind of power.........but........hmmmm....!!!!!!

Re a Sporty -- 04 and newer are rubber-mounted and are a lot smoother. Like a BT, there are tons of options to make the bike "fit."

IMO, Sportsters are great. Once, they were THE badass bike to own. Triumphs, Nortons and BSAs were cool, but THE stud machine on planet earth was an XLCH.

"Hogs" were stripped touring bikes that rode in the back of the pack because they were slow.

Fast forward from the 60s to the 80s and many who transitioned to 2-wheel trinkets felt the Sportster was a girl's bike. I never understood that but suspect it had to do with cost and size.

Anyway - you should get what pleases you and fuk what we all think. You'll be the one paying for it and riding on it. JMHO. YMMV.
Do you suppose HD4EVR bought that sporty 10 years ago?
Boy, this was an old thread but someone may need this information so why not?

My 2006 XL1200C is my first Harley after 30 other bikes of British and Japanese origin. The latest ones were a Kawasaki 1000cc bagger and a 1500cc Gold Wing both of which I bought new.

The Kaw and the Honda would both stomp the Harley in a race. The Kaw was very fast with the 1000cc Ninja engine and slightly milder cams.

I rode some older (pre Evo) Sportsters and felt like something was trying to bite me in the butt. I have NO problems with that on the Evo 1200. The Honda and the Kawasaki trashed my wrists and elbows from vibration. Because the frequency of the vibration is lower on the Harley, that is not a problem.

I had some problems with the forward controls but adjusting the shifter to accommodate my big feet fixed that.

The Kawasaki and the Honda had chronic dirty fuel issues and with two and four carbs, that was a pain. No problem with the Harley so far.

I've ridden bikes with tachometers forever. I really miss that on my Harley.

Too much chrome on the Custom. In Texas, rust is a major problem. If I could, I'd spray the whole bike flat black.

I go on reserve at 117 miles. That is NOT cool. Typical MPG is 38 at 65-70. The bike requires premium fuel.

Hydraulic, roller cam followers are about as trouble free as it gets.

Both the previous bikes had drive shafts. The Harley has a belt. So far the belt is quieter and simple.

Insurance rates on the Harley were very attractive with my 45 years of riding. It was $227/year for full coverage and some extras tossed in.

The Harley service manual is better than any I have had previously.

I am 6'1" and 285 pounds. I do not ride two up and wouldn't recommend that on my Sportster.

The 500 something weight of the Harley is like a breath of fresh air after riding 700-800 pound bikes.

That covers it.

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a Sportster is the most fun you can have with your pants on.
You've obviously never hunted dove with a bunch of pals in Sweetwater Texas...

Just sayin.
I moved to a 2011 Iron 883 from a 2006 BMW 800ST.
The BMW is a very capable road bike & a great "all rounder" but I no longer need a road bike. The BMW sat tall (31") compared to most H-Ds. I'm old & short so the mount/dismount became an issue. The BMW has it all: ABS, heated grips, tire pressure sensors, steering damper, etc.
My daily commute is inner-city & the Iron is a good choice.
The pluses to the 883 Iron: plenty of torque & HP at low revs makes for a fun ride; wide friction zone is easy for new riders; easy to get on & off; no spokes to clean; no chain to lube; great looking anti-chrome blacked out style
The minuses to the 883 Iron: Rides like a hard tail; virtually no rear suspension; the mirrors are for show only; seating is cramped even for my short frame; engine vibrates over 55mph; "the Harley Tax"
Conclusion: This bike is fun. It is not the best or the most capable. I would not use it for highway/interstate commutes. But it is a great "bar hopper" and that keeps me smiling.
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I hope the OP waited to get that Sporty until 04 so he could get one with rubber engine mounts!!!! I just got my first bike last May from a Triumph dealer. A 1995 Triumph Thunderbird. I begged my wife for 18 years before she finally gave in and let me get a bike (Thank you Obama for the high gas prices, that helped), I learned last summer on that bike and found it didn't fit to well because I was barely able to touch the ground at stops and was afraid I was gonna drop it. Three weeks ago we went to a Harley dealer and found a 04 custom that I fell in love with. I love the forward controls. This bike is such a joy to ride! I found a guy in MN. to buy my Triumph for what I paid for it, so this bike cost a mere $1500 more for a 9 year newer bike with none of the maintenance (valve clearance checks, chains, etc) that was coming due on that 17 year old bike.
If you like being Sporty, then the Sporty is fine. Mine is. Mine has custom floorboards and a hundred dollar bill in the rear fender. It can do a 120mph all day long. It's great on gas and it takes a real man or a real woman to ride it right. You just go ahead with your bad self. Enjoy and ride safe.

Siciliano, 120 MPH all day long, hummmm. That right?
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