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Harley-Davidson Sportster

Harley-Davidson Sportster

1200 Custom, Forty Eight, Iron 883, Roadster, SuperLow and 2 more
3.9 from 28 reviews

1200 Custom. A Different Experience!

I have been wanting to try a Harley Davidson for as long as I remember ! The twin cylinders, the finishes they have, and that sound! So it was with much anticipation that we made our way to the good people at Morgan and Wacker in Newstead, Brisbane on a Friday night to pick up a brand new 1200 Custom as it is simply known. ( Under the Sportster Family banner.) They go for about $19,250 (plus on roads). Lola there had been extremely helpful in obtaining one for me as usually they hire out the larger "bagger" models such as the Heritage Softail which I felt in no way ready for at this point... She even let us pick it up and do the paperwork/card procedures after hours as they had an event on ! Wonderful service. (Although event probably a one off really.)

So in due course we fired it up... Now I had heard a Harley Davidson at a bike expo a few years back in 2014. It was on a rolling road so people 16 and over could start it up, rev it and actually ride through the gears etc while stationary. Anyway at the time I thought it was almost sewing machine quiet. This is what I was expecting with the 1200 Custom. Not so ! It fired up with an awesome rumble. It had some aftermarket S&S pipes. My friend and I just looked at each other, both thinking "Oh Yeah!!"

So off I rumble into the night, heading for home with a full weekend's riding ahead for myself and my friend, who is to accompany me on my Yamaha FZ8. The first thing to master with a Harley is those indicators... two different press switches. One on each side... I don't know of any other bike that has this and it takes some getting used to. Press to indicate then press again to cancel If right is on and you press left then it will switch over to left and it will also self cancel when moving. At least that part is good. Otherwise it's quite distracting until you get used to it...I think they need to ditch this system.

The whole bike still shakes and rumbles like you are in an ancient bomber. I'm told the older ones were worse before rubber mounts. This of course is part of the mystique. I use moulded earplugs all the time nearly when riding. I especially needed them here, had forgotten them ! At least the next day I wore them...

One of the first things that strikes you-apart from the noise and shaking-is just how tall the gearing is. I don't think I got out of first gear for the first couple of k's through the city. Didn't need to really. First is good until close to 80 kph when you hit the the rev limiter at about 5500 rpm. In spite of its tall gearing you can really feel that massive torque in first. Second will easily get you up around 120 kph. For noise reduction, third is good to sit on for the open road. Forth and fifth are almost wasted unless you want to push the bike to silly limits it is hardly designed for. This thing is mostly for cruising but it will do more...

Our trip was to Blackbutt via Mt Glorious and the open sweepers around Wivenhoe dam etc. It handled both the tighter bends and the open sweepers very nicely at more moderate speeds than out and out sports bikes. I did not scrape it. Better riders than me might. The steering is heavier than, say, my FZ8 of course but really not too bad. As always, ride to your abilities, the bike's abilities and the conditions. One thing I found was that going downhill, I left it in first once again as up to 80 kph was plenty for me and I found the more than adequate v twin engine braking confidence inspiring for downhill twisties. So all in all a pleasant ride out in the sticks but a bit more of a chore in peak hour ! Speaking of brakes...well they are adequate...front feels a bit wooden compared to what I'm used to. Could really use twin disks and the back one? Like most bike back brakes...adequate, but not too powerful. Which really is as it should be. They are ABS but didn't test this. Front forks felt ok. Rear shocks can bottom occasionally, quite spine jarringly ! Both my friend and I found this on 80-100k country roads. An indictment of our road system too, of course, but this isn't the last word in suspension, although in fairness we did not play around with the preload... If that doesn't work maybe a set of Ohlins?

Kudos though, for the riding position, 'pegs, handlebars and seat. I just loved the whole setup and the height. I am about 182 cm so not exactly short and found it ideal. This, along with the beautiful chrome and spoke looks, metallic paint finish, are what I loved best about the bike. Pegs forward a bit but not too much. Brake and gear levers perhaps a bit long to reach. Gear shifting obviously a bit slow but quite pleasant and will loosen up a bit as the bike puts up some k's. Fuel range and economy seemed about the same as my Yamaha. I estimate 7-8 litres/100km and maybe 250k's out of a tank. Maybe better with more frugal riding than we did.... It's a 17 litre tank so no worries like those smaller "peanut" tanks!

Be aware, though, there is NO fuel gauge ! Just a warning light. I have no idea what range you still have when this comes on. Internet "advice" is mostly American and varies. The speedo is quite small and a bit hard to read as is the LCD display below it, but you can scroll through odometer, trip one, trip two, time and gear selected/rpm. So fairly comprehensive. Neutral and ABS light and alarm etc. Neutral is a bit fiddly but easier with practice. Once again it was new so will probably select more easily with time. It also has keyless proximity activation via an electronic smart keyfob and alarm which activates when keyfob is away far enough from the bike. No key to insert. Just one for the steering lock. They recommended 98 octane fuel too.

So..would I have one ? Yes. If I could afford another bike. Not ready to give up my naked sports bike yet. I'd make some improvements. Shocks, gearing, if different belt and pulley ratios are available, I'd gear it lower. Not much else. Tyres seemed up to the job. I think they were Harley Davidson branded Michelin but don't know what they are like in the wet. Would go one step up from standard on the pipes but I think these ones were a couple of steps up ! Oh and I'd spend a lot of time just looking at it.... :) ( Many thanks to the good people at Morgan and Wacker for arranging the weekend hire! I have no affiliation with them.)

Date PurchasedJul 2018

Smiles for miles

Everytime I get on it I have a blast, and as I sit here now I'm planning my next ride (maybe a short blat this evening?). I would have given it 5 stars if the factory suspension was any good, but once I sorted that out this is just a great machine. i have owned and ridden faster (Japanese and European) machines, but this is just so much more fun and engaging. With a few suspension upgrades it handles really well, surprising a lot of Sportsbike owners when I catch them in the twisties. It's got a heap of torque and doesn't mind revving a bit. I also rode some bigger Harley's before purchasing mine, and they were ok, but the Sportster is fun. With a little more research I would recommend a 2010 Sportster 1200C, get mag wheels, 13" Progressive 444 shocks, Intiminators for the forks and some preload fork caps, and a Mustang Vintage Solo seat. Then just go and have fun.

Date PurchasedMay 2017

there is no alternative to Harley

Just got my first Harley (Iron 883) for a month, so far so good, very happy about it. Just share some of my impression about it here:
1. It's heavy! If you move from Japanese bikes to Harley, then you will find it is heavier. When it is heavy, people tend to drop in garage more, so be careful.
2. It shakes/vibrates a lot. While other motorcycle companies all manage to reduce vibration as one of their goal, Harley keeps its special sound (aka from its special way of vibration). So this is something for you to get used to.
3. It's slow but fast enough. It has similar acceleration to Ninja 300 according to 0-60 mile figure. You don't expect acceleration on Harley. Actually VROD accelerated very well, but they just end of production, due to traditional Harley owners don't think "it's harley enough".
4. It's top speed is lower than other Harley and many other Supersports but good enough for Australia. You will see many complaint about its top speed for not being able to be confort on highway. But they are all Americans.They have higher speed limit than Australia. They will complain about after 80mph, the bike runs funny. I only see Australia's top speed is 110km almost everywhere, which is 70mph we never go after 80mph in Australia (we shouldn't).
5. Be prepared to hear "Sportster is girl bike" or "883 is girl bike" something like that. However, people who own Sportster will love them to hell, people who own both sportster and other big twins, many will say sportster is much more fun to ride.
6. Its loud (after stage 1). Sportsters are loud and sounds very Harley in all ways. You might hear people saying it sounds better than big twins before high rev.
7. Reserve your money for Harley tax, and you will spend a lot for sure!

Date PurchasedApr 2018

Quality workmanship

I have problem with the ridding stability with this bike so I deside with my mechanic to take closer look and see what is wrong and we was absolutely stun how the back wheel is mouted to a main frame on this xl 1200 harley.The engeneers at Harley Davidson Joking with as .work on frame this is technical catastrophe !!! And for that money it’s a terrible job what they did!! If you don’t believe
See your self.sory bud I have to writ-it.so next time i will buy bike from company that know what they doing!!milan v.

Date PurchasedMay 2009

Fun bikes

I bought this entry level XL883L Superlow Harley for riding around our property with the kids, I didn't want an expensive bike like my other Harley's so this bike has been perfect. This is only an entry level bike which I thought would be great for my sons at this stage.We ride it daily and have had it for 9 months now and like the mid mount controls for the open road

Date PurchasedJul 2017

Superlow, supervalue, superfun

For an entry level Harley the XL883L Superlow has to be the best of the range.

Alloy rims & radial tyres give you stable handling and great road feel & feedback. The 883 engine is grunty enough for almost any solo rider, smooth power delivery and enough torque to get over hills easily. With the 17L tank (vs 12.5 in the Iron etc.) it has significantly more range per fill, and IMO a sleeker more appealing style to the bike.

I have genuine lockable hard-bags fitted, same H-D quality you'd expect but a little odd in the internal sizing. Can be tricky loading them, but the Superlow carries them with ease.

Of course, the overall quality and finish is to the high standard you'd expect. The standard solo seat is a lot more comfortable than it looks, vibration is quite minimal and standard accessories are good, self cancelling turn signals, immobiliser, hazard lights. I prefer the black-out look of the XL883N Iron or XL1200CB, but the chrome on the XL883L isn't too overdone for my taste, unlike the Custom XL883C which is the model you'd get if you like shiny objects and laced chrome wheels with tubed tyres.

As with most bikes, suspension can't be 1 size fits all and is definitely something I'll be investing in later. That's my only negative, but given that it is an entry level bike, it does deliver that Harley Davidson quality in an affordable package, albeit with only 70Nm torque.

Highly recommended for anyone wanting to join the Harley family on a budget. I went with 4stars only because I need about $800 worth of suspension upgrades to improve the ride for regional QLD roads with a heavier rider, I'd like to say 4.7stars as there really is nothing else about the stock bike that I can fault. (Personally I don't like the mid-mount controls, but as with all Harleys, options to move, adjust, customise or accessorise are endless. In the case of foot controls on the XL883L, just in genuine H-D I believe there are 5 mounting position options plus highway pegs, plus aftermarket)

UPDATE - 6 months and over 7000km later...
Suspension upgraded to Progressive 412 rear & Progressive h/duty front (recommended on almost any bike) Stage 1 Screamin Eagle intake and Dyno-tuned with a Screamin Eagle supertuner to 56hp(41.7kW)@6200rpm & 53ft-lb(72Nm)@4800rpm, fuel economy took a hit and now averages ~18km/L or ~5.5L/100km. Upgraded to a HD Sundowner solo seat and some various, less relevant bolt-ons. VERY happy with it, ride almost every day, been on a number of longer trips. Of course if I had the money I'd buy a Dyna, but I can't think of any reason why I might have a different bike at this point. Services are simple, very reliable and even loaded with swag & camp gear I barely notice the extra load.
The Superlow 883 is a great bike.

Date PurchasedMar 2017

HARLEY DAVIDSON 2005 XL1200C 'Custom'

When you talk about Harley Davidson's HD bikes most people look at the twin cam softail or touring models.

Having owned a 2005 FXST Softail (carby version) I wanted to go back to the Harley 'family' but own something (for me anyway) a little different.

I have always gravitated to big capacity cruisers over the years e.g. Vulcan 2000, Vulcan Nomad 1600, Royal Star V4 1300, Suzuki M109R 1800, Harley Softail 1450, Honda VTX 1800 you get the picture.

I started to look at Sportsters. I wanted something light, easy to maintain myself, enough power & the 'classic' Harley 'carb' sound.

The Sportster XL1200 Custom has the rubber-mounted XL Evolution 1200 engine.

It has custom touches including a spoke 21-inch front wheel, front disc, 16 inch slotted disc rear wheel, chrome engine covers, forward controls and pull-back chrome handlebars and riser.

Some other features include; High-compression, high-flow cylinder heads, High-performance cams, Black powder-coated engine w/ chrome covers, New 1-inch diameter rear axle and stiffer swing arm, Forward foot controls, Chrome bullet headlight & 4.5-gallon fuel tank.

As with any purchase I make in cars or bikes, I always look for something which is close to 'stock' or comes with parts to return it to OEM 'stock'.

This is the 2nd bike I have every bought from a dealership & it was by accident. It is a 2 owner 2005 XL1200C (carby) blue/silver with 'screaming eagle' slip-on pipes & re-jetted carby. Everything is bone stock ... handlebar, grips, paint, seat ... stock & only 32 000 kms ...

The bike was a trade on a new Harley & wholesaled to the dealer I bought it from. To cut a long story short, I drove by the yard, saw it in the lane way, made some enquiries, took it for a hour & a half ride, and bought it for $6250 cash (as I was actually on my way to see a private seller Sportster - go figure) with 12 months rego.

I really love the simplicity of this bike. I adjusted the clutch, changed oils including brake fluid, plugs, changed brake pads and went through the service schedule in my service manual (a must have) including steering head adjustment. Easy & fun with a great deal of satisfaction of doing it myself.

The bike is light, fast (for me anyway), fun & easy to manage.

I am 6'3 & so far have found the OEM forward controls very comfortable. I was considering a Accutronix Forward Control Extension Kit but have not needed it. I'll put some serious hours in the saddle then make a decision.

Sportster parts & accessories tend to be cheaper than the big v twin Harley's and there are great online forums/resources you can tap into.

My advice would be to look at a 2004 onward here's some things you should know;

2004 – The frame is 100% redesigned & now uses a rubber mounting system for the engine to reduce vibration. Battery was now enclosed, the bike also had a redesigned hamcan, transmission door and a new oil tank.

2005 – Minor change this year, the rear axle was expanded to 1″ for increased stability.

2006 – The new XR1200 is announced. The bike is a modern interpretation of the now legendary XR750 race bike, it uses the same Evolution V-Twin as the stock Sportster with a new Down Draft DDFI II fuel injection system.

2007 – Fuel injection is now installed as standard on all Sportsters.

2008 – The front axle is slightly enlarged and the rear axle is decreased in size a little, both are now metric and have the same size – 25mm.

2010 – The engine control unit is moved to allow more room for aftermarket seat selection.

2014 – All new electric system is installed on all Sportsters, larger brakes are now standard, keyless entry is offered, the Evolution engine has an increased compression ratio and ABS is offered as an option.

Although they look great smaller 'peanut' style tanks have a limited range, great for the city but you will be looking for fuel stops on your country runs. My custom has the 4.5 Gallon tank.

But if you have your heart set on an earlier Sportster thats fine, but do your research first before you splash out your 'hard earned'.

Safe Riding ....

Date PurchasedNov 2016

Yesteryear and nothing remarkable

XL1200C Sportster
In today’s world of cruiser bikes that are on the market the choice is varied and vast all having different technologies but similar in style so how does the 1200 sportster fit in to this market? Well it fits in by style but by no means by technology.
This bike feels like yesteryear nothing remarkable to it at all. Going through the hills it is under par compared to other cruisers on the market and made quite obvious when you’re in a group ride and in every corner your gap between the other bikes gets longer because the sportster does not handle and to add to that not a lot of power down the straights. Around 67.7 HP @ 5680 rpm in fact. On the country roads on the flat stuff the bike seem at its best. Stopping power is good as the bike pulls up in an emergency stop very well. However like so many of the Harley Davidson products they have problems. So it is a yes to oil leaks and a yes to failed ignition twice on this one. A new clutch after 16k and a burnt exhaust valve that was very costly and ended up been a full top end rebuild. Simply the engineering quality just is not there.
In summary for some,the Sportster will make you feel like;You’re the man or may be even feel like you have made it big in the biking world in some way by riding this great USA brand name. Or for others they may feel like they have grown a tough looking beard and can't smile at anyone. But for me it’s a below average bike that will undoubtedly fail when pushed hard on a regular basis Way way before the competitors bikes do.So if you ride a bike quite hard then don't touch the sportster. And even if you don't ride one of these hard well then failure is just a matter of a very short time.

Date PurchasedMar 2012

So much fun and a joy to ride

Upgraded from a superlow 883
It is superior in every aspect
More comfortable, handles better, you can lean into corners with confidence
Superior blue with lots of chrome
Admiring looks and thumbs up where every I go
As a shorty, it fits me like a glove
I ride each day, commuting to the office and longer rides on weekends
Already clocked up over 2,500 kilometres

Date PurchasedOct 2016

Fast and loud

I have had this 2014 Sportster with 5000km on the clock for a month now, bought it with a super tuner so previous owner must have had it tuned for performance and plenty of custom chrome on it & 2 into 1 aftermarket exhaust. It's pretty thirsty but I think it's the performance tune.
Really fast bike, getting used to riding a cruiser from sports bike so turning, throttle response of the v twin and riding position all so different. It's very loud, have to ride with ear plugs but a real head turner and get plenty of compliments.
Really like the modern features, keyless starting, immobilizer & alarm, abs brakes. Also the modern pretty much maintenance free EFI engine & drive belt. No more greasy chain oiling, maintenance, checking and the mess..!
It's doing everything I bought it for so very happy. Very, very fast bike, rarely get to use the 5th gear because I do the speed limit most of the time..!! The tune on this bike likes the higher RPM's. I did test ride a couple of other stock Sportster's but they felt a bit mute & weak. I highly recommend spending a bit more & getting the super tuner for a performance tune.

Date PurchasedOct 2016

The choice is for you to decide

I have a 2012 883, Fitted with S&S 1200 kit, S&S slip on exhaust, S&S air filter. Very simple and easy to do... about 3 hours work to do yourself. It nearly doubles the horsepower. I rode the 1st Shovelhead XLX back in the 80's, no comparison. Just look at this bike... stripped down and simple... Fuel injected, belt drive, fork gaiters, hydraulic lifters, the most simple bike to service and own. It is built to ride on American roads, concrete highways, so if you want better road manners, try changing the fork oil to start with... rear has 3 preloads... experiment. Ditching the standard solo seat for a dual seat moves you a bit further back as well. Most of my bikes over 40 years have been Jap performance machines so I do understand the differences, I could have bought any bike going and I did look, a lot. This one makes you smile. It is super reliable and solid as a rock (lot of steel on this ride). Only short coming? You get very friendly with servo workers, less than 200kms between refuels.... But the beauty of that tank makes it acceptable. The engine mounting is excellent, clear mirrors all the way through the usable rev range. Am still a little iffy about the combined turn signal, brake and running lights but it works and looks clean. Very happy... would take a very special bike to make me think of a change. There is an endless list of modifications available such as 4 different footpeg positions alone, it will fit anyone. Enjoy.

Just a great old school bike with a splash of modern

I have a 2014 xl custom , love this bike , stock it's just a plain Jane , it is reliable and full of history .l hate all the cruisers with wide full tanks like steering a wheelbarrow. The custom is nimble has good torque and is good in city traffic and highway cruising will sit on 120 kph all day. Don't believe all the negatives about Harley's this bike has a bullet proof motor do your homework search the net you will be surprised . I have searched and ridden heaps of bikes over 40 years I have found a great bike and a riding brotherhood . Ok stock the bike needs some attention I have done a stage 1 Screaming Eagle kit ( heavy breather , pipes, and remapping) bike goes superb suspension put in Ikon progressive front fork springs and 7610 rear shocks handles so good now.Also added the Harley reduced reach handle bars gives the bike a more relaxed riding position is now a more comfortable ride , bars can be changed without having to change cables, bars are one inch wider and back about 2 inches feels really good .There are so many after market options with a sporty it can be a blank canvas. All in all I have found a great bike which hasn't given me any trouble "Live to Ride"

Worst bike I have ever owned

Bought the 2013 model harley sporster custom. Has broken down three times had the computer break down and they reset computer then riding home the computer shut itself and was replaced. This time it died again and when the fuel sensor in tank was removed it was open electrical and was broken very dangerus. This bike has only done 4200 kms and is nearly out of warranty. And showing rust. Harley did fix the problems no questions asked as they should. However very unsatisfied with this model it has some good points as a cruiser but in my opinion the quality of this bike is not great for what there worth.

The company 'Harley" are ridiculous.

It might be a bit late for this but, Superbrace in the States make a fork brake for your bike, and the cartridge kits are better than stock but longer forks would be the go. The Perelli tyres are unbelievable. The Harley 1200 big bore kit with the bigger cams is great as well.

A great bike to individualise to your liking and something that can keep evolving as the years pass.

If ever you are given the opportunity to ride a Sportster 883 or 1200 take it by the scruff of the neck and decide for yourself. But, before you do, read a little more about it's history if you really what to understand the bike properly and/or you are a motorcycle enthusiast. Leave your biases behind for an hour and try to understand that this motorcycle if a classic bike in every sense. I own an 1997, 883 with some minor mods, drag bars, exhaust and air filter. Love this bike to bits. It vibrates and shakes, it's loud under throttle, it pulls like a train, the brakes are good for public road speeds, the handling is surprisingly good and holds a line through a corner very well. the limiting factor becomes it's standard tires, low pegs and riders talent. I love it's low, long slim profile, I believe it has perfect aesthetic symmetry front to back which is not an easy thing to achieve but a bare bones Sportster has it. No, it's not very fast (in stock trim) compared to modern motorcycles with 1/2 the engine capacity but the torque more than makes up for it. A great bike with an indescribable quality. Once you get all the other weird and wonderful bikes out of your system (like me), you might just end up with a "back to basics" 883 that can be simply modified to suit your riding style. A fantastic blank canvas with loads of potential, great for a blast up the hills then a cruise down the highway. As the French would say… Je Ne Sais Quoi. Makes a great long term companion and reflects your personality exceptionally well when customised.

Love it!

Great bike!Been riding for over 30 years. Purchased a 2014 1200custom, and never had any problems with it. Just love it!

2012 XL883L

Bought my XL883L last October. Loved it initially, but now have learned a few things... My biggest gripe is that you CannoT buy any tyres for this bike, except for the same tyre as supplied new with the bike! HD has sewn up the market with Michelin! There are no other companies producing a tyre for this bike, and they aren't all that great!! Also, there is no fork brace available, all the fork braces advertised as fitting the Superlow Don'T. Stuck here "down under" with dealerships that don't know their product, try to rip you off and are of no assistance whatsoever!! I've had fun customising my Superlow, but totally pi55ed off with the after sales, and the price of a new set of tyres, $680 fitted!!!!! There's got to be something better out there, surely?? Don't get me wrong, totally love my Harley, but disappointed none the less, after a year I'm ready to trade up??
In the words of a great patch "Harley Davidson, if I have to explain you wouldn't understand"
Suspension not the best. Aftersales in Aust sucks. Only one type of tyre available, why??

1 comment
Seems that HD & Michelin are partners and you can only buy the Scorcher through HD dealers and it is also all they are able to recommend. After heaps of research, solved the problem of the Michelin tyres! Have put 2 Pirelli's ($420 included fitting and 2 right angle valves!) on now, they are much better than the Michelin, exceed the tech requirements of HD and the bike now handles so much better. No longer feels like it's going to stall and fall over in very slow tight corners. You can solve the suspension (which is not the best) with 13" shocks on the rear. This will also give you another 1" clearance, which makes a huge difference. Try cartridge fork kit for the front. Still feel the bumps, not as much as before, vibration dampened and the bike now handles more like a noisy sport bike!! Have less than 1 year on my warranty, so hopefully won't ever have to put it to the test. Figure I'd lose! Good Luck....

Great bike

I bought a low km 2008 105 year anniversary model XL1200C Sportster recently. I hadn't been looking to buy one, it was parked on the side of the road with a for sale sign on it. Out of curiosity I stopped to have a look. I was so impressed with the looks of it that I bought it then and there.
I had never ridden a Harley before and it is about 40kg heavier than my other cruiser, a 650.
What a treat to ride. The sound coming from the Screamin Eagles had me grinning all the way home.
The clutch felt light, the gear shifts were effortless and smooth. No clunking or false neutrals. The Torque and acceleration are also very impressive. The big surprise was the balance of the machine. Although quite a bit heavier than my other cruiser, it feels lighter. The seat is higher and it is much easier to walk it backwards.
It is a joy to ride and own. The only negative is I get a bit sore on long rides. I am used to the seat and foot peg positions of my other bike. The Harley has forward controls already but I would be more comfortable with them forward a few inches more.
The sound. The looks. The power. The quality of finish.
Forward controls not forward enough.

28 years of Owning and building Hogs and this is one of the better ones.

They are very basic motorcycles and that is what they were always intended to be. No frills back to basics motorcycling.They were never designed to be a road racer. They are a classic sports bike of a bygone era, adapted into modern times. Anyone who thinks he is buying a sports bike will be disappointed. They are sold in a very "Soft" state of tune, and like anything, if you bolt the performance bits on, its going to go a lot harder. Having had and rebuilt several Iron head sporties,Shovel head Big twins and worked on several Block head sportsters,including the 2006 model XL883 I have had from new since Xmas 2006, I can say these are a very well built motorcycle. They are strong. All sportster engines are a bit rattlely when hot but this is normal as they are Qaud cam push rod engine and gear backlash noise is probably there most annoying feature, at least with quite pipes on. I build engines for a living and have done for 38 years and can tell you these engines are built like the brick perverbials compared to most. The older XLCH and XLH engines were as well, but like everything, to compare bygone era technology in this day and age to late model gear, they just dont rate. The later sportsters have in standard form, reasonable everything so long as it is not the Low model or the 48. Lows are a bit challenged to say the least rear suspension wise as is the 48 but fuel tank capacity is the biggest draw back with the 48, along with a hard seat. This however is what makes them one of the biggest sellers. They look hot and looks come at a price. If you want a better ride get the standard XL model. Even the standard model could be a lot better, but as I say, they are reasonable. The 2004 - 2006 models are the rubber mounted engine and the last of the carby'd models. Smooth as silk but the carby does suffer when cold (they cough a bit), but nothing plenty of choke doesn't fix and when hot run like a clock. After 2006 they were fuel injected and should not suffer this annoyance. A very good commuter and easy handling are there strong points. They will sit all day on 100-120 kph. They return excellent fuel economy if sat at 100 KPH and in standard trim will walk away from most things at the lights. They are a very torquey engine that pull strongly. The 1200's have oodles of power compared to the 883's, but even the 883 pulls well for what it is. The brakes are quite good ridden at legal speeds and the handling also.Remembering this is not a full blown sports bike. Merely a sportster. If race track qualities are what you want, buy a Buell. The sportster is a very honest old school bike and is a lot of fun.Have only ever had one brake down and through no fault of its own I might add. Prior ownership - worksmanship issues but the old ones did leak oil and handled poorly compared to the modern sportster.The new models are a far cry from my youth experience with this same bike. I quite like them as an all rounder and would rate them as a very honest workhorse.
Build strength and reliability and no frills. Love that belt drive. Will never buy a chained motorcycle again. Love the rubber engine mounts.
Engine gear train noise. Easily fixed though with a good set of pipes or ear plugs.

1 comment
Still own this bike 6 years later, 5 months of the year before Winter and Summer Rain does a round trip of 650km from Burrum Heads to Brisbane Alpha Airport Parking due to my fortnightly FIFO role I have, and 5 words for my 12 years of ownership - Batteries, Oil, Fuel, Tyres and Filters. Given XLNT Quality modern Oils these days, I do the Oil and Filter at between 8 - 10 000 each time, the air Filter and iridium Plugs at around 15 and then 30 000 and I am on my 3rd x Genuine Rear Tyre and 2nd Genuine Front Tyre given 15 thou for the rears and 20 for the fronts if ridden at legal highway speeds and not like an absolute Maniac. I change the Batteries out regardless of Condition every 2 years but will say before I started going out of Town every 2 weeks years ago that the Genuine original Battery lasted 6 years. I did have it on a Battery Saver whilst away for the fortnight and that kept it well it seems. So, on that note It has not had one Factory Fault since the day I bought it, in fact the only fault it has ever had was one I created due to misaligning an exhaust bracket years ago when I removed it to change a rear Tyre out. It eventually cracked the bracket the clamp was mounted to and was making a rattling noise until I got a new one. It still does 260 - 270km on 10 Litres before hitting reserve, so have my fuel stop at the Sunny coast on the way down and 1 on the way back timed to perfection is a Quick 15 dollar top up and a Cuppa Coffee and I'm off again for the next 270. I have fitted a small Sports shield to keep the airflow above head level and Bugs off my Visor at night, a Rear bar to Hold My work bag, Tank Bag for the Phone and Wallet and a set of 2 inch Risers and Flat Bars which at 178cm tall when I put my feet on the Rear pegs puts me in a slightly forward position that then becomes neutral on the Arms and Shoulders at 110 out on the Highway where allowed. It is Extremely comfortable like that in fact and with that the only other thing I can add is that in Traffic it is light enough to be manoeuvrable and Heavy enough on the Highway not to be blown about like a rag doll. So unless I was looking to give Mick Doohan a run or put a 800 km plus a day on a bike or Go up against a Jack Daniels Big Twin on the 1/4 mile, I find these bikes absolutely perfect for me and what I do..


I ride a 2008 Xl 1200C and dont ever think i will regret having bought this bike as my first harley. Its brilliant, easy to style and if its more power you want , its easy to add on more. Just a few tips to nmake this bike even better.Obviously when bikes are made as stock we tend to find one or two things about them that we dont really like after a few rides. It is up to the individual to change what you dont like on your ride . Think of the relationship between you and your bike as one between lovers. you dont always get the perfect partner but it is up to the two of you to compromise and learn to tolerate each other's likes and dislikes to make the relationship count. Her's a few tips which worked for me and might even work for you too. 1. change the stock shocks as the are not all that comfortable 2. Better breathability so change the air filter and you will definately notice the difference in throttle response 3. Aftermarket pipes definately make my day everytime i jump onto my bike and crank it. Even those who deslike noise can use quiter baffles and achieve awsome results nevertheless 4. power commander to manage your fuel system tops up the icing. Remember this is a Harley, America's icon motorcycle since years ago and it is made to keep that reputation for generations to come. If you do not have time to be passionate about what you own, you have very little to appreciate from it as evidenced by other people who just write negative things about these bikes all the time.Do not be dismayed by people who think that they know everything about bikes . No one knows everything but God!!!. FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Sports feel and handling with better sitting position much more comfy compared to a sports bike!
I wish it had the dash on the tank like the other model Harleys. Needs at least the fuel gauge that is visible.Standard shocks are not the most comfy!

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Questions & Answers

Hello guys!! I bought a new iron 1200 a few days ago and I just found that it’s full of slight scratches especially on the fuel tank. Tank is full of circle scratches and it’s seems that somebody was cleaning the bike with wrong cleaning equipments.. I’m going to bring back the bike to dealer for sure.. Also I started to worry that my bike was not a brand new. Is there any chance of that scenario? Is there any way to confirm that my bike is actually brand new? I will appreciate your help guys !
1 answer
The only way to fudge the mileage on a newer Harley is to replace the speedo AND the ECU, which becomes expensive, as the vehicle mileage is recorded in the ECU. A new speedo will sync to the existing ECU and display the bike mileage straight away. Almost all paint has swirl marks, and if you use the bike it will pick up a few marks just through regular use, so unless they are actual scratches or chips I wouldn't stress too much.

How much does the 1600 ks service cost?
2 answers
Hi Brett. Average cost of a H.D. service according to the blogs I read seems to be around $ 350. I could not specifically find a first service cost. Non H.D. dealers might be cheaper but probably best to keep it " in house " for the first few services. Hope this helps. Cheers, Michael.Thanks Michael. I got mine done yesterday at Brisbane. $430, I guess I'll be paying these prices while it's under warranty. Thanks again mate.

I think I’m needing a clutch on my sportster xl1200c 2005 , I just bought bike and clutch lever has to be all the way in and if front brake is not applied and in gear bike creeps foward? I’ve replaced clutch cable and adjusted clutch several times it’s still the same? I was told by the original owner that bike has a Rivera primo pro performance clutch , any one know if I can reuse the basket over again and just replace the friction and steel plates, I don’t know what was replaced, I’m thinking and spending 600 bucks on the Barnet scorpion performance clutch assembly with new hub and pressure plate, any info would be great. thanks Paul k Longisland
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