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Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883

4.1 from 8 reviews

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

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.

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.

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....

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..


Been riding for over 40 years. Purchased a 2004 883 custom XL and never had any problems with it. For one thing, leave it stock, don't screw with the carburator with those useless upgrades such as jet kits, drilling out the slide valve, adding open exhaust pipes or installing hotter ignition modules. This is a Harley, not a crotch rocket, if you need 0 to 60 in 4 seconds this isn't the bike for you. Yes its heavy, all steel frame construction, not like the aluminum lightweight Japanese bikes that can't handle long trips, and vibrate apart. The weight on the Harley's are needed for smoother long distance rides, so you don't get beat to death like on the rice burners. You also need to know a little bit about the mechanics of Harley's and keep up with the proper maintenance on it, this is critical. Its a well crafted machine that will serve you well as long as you take care of it, best of all its a Harley. Harley's were never built on the premise of a racing bike or souped up crotch rocket, and they're not for everyone, only a select few are true Hog riders and appreciate what they have.
Fast accelleration, lots of power, great handling and stopping power.
I like everything about it.

1 comment
Any review that has to run down other bikes (or in this case a whole country's bikes) to justify it should be read with caution. To say Japanese bikes and the use of lightweight materials makes them unsuitable for long trips is just plain wrong. To say Jap bikes vibrate coming from a Harley rider is laughable. Weight is not needed for smooth riding, good suspension, brakes, lights, seat and riding position are, in all these aspects the Harley is left lacking. As for good acceleration, power, handling as pluses - you really need to get out more.


The 2007 XL883R has been an awesome bike. I've been riding since the 70's and for around town and mountain riding this as been the best overall bike I have had. I comes at a reasonable price, handles great, accelerates fast and looks good.
Nice braking, good acceleration, great handling(fun around town) and versatile enough for dirt roads, rubber mounted engine has reduced all that vibration of past.
Rides a little hard on bumps.


The "Harley-Davidson Sportster 883" is similar to most Harleys in that it is a great bike for the open road, but if you go near any pot holes, or if you try to take it on a gravel road, or even off-road it is completely pathetic. These bikes are not meant to be used on anything except on a clear smooth road. As with all bikes they are a lot of fun, but they are also very dangerous. You could be the best driver in the world, but if a Kangaroo comes along, or an idiot in another car, then you are a goner.
Its a Harley
everything else.

1 comment
How is this comment relevant to the review- " As with all bikes they are a lot of fun, but they are also very dangerous. You could be the best driver in the world, but if a Kangaroo comes along, or an censored word removed] in another car, then you are a goner" The kangaroo coming along could happen if your on a harley, a vespa, a push bike or a skateboard! So how is this bike any more dangerous than any other bike?

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Questions & Answers

Hi people,am thinking about buying a new Harley 883 iron.Am not looking for a rocket,and as long as it moves smartly I'll be happy.Ive owned bikes in the past,but never a harley.any feed back is most welcome, thanks.
1 answer
I would always recommend the 1200 - essentially the same bike, but why wouldn't want to have the option to use a bit more power?

I am new to the HD fold from a long and loyal Jap big Hp bike following. Just traded my ZX14 Ninja for a 2017 Iron 883 with V & H Short shot pipes and Stage 1 air. Despite the massive yearning for more power coming off the Kwaka I still enjoy riding the Iron more than ever before. It’s raw and involving and I made the right decision, but,..... still need more power. When I have enough $$$ saved I am looking at V&H FP3 Fuelpack tuner and S&S Hooligan (883-1200) conversion kit fitted by someone who knows this product. Can someone let me know if this power gain will scratch my itch. I’m not expecting 150Hp but need more low down and smoother linear torque. Also do I need something else to take this upgrade bearing in mind $$$ ? Thanks, Brian K
No answers

Is the 2015 iron good?
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Sportster Iron 883
Price (RRP)14995
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