The Harley Sportster was one of the first bikes by the company that was fitted with rear suspension. It was also one of the first Harleys to be fitted with an overhead-valve engine and a higher performance.The Sportster has enjoyed a long production run which means prospective Sportster owners get to benefit from the large spare part market and the vast technological know-how of mechanics.
The highway cruising, large motorcycles that are commonly associated with the name Harley Davidson weren’t introduced until a few decades, which means that the Sportster is a true representation of the brand.
Different Sportster bikes
You’ll find numerous models in the Sportster category. Following are some of the common models:
- Iron 883
Iron is the 883cc counterpart of the 1200cc Nightster. It is one of the cheapest Harley you can buy new and provides excellent value to those wanting a fun and simple v-twin bike.
Introduced in 2010, the Forty-Eight has also made a number of sales. Its features include a wider front tire, wire wheels, and a peanut fuel tank.
This is a modern and road-going version of the XR750. While they can be slightly unpowered and heavy for serious racing, you can add some performance upgrades and end up with a powerful machine.
Choosing the right Sportster for you?
The right Sportster ultimately depends on what you are looking for in a bike. To figure out which is the right model, you need to take the following into consideration
- 4 or 5 speed
The 5-speed Sportsters were introduced back in 1991. While some say that Harley v-twins are torque machines and the 4 speeds are fine, others find that 5 speeds offer better acceleration. Those in favor of 5 speeds say that the bikes are better for urban riding and also addresses some problems that were there in the 4-speed box. It is best that you try both and choose the better one.
- Belt or chain
Introduced in 1993, belts replaced chains on all Sportsters. While belts need less maintenance, replacing a belt is much difficult than replacing a chain.
- Ironhead or Evolution
You need to think this thoroughly; while many love the original Ironhead engine, the Evolution engine provides great benefits. With the Evolution engine, you can get more modernity and better reliability, particularly with the recent fuel-injected models. Meanwhile, many have the opinion that the original carburetor-fed Ironhead represents an authentic Harley and the easy and reliable Evolution engine takes away the authenticity.
- Directly-mounted or rubber-mounted engine
Sportster bikers after 2004 came with rubber engine mounting systems. While this addition made riding slightly less shaky, it increased the cost of the bike. So, if you want to keep the cost down, it is best to go for a non-rubber mounted engine.
- 883 or 1200
The 883 was a little unpopular because of the slightly smaller engine size and the decreased power output. However, it is easy to change the cylinder heads, pistons, and barrels. All the other parts are almost identical. If you want the power of a 1200 without spending too much money, you can buy the cheaper 883 and then convert it to 1200 using the kits available.
- Fuel injection or carburetor
Models from 2007 onwards came with a carburetor instead of a fuel injection. However, both have their own benefits. With the new induction system, you still get to enjoy the signature engine sound and enjoy a reliable and economical performance, even in cold weather. Meanwhile, carburetor Sportsters are highly reliable, and cheaper to buy, maintain, and repair.
- Stock or custom
Harley owners tend to customize their bikes so before buying a Sportster, ensure you are aware of all the custom additions done to the bike.
Sportsters are highly reliable motorcycles and can go with you a long way, provided you take care of them. When it comes to choosing the right Harvey Sportster for you, it all comes down to your preference. As a rule of thumb, do thorough research about the model available before you pick one.