Motorcycle Rider Basics

Mistake #2: Don’t Buy A Sportster

ouch thumb4 Mistake #2: Don’t Buy A Sportster Why not? I like the Harley Sportster. It's relatively inexpensive and it has all of the Harley good stuff. Power, hot looks and the Harley sound. Potato, Potato, Po-ta-to, I can hear it now, I love it!

Hey, I'm with you, I bought a Sportster and I loved it, for the first couple of months. But after about three or four thousand miles I started to focus in on the shortcomings.

Now, I could pick apart any motorcycle and list the shortcomings but that is true for most things. Everything has some pros and cons it's just that the Sportster cons just stay there and don't go away. You experience them each and every time you go for a ride.

For me, the ride was too high. By that I mean that the seat was just too far from the ground. I am a 5'9", 185 lb guy with no abnormal body characteristics (well, maybe a larger nose than most) and I like to have my feet flat on the ground when I am stopped at the traffic light.

2007 Model XL 1200C Sportster FXDB Dyna Street Bob FLSTC Heritage Softail
Seat Height 26.5 25.8 25.5

One inch doesn't seem like much but it makes a difference. You can always replace the seat with a lower profile seat and get right down to the Softail height. Of course you can do the same with the Softail seat and get right on down to some serious lowrider height.

foonsportster thumb1 Mistake #2: Don’t Buy A SportsterBut it is more than the physical height of the seat. The Sportster has a higher center of gravity than the Dyna or the Softail. When I ride a Sportster, I feel like I am sitting on top of the motorcycle (Well, that's because you are sitting on top of the motorcycle, idiot), not part of the motorcycle, kinda just hanging on. When I am on other motorcycles, with lower seats and lower center of gravity, I feel like I am part of the motorcycle. I feel more in control, safer somehow. I like that feeling a lot.

This high ride is also a consideration at low speed, maneuvering into a parking spot or just walking your bike from here to there. It always felt like it was ready to tip over and with my feet not really flat on the ground, I was always ready for the worst.

The other thing that I did not like about the Sportster was riding two-up with my wife Irina. Now Irina is only 105 lbs so there was not a lot two-up impact. We would have a great ride in the city on surface streets for an hour or two and everything felt great. But when we got out on the Freeway (or Highway to most of you), the ride dynamics changed. After 100 miles, we were ready to stop and flop onto the ground. It just seemed like work at the higher speeds.

The lighter weight contributed to this feeling.

2007 Model XL 1200C Sportster FXDB Dyna Street Bob FLSTC Heritage Softail
Dry Weight (lbs) 589 634 725

But the real deal was the vibration. My experience was on a new 2003 Sportster and since then Harley has added rubber and made significant vibration reduction improvements to the newer models. My 2003 vibrated so that using the rear view mirrors for anything other than looking for big stuff (cars) unusable. But that was OK. It was at around sixty mph when the vibration started causing problems. I was always keeping my hands and arms tense on the handlebars. If I got up to around eighty mph, it leveled out and ran well. However, then I was always looking in my (unusable) rearview mirrors for the CHP (California Highway Patrol). That didn't work either.

The small gas tank started out being a concern. My 2003 has a 3.3 gal fuel capacity. Which translated roughly into 100 miles. You can see that Harley has fixed this with the newer models.

2007 Model XL 1200C Sportster FXDB Dyna Street Bob FLSTC Heritage Softail
Fuel Capacity (gal) 4.5 4.8 5.0

So, my concern about only having a 100 mile range disappeared when I realized that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 100 mile fuel stop so I could get off the Sportster and flop onto the ground. Whew! Thank you for the small gas tank.

Height, weight and vibration were the three biggest things that turned me off to the Sportster after I had some serious riding experience on it. But hey, that's just me. There are a ton of Sportster enthusiasts who will ride forever on their beloved Sportster (the cafe racer) forever.

As it turned out, I put 12,000 miles on my Sportster before I made a change. Before I bought the Sportster, everyone told me that I would be looking for a bigger Harley in about six months, and you know what, they were right.

Even so, if I had a good deal on a Sportster, and I could get it right now, versus saving my money for the big bike, who knows, it's always still better to be riding that to be watching.

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  1. Thanks for your opinion, dwarf

  2. You are soooo right on. When I bought my ’05 883L I had exactly all the same feelings; as HD delivers the Sportster, it is just close to horrible. But, I wanted a Sportster since I was 14 and the neighbor cuties boy friend picked her up on his, so I wasn’t gonna give up on “my dream bike”!
    I’ve got nearly 40k on her now, and she’s a dream to ride on the freeway, yes I live in CA also. But I had to make changes: Lowering plates to get my feet on the ground, Freeway bars to get rid of the forward lean, a wide Mustang saddle to get rid of the butt ache, a windhield to get rid of the tense arms (and bugs), and a 32 front pulley to get rid of the high rpms at 70-75 mph (and get me around 60 mpg’s I haven’t picked up a 4.5 gallon tank yet). These are a lot of “get rid of’s”, but with them gone I am excited to climb on every time. And I can ride two tanks worth before I need a break with these improvements.

  3. Bullshit
    You’re only making your self sound like a pompous ass

  4. I agree the Sporty has shortcomings, but my fundamental disagreement is that the Sporty CAN be easily modified to make it great!

    Replace the rear shocks, adjust the handlebar/controls. Add forward controls, upgrade the pegs. Replace the seat. Then you’ll be a happy camper.

    Sporty is a much better bike than HD sends to the showroom floor.


  5. Hello, let me start by asking when you first get in a car to drive do you just accept the position of the seat, steering wheel, & mirrors or do you adjust them to your liking? Why would you think the bike would fit you perfectly without any ‘adjustment’? Sometimes it’s as simple as rotating the handlebar controls, but most common is changing the bars(& or risers), and seat(as stock seats are usually uncomfortable & keep in mind a seat’s height as well as width play a part in both the comfort & how wide your legs spread while standing), as well as adding highway pegs(foward controls take away from the stock position’s superior handling position). A sportster sits higher than a softail? Why would harley make such a tragic flaw?before you cry ‘foul’ perhaps you should check the difference in the lean angles between the two. Or better yet see if a softail can follow you thru any tight turns. Keep in mind that if you lower the rear with either blocks or shorter shocks you will change the handling. If you must lower the bike always lower both ends equally & don’t forget that you will lose lean angle. A change in gearing (switching to chain gives near endless possibilities) will put the rpm where you want it at highway speed, but make it a bit slugish off the line. Lastly keep in mind that on 04+(rubber mount) sportys there is no more trap door for easy access to the trans, you will have to split the cases just to fix something as simple as finger rollers on the shifter forks(re: expensive, or extremely expensive when compared to the same job on a 03 & earlier). Upgrading the seat, bars, tank, & suspension are easy even for the ‘mechanically retarded’. And for the record I have nothing but great memories of my past sportsters ( except maybe the piss poor design of the self destructing alternator magnets of my 88′ sporty), and was even searching for a 98′-03′ sportster sport when I struck gold and found a low mileage fxdxt. No matter what make the bike is chances are it was not made to fit you perfectly, so don’t complain about it just make changes til it fits you to a ‘T’

  6. I agree with most of the other comments here.. But then again the title of this page is MOTORCYCLE BASICS.. which makes sense because you sound like a very BASIC motorcycle rider. But I suggest you get more involved with the bike before you write it off.

    What about how easy it is to work on, upgrade and customize a sportster? Or how much more beneficial they are in grid lock traffic than your average bagger, like the lane splitting abilities (with the right handlebars and such) of the sportster that leaves big twins behind stuck in traffic with the rest of the cagers?
    Though Sportsters aren’t my favorite, there is a LOT to be admired about them. A LOT you have overlooked.

  7. ok, the sportster isnt the bike to go long trips on, it i a more affordable harley davidson wich is great for daily use, and holding on tight to the handlebar i your problem for vibration, why would you try to stop the vibration, be relaxed and you wouldnt have had an issue, my sportster handles very well at all speeds, if you cant turn around in a parking lot then you cant ride, i have no issue moving my bike anywere and i dont have to put my feet down, before i got my bike all i heard was bad things about harleys, well i have a few of my buddies, one ha a honda and hasnt ridden in a year because it wont stay running, the other has a yamaha and hant ridden it in two year because it wont stay running, and leaks everything, my bike since i have gotten it, i hop on it and ride, no issue, its got 22,000 mile on it so far and keeps going strong

  8. People told me that I’d be trading in my sportster for something bigger in 6 months too. I wont. I’ll trade my clumsy under-powered big bore v-twin for a finely tuned and refined 1000cc inline 4cyl. After my 2012 R6 got run over being parked on the street, I figured I’d do the responsible thing and get a sportster (for significantly lower insurance.. saved about $200/month). I figured since some friends from college, and my father sang harley’s praises, that they couldn’t be as boring as I thought they were. I mean, it is still a 1200 right? And after all, its better to ride something than nothing right? Nope. I won’t ever make that mistake again. Throttle response is terrible, she shakes in the corners, and is severely underpowered for that large of a displacement (that goes for the big twins too..). Under 70hp on a 1200? ridiculous.

    not to mention that the vibrations on any v-twin I’ve ridden (with the exception of my neighbor’s ducati) have been rough, but never as violent as my harley’s.

    throttle response feels like a honda civic.
    the bike shakes like a bus with a broken transmission.
    shifting is a clunky nightmare masked as “sturdy and mechanical” by dealers.
    the bikes are barely engineered (if at all).

    its hard to take sportsters (or any other american bike) seriously as a legitimate motorcycle.

  9. though, I will say in its defense, if you are not looking for something to customize and make “your own,” a sportster is the way to go. they’re the “clean slate” of motorcycles. I could see how it would be advantageous to get a sporty if you wanted to customize it, although, I’d just as soon find a ’70′s CB750 to play with if I wanted a bobber or cafe racer.

    Harley’s have some redeeming qualities, but they’re hard to see through their poor manufacturing and high price tag.

  10. WAAAAAA You sound like a total pussy. You shouldnt buy a harley if you dont like the vibration. It is Harleys calling card for gods f****s sake. You should ride a CAN-AM. WHAT A BABY!

  11. Mistake # 3, wasting the time it took to read this crap. if you want a sportster get one and have fun but most importantly be safe.

  12. makes you wonder how bikers rode the early harley’s panhead, shovelhead, knucklehead, flatheads, across the country with hardtails…no shocks…if you wanted a honda you should have gotten one. you know what they say…better my sister a whore than my brother on a honda.

  13. this sounds ridiculous to me. i’m 5’8” and i have a sporty. my feet are flat on the ground even with converse chuck taylors on, which are basically flipflops. also if you think a sporty sits high then don’t even think of getting a crotch rocket. you’ll feel like a bird on a wire.

  14. I’m a smaller guy at 5’6″ and I’m flat footed with space to spare on my sporty. I can handle it just fine in a parking lot without putting my feet down. Low speed lock to lock turns are nothing for that little bike (higher speed cornering abilities arent too shabby either). If I REALLY feel like traveling that far over 100 miles, I’ll carry extra fuel. The vibrations dont bother me either, what with the wind and bumps in the road anyway. If you dont like it, thats fine, but dont put it down for that reason alone. Sporty guys already catch enough flack for not riding a “real harley” as it is. I personally think they are underrated. How many sport bike guys or bagger guys do you see playing around on dirt roads?
    I wont ever trade or sell my Sportster, its way too much fun, and I get plenty of compliments already. It might not be the fastest or most powerful bike out there, but I can use ALL the power ALL the time, that’s enough for me. If I wanted to go that fast, I would have bought a faster bike.

  15. I agree that a Sportster 1200 may not be a good first bike (too much torque for one thing) but how in the world can you not get both feet flat on the ground unless you are a midget? That just makes no sense at all. I agree with several of your other statements though. I have been riding for just over a year and considered a Sportster, but decided on a Bonneville instead (which has a much higher seat height) and I’m only 5’6″.

  16. Got my XL883 sporty as a commuter new in 2002, I’m also 5’9″ and my feet are flat on the ground using the comfortable K&Q seat. Problems; rust, poor paint, poor chrome, leaking rockers, too small tank. Still got it 11 years on and for a commuter it does the job. Distance ride? 1980 round barrel guzzi G5!

  17. I’ve had my 06 1200c for 6 mpnths now I’ve had had it on a 300 mile round trip with no complaints. My original ride was a 81 cb650c and it sits about 3″ taller and was abld to have both feet flat on the road and I’m 5’10″ with a 32″ inseem. As far as vibration goes the rubber mounts took care of that. Now I will give you that before 04 the 1200c had you sitting more like a racer. Also its my understanding the new fuel injected have even less vibration. Now to address the issue of power and comfort for long rides. I dare say that everyone who has ever been on an older bike such as a knuck or pan would tell you that we’re all a bunch of p**sies if we complain about any bike from the factory being to uncomfortable and undrpowered for a long ride. Oh by the way just today I took a turn and scuffed the sole of my boot durring the lean.

  18. I am really having a hard time believing someone couldn’t put their feet down. I have the Sundowner seat and I feel like I’m sitting on the ground. A 26.5 inch seat height is FAR lower than a lot of bikes out there. If you truly can’t tolerate that, you are “out” on a lot of bike purchases, for sure. Women regularly purchase the Sportys for a reason; they can touch the ground. Also, I’m not getting the hate for the Sportster’s characteristics. It’s actually one of the finest bikes (for the money) I have ever owned. I have a 2004 1200C and I was amazed at how smooth it is at highway speeds. I have absolutely ZERO problems seeing out of the mirrors due to vibrations (the REAL mirror problem lies in it’s small stem size, actually). This bike inspires confidence when I’m riding it. It’s low to the ground, comfortably narrow, and has what I consider PLENTY of power. I don’t know what you’re used to driving, so that can be relative. I love my Sportster, and am never getting rid of it. I love that distinctive sound, the Harley Brother/Sisterhood, and the fact my $$ stayed in the US (Yeah, I know Honda builds here, too. It still says “Honda” on the side though, a Japanese Company). Like many have said here, there is an absolute WORLD of parts available to make your bike your own. That’s what I’ve done to improve comfort, safety, and looks. Good luck to all!

  19. I’m on bike #86, been riding since 1964 (had a ’68 Sportster way back), am 6’1″ and retired. Currently own a Road King and a 2002 XL883R Sportster with a HD 1200 kit, V&H longshots black ceramic coated, 13″ Progressive shocks and fork springs, Corbin Gunfighter, fwd controls, wheels/forks, etc powdered black. I’m 66, amateur road raced and hare scrambled in the ’70s then bought and flipped everything made over the years, the last being 2 Victorys. Full circle now, just can’t beat the HD feel and experience. I love the Road King for comfort but ride the hell out of the Sporty, just did 240 miles on Sunday, mostly in the twisties. The ’02 isn’t rubber mounted, the seat has next to zero foam and the shocks are heavy duty. It’s no Barco-Lounger BUT you can’t have more fun riding! I choose to ride over the Road King most days. Yes, I’m too big for her but I don’t care, it put’s a smile on my face like few other machines can. You can laugh at me riding this little bike but that’s your problem, not mine.

    Like another post says, you can re-pulley the front/back to gain lower RPM at speed, I left mine stock and have no problems at 70, I can read my mirrors fine at any speed. Sure it vibrates some (pre ’04) but that’s part of the mystique, feel and experience. Wouldn’t trade it for all the smoothness a Jap bike could offer, some things stand the test of time for a reason, they have a soul. With 11″ shocks and a low seat like the Gunfighter a 4’11″ gal I know easily reaches the ground (her heels) and she has no problem handling the bike. Anyone who says a Sporty is too top heavy and unmanageable isn’t a confident rider, doesn’t have the bike set up properly or just shouldn’t be riding. Not everyone belongs on 2 wheels.

  20. Love my Sporty! It takes the little roads when I’m just taking the long way home far better than the big twins. They were designed to do different things you know. The big cruisers were designed to cruise hence the name and the Sportsters were set up for higher ground clearance and are lighter for more agility. Never knew Harley to misrepresent them just people that bought them wanted interstate runners which they aren’t.

  21. I Agree you shouldn’t buy a sporty and the reason might surprise you…….Because you don’t have the ability or knowledge to change anything on the bike yourself! the possibilities of this bike are limited only by your ability to work with your hand’s! Owning a harley has become a yuppie sport (You guy’s buy the bike pick out a bunch of shiny parts gear up with leather and all of a sudden your a harley guy) I recommend a nice japanese cruizer for ya that you can pay 10,000 for and sell in a year for $2000 But hey it will fit you since japanese are all short and you abviously don’t know how to lower the ride height of a sporty! I’m so sick of yuppies trying to compare a american heritage product to a japanese copy of a american heritage product just buy the shadow chances are you or your friends will never know the diffrence!

  22. I rode a 1969 sporty from rockville md to long beach cali your a puss!

  23. Second thought just buy a nice little honda accord It will be low to the ground it won’t vibrate and you’ll feel safe going to yoga!

  24. I have posted all of your comments on my “Mistake #2: Don’t Buy A Sportster.” I have learned that I am a midget, a pussy, a yuppie, a baby and a pretentious ass. (Well, maybe sometimes I am a pretentious ass, ha ha).

    Some of you sound like you are true, passionate Sportster lovers who understand the lure and unique thrill of riding a Sportster. You know how to modify this machine and make it you own. You know why you love your Sportster. You show your pride in riding one of the most popular motorcycles ever made. To you true Sportster lovers, I salute you.

    And then again, some of you are just desperately defending the Sportster’s shortcommings. You acknowledge the Sportster has all of these problems when you point out all of the ways these problems can be fixed. And then if they can’t be fixed, like the vibration, your attitude is to simply “suck it up” and be grateful that you are not riding one of the older Harley’s which really vibrated. Not only do you agree that these problems exist but you brag about how far you have ridden a Sportster and endured miles and miles with these problems. Unless you are in a Iron Butt competition or have no choice on what you can ride, that’s just dumb.

    I did not buy a new Sportster so I could immediately start investing more money on mods. I really believe that when you buy a new motorcycle you should be able to ride it home from the showroom floor and enjoy the ride.

    I put a lot of miles on my Sportster and as a result of this experience, I know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t like my conclusions, I suggest that you “suck it up” and start being realistic. I support your passion for this motorcycle but passon alone will not fix the problems that I had with the Sportster.

    I wrote a fair and objective explanation of why I think I made a mistake when I bought a Sportster. I still feel the same way. So, my passionate friends, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  25. I really liked your conclusion!!! Very well said! I have a 1200 custom. I always wanted a HD but did not want to invest a whole lot of money until I new what I really wanted for sure. I ran up on a good deal on the one I have so I got it. I know now I cant be on it more than 100 mile straight. Not because I had to stop for fuel but because my *** ached. I’m looking into up-grading to a Road king. My dream was to always have a HD and when I turned 40 my dream came true!

  26. I’ve owned only one Sporty, a ’60 with magneto, kickstart only. I’m cured now, but I’ll tell ya straight out: if your Sporty sits too high for ya, run FX shocks (on the older ones at least, this works fine.) I used Yamaha R5 tubes up front; they were beefier than OEM tubes, had a mechanical brake that actually worked (unlike original Harleys,) and matched the ride height perfectly. Rode great, but the bitch only started when she felt like it, however, which is why I don’t own it now.

  27. Your beef is kinda silly. You could have just lowered the bike. You just wanted a big bike. I’ve had my Sporty for a good long while. I may buy a softail breakout soon, but my sporty is staying put. I have an 07 standard. I love that I cant scrape anything when turning. I dont like low bikes for around town bobbing and weaving. On the highway the big bikes rule

  28. Look, a Sportster ain’t perfect. It’s not to be compared to modern day motorcycles, however strange that may sound.

    Yes, you can ride ‘em hard, that’s what they were originally intended for.
    Hell, the older ones (pre-Evo) pull wheelies off the light if you’re not too careful.
    The later ones have milder cams and such, to reduce emissions, they tend to be a bit ‘slower’ perhaps.
    But especially with the older ones, you can run ‘em hard.
    Do they vibrate like hell when you do that? Yes, they do. Does your butt go numb after fifty miles? It probably does. Does your rear-view mirror make it look like someone spiked your drink? It probably does. Do modern and more sophisticated bikes pass you left and right on the highway? They probably do.
    And do you have to stop for gas every 80-100 miles? Yes, you probably do, and you’ll probably be glad to give your butt-cheeks some rest.

    If that sounds stupid to you (which it kinda is) you’re not a Sporster person. That’s okay, it’s not a club for enlightened human beings or anything.

    Because that’s Sportsters for ya, and that’s the appeal. They’re funky, narrow, shake a lot, and they’re quick off the line. They’re a hoot around town, and pretty usable on the highway. There’s better bikes out there. A lot of them. But that’s not why people ride a Sportster (or an older big twin). They ride them because they have this strange brain-layout that makes them feel alive on a bonkers motorcycle.
    Or because they might feel part of a by-gone era, or some bad-ass image. Whatever the reason is (all apply to me, I admit), it’s not because they want a flawless bike.

    Japanese bikes are great, they do everything perfectly, with little to no vibrations and stunning power and mpg-figures. They steer razorsharp, and stop on a dime. But all that takes away the ‘crazy’ feel. And some need that feeling in a bike.

    Ofcourse, you could mod a Sportster to handle a lot better, soup it up to devour everything at the lights, but let’s stick with a typical Sportster.
    I don’t know a lot about the newer bikes, they kinda lack soul to me, but in the end that’s why people ride what they ride. Because they like it.
    You might put people off on buying a Sportster, when for all you know, it could be just the bike for them in the end.

    So, to each their own, I suppose the conclusion would be?

    And to anyone owning a ‘modern’ (’83 and up) Sportster, if you feel it lacks punch, try gathering some info on maybe installing different cams, you might be a victim of the emission-madness and have the tame cams in your bike.

  29. So when you get in your car or truck; do you smile. How about when you get out? No? Even with the A/C, heated seats, and all the other comforts they offer? How come? How about when you ride your bike? Thought so; me too. If its a Sportster, cool. If its something else, I’m glad for you. But either way I don’t really give f#* last bike I rode was a BMW. Great bikes. Had a couple of them. Put over 20,000 on one on one 5 month tour. Currently I ride a Sportster, by choice. Have put only 12,000 on it so far. Lots of 6+ hour days (250-300 mile) days. When it gets uncomfortable I stop for a bit, and smile. Just ride.

  30. So I’ve read all the posts here, all the pros and cons.
    Just let me give you my thoughts on that topic…

    I am 29 years old right now and just passed my driving license for motorcycles.
    As a kid I always wanted to own a Harley. No matter what.
    So the first day after passing my driving license-test I went straight to my HD-dealer and did a test ride with 2 sportys.
    You know what? It felt great! Both of em (883 Iron & 1200 Dustom ) were SO much fun.
    I rode some twisties, some miles on the Autobahn (yes, I am from Germany), did some traffic jams in the city.

    Both Sportys gave me an unike feeling of safety. I was never nervous ori secure when riding them. Just sheer xriving pleasure.
    A Sportster is NOT a perfect bike. To be honest: in most concerns it’s not evena good bike. But it’s so much fun, any otherbike can hardly step up to that.

    I did a text ride on abrandnew BMW F800GT some days later. The BMW was better than the Sporty. In every single term. Except fun & feeling.

    And to be honest: the Sportster (at least thenew ones, I’ve never ridden an old one) are not that bad. There are vibrations but they don’t let my hands get numb or let the mirrors shake tha I can’t see anything.
    Overall I think the Sportster are the best Harleys you can buy right now if you don’t just want to ride straight lines.

    I am 6ft0 and I can places both of my feet on the ground, solid. For me, it feels like sitting on a couch (in terms of height). And yes: the seat is a little uncomfy. But hey, those 200 bucks aee well spend. Add another 50 to 100 bucks for bigger (higher) mirrors and the bike is perfect.
    Thats what I did and I can’t wait for the spring to come!

  31. if you are 5ft 8 and cant get your feet flat on the floor on a sportster then there must
    be something wrong with your tape measure…dont think riding a motorcycle is for you

  32. I just picked up a 94 Sporty 883 with many upgrades
    1200cc Screamin’ Eagle kit, fat bob tank kit, slimmer seat, T bars, fender kit, chrome kit, forward controls, etc… Because it’s so light it really flies and with the upgrades it’s not only comfortable but looks nothing like a sporty anymore
    Get many compliments everywhere I go

  33. What a pussy

  34. If you get a 2012 or new model sportster you will have Harley’s best built bike to date. All the twin cams have dozens of engine defects. The sportster has a better power to weight ratio and mpg. Really to beat a 1200 sportster you need to stop riding. The suspension is massively improved and everything is cheaper. The only thing the twin cams excel at are the two up captain chair type is seating. All new motors have the ability to send them back to the factory for rebuild except the sportster. They don’t need the service so it’s not profitable for Harley to offer the service. Why isn’t it profitable? Like I said. Even though it’s the best selling bike. They don’t have enough break downs to create the volume. All the twin cams have no issue breaking down.

  35. I ride an ’08 XL1200R, that’s a Roadster, a high-riding Sportster, pretty much the ‘sportiest’ Harley made after the XR models. I bought her used, and she’s still stock, the previous owner pretty much left her in the garage and did no upgrades.

    I’m 5’8″, 5’9″ when I don’t slouch. Never a problem reaching the ground, no problems maneuvering the bike, except when I’ve got a rider who doesn’t think she has to get off before I’m trying to park. Love that bike. My hands do numb up sometimes, and I do have problems seeing out the mirrors, sometimes, which usually means I’m gripping too tight and sitting too far forward. New grips will help, and some drag bars. The vibrations really not a big deal and, frankly, the last lady that asked me about the vibration while she was rubbing her fine butt I told, Darlin’, that’s why I bought a Harley!

    This is my first bike. I love riding. When I get big baggers try to put me down about riding a pussy bike, I ask ‘em what they learned on? Their uncle’s 250? That usually shuts ‘em up. My Sporty’s fast off the line, no problems on the highway. Yeah, after long rides my butt hurts. It does after a long time riding in my Jeep, too. If I ever trade up it’ll be to a Dyna or an FXR, if I can ever find one. For now, my bike’s light, maneuverable, and a heluva lotta fun to ride.

    The Sporty’s a direct descendent of the original Harley racing bike, that’s why I bought one. Nobody who drives a Porsche complains about not having enough headroom, or that they practically break their leg riding in traffic when they shift.

    While I respect the original poster’s right to express his opinion, I don’t respect his opinion — maybe he should have titled it, “Why it wasn’t the right bike for me” !!!

    Peace to all, ride on!

  36. First off it sounds like everyone agrees this guy is an idiot, but a 2003 sportster without rubber mounted engine is not a 2 up Highway bike for most people. 2004 and newer sportsters came along way 2007 fuel injected ones are even better. My 2006 1200 Roadster can do everything better than a Dina. Is faster, cheaper, way easier to work on, and handles like a dream. I take my bagger for long road trips, only because of the wife and her need for too much luggage!

  37. Pre 2004 is your problem. I had a 1988 Heratige and it vibrated me to death. Both my 2006 Sportster and my 2003 Roadking have no such issues. Called rubber mounted engine. Get a newer motorcycle, at least 2004 and up.

  38. So basically what your saying is that you’re a pussy…?

  39. I may be coming it at the end of the conversation/s, but I have an 883XL (Sportster Superlow) which was sold to me (here in Australia) new as a 2012 model, but have since found out that it is plated late 2010. That would be my first negative. Since buying in late 2012, I’ve put on just over 20,000 klm, so it’s not sitting in the garage! The first hurdle was the ground clearance, fixed with an after market set of shocks 13″ inches, changed the foot pegs to Dyna rubber (to stop rubbing the street in the corners), this made the ride much better, particularly on the great curves in our area. Second hurdle was a new set of tyres, the first set, Michelin Scorchers, wore out around 13,000 klm, which is acceptable. What wasn’t acceptable was the price and availability of a new set, $800+, and only available at HD dealers. Spent three days calling around, researching on the net and found that Pirelli Angels would be fine, correct profile for the front, and slightly higher profile for the rear, fitted with right angle valves all for $420! Within the first 100m the difference was AMAZING! Have also fitted a set of progressive cartridge forks. That’s it I guess. The only issue I’m having now is vibration, but at this point I’m putting it down to the new shocks I got for Christmas. Now fitted with a great set of Progressive Shocks, I’m thinking that the first 7,000 klm on the Pirelli’s were worn in with the old shocks, which were secondhand, now with the new shocks I’m suffering quite a bit vibration at around 110klm (65 mph approx). I would love to know if I’m right about this new vibration, the bike has always had a bit of vibration, but not this bad, my legs and feet actually get itchy(?) after riding for about 40 minutes, which is how long it takes me to get to work. I love my Sporty, but would love to have a “smooth” ride, or at least a smoother ride. Has anyone else found this when they’ve changed rear shocks?? I’m hoping when I get my next set of Pirelli’s, which won’t be to far away, that the vibration will go back to bearable.

  40. As an add on to my first comment, I forgot to mention that when I bought the Sporty I had it upgraded to a 1200, which included Screaming Eagle pipes, race tuner etc, so power is not a big issue. More would be great, but I’m happy so far with what I’ve got!

  41. Your a idiot. I have a roadking and sportster. Sportster is just as much fun. I like the sporty better actually. Less problems with the motor. No plastic inside on chains. Handles better. Google article on Why to buy a sportster. You will be suprised.

  42. I am 5’8″ and my feet sit flat on the ground on my sportster. I have had it sense it was made in 1992. I love it long or short rides. I also have a Dyna 2002 That fell in to my lap from a guy that I work with. when he could not pay for it. I still find my self getting on the sportster more than the Dyna. Just feels more comfortable and more fun to ride. Now if I am ridding two up I always ride my Dyna. My girl says the seat is wider and more comfortable to her.

  43. Dunno…sounds to me like you’re wishing your sporty was something it was never meant to be…nobody ever accused sportsters of being highly refined highway machines. Sure, iron-butts will run them on long trips, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re day trip and around town scoots.

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