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I went home for thanksgiving to spend time with my parents and family and while there my dad purchased an HD 1200 Sportser. I took him to many different dealerships but I could tell he really wanted to purchase an HD for two reasons: American made and that was the brand bike to ride when he couldn’t afford one growing up in the 50’s (by the way he rode for 5 years on other brand bikes).

I rode the bike home because he did not have his motorcycle license and thought I would share my experience with you on the ride.

Positives:
Great riding position. His model (custom) did have the forward pegs but the strech was not near as ridiculous as the speedmasters. Now that I am used to the speedie it doesn’t bother me but when I first test rode it, the exaggerated stretch took a little to get used to.

I kept asking myself "where's the “paint shaker” everyone keeps talking about? Did my dad get an imitation sportster?" The bike was completely smooth and actually felt like I could ride it easily on 500 mile days (especially with the touring seat they put on). Did the new engine take out THAT much vibration compared to the older models? Were the older sportsters really that bad compared to the new one?

Great lean angle. I could really carve up some canyons on the 1200 cc (not quite as good as my SM but very good nonetheless.

Fit and finish on the bike screams quality. I could complain a little hear about some of the rust on the bolts that are now appearing on my SM but I won't.

Cruise control comes standard with the bike (thumb twist kind).

Negatives:
It is a little top heavy but so are most of the other non-cruising bikes I have ridden. (please no arguments on weather a sportster is considered a cruiser or not).

Price…although it was more expensive than my SM (I paid 8.5k OTD for my SM) it wasn’t too bad considering he had all his accessories put on the bike before leaving the shop. His price was 12.5k OTD but he had the touring seat, back rest, detachable windshield and large backrest with sissy bar rack, and engine guards (which will come in handy) to list just a few of the items.

Overall, I thought the bike handled great and can’t understand all the HD sprotster bashing I see on other forums (ignoring the fact that the HD sportster won a multi-bike shootout last year with other like bikes). The power is very tame but can be aggressive if needed. I, personally, would not consider one because my SM has all the above positives plus many more over the HD but overall I really enjoyed the way it rode and thought I would share it with the community.

Kevin…
 

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Fit and finish on the bike screams quality
I have said this exact thing here many times. In fact it's the one thing i really like about HD's and i also thing a big part of the reason thier prices are what they are. My speedmaster isn't bad compared to jap bikes in that regard, but it can't hold a candle to HD. On the other hand as you said i saved about $4k over the 1200 which i think is the comparable HD to the SM.

The vibration issue is apparently deppendant on the model. I was at a red light the other day and i'm looking at the HD in the lane next to me and was amazed to see the guy's hands vibrating so badly they were a blur ! It was incredible. It was a newer bike too. But i think some like the 1200 have been rubber mounted and much improved. I suppose they leave certain models the way they are because many hardcore HD guys LIKE that vibration because it's part of the, ahem,......HD vibe. :-D

Oh, and i really think a lot of ther HD bashing that goes on is in large part due to the whole HD "lemming" stigma. It's what i find pathetic about the whiole HD thing. But the bikes themselves are fine if thats your thing. It's just not mine but they're great bikes for those who are into the whole V twin thing.
 

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Pick any subject and there will be bashing. Let the people rant.

This bike was top of my list when I started shopping. Didn't like that HD rubber mounted the sportster engines (is nothing sacred), but HD knows how to sell bikes.

I loved the Sportster, and although it seemed overpriced was almost a done deal. A buddy who rides a Road King suggested I give Triumph a look, and that swung me over.

I rode a Superglide in the 70s and wasn't aware of a HD culture. I still find the concept odd, but another friend told me he sold his Road King because he didn't fit in with the Harley crowd, so I suppose it exists at some level.

I agree with your dad, the style, sound and feel of Harley is unique, no matter how much it is copied. Congrats to your dad, safe riding. Hope you guys put many miles in together. I wish I could have with my dad.
 

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they're cool bikes, I like them and I ride with a guy on a 1200 sporty. He doesn't like to ride with other HDs b/c they give him grief about riding a girl's bike. A girl's bike that can run circles around their bloated big twins. He prefers to hang with brit iron.

A sporty should be a sporty, not an overloaded mini-dyna. I'd like to get a beat up 883 and put a 1200 high-comp kit in it and cafe racer it. And ride with Brit bikes, of course.
 

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Kevin, good to see you.

The Sportster is still my favorite of the entire HD line-up, bar none. I often stop dead in my tracks when I see one, and no other HD does a thing for me.

Just today we were at a bike event with a bajillion bikes, but it was 2 sharp-looking Sporties that caught my eye.

I would prefer the custom 883 or 1200 because of the forward controls.

Recently my local HD dealer had some leftover 883s on sale for... $5,500! It was SO tempting. But the Sportster is so similar in size to my Speedmaster it didn't make sense to get such a comparable bike.
 

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Kevin, excellent review. +1 on this being a great day for you and your Dad. I have nothing against HD other than the price point for old tech bikes. I meet a lot of HD riders and the Sporty guys/gals always seem to be having fun enjoying their ride. Only real negative comment was how HD gives ***** trade in values when thinking about trading up, but that's not just them. Does grind abit just after buying into the "mystique" sales pitch. Top paint and chrome with more after market goodies than the rest combined. haha

Best to your Dad, make him practice just like I bet he made you do many moons ago. :chug:
 

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I am giving serious consideration to getting a 04, 05,06 Sportster. I think you can get one for about 5K or less. Why the 883? I will get the 1200 big bore kit with a 2 into one exhaust etc. Priced the conversion out and as I recall it would come in well under another 3K and will leave a factory 1200 in the dust. So for $8-8.5K you can have sleeper. Cahnge out the suspension, perhaps add a fly screen and rear sets to round it out. Makes a nice winter project.
 

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I was trying to decide between the Sportster and the Bonneville. I chose the Bonnie because I felt the Sportster was a little small for me (6'0 200 lbs). I couldn't afford a Dyna so I bought a Bonnie. I'm very happy with my decision - VERY happy!

I still feel that one day I'll have to own a Harley. I"ll have to move first because my neighbors are all completely uptight.
 

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I too looked at Sportsters. (Spell check doesn't like that word. That is appropriate) I almost bought a near new used one at the Harley dealer. It was one of those anniversary models I think. It looked like a flat tracker. It was about $6500.00. I just couldn't bring myself to be a Harley rider. Really wanted that bike though.
 

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2000 Sportster 1200 'Sport', I put close to 40,000 miles on it and LOVED it!

The BOMB though is has already been suggested:
A used 883 for next to nothing, a 1200 kit KEEPING & USING the 883 heads, good shocks in the back, good springs up front, then sport it out. Café clip-on bars are pretty brutal on the rider though, you almost need more leverage.

Mine was not the new rubber mounted engine though, so I used a case of loctite and replaced multiple lens & various parts that vibrated off. I LOVED that bike.

The hottest set-up would be to find a 1200 Sport with it's factory exhaust & suspension still intact, then replace the 1200 engine with a built up 883 engine (turned 1200), drill out but maintain the cross-over pipe, and go on the 'Net to learn more about how to convert the factory Sport's exhaust.

The ONLY other more visceral bike I've ever owned was my Ducati GT900S w/Conti's.
 

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sweatmachine

Know what you mean about the Sporty, I've owned 14 Harley's over the years but loved the Sporty most of them all. Used to build the US Twin Sports 883 race bikes out of 883's. It's a bike you can do so much with, change it to anything you want! The picture's below are of a 883 I built for myself, took a 1st and 2nd place in two different bike shows. It started out as a 883, did the 1200cc kit but left the heads 883 small, man did that bump the compression!



 

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Any of you guys curious about Sportsters, come over to the XL Forum, sign up, and have a look around. One of the coolest things about Sportsters is the incredible variety in styles. :wink:


[ This message was edited by: Joe-Dirt on 2006-11-26 20:26 ]
 

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I had this before getting my Buell.... it was a killer on the wrists and elbows. after 200 miles my arms were shot from vibration. this was a 2000 my before the Buell motor with rubber mounting went into them....


[ This message was edited by: FEDCT on 2006-11-26 20:50 ]
 

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I had an 883 in 86 which I really liked, although at that time they did not have rubber mounted motors, or 5 speed transmissions.
Good sporty bike, safe because you could turn and stop well on it.
No problems with it at all, and it seemed to hold up well to abuse.
Mine was candy apple red and quite sharp.

I think despite its sports, it would be looked at as a chick or wimps bike, as many rate a bike by how hard it is to hold up.

If I was in the market for a harley I think I would look for a used 883. I think they have belt drives and rubber mounted motors for a while now, along with a 5 speed trans.

Brett
 

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I bought a new 883 hugger in 1990. beautiful bike! (Hi-Fi Blue!) Hated it, however. Gutless, evil handling, and vibrated so bad it turned my arse to jelly after only one tankful, (a pitiful 80 miles to reserve.)

And THAT was compared to the long string of 60s and 70's Triumph's I'd owned. BUT, HD has supposedly solved the vibration problem with the new mounts that rubberize the engine/exhaust as a unit. And, with the new 1200cc mill with Buell -inspired guts, it might be worth another look at the venerable Sporty.

No one could ever deny the beauty and finish of a Sportster. xlch? yummie!
 

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The custom 1200 looks incredible. Even better being ridden. If I had disposable income, I'd have one.

And a Gretsch Tennessee Rose, Dumble Amp, Neumann microphone, etc.

:)
 

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Those are some nice looking bike's. :cool:
 
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