Participating in test rides on the new Harley lineup is, understandably, a major benefit of being an employee here at American Iron Magazine. The day the new steeds arrive at our office, you notice grown men morphing into kids at a candy store: “Who’s taking what model?” “Where are we going for lunch?” and “What ride are you going to tackle this weekend?” become part of the daily conversations. Harleys have a way of bringing people together and giving everyone involved an excuse to make a simple routine an adventure. The morning commute becomes part of your nightly dreams. All day and all night, your mind becomes infatuated with the reality that a brand-new Harley is waiting for you to come check on it every free minute you get, even just for a quick peek.
Love at first sight is going to play a big part in the huge success of the Iron 883, along with a price tag that can fit just about any working man’s budget. This machine is a refined piece of artwork, but still in line with the original “against the grain” styling of the 883 family. Harley has created a bada$$ machine without the shine, without the chrome, but with a blacked-out profile. Mastery of the old bobber style is apparent, plus Harley has incorporated a lower, meaner stance; combo signals/stop lights; and a foldaway, side-mounted license plate holder are just a few of the many details that make the complete package a marvel to the eye. Harley keeps it simple with matte finish paint in black or Silver Denim. The engine is black powdercoated, and features electronic sequential port fuel injection tuning for a steady idle, and rubber mounting for a smoother ride. It’s not a speed demon, but the Iron runs true and delivers power to please the experienced rider, as well as the entry-level cyclist (something the Sportster line has always done). The shorty dual exhaust delivers the trademark Harley sound at decibels that are obviously within city noise pollution limits. A black powdercoat finish on the exhaust would be a sweet idea once the bike is yours. The 150mm rear tire and spoke-case aluminum rear wheel sit at 16″, and the front wheel at 19″. Both have a black finish and give the appearance of forward motion, even when standing still.
Now for the ride: perched on a solo saddle, you get the feeling of complete control. A passenger seat can be added as an accessory if you feel the need to add some insanity to your ride. As to that sense of complete control, you will immediately notice that the lower stance provides even the vertically challenged with a confident, comfortable, flat-footed stopping position. I stand roughly 5’8″, and this bike felt like it was designed perfectly for a man of my staggering stature. Some larger or heavier individuals may feel a bit cramped and should check out the Iron’s soul mates (the Nightster, Cross Bones, Night Train, Street Bob, and Fat Bob), which all offer a bit more wiggle room, but keep the same H-D theme and style.
The slammed stance does come at a price, however, with very limited travel when hitting speed bumps or the occasional pothole. Keep your eyes on the road and do your best to avoid these hazards, or your body will pay for it. The foot controls are mid-mounted, the solo seat is 23-1/2″, and the handlebars are low-rise drag a combination promoting the proper stance, which keeps you wanting to ride on and on. As you continue your journey, you may realize the limitations of the 3-gallon tank and having to hit up a gas station roughly every 130 miles.
Overall, Harley hit the nail on the head with this model, and should reap the rewards. The lower end price tag of around $7,900 MSRP keeps this machine an achievable conquest, attainable by the average working man. The solid, well-built feel gives you a sense of value when many companies are using cheap plastic parts to save costs. The old-school style is in and never really dies, which tells me the resale value should remain strong. The ride is that of a true Harley, and is a crowd pleaser as well as a head turner. Most of my peers were interested in this bike, more than the many other Harleys I have taken home. I believe the Iron 883 will cultivate a younger audience for the Harley family and keep the tradition alive. AIM
–Joe Russo as published in American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.
Years Riding: 20-ish
Harley’s Iron 883 Sportster is one fine lookin’ bike. It garnered several longing stares from East Village hipsters, and one lilting “Nice bike” comment from a young lovely at a gas station. Too bad it’s all flash, no dash. Not that I was expecting much grunt, mind you. It’s just a shame the Iron 883 doesn’t bring anything more to the table than its good looks. It’s kinda quick, but not fast. And while the short wheelbase keeps it nimble, the handling didn’t blow me away. And the suspension? Shoot, the Iron is so jarring (even after adjusting the preload) it should come with a matching, blacked-out kidney belt. Forget potholes; pavement seams knocked the wind out of me. Gorgeous motorcycle, though.