Harley Challenges Dealers to Build the Baddest Sportster in 2017 Battle of the Kings

The Harley-Davidson “Battle of the Kings” has commenced, and in the end, to borrow a line from the Highlander, “There can be only one!”

The Battle of the Kings is an international competition between Harley-Davidson dealers to build the baddest Sportster around. Dealers have the option of customizing an Iron 883, Forty-Eight, or Roadster Sportster. It’s pretty much anything goes as far as customization goes, the major stipulation being budget. They must “craft a custom-built Iron 8883 for £12,995 ($16,379) or a Forty-Eight or Roadster for £14,995 ($18,899).” The public gets to vote for “The New King” from more than 200 custom Sportsters entered in the competition.

Granted, “The Battle of the Kings” is taking place overseas, but it’s fun to see what others are doing in the custom realm. It demonstrates the versatility of the Sportster and it’s run by America’s premiere motorcycle manufacturer, so we deemed it worthy of sharing.

Here’s a few examples to enjoy courtesy of Harley-Davidson Battle of the Kings. To see more super cool Sportsters, go to customkings.harley-davidson.com

Bavarian Lion Harley-Davidson Bayerwald

Bavarian Lion Harley-Davidson Bayerwald

Harley-Davidson Poznan

Harley-Davidson Poznan

Harley-Davidson Pfeiffer

Harley-Davidson Pfeiffer

Warr's Harley-Davidson SE London

Warr’s Harley-Davidson SE London

Maidstone Harley-Davidson Sportster

Maidstone Harley-Davidson Sportster

Harley Brings Roadster Back – 2016 Sportster Roadster XL1200CX First Look

2016 Harley Roadster

Highlights of the 2016 Sportster Roadster XL1200CX include a new 43mm inverted fork, emulsion shocks, dual discs on the front, lowered handlebars and chopped fenders.

The Harley-Davidson Dark Custom lineup has a new addition. With a minimalist, fastback design inspired by classic racing motorcycles, the nimble Harley-Davidson Roadster will inspire a new generation of riders to take to the streets.

“Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story,” said Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards. “We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road.”

Roadster stars in “Cut Loose,” the third commercial in Harley-Davidson’s ‘Live Your Legend’ global marketing campaign that shows how riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle can enable riders to create deeper bonds and share richer experiences with friends and family. ‘Live Your Legend’ campaign ads include snapshots of life-enriching moments, as well as the unique and unforgettable bonds of friendship that riders develop by riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

As the newest member of the Dark Custom lineup, Roadster combines modern performance and retro-inspired styling with premium suspension components, an air-cooled 1200cc V-Twin engine that delivers a strong pulse of mid-range torque and a profile reminiscent of vintage racing motorcycles from the 1950s and 1960s.

“We wanted to give the Roadster some DNA from the high-performance KHR models of the mid-50s, and later Sportsters tuned for the drag strip,” said Richards. “Those bikes had fenders cut to the struts, the small fuel tank, and were stripped to their bare essentials to achieve a singular performance purpose.”

The 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Offset-Split 5-Spoke cast aluminum wheels were designed specifically for the Roadster and contribute to its balanced, athletic stance. The Roadster puts its rider in an aggressive posture with a new low-rise handlebar and mid-mount foot controls that center the rider’s weight over the classic profile of the 3.3-gallon Sportster fuel tank.

2016 Harley Roadster

The 2016 Sportster Roadster will be offered in four color choices: Vivid Black with a charcoal denim pinstripe; Black Denim with a red pinstripe; Velocity Red Sunglo with a red pinstripe; and two-tone Billet Silver/Vivid Black with a burgundy pinstripe.

“The wheels were inspired by classic laced wheels, and are the most intricate cast wheel we’ve ever created,” said Harley-Davidson Industrial Designer Ben McGinley. “The interlacing spokes shoot outward toward opposite sides of the wheel, creating a dramatic visual effect. These wheels are also very light for their size, which contributes to the Roadster’s handling performance.”

Roadster’s suspension is enhanced by new 43mm inverted single-cartridge forks with tri-rate springs gripped in robust triple clamps and rear suspension featuring gas-charged emulsion coil-over shocks and tri-rate springs with adjustable pre-load that offers greater suspension travel than any other Sportster model – 4.5 inches in front and 3.2 inches in the rear. Outstanding stopping power is achieved with dual 11.8-inch floating rotors on the front wheel. The Roadster is available with optional ABS.

In keeping with its stripped-down styling, the Roadster’s rear fender has been clipped 1.5 inches shorter than previous bobbed Sportster fenders. The slotted belt guard and muffler shields mimic the lightening holes drilled in race-bike components, and a single four-inch diameter instrument tucked low in front of the triple clamp features a sweeping analog tachometer with an inset digital speedometer. Rear turn signals mounted directly to the fender struts, a side-mount license plate and fastback seat design give the rear of the bike a tight and uncluttered look.

“The seat’s profile flows into the very short rear fender,” said McGinley. “The cover features a series of pads inspired by an armored leather jacket, and the rear of the seat is designed as a passenger pillion, to give the Roadster added versatility.”

The Roadster model will be offered in four color choices: Vivid Black with a charcoal denim pinstripe; Black Denim with a red pinstripe; Velocity Red Sunglo with a red pinstripe; and two-tone Billet Silver/Vivid Black with a burgundy pinstripe.

To test ride a Roadster or any of the 2016 motorcycles, visit a Harley-Davidson authorized dealership or schedule a test ride online at H-D.com.

2016 XL1200C Roadster

The inverted fork and updated rear shocks should make the 2016 Sportster Roadster a blast to ride.

NEW IN 2016
• Premium emulsion technology rear shocks with screw style pre-load adjustment
• 43 mm inverted front forks with premium cartridge dampening technology and triple clamp design
• Optimized steering geometry for a responsive, confidence-inspiring ride
• Two-up seat with ribbed detail and minimalist styling
• Lightweight, Offset-Split 5-Spoke Cast Aluminum wheels; 19-inch front, 18-inch rear
• Lowered handlebar
• Extreme chopped rear fender
• Finned cast timer cover
• Custom tank graphics

2016 Roadster Unique Features 
• Blacked-out powertrain with gray oval air cleaner
• Shorty-dual exhaust with chrome tapered mufflers and laser cut black heat shields
• 43mm front fork with massive triple clamps
• Slammed drag-style handlebar and gauges
• Black headlamp bucket with chrome trim ring
• 3.3 gal “walnut” gas tank
• Black, top-mounted mirrors
• Side-mounted license plate (U.S. configuration)
• Two-up seat optimized for maximum comfort
• Lowered handlebar
• Forward riding position with mid-mounted controls
• Dual-disc front brakes
• 4-inch Dual speedometer/tachometer gauge, integrated into handlebar clamp
• Includes digital odometer, clock, dual trip meter, miles to empty, gear indicator (1-5), and analog RPM output
• Blade key ignition; fork lock common with ignition key
• Single, push button hazard warning
• 19-inch front, 18-inch rear cast aluminum wheels
• Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series radial blackwall tires designed specially for the XL1200XR to
achieve excellent ride, handling and maneuverability performance
• Closed loop exhaust system meets worldwide emission standards
• Rubber-mounted, Air-cooled, 1200 cc Evolution engine
• Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) with heated O2 sensors
• 5-speed transmission
• Confidence-inspiring front-end geometry
• Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) (factory installed option)
• Smart Security System with hands-free, proximity based security fob and keyless ignition
(factory installed option)

2016 Sportster Roadster

Harley says the 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Offset-Split 5-Spoke cast aluminum wheels were designed specifically for the Roadster and contribute to its balanced, athletic stance.

2016 Harley Roadster XL1200CX Specs

Length – 86 in. (2186 mm)
Overall Width – 33.1 in. (841 mm)
Overall Height – 42.6 in. (1082 mm)
Seat Height:
• Laden – 29.5 in. (749 mm)
• Unladen – 30.9 in. (785 mm)
Ground Clearance – 6 in. (152 mm)
Rake – (steering head) 28.9°
Fork Angle – 27.4°
Trail – 5.5 in. (140 mm)
Wheelbase – 59.3 in. (1505 mm)
Tires (Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series, radial blackwall front and rear):
• Front – 12070R-19 M/C
• Rear – 15070R-18 M/C
Fuel Capacity – 3.3 gal. (12.5 L) (warning light at approximately 0.8 gal.)
Oil Capacity (w/filter) – 2.8 qts. (2.6 L)
Transmission Capacity – 1 qt. (.95 L)
• As Shipped – 549 lbs. (249 kg)
• In Running Order – 568 lbs. (258 kg)

Engine Air-cooled, Evolution
Valves – Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke – 3.5 in. x 3.811 in. (88.9 mm x 96.8 mm)
Displacement – 73.4 cu. in. (1202 cc)
Compression Ratio – 10:1
Fuel – System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)

Primary Drive – Chain, 38/57 ratio
Final Drive – Belt, 29/68 ratio
Clutch – Multi-plate, wet
Transmission 5-speed
Gear Ratios (overall):
• 1st 9.315
• 2nd 6.653
• 3rd 4.948
• 4th 4.102
• 5th 3.517

Frame – Mild steel, tubular frame; circular sections; cast junctions
Swingarm – Mild steel, rectangular tube section, stamped junctions; MIG welded
Front Fork – 43 mm inverted
Rear Shocks – Variable rate spring over 36 mm piston nitrogen gas-charged emulsion
style shock with thread style preload adjustment
Wheels: Offset-Split 5-Spoke
• Front – 19 in. x 3 in. (482.6 mm x 76 mm)
• Rear – 18 in. x 4.25 in. (457.2 mm x 108 mm)
• Caliper Type – Dual-piston front, dual-piston rear
• Rotor Type – Front floating, Rear uniform expansion rotor
• Front (dual floating) – 11.8 in. x .2 in. (300 mm x 5 mm)
• Rear – 10.24 in. x .28 in. (260 mm x 7 mm)
• Anti-lock Braking System Optional
Suspension Travel:
• Front Wheel – 4.5 in. (115 mm)
• Rear Wheel – 3.2 in. (81 mm)

Engine Torque:
• 76 ft. lbs. @ 3750 rpm (103 Nm @ 3750 RPM)
Lean Angle:
• Right – 30.8°
• Left – 31.1°
Fuel Economy – 48 mpg (4.9 L/100 km)


Klock Werks NAVBag Makes Storage Easy


Your personal items should be within reach, and with the Klock Werks NavBags, you’ll get the peace of mind that your belongings are adequately, and stylishly stored! For a limited time only, Klock Werks is offering this multifunctioning windshield bag for free with applicable purchase*.

This innovative bag, designed specifically with the Klock Werks Flare windshield in mind, has quality features like a slick magnetic closure, special compartment that displays your device and felt on the back to provide a no-scratch surface. The protective, transparent screen even transmits the electromagnetic energy needed for your touch screen devices. The NAV Bag provides just as much storage space as a 3-pouch bag so you can store things like your GPS, coins, wallet, and more!

The NAVBag will fit with your 6.5″-plus Flare for 1996-2013 H-D “batwing” style fairings (Street Glide, Electra Glide, and Trike models) or the OE Replacement Flare Windshield. The OE Replacement Flare was created to bring superior air management to Softails, Road Kings, Sportsters, and other select bikes that do not have a fairing. To see a full list of fitments, check out getklocked.com or contact the Klock Werks sales team today.

Pair the NAVBag with the new Klock Werks Device Mounts line, and you will never have to go digging for items again. The universal and forward-compatible Device Mounts offer you the same adjustability and comfort that Klock Werks is known for, and they are the modern and sleek alternative to other mounts on the market.

*Free NAVBag with purchase of either a 96-2013 FLH 6.5″-plus Flare Windshield or a Softail or Road King OE Replacement Flare Windshield.

Klock Werks always seeks to make parts that make sense, fit right out of the box, look great, and are made of the best quality, right here in the USA. Flare Windshields, NAVBags, and Device Mounts are available online at getklocked.com or through your local Drag Specialties dealer.

Harley’s Custom March Madness

Out to prove that custom truly is king, Harley-Davidson invited dealers to showcase their individuality in the Custom Kings Customization Contest. Dealers from all over the country turned a Sportster motorcycle into a “Custom of One” work of art – earlier today the top 64 creations were revealed for fans to help choose the ‘king’ in a bracket-style competition at www.H-D.com/CustomKings.

The Sportster was selected for its unrivaled ability to be transformed into the very definition of performance art and its attainable pricing, which makes the bike a realistic goal for nearly any rider.

Initial entries were scored by the Harley-Davidson styling team based on criteria including quality of customization and build, fit and finish, use of paint, design, technique and how teams utilized Harley-Davidson Genuine Parts & Accessories.

“Customization is one of the biggest ways riders showcase and celebrate their individuality,” said Dino Bernacchi, director of U.S. marketing at Harley-Davidson. “Custom Kings brings that forward by redefining performance through the expertise and ingenuity of Harley-Davidson dealers throughout the country. All of the competitors have put in months of planning, building and straight-up creative thinking into each of the bikes featured in the contest.”

The entries with the most votes in each match-up will move on to the next round of the competition. Fans will select the final winner after six rounds of bike-to-bike battles.

Fans can view all of the bike builds by following #HDCustomKings or H-D.com/CustomKings for more information and to cast their vote today.

LePera Outcast GT

OutcastGTWhat’s this, a cafe racer seat for Harley-Davidson’s big Touring models? Well, not exactly, but LePera’s Outcast GT certainly does look sporty, and thanks to its steep contour rider area, there’s plenty of support for the driver during long hauls. For even more support, LePera includes a removable backrest for the driver. Just slip it in the provided slot, and then hit the road.

The Outcast GT is based on the Outcast, which means this rider area is 15″ wide, for a comfortable fit. A racy inlay center stripe with matching side graphics is available in either red or white. As with all of LePera’s premium-level seats, the Outcast GT has a black powder-coated steel base plate covered with soft carpet to protect the bike’s paint, and it’s ready to mount using the bike’s OE attachment points.

And to boost rider comfort, the Outcast GT has Marathon foam that’s upholstered with premium black vinyl for a lasting fit. The Outcast GT is available for all 2008-up Touring models, XL 04-06/10-15, all Dynas 06-up, FXST 06-UP with 200 MM tire, and carries a retail price of $875 that includes the removable backrest. Contact your local dealer or visit www.lepera.com

American Iron Garage: Garage Built

DSC09300Lemonade Vodka Build

Steve changes his ’74 XLCH chopper into a Knuckle lookalike

text by Steven Wyman-Blackburn photos by Steve Lita

Why or how lemonade became the accepted platform to describe how people make the best of otherwise unpleasant dilemmas is beyond me. While I understand that the metaphor is contingent upon the originating sour situation, I’ve always felt that lemonade was tantamount to a failed mixed drink. For starters, I prefer iced tea. Luckily for me, when talking about Steven Peters’ 1974 XLCH, my particular stance on the popular saying actually works quite well. Steve basically skipped the lemons altogether and began with the “improved” beverage.

DSC09441While the bike wasn’t a lemon to begin with, it wasn’t perfect, either (hence the lemonade). It was riddled with dents and scratches, which signified a motorcycle that was well-worn and far from show-floor ready. And that’s not even taking into account the failed attempt of whomever drilled holes in the rear fender to accommodate the two-up seat it originally came with. (I say failed since the holes weren’t lined up properly.) It didn’t help that the Sporty had a slight chopper look with the small rear wheel and large front wheel. However, when all is said and done, the bike could start and perform well, and, duh, it’s an Ironhead. The fact that it came with the original frame, powerplant (save for the ’86 carb which Steve installed years later), rear swingarm, fork, and wheels made it the perfect canvas.

It all started when Steve bought a Harley 350 Sprint in 1985. Over the six years he rode it, he became friends with a salesmen from the local House of Harley-Davidson dealer. Well, when the kickstart XLCH you see here appeared at the shop, being a smart guy who could connect the dots, the salesman thought Steve might like it. So he pulled Steve aside and said, “Steve, we’ve got a bike with your name written all over it.” No joke. Steve was etched on the price tag and the letters from P to R could be found in every nook and cranny. The fact that it was a vintage bike was another plus for Steve. In April of 1992, the chopped bike was his.





Okay, so you know that Steve didn’t (and still doesn’t) want a XLCH chopper. So what did he fancy? If the Knucklehead style nuts on the stock rocker boxes weren’t a dead giveaway, Steve tried to emulate the look of a Knucklehead or, to be more precise, something from the 1930s-40s era, and it makes sense, too, since Steve’s dream bike is a 1936 EL. That said, the fact that a Knuckle has always remained in dreamland and never actually pushed its way into reality (i.e. Steve’s world) is essential when defining the bike for it ultimately shapes the Sportster’s overall theme. It’s part Ironhead, part Knuck wannabe. For starters, the fenders are aftermarket parts for Sportys and, probably the most conspicuous one of all, Steve kept the peanut tank. “I originally thought of changing it to a Fat Bob tank, but then I decided not to,” says Steve. “It’s still a Sportster.” When you pair that with a few of the illusions on the bike, you’ll see what I mean.


Now I’m not using the word “illusions” sparingly. Upon first glance, you might think that a particular area on the bike seems legit. But when you get a little closer, you’ll realize that, in actuality, the look or style is a façade. Don’t feel bad if you were fooled. I thought Steve replaced the original suspension and bolted on a hardtail frame. However, the Sporty suspension is just blacked-out. It doesn’t help that the leather saddlebags are also covering that particular area. I also falsely assumed that the front forks was a springer since the lower legs are blacked-out. It’s what Steve calls “black camouflage.” Those springs up top are what fooled me. In fact, the springs are the only, in Steve’s words, “real” vintage DSC09439parts and needed to be cut shorter to fit onto the bike properly. And bring your attention to the “springer seat.” It’s in quotes for a reason. The side flange is covering the fact that it’s actually solidly mounted. “It looks
like it’s floating on a pogo stick,” says Steve.

Interestingly enough, this dichotomy between Ironhead and Knucklehead wasn’t the original look Steve initially tried to tackle. When the bike first made it into his garage, the only mission on Steve’s mind was to unchop it, if you can even call it that. That move is apparent through the first mod Steve made to his Sporty. “It originally came with an aftermarket chrome headlight,” says Steve. “It was installed lower than it is now and was pretty small.” The unchopping began when he replaced it with a much larger, teardrop headlight from the 1935-48 era and embellished it by reinstalling the original bracket upside down to push it up higher on the forks.





The XLCH also came to him with differently sized wheels, a 21″ front and 16″ rear, which contributed to the original builder’s quest for increasing rake. Steve leveled out the playing field by adding the correct size 1974 wheels: the rear wheel is now 2″ bigger and the front wheel is now 2″ smaller. Steve adds, “It levels out the bike perfectly.” Chopped culture also reared its (subjectively ugly) head in two other areas. While the rear fender was fine (besides the mismatching holes mentioned earlier), Steve had to reinstall the front and rear turn signals since the original owner had chopped them off, but the tombstone taillight was already on the bike, so Steve painted it black.  And in the front, Steve made the bike complete by replacing the small chrome front fender. “I’ve heard some people say that my new fender looks like a Model K,” says Steve.

Steve’s artistic trajectory began to head toward vintage styling when he saw a Sportster that had been converted into a Knucklehead lookalike. “I was at the 90th anniversary celebration for Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee,” Steve recalls. “I thought, ’Yeah! I can do that. I already have the headlight and taillight anyway.’” With this new direction in mind, Steve quickly went to his local Harley dealership and chose the pair of used handlebars you see here from a selection of three. “It’s 3′ wide, which is similar to the period. It was from that point when I took off the buckhorns that the project really started to change.”

DSC09382And that change soon led to the gas deflecting, shark fin muffler, a 1935-40 reproduction aftermarket part. The mufflers received the black satin treatment only after Steve tried to rub off some spots on the flat black paint, an action which smudged the coloring, making it resemble a black satin finish. Speaking of color, the bike originally came in burgundy. Steve almost altered it when he realized it was commonly used in 1949. Win-win! For something more substantial, the “springer” saddle illusion mentioned earlier was not intentional, either.

A few other mods that convey the movement toward a Knuckle include his slow but steady change from chrome to blacked-out parts, the 1947-50 chrome and red Speedball tank emblem, and the 1935-57 art deco horn (which is actually paired with and located in front of another usable horn since the retro one isn’t loud enough). Then there’s the stripes on the rear fender, which Steve calls Art Deco speed lines even though people now refer to them as Sergeant Stripes. His reasoning? That’s what they have been called since the late ’40s. The speedometer was also moved and the tach removed. “It’s kind of like the dashbars from the early ’30s,” says Steve. “It doesn’t look like a dash, but it has the same feel.”

1974 XLCH 1




As we all know, customizing comes with its fair share of trials and tribulations. The pipes you see here were actually a nuisance. The rear pipe would have originally gone through where the kickstart lever is currently located, so Steve had to cut and twist them before installing it back on. However, that only pushed the front pipe 3″ forward, forcing Steve to cut 3″ from the bottom. Some of the brackets he created also came at a price, especially the left- and right-side streamlined half moon footboard brackets (which were bent inward with a slight upward tip bent into the front and took an entire day each to create). Another troublesome story involves what I like to summarize as the goodbye-shifter-peg-during-ride scenario, but that’s a whole different ball game.

Oh, and see the picture of a trailer to the left? I called it the Medieval tour pack during the interview, but Steve clarified by saying that it’s modeled after the Mullins auto trailer built only in 1936-37. For those of you who are curious, the trailer attaches to the bike’s swingarm with a carabineer-type clip rather than a trailer hitch. Like the XLH’s gas tank, the trailer also features the speed lines. “I built the trailer myself,” says Steve. “It has a steel frame from a bicycle trailer. Save for the hinges, latch, and handle, everything else is made from hardboard, pine, and oak wood, and hardboard like Masonite. Even the fenders are made from wood.”

DSC09460With so many mods already lined up — some planned, some not so much — it’s safe to say that Steve still has his work cut out for him. When asked whether or not buying his 1936 EL dream bike would affect the look of his Sportster, Steve had to think about it for a moment. “I never thought of that,” begins Steve slowly. “I don’t know. This one is just so fun and unique the way it is.” Fair enough. After consulting my wife, Jenn, on a closer for the story, she said, “Life gave him lemonade, so he made an Arnold Palmer … with a splash of vodka.”

Harley Magazine Test Sportster Review Iron 883

Harley Sportster Iron 883 Motorcycle

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.

Riding Impressions
Jonny Langston
Age: 43
Height: 5’11”
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.