View Full Version : Question about Sportster

8th January 2005, 17:51
I am new here and considering purchasing a HD. I have very little riding exp, mainly dirt bikes when I was a kid. All of my friends have a HD, mainly Road Kings. One guy has a Heritage Softtail.

My friends tell me the Road King is the only HD to own, bar none. They told me not to waste my time with a with any other HD model as I will get tired of it and want to move up in no time. They realize the RK is a heavy bike and some suggest I buy a used Jap bike to get used to riding and then get the Road King.

Personally I like the look of the Sportster and it looks like it handles a lot better. It also is not so damn heavy. Plus you can change its appearance easily, etc.. Also, I don’t plan on riding on the Interstate for hundreds of miles.

Because most everyone here seems to love their Sportsters, give me some reasons why I should get the Sportster.

Any comments, opinions appreciated.

8th January 2005, 17:57
I'm a sporty nut (spell that CRAZY ) but I would suggest that you go to your local dealer and test ride a sporty and a road queen test them all if you can . and get the one that you like

if your into speed and getting up to it in a hurry you'll like the sporty , if you like long rides with little or no discomfort you'll most likely want a r/c
don't let anyone tell you what you like , how do they know, their just saying what they like
I will never give up my sporty , I may some day get a b/t but I will keep the sporty cause thats what I like

8th January 2005, 17:59
you were basically in the same boat I was. I never really had much riding experience save for dirt bikes as a kid, and that was only a few times. Don't listen to what other perple think you should get. I personally think Road Kings are old man bikes (my uncle just got one, he's probably in his 50's...getting old. He doesn't ride hid '56 Panhead rigid anymore, too much trouble). Everyone I know told me to buy a Jap bike to get used to it, then buy a Soft Tail. Skip the sportster alltogether. I thought about it and almost started looking at Jap bikes to buy. Then I thought that I don't want a JAP bike...I wan a HArley. Why would I buy something I don't want??? Screw them, I though, and bought a Sportster. This is what I wanted, and screw everyone that doesn't like it...

8th January 2005, 18:03
Georgia_rider- first off, welcome to the forum. You will find a lot of good information and different opinions here.

My thoughts are:

If you consider yourself to have good riding skills, don't hesitate to get a Harley. If you are a little leary about riding & feel you need additional experience to get your confidence level up, pick up a used metric bike & ride it for a few months to get back into practice. (The last thing you want to do is wreck your brand-new H-D) A MSF course is never a bad idea.

As far as what model to purchase, its hard to go wrong with a Sportster. The handling trumps anything the BT's have to offer, and if you get a 1200, most of your buddies will be in your rear-view mirror, not waiting for you to catch up.

Sportsters can be made into anything your heart desires, including cafe racer, street fighter, chopper, cruiser, or touring. You cannot turn a Road King into a corner carver, cafe, or street fighter...

If all you want to do is long distance riding, a big twin is fine. IMHO, a Sporty is way more fun and versatile. Good luck with your purchase.

8th January 2005, 18:05
Welcome to the forum !

If you are conflicted about which H-D to buy, I would find a dealer that will let you test-ride all the bikes you mentioned. I have been riding Sportsters off and on for 32 years. All I can tell you is; ride a Sportster and you'll know. These bikes get into your blood, and you either love them or you don't.

I could talk all day about bike experiences, but you need to find out for yourself . . . Test ride one and you'll know.

8th January 2005, 18:44
georgia rider

I am 51 years old and have owned Jap sport bikes and spent several years on an Electra Glide as a motor cop. They were all fun. The Sportsters are nice bikes. The 04 and 05 Sportsters have rubber-mounted engines and have a bit less vibration than the pre2004 bikes. My days of charging thru the curves with my knee dragging the ground are over so I went with the 1200 Custom. The forward controls provide a very comfortable, roomy riding position. We added a clamp on windshield, a sundowner seat and a backrest for two up riding. It has more than enough power to carry my wife and me down the highway. I mentioned that I am 51 years old, but I am not dead…..the Custom is very comfortable at a quick pace thru the curves, the roadster must be a real blast! For me, the 1200 Custom is the right bike.

Don’t let anyone talk you into any bike. As you can tell, people here are rather partial to their Sportsters, so you are going to get (for the most part) the same answer from everyone.

Go ride them all, then make up your own mind on what YOU want. (as long as it’s a Sportster……..just kidding)

8th January 2005, 19:19
You never mentioned money as an issue. Get Both!!!

8th January 2005, 19:32
Georgia Rider

Are you sure you are going to ride and keep on riding for a long time? If the anwser is yes get a HD if that is what you really want. If you are unsure I would go with your friends that say to get a Japanese cruiser. It is better to pay less and find out that riding is not really for you than to pay a lot for a bike and not end up riding it. If it is a Sportster that really turns your crank to quote my sister then test ride one and see if it is really for you. I started riding again in 1995 and have had 3 BMWS, 2 Hondas and now a Suzuki DL1000 and a 04 1200 custom. I'm also 53 years young, but have bad knees and a shoulder that aches a lot. The riding position of the new customs work out great for me. I test rode some sportsters last summer. I did not care for the earlier sportsters because of the vibration. A short ride for me is over a 100 miles and I felt in the long term I would tire of the vibes on the older bikes. When I test rode the 04 rubber mounted bike I thought now this is a bike I could live with. I bought my bike in June and since then the DL1000 has seen very little miles mostly commuting to work in the rain. The longest day so far have been 400 miles and other than the stock seat that really sucks the bike has performed above my expectations. It handles well, gets great gas mileage on the open roads and if comfortable. I'm only 5'8" and the bike fits me better than the BTs. It is easy to ride around town also.

Test ride all the bikes you can and then make your decission.

Good luck in your search.

8th January 2005, 20:04
Again, depends on the kind of riding you will be doing. Personally I'm hooked on my Sporty. The big twins are unbeatable on long tours, but handle like a furniture van in town. But get what YOU want, not what someone else wants you to get. YOU are the one that will have to live with it, not them.

8th January 2005, 20:17
Don't let anyone talk you into a Rub King if you know in your heart you want a Sportster. Sounds like you already knew the answer to the question. Welcome to a much larger world.

Moved On
8th January 2005, 20:55
Howdy georgia_rider,

Welcome to the forum!!!

I've had my '03 Sporty for 2 years now, I hadn't been on a bike for about 20 years and that was an 80cc dirt bike. The Sporty is a nice lightweight bike to learn on. You should consider taking the MSF or RidersEdge course, they will teach you a lot of good riding skills that will make the tough things easy. Moving around slowly is the hardest thing to do on a street bike, anybody can go fast.

I can't say it enough, the MSF or RidersEdge is the best $300 you will ever spend on your bike, no matter what brand or model you get!!!

When I bought my Sporty I was driven mostly by price. I wanted a bigger model but didn't want to spend so much. Didn't learn til later that my wife expected me to spend more money than I did. I expected to move up to either a RK or Heritage after a few years when my truck is paid off. I finally rode a Road King a cuple months ago. It was fun to have a big fat wide bike for the day that I rented it, but it didn't seem to be different enough from my Sporty to justify the extra $10000. After 12 hours on that bike the only thing I wanted to do was get home and get back on my Sporty. Well my truck will be paid off in 10 months and it will be time to go shopping. My shopping list has an old IronHead Sporty on the top of the list.


8th January 2005, 21:54
Get the sporty and be happy. Decide if the girls bike comments and the other crap will bother you. If you can't handle pier pressure get something else. Many ignorant Harley riders will say the sportster is the starter Harley, a womans bike, and a million other dirogatory things. For some of us it is the only harley worth buying. I am sure that a road king rides o'k but it is not for everyone either. I had a Heritage and really did not like it. Scared tha crap out of me everytime I went around a curve and the floor boards would drag the ground and spark. You might want to go to a Victory Motorcycles showroom before you buy. They have some really nice bikes and the prices are not that bad. Big twin riders always seem to think theirs are the only bikes. I guess it is an ego thing. Take a test drive and see what you like. My first bike is my current 1200 sportster. I learned to ride offroad and learned to ride on the road at MSF. That is more important than the bike you choose.

8th January 2005, 23:01
If you are unsure I would go with your friends that say to get a Japanese cruiser. It is better to pay less and find out that riding is not really for you than to pay a lot for a bike and not end up riding it.
Except for the fact that the rice-grinder will have depreciated considerably and the HOG will hold its value.

8th January 2005, 23:30
Except for the fact that the rice-grinder will have depreciated considerably and the HOG will hold its value.

Unfortunately that isn't always the case anymore. HD sales are starting to sofen up and Sportsters around here are not reselling real well. Prices are usually only high if you are buying at a dealer/stealer.

Stephen Hawk
9th January 2005, 00:16
I have often said that the single most important piece of gear carried on a bike is the human brain. So, while I hear many people suggest used or metric or start small and go bigger after a year or so, I say CRAP !!! If you really want a Harley, regardless of the model, I would highly recommend renting the bike you would like to own. Doing so will answer 2 questions, the first is whether or not you even like the ride, power and handling of a Harley and the second, is which one. I liked 2 models, the XL1200R Sporster and the Duece Night Train. I chose the 1200 Roadster for ease of maintenance, power to weight ratio, increased braking potential and the fact that the new rubber mount gives the Sportster a ride like that of a short wheelbase Dyna; the new Sporty rides very nice. Long trips are sweet when you consider I have come real close to 60 mpg with 2 up. At 600 plus pounds, wet with accessories, the new Sporty is not a light bike and it handles top heavy by comparison to the Road Glides or Softails however, the new Sporty remains the fastest air cooled model Harley produces. In any event, buying a bike is totally about personal preference. Staying upright on that new bike is all about maturity, safety and your frame of mind. Simply ride your own ride. Stay away from group rides or traffic and bond with that new toy. Before long, the differences that exist between riding the dirt and riding the streets will be eliminated as your comfort level increases.

Good Luck,

Stephen Hawk

9th January 2005, 00:31
I agree with stephen . forget the metric cruiser the first time you pop of that shiney chrome and find out its plastic dipped in chrome you are gonna be sick. I am a craftsman by trade and I get compensated very well for quality work. when I test rode my harley I was very impressed with the workmanship and quality of the material used to construct my bike. I am so anal about quality and uniformity that when I finish an installation all the slots on the screws face the same direction and all the flats on nuts are facing the same . after working on my bike ( I cant stand not knowing how something works I have to take it apart and see for my self) and working on several metrics I can honestly say buy h-d what ever model fits you best and if your friends object , find new friends.

9th January 2005, 00:49
Personnally, I've had 14 bikes; japs, euros, ect, BUT my favourite two have been a 74 iron head I had a few years back and the 86 XLH 1200 I have now. Jap bikes are dime a dozen and metric cruisers scream "poser". Sporties are a great way to get into HD bikes/lifestyle/religion and look at the people in this forum, they are all awsome people who will go out of their way to help a fellow owner. You will see this kind of solidarity on the roadside, not always with the metrics.

Its your choice, but obviously over a thousand riders on this forum can't be wrong.

9th January 2005, 01:00
Well..RK's are about the nicest of the geezer glides.I would go with the Sporty,still the coolest looking bike Harley makes!

9th January 2005, 01:08
Buy American. Enough of our money goes elsewhere. Believe me I feel for the folks that got thier ass kick with the nig wave etc.. but I live in Florida and jsut watched 4 storms neat the hell out of folks that didn't have crap much less insurance to cover the stuff they did have and I really do not recall a dime coming from some other country. i do believe we should help our fellow man every bit that we can for disasters but when it comes to commerce baby let's keep Americans paid...............buy the Sporty, learn to ride the Sporty, never sell the Sporty, and when you are ready for some real long distance riding but the Road King and park right next to that Sporty and smile at those wonderful American HD workers that are still employed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9th January 2005, 03:06
Lissen up. Stand up and be counted. Get what turns you on, flips yer trigger or any other rationale you care to use. If yer friends don't like it, tell 'em to go piss up a rope. I have a Sporty cuz it fits me, my lifestyle, my budget and the way I ride.

Stephen Hawk
9th January 2005, 04:43
My kids purchased an 05 Yamaha Roadwarrior that looks like the new Harley Softail Deluxe. It's all nice with black and white pearl paint. When you put that bike next to my 04 XL1200R, the metric bike looks so plain and the overall construction quality of the metric bike simply isn't there. The Harley looks like a hand crafted piece while the metric bike has assembly line, mass production, written all over it. Don't get me wrong, the Yamaha is $5,000 less than the Softail Deluxe however, when you really look at the two models, the Harley stands out by comparison.

One of the big things about owning a Harley is the social aspects. People you have never met will walk up to your bike and open up a conversation that may involve the Harley they used to have or the one they are thinking about getting. In either case, your ride has just created a new fan. While Yamaha has pushed to achieve a similar experience, there isn't now nor will there ever be an experience like owning a Harley. Another issue is the duplication seen with regard to the metric cruiser; so many look the same. In the case of the Harley, they never look the same once they've left the dealer; Harley owners are experts in the rolling art forms.......

Hey, let us know what you came up with. If you don't buy a Harley it's no big thing. The freedom that comes with owning anything on 2 wheels can be achieved in many ways as supported by the current cruiser market. So, just buy a bike that you like and ride like hell because it's a butt load of fun...


NOTE: If you can't make up your mind, simply take the easy way out and buy both. I did.

Roger Greendeck
9th January 2005, 05:51
I have just gone through this very process and ended up on a almost new 04 XLH883. The bike is my only form of transport so for me it must be capable of riding rain hail or shine and over some pretty long distances. I have only had the Sporty for a short while but I am very happy with it. I will be changing the seat pretty soon for something that is more comfortable for long trips and add some luggage but if I do nothing else nothing else I will have a bike that is more than adequate for my needs. Now here is the best part... I have got the bike for a third the price of a new Road King!! :clap :clap :clap That leaves me with thousands and thousands of dollars to do what ever I like to the bike (1200 conversion, custom paint job the list is endless.

I can't support the other responses enough. Get what you want! Either way I am sure that you will be happy. But I am glad that I went for a Sporty. If I change my mind I can sell it for close to what I bought it for but if I keep it for the long haul then I have got all the good things about a HD without paying the premium price.

9th January 2005, 05:56
DON'T GET A SPORTSTER!!! Too many people are riding them and making them more popular!! Seems like everyone that gets a Sportster is falling in love with them!! AHHHH!!!! I originally chose to get my Sporty because everyone was on a Big Twin which made my bike stand out. Now I see them a lot more often! I repeat, DON'T GET ONE!!

Truthfully though, test ride as many bikes as possible and get the one that fits you. If you are going to be worried about what other people think about the bike you get, you'll never be happy. So go try them out and pick the one you like. To me, it doesn't matter what you ride. As long as you are on something that has two wheels and loving it is all that counts.

9th January 2005, 06:17
My mommy told me to tell you to get the Sportster. ;)

9th January 2005, 13:18
I can't add much to what's been said but I have a preference. I've owned 3 metric bikes and 3 harleys. The first was an old Italian made 2 stroke with dual sprocket. Hell you could climb trees with that thing. I am now on my second sporty an 04 1200c the first was a 98 1200c which my son now owns. I believe the sporty is the most versatile bike ever made by harley. As someone said you can turn it into what ever you want. I have put many 600 mile days on each of them and with the proper setup they are as comfortable as any of the big twins. I'm 60+ yo with arthtitis and stenosis and put the sundowner seat on both sporty's. I also replaced the plain pegs with mini floor boards on my 98 and kuryaken stirrups on the 04 along with engine guards and hiway pegs to vary my leg position. I make some long runs with a buddy who rides a road king and we trade off occasionally. He told me this summer after riding mine that if he didn't travel 2 up most of the time he would get a sporty. I was actually considering getting a softtail until the 04 sporty came along and I'm glad I didn't. Though I'm a grey beard (say some) I still enjoy carving canyons and running wfo on open roads occasionally as well as back roadin when given the chance. The sporty handles these quite well and is a snap to ride in congested areas. If your freinds are making the payments let them choose but I suspect they aren't so get what ya want. Just my .02

9th January 2005, 13:21
I'm a 58 yr old geezer and I'm here to tell you that the only way I would give up my sportster of 8 yrs is to have it pried from my cold dead hands.

Barry Clark
9th January 2005, 13:56
I had owned only metrics up until the purchase of my Sportster. The metrics I had owned were all the older, 1970's model CB's. They were good bikes but I had no affinity for them. My Sporty, though, is just monstrous. I remember going into the Harley shop and mentioning that I was also looking at some metrics and they paid no mind. A simple, "That's cool. Have you riden one yet?" was really all I got. I test drove a Sporty and loved it. I went to the metric dealer to test ride; no such luck. I mentioned that I was looking at a sportster and all they could do was insult the classic model. That didn't bother me but what did was that they said little about how their own bike performed. "Bigger engine for the same cost" was what I got a lot of. I asked to test ride before I potentially dropped $12000 dollars on the Honda; no sir, no test rides. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! That worked out for better as I had always wanted a Sportster. I went right to the place that let me make up my own mind and ran out of there with the bike I have now. The taxes had not been paid on that bike so it wasn't running at its potential but ever single metric 1300 or 1800 I ran it against didn't have a prayer. Now that I have paid taxes on it, they might as well not even try. I know people that have done work to make their metrics run like mad, and they do, but they had to change our ignition module and all kinds of stuff to get it where just my simple carb work got my sporty. If I did the same on my sporty, which I might, they still couldn't keep up. I was just shocked at how piggish those metrics come of the showroom floor.

12th January 2005, 22:32
I've owned a number of bikes but my 883R is the first Harley. I fell in love with it because it looks like a good old American muscle bike of the past. Powerful and aggressive looking. But...I was also impressed with the build quality and there's no getting over the fact that it takes a good left forearm to pull in the clutch. No wimps allowed. Seriously, test drive a Sportster - that's what did it for me, the ride. Now that I own it, I seem to have a whole bunch of instant friends when I go riding - something that never happened when I had a Honda.

13th January 2005, 01:13
I looked at metric cruisers - okay I guess. Metric sportbikes are higher on my cool scale than their cruisers. Wanted a cruiser; wanted a Harley.

I looked a Triumphs - chain drive, not that reliable, not a Harley.

I test drove BMW. Very nice, but very proper. Nope, still not a Harley.

Then I saw the Sportster Custom. That was it. I was like an 18 year old male at nude beach on female model day. LUST! Got have one; got have one now. Get it, got it, ahhhhhh! much better.

Road Kings are nice. If I was planning on doing some serious touring (like months of touring), then I would probably get it. IN ADDITION TO MY SPORTSTER!

If this sounds familar, Georgia, then I'm afraid you have sportsteritis & the only know cure is to buy one.

NOTE: VERY GOOD idea to take the MSF course. I would (and did) before I bought the bike.

13th January 2005, 01:47
It's all good.

I debated what first bike to buy. I got it down to Honda Shadow ACE or Sportster 883, Same price, way diffrent rides. Riding the honda was like sitting in a chair watching TV, the Harley was like taking a baseball bat to that TV.

13th January 2005, 01:59
I debated on the color I wanted my XL1200C to be!

14th January 2005, 01:24
I am new here and considering purchasing a HD.
My friends tell me the Road King is the only HD to own, bar none.
Personally I like the look of the Sportster and it looks like it handles a lot better. It also is not so damn heavy. Plus you can change its appearance easily, etc.. Also, I don’t plan on riding on the Interstate for hundreds of miles.

Because most everyone here seems to love their Sportsters, give me some reasons why I should get the Sportster.......

Hi Georgia_rider and welcome to the forum. I'll take a stab at some reasons why I think you should get the Sportster.

1) Because you are considering it in the first place.
2) Because it's aa ton of bike for the money.
3) Because you'll have more fun on it than a RK sled.
4) Because you can easily personalize it to your liking.
5) Because the new ones are sooo smooth to ride.

I had been out of the riding loop for 13 years and now in my 40's decided it was time to get back in the saddle.
I went to a Dealer with my mind set on a Dyna low rider, but when I saw the new Sportsters I couldn't keep my eyes off them. I quickly put a deposit on my 04' and the rest is history. Never looked back, and don't envy the BT's one bit.
I ride with a 96' 1200C and a 90 something Electra Glide, and have never heard a negative comment - in fact quite the contrary. The guy on the 1200 keeps asking me why his bike doesn't sound as good as mine. :)
Whatever you choose I hope we will be soon be congratulating you on your new purchase, because standard or custom, you just can't go wrong choosing a Sportster.

15th January 2005, 19:50
Had a bike since I was 16, then later years marrige, kids, ect, American male reason not to ride. After being off bikes for 20 years, I went with(don't laugh) Honda Rebel. Reason--not sure if I wanted to spend alot and then decide I really didn't want to ride anymore. 2002-I rode to work dailey, (108 miles round trip) put on 8000 miles, on the Reb. Now, moved up to Sportster, 8500 miles last summer. Moral-The smaller Rebel built confidence level back up, and GOT me back into riding. (I am short, 5'10", 170 #'s) If your tall or heavy Shadow 750 probably better. Thinking of taling the Sporty to TN this summer. Wife now rides Rebel around out small town. (she's afraid of Highways).