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Harley Davidson SPORTSTER 1200 Custom Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

The Nightster is the result of a simple plan by Harley-Davidson and it’s brilliantly executed. What plan? To take the second cheapest model (Sportster 1200) in Harley-Davidson’s vast range and tweak its styling to end up with a new bike of stunning looks but still with an affordable price.


Watch the Harley-Davidson Nightster take on the Triumph Speedmaster and the Moto Guzzi Belagio



MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Nightster’s 1200cc five-speed engine has old-fashioned charm of clunks, whirring noises and an unmistakable Harley-Davidson exhaust note. These quirks are easy to live with because the Nightster’s injected fuelling is so sweet meaning you could tap in top gear and simply use the engine’s ample stock of torque to lug you around all day.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Nightster’s shorter forks than the donor Sportster put more weight over the front end to give the new Harley a stable ride. Lower bars with the seat repositioned closer to the tank make the Nightster an altogether comfier motorcycle to ride around; it also means the bike can be flung around a lot easier than a 251kg bike should. Ground clearance isn’t great but it’s still a lot of fun out in the country as well as posing down the high street.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

With the Harley Nightster there aren’t any bells and whistles to talk of; it’s the whole motorcycle that impresses. The use of black coating on the forks, drive belt guard and a black wheel finish (with stainless wire spokes) gives the Nightster a menacing look. This is sweetened slightly by a range of glorious fuel tank colour schemes and shorty front and rear mudguards. A neat touch is the combined brake and turn signals built into the indicators.


Harley-Davidson XL1200N Nightster (2007-current)

Detail Value
New price £6,695
Used price range View Harley Davidson SPORTSTER 1200 bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 1200 cc
Power 50 bhp
Top speed 110 mph
Insurance group 15 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 3 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 5 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The use of modern touches like fuel injection, belt drive and modern production techniques means that with the Nightster H-D has left its ‘old-shanker’ image well and truly behind. Paint and plating is tip-top and build quality spot-on. All that’s left is to uprate the brake system to something that doesn’t demand the rear brake to be stamped on when the weak front is used.


MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Nightster is possibly the best value Harley-Davidson ever, at least in its 2008 sales brochure. If you want to buy into the Harley image this is the most affordable and credible machine to do it with. Find a Harley-Davidson sportster for sale.


Insurance group: 15 of 17

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Model History

2007: Harley-Davidson XL1200N Nightster launched.

Other Versions



Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13.8 secs
Max power 50 bhp
Max torque 79.1 ft-lb
Weight 251 kg
Seat height 720 mm
Fuel capacity 12.5 litres
Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Tank range 90 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 15 of 17
Engine size 1200 cc
Engine specification Air-cooled 4v pushrod four-stroke 45° V-twin. 5 gears. Fuel injected. Belt final drive
Frame Tubular steel
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes 1 x 292mm front disc, 2-piston caliper
Rear brake 292mm disc, 1-piston caliper
Front tyre size 100/90 x 19
Rear tyre size 150/80 x 16

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(2 reviews)

  • nightster


    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    after owning a b1h zx6 i was looking for a better bike for doubling and after doing some trackdays at knockhill when your there for 2hours and because people crash like flys you end up doing about 5 laps theres no need ktm super duke was my first pic but after looking at the harley nightster brand new its cheaper,full insurance is cheaper than my zx6 3rd party fire and theft fair enough it dont go around corners or handle bumps as good but its a harley so u just go a bit slower i like it give one a go if you sick of track day crashes and straights roads

    26 June 2008

  • An old fashioned motorcycle


    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    Strange how a brand brings you back. After a disastrously expensive spell owning a Harley superglide t-sport, which seemed to break down at every opportunity, it was with uncertainty that I handed over the cash to take ownership of a Nightster. My last bike was a Triumph t-bird Sport - a great bike - but I wanted something a little more relaxed and am pleased to say that I've found it with the nightster. And before you ask, I'm 35 - not 75! (no offence to mature bikers out there). Before I went ahead, I had to try and fit on it! I'm 6'3" tall and 15 1/2 stone, so the standard pegs and uncomfortable single seat were replaced with forward pegs and a pillion friendly seat. This was done by hard bartering with the dealer and under the RRP. I am genuinley surprised people write sportsters off - the engine is really smooth and torque laden - cruising at 30 mph in 5th is no effort. Although the power is on paper moderate (55 bhp), because the bike is so torquey the power is delivered just in the right area - particularly straight line acceleration which is brisk. It is also one hell of a cool motorcycle to look at and I think offers great value. Plus it doesn't need as much cleaning as other harleys! However, it is off course a Harley so get used to weedy brakes and unsuitable suspension for a pillion heavier than 7 stone! New harleys are also reliable - famous last words now maybe!? So overall - other bikers may not take you seriously (particularly the sports bike brigade), but so what? If you love old fashioned back to the basics motorcycles that are cool and work, then get one of these! Over and out, Jim

    26 May 2008


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Just bought my first bike, a Nightster, and I love it to bits. Anyone got any comments on this bike.

23 May 2009 18:54


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Nightster valuation

Well - after nearly 2 years the nightster has gone. Got 5K from a dealer for it - so depreciation is not too bad (not as bad as other bikes anyway). The question is..... would I get another one? Well, the answer would have to be 'probably not'. Although it is a good bike, in the end I felt there was too much pose - fine if you live in the City, but not if you are in the sticks like me. So I'm afraid it's back to a Triumph or retro-Kwaka for me. Still, good while it lasted......

20 April 2009 21:05


User's Badge


i never in a million years thought id be saying this.

I have ridden some of the worlds top motorbikes through my life and done all the high end top speeds.

I own a yoshimura gsxr 1000r which tops over 200mph and goes like stink.Never thought id get fed up with it but recently with speed cameras and police always watching i started to look for something to enjoy.

Never dreamed of riding a hd.Always thought they were for fat blokes or rockers.But i rode the nightster and my god was it something else.The bike is brilliant.

It's not meant to be a racing machine or the latest high tech thing.what it does is give you a mean moody look on the road and car drivers hear you coming and get out of the way when you arrive.

Plenty of torque (enough for the uk anyway) and its a bike you can ride all day and go anywhere.Handling was good,so good in fact i leaned it over like a gsxr and had the stand sparking up lovely.

Bikes are not so hot but braided lines and different pads not help that.

It has the looks and sounds amazing with vance and hines short side shot pipes.

Like i say.i never thought id like a harley davidson but this is one of the best bikes they have ever made.

12 April 2009 12:16


User's Badge



The Sportster is a nice bike, I have a 1200 Custom, but be aware that the "glacial depreciation" of Harleys is a myth - a recent visit to a local Harley dealer to get a trade-in price for my immaculate 2007 model against a new big twin resulted in an offer which meant a  horrendous £2,500 loss in 18 months! Hardly "glacial"

23 January 2009 15:00

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