Whisper it – modern Harleys handle ok – nicely even. Sportsbike jockeys who’ve never tried one may scoff but the Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster manages to be less wallowy than most Japanese cruisers.
Unfortunately short travel suspension on the rear means bumps ruin the ride, especially if you’re heavy or carrying a passenger. This Harley-Davidson XL1200C Sportster model only gets a single front disc, which is inadequate – other 1200s got two.
The Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster's engine is undeniably crude – but is that a fault or a virtue on a motorcycle like this? No Japanese engine can touch it for character.
It’s not that different to the OHV lump that powered Harley’s 1957 Sportster. Historic, torquey, vibey it is but sporty it certainly ain’t.
But Harleys are about taking it easy and being seen, not rushing about - and the Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster is no exception. Gearbox is equally agricultural yet lovable.
The latest Harleys, Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster included, are well built. The American company’s really improved things since the 70s and 80s and even the 90s.
The finish is quite durable but remember the Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster is a motorcycle made for posing – any corrosion is a disaster so avoid winter use or clean religiously. Some Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportsters lose a little oil through the air filter so keep an eye on levels.
The Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster isn't particularly cheap to buy but like all Harleys, depreciation is extremely low. The Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster's fuel consumption is impressive and insurance isn’t OTT – but not cheap for the performance – thieves like Harleys.
Maintenance costs are pretty low. The engine’s simple (and the valves don’t need adjusting on later Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportsters).
Insurance group: 13 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Standard equipment on the Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster is not lavish but belt drive is low maintenance. 90% of Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportsters get customised, most commonly from Harley-Davidson’s own brand of aftermarket parts, Screamin’ Eagle.
Exhausts are common as are jet kits to improve low speed running and prevent stalling. There’s a telephone book of accessories to choose from and some even add to the Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster's used value.