The old ‘Harleys don’t go round corners’ tale is a thing of the past and has been for some time. You can ride the new bikes fairly swiftly, as long as you don’t mind dragging a peg or two.
Unfortunately when Harley stuck the big motor in the Iron, they didn’t update the rest of the chassis, suspension or brakes. Suddenly there’s a lot more speed to be gained between the corners, without any extra help scrubbing it off or managing it when lent over.
Without traction control, the extra torque makes it much easier to spin up coming out of corners too. You have to really crack it to get it squirming, so it would take a hamfisted rider to do it by accident, but there’s no doubting that it’s easier to get yourself in a pickle riding the 1200 than the 883.
Harley have taken the 1202cc lump of muscle from the Forty-Eight and crammed it under the Iron’s bulging shirt. Bumping up the capacity by 30% has had an obvious effect on the power, so it now puts out 66bhp and 73 ftlbs of torque – a significant jump up from the 883 while remaining A2 friendly.
This gives it much more drive out of the corners and when out for a fun ride, you can just leave it in third gear and ride everywhere on a wave of torque. Unfortunately it’s now showing its age – the five-speed gearbox is clunky and the air-cooled cylinders roast you in traffic.
The quality of the parts fitted to Harleys is top notch these days and the engines have been around so long that any problems are long fixed. The engines are oil tight and don’t really use much anymore, plus the belt drive means they’re simple to live with. Services are every 5000 miles and because they use hydraulic lifters, the valve clearances never need adjusting.
The Iron 1200 is only £500 more than the 883 model, which is about 1/3 of the price of a 1200cc conversion, so the obvious question is why wouldn’t you buy the 1200? It’s also nearly £2000 cheaper than the Indian Scout and £1300 cheaper than Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber, making it incredibly good value.
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As standard, all the Sportsters come with keyless ignition, alarm and immobiliser, which is a nice touch on an entry level bike. The clocks are simple but there is a gear indicator/tacho hidden inside the small LCD. Like all big bikes now, ABS comes as standard but there’s no traction control or power modes.
The Iron 1200 already comes pre-accessorised with a café racer seat, mini-apes and a small nose cowl but if you want to change it up, there’s always Harley’s enormous parts catalogue.