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HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER 1200 Iron (2018-on) Review

Published: 24 May 2018

Updated: 26 September 2019

The Iron 1200 is the Sportster we’ve been waiting for

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron

The Iron 1200 is the Sportster we’ve been waiting for

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Compared to the 883, the 1200 seems such a bargain it makes you wonder why anyone would buy the 883 anymore.

In fact, you can’t help but wonder if Harley are going to continue with the 883 at all, especially with the Street 750 now providing the first step into Harley ownership. The extra power of the engine does make it slightly more unruly in the handling department, but only when you’re really pushing it.

Around town, squirting from traffic light to street corner, where this bike will spend most of its life, it really excels. If you’ve always fancied the Iron but wanted something with a bit more go, this is the one you’ve been waiting for.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

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.

Engine 3 out of 5

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.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

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.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

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.

Insurance group: 14 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

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.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2018
Year discontinued -
New price £9,395
Used price £5,500 to £11,200
Warranty term 24 months
Running costs
Insurance group 14 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £200
Max power 65.7 bhp
Max torque 70.8 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 54 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Engine size 1202cc
Engine type Air cooled, 2v, V-twin
Frame type Steel
Fuel capacity 12.5 litres
Seat height 735mm
Bike weight 248kg
Front suspension Non-adjustable 39mm RWU forks, 92mm travel
Rear suspension Preload adjustable twin shocks, 41mm travel
Front brake Single 300mm disc, dual piston caliper
Rear brake 260mm disc, dual piston caliper
Front tyre size 100/90 x 19
Rear tyre size 150/80 x 16

History & Versions

Model history

2018: 1200 Iron introduced

Other versions

883cc Iron XL883N

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER 1200 Iron (2018-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER 1200 Iron (2018-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

"Sportster" Roadster

02 October 2019 by Steve

A sportster that handles!

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Brakes will fade if/when pushed.
5 out of 5
I do miss the rigid mounts.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Usual HD quality. Usual HD cheep fasteners here and there.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
The suspension, when compared to other sportster models, is a BIG step up. Stickier rubber will be in the cards when the stockers get tired.

Photo Gallery

  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron on the road
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron left side
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron front
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron right side
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron turning right
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron turning left
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron mountains
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron static
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron seat
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron engine
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron front brake
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron dash
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron tank
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron headlight
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