HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER 1200 Iron (2018 - 2021) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 66 bhp
Seat height: Low (28.9 in / 735 mm)
Weight: High (547 lbs / 248 kg)


New N/A
Used £7,700 - £12,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Compared to the 883, the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron 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.

In 2021 this bike was replaced by the Harley-Davidson Sportster S.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron does go around corners and here is the proof

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.


Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron engine

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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron seat

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron front brake


3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Iron dash

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.


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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 54 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost £200
New price -
Used price £7,700 - £12,500
Insurance group 14 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term 24 months

Top speed & performance

Max power 66 bhp
Max torque 70.8 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 150 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2018: 1200 Iron introduced
  • 2021: replaced by Sportster S.

Other versions

883cc Iron XL883N

Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER 1200 (2018 - 2021)

1 owner has reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER 1200 (2018 - 2021) 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 (2018 - 2021)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 3 out of 5 (3/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
4 out of 5 "Sportster" Roadster
02 October 2019 by Steve

Version: Roadster

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £200

A sportster that handles!

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Brakes will fade if/when pushed.

Engine 5 out of 5

I do miss the rigid mounts.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Usual HD quality. Usual HD cheep fasteners here and there.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 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.

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