Tips for potential 883R buyers

Jun 21, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:looks, sound, handling, upgrades

Cons:vibrations, oil leaks

The Bottom Line: If you are thinking of buying an 883R, read my review, if only for the good links.


When I do a google search on "sportster 883r", this is the first thing that pops up, so I thought I would put my $.02 on this site.

First, let's see if this is the bike you want to buy. Here are some things I thought about in making my decision.

Why buy a Harley?

PRO
- To my eye, no other bike looks nearly as good
- The fit and finish are first rate on all models
- Everyone knows the name; it doesn't sound as good to say you ride a Kawasaki Vulcan
- When you think of Harley riders, you think of cool, tough guys
- Go look at cycletrader.com and compare resale prices
- Harley riders support each other in a way that other bike owners do not

CON
- Too many Harleys on the road - are you a sheep?
- The dealership is just too busy for their own good
- The Harley image may not be for you
- Japanese bikes offer better performance at a lower price
- German, Italian, and British bikes are pretty cool too

Why buy a Harley Sportster?

PRO - To me, the Sportsters looked nearly as good as the Dyna Glides on the showroom floor, and they cost about half as much. Plus, they're much more nimble, and they have a reputation for being a young guy's bike. (I am 31.)

CON - Some people can't deal with riding a "little" Harley. Some people might not like the riding position, which is more standard than cruiser. Some people might want to ride their scoot over 70 MPH for a reasonable length of time.

Why buy an XL 883R rather than a 1200S?

PRO - I knew I wanted the sportiest Sportster, but which one? I liked the specs of the 1200S better, but I liked the look of the 883R better. The sales girl helped me decide when she said, "You can make the 883R hotter than the 1200S." Later I found out, you can make ANY Sportster hotter than the 1200S, and for less than $2000.

CON - If you don't want to mess with upgrading your scoot, but you want more performance than the average Sportster, the 1200S might be for you.

Why buy an XL 883R rather than an XLH 883?

PRO - So what do you get for the extra grand or so you spend? Most of the differences are cosmetic, but to me those differences were worth the extra money. I love the blacked-out engine and transmission, the wide handlebars, the orange paint, and the 2 into 1 exhaust.

CON - If you want to slap on a touring saddle, saddlebags, and forward controls, the 883R is not your bike. Most people that buy the 883R do not change its look very much. They spend money on performance upgrades.

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So I bought the 883R and I'm pretty glad I did. I had a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 before, and this bike looks, sounds, and handles much better than the Vulcan did. The Vulcan did ride smoother and faster on the freeway, but I have more fun and feel better riding my Harley.

Now for the important stuff, here are some links you need to go read.

http://www.sportster.org
Check out the 883Rs in the Boutique to see what other folks have done to customize this bike. Most of them spent their money on performance upgrades.

http://www.mklsportster.com/xloilblowbyarticle.htm
I live in Texas, and once it got hot, my scoot started leaking oil exactly as described in this article. Unfortunately I took my bike to the dealer before doing my homework, and he sat on it for two weeks before replacing the umbrella valve. It still leaks, but now it leaks a little less. I have a breather kit on the way.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/sportster_vibration.htm
Vibes give the Sportster character, but they are a pain in the a-- at highway speeds. This article describes what you can do about them. I am going to start with a 29-tooth transmission sprocket, and I may eventually install a Fisher Vibration Damper.

http://www.ironharley.com/xr750.htm
You oughta know something about the bike that the 883R is s'posed to look like.


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