2003 Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom Sportster

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Lil old boneshaker: 1200 Harley Custom Sportster

Aug 9, 2008 (Updated Aug 9, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Reliability:
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  • Handling And Control:
  • Quality and Craftsmanship:

Pros:Larger 4.5 gal fuel tank, Nifty oil tank cap, Harley sound

Cons:Vibration - unless that's your thing, then it's a pro

The Bottom Line: A decent street bike, Harley's 1200 cc Sportster.


1200 Harley Custom Sportster

The Sportster was the original "Super Bike" when it was introduced in 1957 to compete with the English vertical twins that were more sporty (and cheaper) than the staid Harley heavyweights that were mostly either relegated to police duty or had a few sport riding adherents in those wild and wooly days. The Japanese motorcycle had not yet been seen when the throaty blasts of the unitized Sportster V-Twin were the hottest thing on the streets of America.

The Sporty ruled the streets for a decade, until the later 60s when the large bore Japanese Super Bikes unseated it from its throne. The Sportster since has had a following but is generally thought of as "a chick bike" or an entry level to the mystique of Harley-Davidson that doesn't require the steep entry fee of the heavyweight hog cruisers.

The 1200 cc Sportster Evolution Engine has been around for a while but 2007 introduces Electronic Sequenced Port Fuel injection which ups the throttle response and allows easy cold starting and no warm up take offs thanks to the computer that enriches the fuel air mixture automatically when the engine is cold. The engine is rubber mounted for comfort and black powder coated cases with chrome all over the visible parts of the engine. The transmission is five-speed and final drive is via Gates Aramid belt.

This 2003 model year bike has the old fashioned carburetor and choke that takes a certain bit of getting used to. Start it with choke on and let er warm up to allow engine to smoothen. You will get a lot of backfiring and roughness until the motor gets warmed up.

No matter what the year, the Sportster has that famous Harley vibration down pat. The newer versions have rubber mounted engines so the vibration is tamed down a bit but it shakes like a cement mixer when idling. That's the characteristic.

This 1200 CC (74 CID) is 30% larger than the original Sporty displacement so you have scads of power. The original 900 CC models have a faster pickup than the big twins so this is even faster if you like acceleration.

For a shorter person, this is a great Milwaukee bike to get started on.



Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 7,000
Condition: Used
Model Year: 2003

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