2008 Harley-Davidson XL 1200N Nightster
Excellent reliability and value for money!
The bike is pure PERFECTION!
At 32 years of age I finally bit the bullet and purchased my first Harley Davidson Motorcycle. I was always drawn to these bikes, but resisted, largely due to the price tag attached to them and also, because of the mixed reviews I have always read about them. To help you understand my dilemma, I use a motorcycle to commute DAILY putting anywhere between 140 to 180 miles a day on my motorcycle, I kid you not! So the decision to move away from my then present motorcycle, or my decision to not go with the trusted Yamaha marque, was at first a difficult one.
I walked into the Harley Davidson Dublin showroom as I had done so many times before, and decided to stop window shopping and to make up my own mind about the the company. I had a pick of most of the bikes in the showroom, but felt myself not able to commit to a new bike, again, because of the price tags in particular. By chance I happened upon the used Harley section and saw what looked to me as something completely out of place from the miles of chrome and glitter sitting around it. It was a 2008 Nightster, and unlike any Sportster I had seen before, it filled the room with an understated attitude rarely seen in most motorcycles. Knowing nothing about the Nightster, I was surprised at myself at being taken by it. I generally found most Sportster to look nice from far, but far from nice!
I bought the bike second hand instead of ordering a new one because frankly, I saved over three grand! Furthermore, the bike I bought came with the Vance & Hines Short cuts; Stage 1 Tuning; Passenger Pegs; Forward controls (a MUST for taller riders; ditch the stock solo seat too...) ; and a couple of other goodies that would have easily added an extra two grand to the final price of the bike new! I think it's actually the best way to buy a Harley, given the amount of money you save on after market parts and don't forget, this bike was barely broken in! It had just under 2000 miles on it!
If I had any doubts (and I did have plenty of them) about my purchase, they quickly faded out of mind the day I collected the bike and sped off. The bike is top heavy, despite having a low center of gravity, and handles beautifully regardless. It can be a tad unnerving however when you go to move the bike on foot or lift it off of its stand. You get the impression that your sitting in the bike as oppose to being on top of it, which I personally enjoy. Despite its weight, however, once in first gear you feel like your in total control. You can easily maneuver this bike at walking pace and it's a real treat to ride.
The brakes are strong, some would say not strong enough, but to be honest, I think they do the job fine. Comfort was a serious issue to me at first and I had to replace the Badlander seat that was on it when I bought it with a stock seat. Unfortunately, the stock seat, albeit slightly more comfortable, was equally as annoying and hence I replaced that too but this time with a Mustang seat. At 6'feet tall, 195 pounds, I found the stock seat was too low and the Badlander seat seemed to lack any kind of support. The Mustang Seat has been great thus far and I enjoy the fact that it has the optional pillion pad for my wife.
Having owned several bikes from different marques, I personally think this bike has more torque than any of them. It has more power on tap than I have ever experienced with a regular cruiser before. OK, many of you will say and comment on hundreds of other sport bikes out there that have more power, but this is not a sports bike! It's a cruiser and as cruisers go, there is not a chance in hell that most cars or even bikes that could take this machine by surprise. It handles really sweet even at low speeds, and I can manipulate it without a second thought.
Fuel economy is really great too. The bike was quoted at 57 miles per gallon at highway speeds (47 in city). I can verify this as being true. Obviously the faster you ride the less the fuel economy will work out for you, but my concerns that the stock tank would be too small was unfounded. I can easily get three hours of riding in at speeds of excess 70 miles an hour on one tank. The fuel light does come on premature however, so don't get freaked out! You still have a good hour or so before she starts sputtering. If you kept the bike at 60, I would say you could easily get 187 miles in on one tank. There is no reserve though, so be mindful (fuel injection).
I recommend forward pegs for taller riders... my Nightster came with those installed and it has worked a treat, except they feel more like mid pegs if you have the stock solo seat on the bike. Thus, I can't imagine anyone my height enjoying the ride or having their knees lock up on them. It is a versatile machine though and thankfully, there are millions of things you can do make your bike very comfortable.
Finally, when it comes to reliability, this bike was purchased during the second week of February. Within a few weeks I put 3000 miles on the bike and it never failed me once. If you ever doubted owning a Harley Davidson, look at it this way... on the 18th of March, 2010 a woman turning into on coming traffic whilst speaking on her mobile phone did not see or hear (go figure?!?) me coming. She ran right into the left hand side of my bike. I managed to swerve enough as to avoid driving into her door and instead my Nightster literally tore right through the front end of her Honda CRV! Her front end was literally hanging off with liquids coming out of every nook and cranny. My Nightster on the other hand had no visible damage bar the left hand clutch lever had been mangled. (Fortunately I managed to lift my leg out of the way and avoid personal injury).
Yes, she caused 1158 dollars worth of damage (including the time needed to repair the bike) to my bike, but that was inevitable. The point is that you wouldn't have even known anything was wrong with my bike, and because of its weight and center of gravity, there was no issues with control. Both the bike and I went through the front end of her car like a hot knife slicing through butter and it NEVER knocked me off the bike! After our details were exchanged I still managed to get to work on time and then later, dropped the bike off at Harley Davidson Dublin. No oil leaks, no irreplaceable damage... the bike is a tank. What more could you hope for?
Any skepticism I had of Harley's are a distant memory now. I still wouldn't fork out money on just any Harley, but you could bet your life I will never own anything other than a Harley Davidson from now on. The Dark Customs Range is my personal favourite. Safe tiding and happy trails.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th May, 2010
10th Feb 2012, 06:13
Three hours of riding at 70 mph means 200 miles to a tank of fuel. That is nothing short of a miracle. God definitely blesses the Irish.
16th Feb 2013, 11:11
Thank you for your review, it was very informative.
16th Jul 2014, 15:28
I just got into riding again after being away for 20 years. After taking a Motorcycle Rider Course to be sure if I was ready to commit, it was off to go shopping for a motorcycle. I looked at every brand, make and model in hopes of finding "The One" for me.
I too, stayed away from Harley's due to all that was mentioned. One day, I was bored and went to a Harley dealership just to pass time. Though it was one of many HD dealers I had visited, I walked in with an hour left before closing. My sales person was new in sales, but experienced with Harley's working in the service department for years and owning one himself. After listening to what I had to say, he pointed me directly to the 2009 HD 1200 Nightster (Orange and Black). I really liked it from the looks, then enjoyed how it felt when I sat on it (5'7" & 190lbs, became one with the bike) and fell absolutely in love with it once I drove it. Bing, bam, boom, I bought it right then and there.
Not much to do going forward with making it personal. The previous owner added many custom touches to it; seat, forward pegs, bigger cam, very, very nice exhaust. I may search out for a more comfortable seat, but not sure as of the moment.
Everything mentioned from the first review best describes this motorcycle. It's not for everyone to enjoy owning it. I was looking for old school bobber style, not touring, short commute and mostly riding on the Natchez Trace (live in Tuscumbia, AL and the Trace is a motorcycle rider's dream if you enjoy cruising at 50/55 mph with no semi-trucks and traffic, but don't speed on it; curves, wild game, reckless driving and passing have claimed many stupid riders).
I get a lot of looks with both good and bad; some really like it and some hate or envious. In short, I absolutely LOVE this motorcycle and plan to keep it forever in hopes of passing it down through the family. I might get another different kind of motorcycle in the future or rent others from Harley for the weekend, but will keep this one. I wasn't too keen on Harley's at first and thought it was just a bunch of hype, but I fully understand now. Once you own one, you understand. It's really strange how that is. The Yamaha Bolt was really, really, really nice, but the HD now sits in my garage. Depends on what you want.
The staff at the Harley dealerships are nothing but the best!!! There is not a company out there that can come anywhere close to the service they provide. Is it expensive, yes, but motorcycles are a luxury not a necessity.
11th Apr 2016, 21:06
Just bought a 2008 Nightster yesterday, 4k miles on it, and have only had crotch rockets to date. My bike buddies all slag off Harley oil dropper bikes, so I have my concerns, but after reading your excellent and honest review, I can't wait for the sunshine.
Glad to hear you are OK. Be safe out there and thanks again for this valuable review.