2007 Harley-Davidson XL 1200N Nightster


Outstanding motorcycle, buy one!


No problems so far. The bike is bullet proof!

General Comments:

This is the first road bike I have ever owned and it has been a great experience. My Harley friends cautioned me about buying a Sportster, but I have been completely satisfied with the all Black Nightster. The style of the bike is its biggest selling point. Nothing feels cheap on this ride. The quality and attention to detail are phenomenal.

I had the dealer throw on forward controls right away, and with my 5'8" frame it fits me beautifully. I am not overstretched, yet I still maintain an aggressive riding position. Much taller riders will probably disapprove of the position, even with the forward controls, though.

The power and handling of this machine are great. I have bottomed out a couple times going over speed bumps, but nothing serious. Takes the curves well, and with the low center of gravity it handles awesome at low speeds.

My only complaints about this bike are the stock chrome exhaust and the seat. The stock exhaust sounds like a sewing machine, but my V and H pipes fixed that. If you are looking to take long hauls, I recommend a seat upgrade. I took a seven hour ride and was miserable after 4 hours.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th June, 2009

2008 Harley-Davidson XL 1200N Nightster


Great idea Harley


My first bike was a 1000cc Harley Sportster in '73. The Nightster is twice the bike that was. I really love it. It's 30 years between motorcycles and it took me a while to get used to riding it, but I love this Nightster.

General Comments:

I love how it handles.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st March, 2009

2009 Harley-Davidson XL 1200N Nightster


Great bike for shorter riders who like that old school look


Oil leak on the primary chain inspection cover.

Brakes are noisy.

General Comments:

I had wanted to build a bobber bike for years, and when I saw that Harley had this flat-track-style bike on their inexpensive (for a Harley) Sportster platform, I was sold.

The look it just right. Low seat, visually has lots of engine, and with the blacked out bits and fork condoms, it looks like a badass. The swing-out license plate holder looks like a custom touch as well.

The seat height and standard-like ergos are by far the best for a 5'8" (173cm) shorty like me that I have thus far ridden. It's also 20lbs lighter than the next lightest Sporty model, and because of it, it is by far the easiest-to-handle bike I've ever ridden at low speeds - rivaled only by the little Suzuki I rode at my MSF course. Beware, though, that anybody much taller than I will probably feel rather cramped aboard this bike.

The powerplant is a nice piece. Rated at a healthy 79lb-ft @ 4000rpm, it is internally the same 1203cc Evolution V-twin that powers other 1200 Sportsters. If you like electronic fuel injection, you will like this setup. A closed-loop system with 02 sensors, it comes to life easily, though the wait for the computer to complete its self-diagnostics after you flick the switch to "run" can be frustrating at times. It also promises lower emissions and better fuel economy to keep those hippies at the EPA happy. For someone like myself who prefers carburetors, the EFI becomes a frustration as the fuel pump and wiring also have to be dealt with when converting to carburetors.

All that aside, the bike has decent torque, though the tall gearing means that you feel like you're winding it our pretty hard before shifting. With its light chassis, better-flowing heads, and hotter cams that it's been using for several years now, along with the rubber-mounted engines that debuted for the '04 season, it becomes a motor that has a tractable, wide powerband and loves to be pushed. The consensus is that in stock form, it's a mid-low 13-second bike. The stock exhaust has good sound quality, but is on the quiet side to conform with the EPA's noise pollution rules.

Similarly, the chassis likes to be pushed. Toss it into corners, apply throttle, and it comes around easily and confidently, with nicely controlled throttle steer. This is where the low, stiff suspension and favourable centre of gravity come into play. However, you pay a heavy toll - courtesy the low, tough attitude, the rear suspension has little travel and thus can at times resemble a hardtail in its ride quality. You very quickly learn to effectively scan the road ahead for bumps and avoid them, or lift off the seat over larger bumps.

Distance riding would not be a specialty of this bike. Sure, the wind blast can be taken care of with a windshield. Bags, highway pegs and forward controls can be added. And it will easily loaf along at extralegal speeds all day long. But the stiff ride and small tank would be a nuisance at best - your low fuel light will come on at around 80-100 miles despite having well over a gallon left in the tank.

Fuel economy so far has been so-so at just over 45mpg on two highway tanks and one commute tank, but as the engine hasn't completely run-in yet, I suspect it will improve over time. Harley claims 42mpg city and 57mpg on the highway.

Overall, this is a great bike for me. It fits like a glove and inspires confidence at low speeds, yet it's well-powered, looks amazing, and promises good fuel economy.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th August, 2008

30th Aug 2008, 07:59

I wrote one of the XL1200R Roadster reviews, and although the Nightster isn't really my style, I like it a lot - the bike looks fantastic, and HD's willingness to take a chance on an old-school bobber factory "custom" is great for the industry.

As you put more miles on to your machine, you will find it a fine handler, as long as not many bumps are involved. The 04 Sportster frame is very stiff, and tracks securely through very sharp maneuvers. There is a Nightster regularly ridden to my workplace whose tire wear makes it clear that the rider spends a lot of his time at more extreme lean angles than 99% of the sportbikes that I see on the street. I think that the peg feelers must help a lot in cornering hard without fear of scraping!

29th Mar 2010, 22:43

I just bought one today; will pick it up tomorrow. I still have several Beemers, but this is my first Harley, bought in part for wife to ride. Short inseam kept her off Beemers; looking forward to the ride tomorrow.