2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200R from United States of America

Summary:

Super fun bike, and going to keep it for a while

Faults:

Leaky valve cover gasket.

General Comments:

Very quick bike, and a lot of fun to ride!

Also handles very well, and gets great gas mileage.

Not a comfortable bike to ride 500 miles in one day, but definitely a fun bike to blast around on.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st March, 2011

29th Jun 2012, 10:31

My 06 XL1200R also had an inner rocker box gasket leak.

2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200R from United States of America

Summary:

A solid general-purpose motorcycle

Faults:

Front cylinder rocker cover gasket oil leak. Replaced twice under warranty in the first year, with the leak resuming each time, before H-D released a revised rocker cover gasket. No problems after the new rocket cover gasket was used.

Front brake master cylinder stuck. Replaced under warranty, shortly before the factory issued a recall and free replacement of the front brake master cylinder. No problems after the warranty replacement.

General Comments:

The XL1200R Roadster is a straightforward, honest standard-style motorcycle.

In 2003 I was looking for a new bike after several years away from riding (school and work), and having previously owned and loved airhead boxer BMWs, was looking for a midsize, general-purpose bike with a standard riding position. I was considering the Triumph Bonneville and Thunderbird, Honda CB750 Nighthawk, and H-D Sportster.

I looked at the 2003 Sportster Sport, but the vibration levels and other aspects of the design turned me off. I was close to buying a Triumph (a good deal on a leftover 2003 Thunderbird in red was very tempting) when the 2004 rubber mount redesign was announced, and after seeing a demo bike at a dealer, I placed an order immediately.

I picked it up in February 2004 and have pleased with it over the past four years. It has good power, handles and brakes well, and has been reliable and low maintenance.

As purchased, the bike was very stable and handled corners in smooth roads well, but it handled anything with bumps badly. The front and rear suspension setups were too soft, and both rode harshly over rough pavement and felt unstable in bumpy corners. I replaced the stock front fork springs and oil with Progressive springs and heavier fork oil, and the rear shocks with the H-D factory remote reservoir shocks from the pre-2004 Sportster Sport model (they fit perfectly). They transformed both handling and ride comfort over bumps. This setup should be standard in the 1200R.

Unlike the previous reviewer, I have not had backfiring problems with the stock carburetor jetting. I considered the usual muffler replacement, but have decided to retain the stock exhaust and jetting. I have been satisfied with the engine's power and do not want a louder exhaust.

Range with the 3.5 gallon tank is limited. With only 2.5 gallons before needing to go to reserve, I refill every 100 miles. If I find a 4.5 gallon tank from a Custom in the right color cheap on eBay, I may purchase and install it. This would require replacing the seat, which I have considered doing anyway. The seat is OK on short rides but is too mushy to be comfortable on rides over 4 hours.

Maintenance requirements are very low. Change the oil and filter at regular intervals, check tire pressures, winterize properly. That's it. Belt rather than chain drive is a great advantage over the other bikes that I considered. I had two "first year of a new model" problems in the first two years of ownership, but both were remedied after the factory figured them out, and neither has recurred since.

I have used my Roadster for urban commuting, weekend rides on country roads, and Skyline Drive rides, and it has handled all of these situations well. I don't do long-distance tours, but with a windshield, hard bags and highway pegs it would probably handle those situations fine as well. Overall, it's a solid machine that would be a good choice for anyone looking for a basic motorcycle with a standard, upright riding position, rather than a specialized sportbike, cruiser, or full-dress tourer.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th April, 2008

7th Apr 2010, 17:51

I have recently purchased a 2006 model with only 1,500 miles. I totally agree with the reviews and have a slight backfire on occasions. The rear brake seems mushy, but does pull up progressively and is unlikely to lock up.

I get cramp in my legs on a long run, and become sore at the base of my spine after only 15 miles.

One persistent problem is that the battery cover keeps falling open, and I have tried repositioning items to resolve this, but without success. I intend to stick some Velcro onto it, but how, I do not know. The dealer said that this is a problem and they don't have a fix for it.

The exhausts are fairly muted even under full throttle, and the engine hunts slightly under low revs. It is difficult to find the right gear for 30mph, and changing gear clunks loudly, and the dealer says this is usual.

Cornering is involving, physically swinging one's body into the bend just before turning in. Looks and feels cool, rolling the bike from side to side.

Altogether a nice machine, and it benefits from 1200cc and twin front discs. A future classic and quite rare on the marketplace, but I think it is not favoured over full dress big Harleys, and most first timers go for the 883cc, which I hear is underpowered, and buyers wish they had gone straight for the 1200 Roadster.

2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200R from United States of America

Summary:

Harley finally got the Sportster right

Faults:

The front brake master cylinder would stick on occasion when I first got the bike, but that was repaired by the dealer.

The bike was jetted so lean, that it would pop back thru the carb when down shifting and at stop lights upon acceleration. (Cured with a Yost Power Tube and re-jetting).

General Comments:

First off, let me say that if you have not ridden a Sportster since the engine was rubber mounted in 2004, you are in for a treat. The "paint mixer effect", is gone and the bike no longer sheds parts going down the road.

Shortly after delivery, I replaced the stock fork springs and rear shocks with after market parts. The bike is very heavy and will never be a road-racer, however the change was dramatic. I spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina and had a blast (I even managed to show a couple of guys on crotch rockets that torque and decent handling are a great combination). I wish you could have seen their faces when we stopped after a brisk ride! Priceless.

The changes I made include:

Yost power tube and re-jetting. (jets come with kit)

Screamin Eagle high flow air filter, slip on mufflers, ignition module and 8mm plug wires.

To sum it up, the Sportster 1200R with these changes feels and sounds like a mid 60's big block Corvette convertible. Keep the revs between 3,500 and 5,500 rpm to take advantage of the torque, and let the fun begin.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th July, 2007