2000 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH 883 from United States of America

Summary:

Classic V Twin perfection!

Faults:

Output shaft seal, bad when new, replaced free by the dealer.

Positive battery cable broke, made too short at factory. After a 2 hour search for the problem, fixed by owner.

General Comments:

Has been a very reliable, fun, economical motorcycle.

Handles very good.

Got 19,361 miles from the original front Dunlop tire!!!

19,361 miles on the front brakes pads, and they're still good. (And yes, I use the front brake HARD!)

Averages 45 MPG in town, got a high of 61 MPG on a back road cruise.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th January, 2008

2002 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH 883 from United States of America

Summary:

Love it

Faults:

Had to replace the coil.

Replaced front brake pads.

Replaced both tires.

Bought another seat.

Lowered rear with shorty shocks.

General Comments:

The bike is pretty fast for this old man.

Rode to Reno, NV and The Redwood Run from Central CA.

Ride is stiff due to shorty shocks.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd June, 2007

2000 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH 883 from United States of America

Summary:

Horrible piece of junk

Faults:

The first few rides during break-in the engine would leak oil from the air cleaner housing. A couple of dealer visits and it seems better now.

Always has had trouble keeping highway speed (65mph) and cannot pass traffic or accelerate very well at highway speeds.

Currently it dies while driving down highway without warning, seems electrical because it is sudden.

Also dies when coming to a stop occasionally.

Rattles a lot (I don't mean vibrates - of course it does that), the sound of metal slapping metal.

In the beginning it had a horrible time when first started each day. Modifying the airbox seems to have helped. It used to die a lot.

Overall the quality is very poor.

General Comments:

Poorly built, poor running.

Not dependable.

Looks nice.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th August, 2006

30th Aug 2006, 10:00

Wow, I didn't even have issues like that with my AMF built 1977 FXE when it was new, and I kept that for 9 years.

I've found that the Yamahas I've owned have been super reliable bike. My current Maxim 650 is 24 years-old and going strong.

But there is nothing like a Harley for that great V-Twin engine, timeless good-looks and nostalgic feel.

1988 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH 883 from Taiwan

Summary:

A 50's sport bike you can still buy new

Faults:

Shortly after buying it, I had a valve spring failure. This is the first time I've had this kind of failure with a bike.

While I had the engine apart, I decided to make the conversion to 1200. It was the best thing I ever did. Normally modifying a bike's engine gives mixed results, but in this case it was all positive. I think that this engine was designed as a 1200 and then "converted down" to be an 883. So increasing the bore allowed it to be itself again.

Of course it leaks oil, but that's not a big deal.

The black box ignition module failed one day.

The front brake master cylinder leaked from the cover.

General Comments:

The Sportster family really holds its identity. It's probably the only 1950's sport motorcycle you can still buy new. It really feels vintage. It's loads of fun to ride short distances. Mine still has its 883 solo saddle and speedo only.

It had buckhorn bars when I got it, but I hated the feeling so I immediately switched to the factory speedster bars. It's the ultimate stripped-down standard.

The engine gives intoxicating torque from low revs on, and it just explodes into action when you open it up. It feels like a jackhammer on the loose.

But the vibration is the price you pay for having such large pistons. The engine is solid mounted so you feel each revolution! This is undoubtedly the hardest shaking motorcycle in modern existence.

That said, I don't like the kicked out steering head angle. It makes it feel way too long and slow when changing direction. It really is out of character to the rest of the bike. Sharper handling was what gave the Triumph Bonneville a big edge in the 60's heyday of the model.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th July, 2006

11th Oct 2006, 15:52

Actually, the vibration and shaking is the price to pay for no counterbalancing, not piston size.

In any case good review. The only bike I've had more complaints about is the Royal Enfield.

18th Dec 2006, 17:22

My 1988 XL883 is my third bike, the others a 650 Yamaha and a 650 BSA. I suspect that comments re extreme vibration are somehow politically motivated as I find the engine to be quite smooth until I exceed 60MPH.. but then was this designed to be a cruiser? I think not. Often consider the increase to

1200cc, but am afraid to mess with a fun to ride, reliable machine. Ride safe.

5th Nov 2008, 14:42

I currently own two older Sportsters (after 30 years of riding big Japanese and European motorcycles) both in excellent condition...

1). 1986 883 fitted with a 1200 kit - great torque and acceleration, but the vibration is horrendous at certain revs. Fantastic bike to ride short distances below 50mph!

2). 1988 883 with stock motor - quite smooth compared to the other one. And comfortable enough to ride all day at legal speeds.

Both have been reliable so far. And much easier to start from cold than some Japanese bikes I've owned.

Handling suffers if tyre pressures are a little low, but surprisingly good on decent tyres at the correct pressures!

1st Jul 2009, 15:16

1200 pistons are heavier than 883 pistons, so more vibration is to be expected. This can be offset with higher final gearing to slow the engine a little to reduce vibration and to take advantage of the 1200's additional torque. This also gives the 1200 a more relaxed pace on the highway. In the end, however, the 883 vibrates less than the 1200.