The Best and Worst Things About the Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 883

Harley Davidson’s Sportster has been a mainstay in the line since its introduction in 1957. Still the smallest and simplest of Harley models, it nonetheless gained huge following and is still available in select countries, including the United States. United. However, it won’t be long until it’s phased out by increasingly stringent emissions regulations, not to mention the arrival of the new Sportster S. While you can still buy one, we’ll tell you. explain the advantages and disadvantages of owning and driving an iron. 883, the baby of the Sportster range.


It may be small, but it’s a real Harley

All Harleys have an air-cooled, V-twin engine beating between your legs and the Sportster is no different. The Iron 883’s Evolution engine puts out 49 horsepower and 54 pound-feet of torque, which isn’t huge for what’s a relatively heavy bike (565 pounds), but it does it all with typical Harley styling and, more importantly, the sound!

It has the typical low-end torque demand that’s just as well as the engine doesn’t have a high rev limit. A five-speed gearbox and belt final drive are installed. But, overall, it’s 1005 a real Harley Davidson.

Feel the vibes, baby

Although the motor is flex-mounted, the Iron 883 has some of the worst vibration of any motorcycle on the market today. Let it sit idle and the whole bike is buzzing with shaky vibrations.

Start up and the vibration subsides a bit, but there’s still plenty of vibration through the bars, seat and footpegs. It’s not too bad at city driving speeds and some would even say the vibrations are part of the charm, but speed up and things get pretty nasty quickly.

On the open road

It might be a cruiser, but, to be honest, the last thing you want to do on the Iron 883 is sail for any appreciable amount of time or attempt high speed cruising.

Simply put, the Iron 883 can’t produce enough urge to go out of its own way at highway speeds and the ergonomics are terrible for long days in the saddle, which you will if you want to go anywhere !

Harley claims a top speed of over 100 mph but that doesn’t say how long it takes to get there, nor that at that speed the vibration and wind blast is enough to deter you from riding a motorcycle for life. !


We’re afraid that’s not good news on the suspension side either. Even though the engine might be the happiest in town, the suspension might give you second thoughts.

The suspension components are rudimentary and, as if that weren’t enough, there’s little travel, especially in the rear, and even the slightest bumps in the road will have you heading for the nearest osteopath.

The front suspension isn’t much better, the forks feel way too bad to control all that weight, while the spring is too stiff.

It’s infinitely customizable.

Many owners view a Harley as a blank canvas on which to paint their own vision and the Sportster Iron 883 is no different. In fact, it would probably be hard to find a standard 883 iron anywhere in the world.

Not only does the Harley Davidson accessory catalog groan under the weight of official Harley replacement parts, but the independent aftermarket also offers a wealth of aesthetic and bolt-on performance upgrades.

Additionally, many Sportsters have seen the basic ingredients such as the frame extensively modified to create something more unique.

Much heat

This big chunk of an air-cooled engine produces a fair amount of heat, especially from the rear cylinder which sits right next to the rider’s thighs. At low speeds, like in town and in hot weather, the heat can quickly become unbearable.

On the open road, that’s not much of a problem, unless you’re riding in particularly hot weather. This is not an issue unique to the Sportster Iron 883, but it is something to be aware of.


There’s really no excuse for bad brakes on a motorcycle anymore, but Harley Davidson seems to champion them on the Iron 883. A single front disc isn’t unusual on cheaper models, and usually they work quite well.

However, the 300mm disc at the front of the Iron 883 is squeezed by an undersized two-piston caliper and simply doesn’t have the bite or initial force to shave weight off any speed. It might as well be oak, so much does it feel like wood.

Oftentimes cruisers compensate for poor front brake performance with a very powerful rear brake but, unfortunately, the Iron 883 doesn’t even have that.

ABS is not even standard but must be fitted as an option.

Is everything bad?

Absolutely not. If you take the time to remember that this is an entry-level cruiser, it starts to make a lot more sense.

Yes, the Iron 883 is expensive (over $11,000), underpowered and overweight, but it’s also great in its own way. Yes, it has a heavy clutch, poor brakes, sluggish steering, clunky gearbox and the engine heat issue, but it looks and feels like a real Harley.

And that’s all many riders want: the true old-school Harley Davidson experience, combining looks, a V-twin engine and that sound. The rest of the bike may be basic but no one can deny that it isn’t honest.

The build quality is excellent

Harley struggled with it, shedding a poor reputation for build quality and reliability. But it really seems like they’ve got the issues under control and there’s no reason to stray from the brand anymore.

The Sportster Iron 883 is solid and rattle-free. The paint looks great whether on the tank, frame, engine, exhaust or wheels. The materials seem to be carefully chosen and the fit and finish are excellent.

It will make you feel good

What if it was the smallest model in the HD range? There is simply no riding experience comparable to that of a Harley Davidson. Other manufacturers have tried to copy that indefinable something that a Harley has but all have failed, leaving an undisputed leader in the true American motorcycle experience.

The Iron 883 is a true Harley Davidson in the traditional sense: imperfect, yes, but deep down an honest bike that just wants to please and be loved. Luckily, it’s very easy to look past the flaws and love it for what it is: something completely unique in motorcycling: an American legend.


Q: Is Harley Iron 883 good for beginners?

Yes. The saddle is good and low, the bike is well balanced and it’s not too powerful to be intimidating

Q: Is the Iron 883 worth it?

At over $11,000 that’s expensive, but what’s the price of an original American icon?

Q: How fast does an 883 iron go?

The maximum speed is estimated at 105 mph, but you’ll be tired before you reach it!

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