Harley-Davidson is adapting to the motorcycle market’s most recent demands and the best proof of this fact is the newly launched blacked-out Sportster model. The latest Dark Custom of the series shares most features with its larger sibling, the Nightster 1200, but not the engine and therefore not the price. Everything from the slammed suspension to the side-mounted license plate holder is there, but the most important unit – the V-twin engine – displaces 883ccs while the price starts just under $8K.
Although brand new, the Iron doesn’t bring anything distinctive to the scene apart from a new paint scheme and black wheels, but does manage to individualize as the latest Dark Custom of the series while being powered by the same engine as on the Sportster 883 Low model. The 53.89 cubic inch, air-cooled, Evolution motor seemed just right for the 565 lbs wet weight of the brand new Sportster and the Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection system was carried on as well so that not only style would set this bike apart, but throttle response and decent performance too.
The Iron 883 is a motorcycle that was built with simplicity in mind so it concludes in a striped down overall design and doesn’t feature ‘fancy’ features such as an on-board GPS, radio, etc. It addresses to the younger crowd and this specific category of riders finds additional motorcycle systems almost bothering rather than helpful in any way so Harley comes to fulfill their preferences in this domain.
For a custom, the ergonomic triangle was chosen with longevity in mind (rider longevity, that it) and the bike is supposed to handle very easy thanks to the low center of gravity and decent 60-inch wheelbase. The seat is positioned at only 25.3 inches from the ground, the footpegs are found right at the middle of the bike while the drag style bars are easy to grab as we’re dealing with a very compact overall motorcycle.
The 2009 Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883 was created by combining features from both the Nightster 1200 and the Sportster 883 Low and that places its roots well back into Harley’s history.
1952 - The K model is introduced, a 750cc side-valve, V-Twin driven model. The K model is the direct ancestor of the XL Sportster.
1957 - The XL Sportster replaces the K model. This 55 cubic-inch, overhead valve bike improves upon the power and handling of the K model. The engine and transmission were all new.
1958 - The Sportster CH (XLCH) is introduced. The CH stands for "Competition Hot," and is a more stripped-down version of the original XL. The new motorcycle also introduces the trademark "Peanut" gas tank and staggered dual exhaust.
1959 - Introduction of the Sportster H (XLH).
1967 - The XLH Sportster receives electric start.
1970 - The XR-750 racing motorcycle is introduced. The XR-750 is driven by what is essentially a de-stroked Sportster engine.
1976 - The XLCR or Cafe Racer is introduced and is one of the most unique of all Sportster platform bikes. The black sport motorcycle combines the classic European cafe racer with American styling and power.
1979 - The XLS Roadster is introduced, a more customized version of the traditional Sportster platform.
1982 - The 25th Anniversary Sportster, complete with the more classic "Sportster" gas tank logo, is introduced.
1983 - The XLX-61 is introduced, a more stripped down, yet customized Sportster.
1986 - The Sportster family receives the Sportster Evolution engine in 883 and 1100cc displacements.
1987 - The 30th Anniversary Sportster is introduced.
1988 - Introduction of the first of the Sportster Hugger Motorcycles, which offered a lower seat height.
1996 - The first 1200S "Sport" and 1200C "Custom" bikes are introduced. The Sport offers race styling and power, and the Custom offers unique chrome appointments and other custom features unique to the bike.
1998 - Sportster production moves to Harley-Davidson’s factory in Kansas City, MO.
2002 - Patterned after the race model of the same name, the new Sportster 883R street motorcycle, incorporates racing styling going back to 1970.
2003 - Harley-Davidson’s 2003 model year line-up included Sportsters with 100th Anniversary accoutrements.
2004 - Completely redesigned XL Sportster family is introduced with a redesigned, rubber-mounted Sportster XL Evolution powertrain, a stiffer frame, and a lower seat height.
2005 - XL Sportster 883 Low is introduced with ergonomics designed specifically to fit smaller riders, and that make it easier to lift off its sidestand. A seat height of just 26 inches makes the 883 Low the lowest Sportster ever.
Harley-Davidson introduced the Iron 883 model just so that they would cut even more into the Japanese pie belonging to Custom models also realized with facile transformations using black paint and another set of bars. The 2009 Star V Star 1100 Custom is one such model and it is powered by a 65 cubic inch, air-cooled, 75-degree V-twin; SOHC, two valves per cylinder engine. The motor is indeed bigger, but the fact that it is carbureted and the bike weights 606 lbs wet doesn’t help too much so we’ll call this a decent contender for the Iron 883. MSRP is $9,190.
The 2009 Suzuki Boulevard M50 starts at $7,799 and is fairly similar both to the Star and the Harley. It is powered by a fuel-injected 49.1 cubic inch, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, OHC, 45-degree V-twin engine and weighs 584 lbs with all fluids included so performance should be approximately the same as Iron’s.
Kawi’s Special Edition Ebony of the Vulcan 900 Custom is most likely the fiercest opponent of the new Harley-Davidson Dark Custom model simply because of the way it looks. Add a 903cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC; four-valves per cylinder, V-twin engine fed through an electronic fuel injection system with 34mm Keihin throttle bodies and developing 58.2 lb.-ft. at 3,500 rpm and realize that looks aren’t everything. Also, with a starting price of just $8,099, the Kawasaki is the next best thing after the Iron.
As much as we’d like how the Japanese models look, the American style instantly stands out and positions the Iron 883 on the trendsetter position simply because it all started on the new land, just as history thought us.
This thing looks like the Rolls Royce Phantom of motorcycles – it is tall in the front and low at the back and so manages to look imposing despite the fact that it doesn’t feature impressive dimensions. Entirely black, the Iron is characterized by a custom 19-inch, multi-spoke front wheel as well as through the stripped down fender, small headlight, instruments and mirrors. The 3.3 gallons tank is narrow and mounts on the nicely curved frame that ended up this way because the rubber mounted engine had to come in place just right. The 883cc unit integrates perfectly in the still tight space and stands out as the centerpiece of this Harley, just like on all other models of the American company.
Drag style handlebars are of the essence and so is the low (26.3 inches) solo seat. The passenger will only be properly accommodated after searching Harley’s accessory list for a passenger seat and backrest. Other nice features are the side-mounted license plate holder and the custom fender built around the 16-inch also multi-spoke rear wheel.
From fender to fender, the brand new Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is black painted and so it enhances that bad boy look despite the fact that it will most likely be ridden by beginners.
Not only a trendsetter and a highly performing motorcycle, the 2009 Iron 883 is also an affordable package. MSRP starts at $7,899.
All in all, this Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a well worth buying piece of iron from a variety of reasons: although brand new, it has a lot of heritage, meets modern performance demands and looks the best of its class without being at all expensive. This is the Harley model which blends user-friendliness with bad boy looks without the implicit costs into a great overall package.
Engine and Transmission
Displacement: 53.89 cu. in.
Engine Type: Air-cooled, Evolution™
Bore x Stroke: 3.00 in. x 3.812 in.
Engine Torque: 55.00 ft lbs @ 3500 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Compression Ratio: 8.9:1
Miles per Gallon: 60 hwy / 45 city
Primary Drive: Chain, 57/34 ratio
Gear Ratio (overall)
Chassis and Dimensions
Brakes: Dual-piston front, single-piston rear
Lean Angle (per SAEJ1168): 30° / 29°
Exhaust System: Straight cut, shorty exhaust with dual mufflers
Front Wheel: Black, 13-Spoke Cast Aluminum
Rear Wheel: Black, 13-Spoke Cast Aluminum
Front Tire: 100/90-19 57H
Rear Tire: 150/80B16 71H
Length: 85.80 in.
Seat Height: 25.30 in. Laden / 26.3 in. Unladen
Ground Clearance: 3.90 in.
Rake Steering Head/Trail: 29.6° / 4.60 in.
Wheelbase: 60.0 in.
Track Width: N/A
Fuel Capacity: 3.30 gal.
Oil Capacity: 2.8 qts.
Dry Weight: 548.0 lbs.
Running Order: 565.00 lbs.
Instruments: Handlebar-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer, time-of-day clock on odometer, dual tripmeter, low fuel warning light, low oil pressure light, engine diagnostics readout, LED indicator lights, hazard warning integrated into self-canceling turn signal controls
Indicator Lamps: High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, security system (optional)