While the 2009 Sportster lineup is completed with the introduction of the brand new Iron 883 , we shouldn’t forget how this model was born from the combination between the Low and Custom ones that have kept on going strong in the last few years. These bikes are also new and look like being built following some unique recipes, but in fact they’re nothing but different rides suiting different rider needs while benefiting of the same V-twin engine.
Harley-Davidson has long thought us that a bike can take different forms and so catch on to the public in a variety of ways and the best thing about it is that it doesn’t require that much engineering. You simply design one engine and use it on all bikes in the same range. In this case, we’re talking about the 53.86 cu. in. air-cooled, Evolution motor capable of 55.00 ft lbs of torque at 3,500 rpm being used on both the Low and Custom models. Fuel injected through an electronic sequential port system, mated to a five-speed tranny (with slightly taller gear ratios on the Custom model) and needing to move around a less than 600 lbs wet weight no matter model, the V-twin gets good mpg too - claimed 60 on the highway and 45 in the city.
The whole difference between the two models consists in chassis mods making the Sportster 883 Low more compact and, obviously, lower as well as the Sportster 883 Custom longer and sleeker. Featuring low profile ergonomics with a seat height of just 25.3 inches, the Sportster 883 Low offers an exciting combination of precise handling and stunning style, including a new front fender that hugs the silver cast aluminum wheel. The 883 Low inspires confident riding for those who appreciate a lighter, nimble motorcycle with signature Evolution V-Twin performance. Those seeking a laid-back, two-up custom ride need look no further than the 883 Custom. With a new suspension and lighter rear wheel, a 4.5-gallon fuel tank, two-up seat, and pullback handlebar riser, the 883 Custom rolls down the road with true style, comfort and offering the very same authentic American V-Twin performance.
There’s really no doubt that Harley really worked their magic on these models and although they meet modern requests, the Sportster heritage is what makes the difference between the two and any possible contender out there.
So check out the Sportster timeline here and see how the American Company achieved this with small, but important steps.
The Japanese manufacturers sure had where to inspire and deliver their very own motorcycles to meet the same riding demands and cut in the same market share. In 2009, the Star V Star 1100 Custom stands out as being a long, low and simple bike relying also on a V-twin motor, a SOHC, 65 cu. in. one that is carbureted, but still grunty. The bike - which is Candy Red painted for 2009 - starts at $9,190 and that’s the biggest drawback it has in comparison to the two Harleys.
Suzuki’s Boulevard lineup is as highly providing as Star’s and here’s where we find the M50/Special Edition models being powered by the same 49.1 cu. in. OHC, V-twin that is fuel injected so it compensates for the smaller engine displacement both than on the Harley and Star bikes. The seat is low (27.6 inches from the ground), the looks are attractive and, most likely the best of this bike, is that it starts at $7,799/7,999.
The 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom doesn’t come out of this equation as features such as the 903cc, SOHC, V-twin, low seat height (only 27 inches), light weight (610.8 lbs wet) and the $7,699 starting price make sure to keep it well within the riders preferences.
But there’s something about the 2009 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 models that sets them apart from the competition, the original look saying “it all began with us” and the rebel image and attitude related to the it all contribute at determining riders in the US get their own Sportster.
The 883 Low is characterized by the 13-spoke Cast Aluminum 19-inch front wheel which in 2009 gets a low profile fender and is supported by low profile forks. The solo seat is also low (only 25.3 inches from the ground) and the rear end has been lowered too so “low” is the dominating word here and that’s where the model name comes from in case it wasn’t that conclusive from the very first sight. Yet, the 3.3 gallons fuel tank is pretty high mounted on the frame’s lump and that determined designers to add the wide reduced-reach polished handlebar both from proper handling and distinctive style purposes. Chrome Laced Steel wheels are optional on the Low version while the colors available are Vivid Black; Pewter Pearl; Dark Blue Pearl; Red Hot Sunglo (New).
The 883 Custom features Chrome Laced Steel wheels as standard equipment and that 21-inch one at front definitely helps setting it apart from the Low model which is kind of the simplest one among the Sportster 883 range. This special one comes with a lighter Silver Solid Disc Cast Aluminum 16-inch rear wheel and does feature a passenger seat in case you were already looking for one in the accessory list. The engine is power-coated in silver while the 4.5 gallons gas tank is built around the frame rather than on it and this allows for the low-rise handlebar to be mounted on the Custom and so offer the rider a much more chopperesque riding position. There is a whole range of colors available (both simple and two-tone) and they all correspond with the requirements of the Custom name: Vivid Black; Pewter Pearl; Flame Blue Pearl (New); Red Hot Sunglo (New); Two-Tone White Gold Pearl/Pewter Pearl; Two-Tone Red Hot Sunglo/Smokey Gold (New); Two-Tone Black Ice/Blue Ice (Custom Color Available October through December
2008); Two-Tone Light Candy Root Beer/Dark Candy Root Beer (Custom Color Available January through March 2009); Two-Tone Big Purple Flake/Brilliant Silver (Custom Color Available April through May 2009).
By simply looking at the two bikes it’s easy to realize how with simple design tweaks, Harley-Davidson managed to set a style difference in between them and so make sure that no fan leaves the dealership of foot.
Another thing making sure of that is affordability. With the 2009 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Low starting at $6,999 and the 883 Custom starting at $7,999, you won’t find many riders trying to find a better and cheaper alternative as there simply isn’t such thing as that.
Harley-Davidson learned to adapt their offer by the evolution of the market and the high demand of cheap, economic, but still original, powerful and light handling motorcycles determined the heads of the company to keep on pumping wind in the sails of small Sportsters. Apart from the Low and Custom, the Iron is the latest result of the inspired measure.
Engine and Transmission
Engine: Air-cooled, Evolution®
Displacement: 53.86 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: 3.00 in. x 3.81 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)
1st: 9.004 / 10.78 - Custom
2nd: 6.432 / 7.702 - Custom
3rd: 4.783 / 5.728 - Custom
4th: 3.965 / 4.748 - Custom
5th: 3.400 / 4.071 - Custom
Chassis and Dimensions
Brakes: Dual-piston front, single-piston rear
Parking Brake: N/A
Lean Angle (per SAEJ1168): 31° / 29°
Exhaust System: Chrome, staggered shorty exhaust w/ dual mufflers
Front Wheel: Silver, 13-spoke Cast Aluminum / Chrome, Laced Steel - Custom
Rear Wheel: Silver, 13-spoke Cast Aluminum / Silver, Slotted Disc Cast Aluminum - Custom
Wheel Option: Chrome, Laced Steel
Front Tire: 100/90-19 57H / MH90-21 54H - Custom
Rear Tire: 150/80B16 71H
Length: 89.1 in. / 90.3 in. - Custom
Seat Height: 25.3 in. Laden / 26.3 in. Unladen / 26.5 in. Laden / 28.0 in. Unladen - Custom
Ground Clearance: 3.90 in. / 4.40 in. - Custom
Rake Steering Head/Trail: 29.6° / 4.60 in. / 30.1° / 4.70 in. - Custom
Wheelbase: 60.0 in. / 60.4 in. - Custom
Track Width: N/A
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gal. 4.5 gal. - Custom
Oil Capacity: 2.8 qts.
Dry Weight: 563.0 lbs. / 565.0 lbs. - Custom
Running Order: 583.0 lbs. / 591.0 lbs. - Custom
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
Indicator Lamps: High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, security system6 (optional)