Harley-Davidson adds to its extensive ’small bike’ family with the 2015 Iron 883. With roots going all the way back through earlier XL models to the 1950’s K-Model, the Iron has a top-notch pedigree with plenty of modern features to keep it relevant in the current entry-level market. To me, this is yet another example of how the factory tends to look back to established traditions while pushing forward into new technology and ever-increasing customer expectations.

Continue reading for more information on the Harley-Davidson Iron 883.

  • 2015 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    Air-cooled, Evolution®
  • Transmission:
  • Torque @ RPM:
  • Energy:
    Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
  • Displacement:
    883 cc
  • Top Speed:
    103 mph (Est.)


2015 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Exterior
- image 566071

Fans of the franchise will instantly recognize the classic Sportster design, but the factory wasn’t building ’just another XL’ when they set this baby up. Built as a stock bike with many features that one would normally only see on a custom ride, I guess you could consider this to be another ’showroom custom’, similar to the Breakout in the Softail family. From the narrow XL front end, across the ’fat peanut’ tank and Evolution engine, to the traditional rear fender, there is very little in the way of chrome highlights. Instead, Harley endowed the Iron with their “blacked out” look on the fork lower legs, drag-style handlebars, mirrors, engine, rear fender struts and turn signals, giving the bike an unapologetic aggressive look. The factory even gave it the black fork dust covers a la Cafe’ Racer to deepen the historical ties. Black is very slimming (does this paint make me look fat?) and so the blacked-out features are rather inconspicuous, lending this sled a clean look that is further accentuated by the offset license plate holder that leaves the rear fender uncluttered and beautifully exposed.


2015 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Exterior
- image 566077

Both the front and rear suspensions are slammed down to their practical limits, leaving the bike with a low laden seat height (for a Sporty) of a mere 25.7 inches. This low seat height, coupled with the drag bars and mid-mount controls, creates a compact rider triangle that is sure to suit all but the shortest (or tallest) riders. The blacked-out, 13-spoke wheels mount Michelin Scorcher tires that use cutting-edge synthetic polymers to provide both grip and durability – which are usually mutually exclusive – and the tread design provides excellent water evacuation for those non-fair-weather riders who aren’t put off by a little inclement weather. A single caliper front and rear handles the braking duties, and while I prefer dual brakes up front, the bike weighs a mere 562 pounds (plus rider) so this brake arrangement is sufficient to keep you safe, and it leaves a fairly unimpeded view of the front wheel. In addition, the optional ABS keeps you confident in all braking situations. Harley says they used the ’classic’ peanut tank (3.3 gallons) on this model, but the original peanut tanks only held 2.1 gallons. I’d like to say that I prefer the smaller ’true peanut’ tank, but I don’t miss having to carry extra fuel in bottles on my saddlebags just to make it between fuel stops on long trips. Give me the 3.3 gallon tank any day!


2015 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Exterior
- image 566076

The tried-and-true, air-cooled, 883 cc Evolution engine serves as the beating heart of this blacked-out bruiser. Though it is a classic engine design that was first seen back in 1986, the factory changed out the Mikuni CV carb in favor of an Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection system, and the engine generates 53.8 pound-feet of torque at 3,750 rpm, while keeping the fuel economy around 51 mpg. A ’closed-loop’ exhaust system complete with miniature HO2 (heated oxygen) sensors keep emissions within current, and future, worldwide emissions standards. I like the classic looks, I really do, but as iconic as the air cleaner is, I wish the factory had done away with the old ham-can air cleaner in favor of something with less knee-bashing potential. The good news there is that it only takes one flip through the Screamin’ Eagle catalog to take care of that little detail (wink nudge).


You can get the sheet metal shot in Brilliant Silver Pearl, Sand Cammo Denim or Black Denim for a paltry $8,399, which places it well within the entry-level range, and the Hard-Candy paint options can be had for $9,149. The ABS is optional at $795, as is the security system at $395 and the California emissions for another bill ($100). Freight rounds out the sticker with an additional $360.

He Said:

“I always liked the Sportsters. My first and current bikes are both Sporties, and they are just fine around town for barhopping and light grocery runs. The only time I have problems is making long trips at highway speeds with much longer-legged big-twins, but I have plans to go up to a 30-tooth front sprocket (up from 27) to lower my rpm on the interstate. Not a huge problem, mind you, but worth keeping in mind if you think that you may want to take some long-distance rides.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "For the price, it’s a good entry-level bike, that’s true, but my husband’s Sportster has served us well as a third vehicle for many years. For quick runs into town, it’s a much more economical ride than our cage vehicles. At times, I think he looks for an excuse to go to town. Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes I do, too. Back in the day, that Evolution engine almost put Harley out of business, it was so reliable. I can’t say enough about these Sportsters; the Iron 883 is tried and true tradition with classic looks."

She Said:


Engine: Air-cooled, Evolution®
Bore: 3.0 Inches
Stroke: 3.811 Inches
Displacement: 53.9 Cubic Inches
Compression Ratio: 9 to 1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/57 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall) 1st: 10.41
Gear Ratios (overall) 2nd: 7.436
Gear Ratios (overall) 3rd: 5.531
Gear Ratios (overall) 4th: 4.584
Gear Ratios (overall) 5th: 3.931
Exhaust: Chrome, staggered shorty exhaust with dual mufflers
Wheels, Front Type: Black, 13-Spoke Cast Aluminum
Wheels, Rear Type: Black, 13-Spoke Cast Aluminum
Brakes, Caliper Type: Dual-piston front, Dual-piston rear
Engine Torque Testing Method: J1349
Engine Torque: 53.8 Pound-Feet
Engine Torque (rpm) : 3,750
Lean Angle, Right: 29 Degrees
Lean Angle, Left: 30 Degrees
Fuel Economy: Combined City/Hwy: 51 mpg
Length: 88.8 Inches
Seat Height, Unladen: 28.9 Inches
Ground Clearance: 4.7 Inches
Rake (steering head) : 30.5 Degrees
Trail: 4.6 Inches
Wheelbase: 59.5 Inches
Tires, Front Specification: 100/90B19 57H
Tires, Rear Specification: 150/80B16 77H
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 Gallons
Oil Capacity (w/filter) : 2.8 Quarts
Weight, As Shipped: 540 Pounds
Weight, In Running Order: 562 Pounds
Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps: High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, security system, ABS
Gauges: Handlebar-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer, time-of-day clock, dual tripmeter, low fuel warning light, low oil pressure light, engine diagnostics readout, RPM/gear display, ABS light , LED indicator lights
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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