Nothing Comes Out Of The Hole Like A Sporty

When Harley-Davidson makes changes to the Iron 883, they stay faithful to at least one important aspect – performance. While XL models have never been known as ’fast’ bikes, they certainly have a well-deserved reputation as ’quick’ bikes. Nothing in the Harley world comes out of the hole like a Sporty, or handles the corners like one, and the Iron 883 maintains that tradition with aplomb. Bikes like this show how the XL line has not only survived, but also thrived in the entry-level and sport-minded American markets.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Design

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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Harley took the blacked-out look to the Nth degree, which plays into the custom look and ironically, this seeming lack of frills is actually a frill all its own.

When the folks at Harley-Davidson introduced the K-model (direct ancestor of the XL, or Sportster line) back in 1952, I doubt they could have known they were birthing a genre that would still be thriving over half a century later. Yet, here we are with the 2019 Sportster Iron 883 that pays tribute not so much to the factory, but to the custom touches added by owners over the ages.

Overall, the Iron 883 has a drag-centric vibe that is hard to ignore. The drag bars and mid-mount controls form an aggressive rider triangle that puts the rider into a slightly forward-leaning stance – a perfect cornering position if you like — to take your curves with a little mustard on them.

Typical of the Sportster family, the lines are rather bunched up to fit within the 85.8-inch total length. The fuel tank emulates the classic look of the Sporty peanut-tank while squeezing another gallon or so in there for a total of 3.3 gallons. Let’s face it; peanut tanks are cool to look at, but they just don’t carry enough fuel.

The upper lines manage a little flow down the tank and across the rolled-leather that sort of pimps out the otherwise-mundane stock Sportster seat, which is more comfortable than the smooth Sporty seat. The chopped rear fender adds to the dragster vibe while leaving a good view of the rear tire.

Turn signals — front and rear — use LEDs to keep the units as small and unobtrusive as possible. The taillight is so low-profile it looks more like a strut reflector, or it does when it isn’t lit, anyway. A sideways license-plate holder mounted on the left side keeps the fender clean and the top line unobstructed at the rear end – plus it makes the Iron 883 look like a worked-over custom bike right off the showroom floor.

Harley took the blacked-out look to the Nth degree. Even the shock springs and turn-signal housings got the treatment, leaving only the pushrod tubes, fork tubes (but not lowers), wheel-spoke tips and engine-cover fasteners as the only bright spots on the bike. This also plays into the custom look, and ironically, this seeming lack of frills is actually a frill all its own.

If you’re one of those unfortunate folks that have to put your bike into storage for a few months of the year, you’ll appreciate the addition of the battery tender harness as standard equipment in 2017.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Chassis

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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You can expect crisp response to steering pressure, and even though the maximum lean angle is only 27 degrees to the right and 28 degrees to the left, you will be able to quickly traverse the bike from one max to the other.

As I mentioned before, the Iron 883 is a short bike no matter how you measure it. The wheelbase is a mere 59.6 inches, even with the relatively long, 30 degree rake. Steering geometry winds up giving you 4.6 inches of trail for crisp response to steering pressure, and even though the maximum lean angle is only 27 degrees to the right and 28 degrees to the left, you will be able to quickly traverse the bike from one max to the other.

Harley keeps the Iron 883 low with a slammed rear suspension, 16-inch tire in back and 19-inch hoop in front. Sportsters traditionally have tall seats, but this one comes with a saddle height just a hair under 30 inches high, unladen, in a move sure to appeal to the vertically challenged crowd. Ground clearance is a bit low at 5.5 inches, but you aren’t going off-road with this bike and the low center-of-gravity is a nice bonus.

The Iron 883 weighs in at 564 pounds soaking wet, so the lack of dual front brakes isn’t that big a deal. Both ends of the bike get strong, honest braking from the dual-cylinder calipers, and you have the choice of going “old-school” with non-augmented brakes or going for the safety net offered by the optional ABS package.

Frame: Mild steel, tubular frame; circular sections; cast junctions
Swingarm: Mild steel, rectangular tube section, stamped junctions; MIG welded
Front Forks: 39 mm
Rear Shocks: Coil-over; Preload Dual-adjustable
Suspension Travel, Front/Rear: 3.6 in / 1.6 in
Rake (steering head): 30°
Trail: 4.6 inches
Lean Angle, Right/Left: 27 degrees/ 28 degrees
Wheels: Black Nine-Spoke with Machined Highlights
Wheel, Front: 19 in. x 2.15 in. (483 mm x 55 mm)
Wheel, Rear: 16 in. x 3 in. (406 mm x 76 mm)
Tire, Front: 100/90B19 57H
Tire, Rear: 150/80B16 77H
Brakes, Front: 300 mm disc, dual-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 260 mm disc, dual-piston caliper
ABS: optional

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Drivetrain

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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Unlike Sporties from the past, this engine has rubber mounts that isolate the frame and rider from engine vibration, which means that Sportsters no longer come with a leather-bound bottle of Loctite.

When the first Evo Sporty came out, I really didn’t like the engine. Personally, I didn’t see anything wrong with my old Ironhead. But history is a great teacher, and the Evo has had plenty of time to prove its toughness and longevity. I would go so far as to say it’s one of the best engines Harley ever made, and they’ve had 30 years to perfect it. The new Milwaukee-Eight engines look promising, but they haven’t been out long enough to know if they’ll match the Evo’s reliability and longevity.

In keeping with Harley tradition, the mill is an air-cooled, 45-degree V-twin. The 3-inch bore and 3.811-inch stroke give the engine a total displacement of 53.9 cubic-inches (883 cc — hence the devilishly clever name), and a throttle body with electronic fuel injection helps it crank out 53.8 pound-feet of torque at 3,750 rpm. This is plenty of power for zipping around town, and it comes economically at 51 mpg.

A five-speed transmission and reinforced-belt final drive connect the engine to the wheel, and while it doesn’t have the sixth gear of its Big-Twin cousins, you really won’t miss it much. Unlike Sporties from the past, this engine has rubber mounts that isolate the frame and rider from engine vibration. So take that, Harley haters! Sportsters no longer come with a leather-bound bottle of Loctite!

Engine : Air-cooled, Evolution®
Bore x Stroke: 3 inches x 3.811 inches
Displacement: 53.9 cubic inches (883 cc)
Compression Ratio: 9:1
Engine Torque (J1349): 53.8 pound-feet at 3,750 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Exhaust: Black exhaust headers and black mufflers
Primary Drive Chain: 34/57 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 29/68 ratio
Clutch: multi-plate, wet
Transmission: 5 speed
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st: 10.41, 2nd: 7.436, 3rd: 5.531, 4th: 4.584, 5th: 3.931

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Price

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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MSRP is holding steady from last year at $9k, and it comes in some some sharp-looking new colors.

Get your 2019 Iron 883 in a choice of colors for $8,999 or go for the sharp-looking two-tone paint for $9,899. ABS will set you back $795, and the security option adds another $395 to the ticket. Sorry California residents, your emissions package will cost another bill.

Warranty: 24-month unlimited mileage
Model ID: XL 883N
Colors:
└ 2016: Olive Gold, Charcoal Denim, Black Denim, Hard Candy Gold Flake
└ 2017: Black Denim, Charcoal Denim, Olive Gold, Red Iron Denim, Hard Candy Hot Rod Red Flake
└ 2018: Black Denim, Industrial Gray Denim, Wicked Red, Bonneville Salt Denim, Hard Candy Chameleon Flake
└ 2019: Black Denim, Industrial Gray, Wicked Red, Rawhide Denim, Rugged Gold Denim, Silver Flux/Black Fuse
Pricing:
└ 2016: Color: $8,849, Hard Candy Color: $9,299
└ 2017: Color: $8,949, Hard Candy Color: $9,399
└ 2018: Color: $8,999, Hard Candy Color: $9,449
└ 2019: Color: $8,999, Two-Tone Custom Color: $9,899

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Competitors

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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2016 - 2019 Yamaha Bolt
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While the price difference is not that big, I would point out that every dollar counts in an entry-level budget, and the Bolt looks to give the Iron 883 some serious competition in the domestic market.

So far, the closest bike to the Iron 883 would have to be the Bolt from the Star cruiser lineup at Yamaha. Both bikes follow a similar low-and-compact design, with minimal sheet metal and plenty of entry-level appeal.

The Bolt comes out on top of the displacement category with 58 cubic-inches (942 cc) versus 53.9 cubic-inches from the Harley. Both engines are air-cooled V-twins, and really, the biggest difference in the engines is the angle of the dangle – Harley runs its customary 45-degree engine while the Bolt uses a 60-degree mill.

At $7,999, the Bolt comes in a tad under the Sporty’s $8,999 price tag, and the difference is even bigger if you start looking at the custom colors available from Harley. While the price difference is not that big, I would point out that every dollar counts in an entry-level budget, and the Bolt looks to give the Iron 883 some serious competition in the domestic market.

He Said

“I have always been a Sporty fan, and the Iron 883 is no exception. Barring long trips on the highway, I have more fun with my 883C than I ever did on the 80 cubic-inch FXRP, especially when coming out of the hole at every stop sign and traffic light. This sled will make an ideal bar-hopper and around-town bike.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says "My husband’s Sportster 883 has been so good to us. It’s not the bike I want to ride pillion on, but for a little around-town ride, it’s pretty awesome. New in 2016, Harley added the bobber-style tuck-n-roll seat. Originally called "Blacksmith" during the concept and design phase, Harley Senior Designer, Dais Nagao, wanted the Iron 883 to be a factory bobber and incorporate elements that he would put on his own bike, such as raised-fin air cleaner cover, the eagle tank emblem, bullet-hole design features and machine-cut-edge spokes for a new identity and to reduce weight. How can you not love a bike that was designed by a man who eats, sleeps, lives, and dreams bikes, and has since he was a little kid?"

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine : Air-cooled, Evolution®
Bore x Stroke: 3 inches x 3.811 inches
Displacement: 53.9 cubic inches (883 cc)
Compression Ratio: 9:1
Engine Torque (J1349): 53.8 pound-feet at 3,750 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Exhaust: Black exhaust headers and black mufflers
Primary Drive Chain: 34/57 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 29/68 ratio
Clutch: multi-plate, wet
Transmission: 5 speed
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st: 10.41, 2nd: 7.436, 3rd: 5.531, 4th: 4.584, 5th: 3.931
Chassis:
Frame: Mild steel, tubular frame; circular sections; cast junctions
Swingarm: Mild steel, rectangular tube section, stamped junctions; MIG welded
Front Forks: 39 mm
Rear Shocks: Coil-over; Preload Dual-adjustable
Suspension Travel, Front/Rear: 3.6 in / 1.6 in
Rake (steering head): 30°
Trail: 4.6 inches
Lean Angle, Right/Left: 27 degrees/ 28 degrees
Wheels: Black Nine-Spoke with Machined Highlights
Wheel, Front: 19 in. x 2.15 in. (483 mm x 55 mm)
Wheel, Rear: 16 in. x 3 in. (406 mm x 76 mm)
Tire, Front: 100/90B19 57H
Tire, Rear: 150/80B16 77H
Brakes, Front: 300 mm disc, dual-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 260 mm disc, dual-piston caliper
ABS: optional
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 85.8 in
Seat Height, Laden: 25.7 in
Seat Height, Unladen: 29.9 in
Ground Clearanc: 5.5 in
Wheelbase: 59.6 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gals
Fuel Economy: Combined City/Hwy: 51 mpg
Oil Capacity (w/filter) : 2.8 qts
Weight, As Shipped: 545 lb
Weight, In Running Order: 564 lbs
Gross Vehile Weight Rating: 1000 lbs
Gross Axle Weight Rating, Front/Rear: 335 lb / 665 lb)
Electric:
Battery (per Battery Council International Rating): Sealed lead acid, maintenance-free, 12V, 12 amp/hour, 200 cca
Charging: Single-phase, 30-amp system (375W @ 13.5V, 2000 rpm, 405W max power @ 13.5V)
Starting: 1.2 kW electric with solenoid shift starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation):
└ Headlamp: Quartz Halogen, 55-watt low beam, 60-watt high beam
└ Indicator Lamps: High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, security system (if equipped), ABS (if equipped)
Gauges: Handlebar-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer, time-of-day clock, dual
tripmeter, low fuel warning light, low oil pressure light, engine diagnostics readout, LED indicator lights
Details:
Warranty: 24-month unlimited mileage
Model ID: XL 883N
Colors:
└ 2016: Olive Gold, Charcoal Denim, Black Denim, Hard Candy Gold Flake
└ 2017: Black Denim, Charcoal Denim, Olive Gold, Red Iron Denim, Hard Candy Hot Rod Red Flake
└ 2018: Black Denim, Industrial Gray Denim, Wicked Red, Bonneville Salt Denim, Hard Candy Chameleon Flake
└ 2019: Black Denim, Industrial Gray, Wicked Red, Rawhide Denim, Rugged Gold Denim, Silver Flux/Black Fuse
Pricing:
└ 2016: Color: $8,849, Hard Candy Color: $9,299
└ 2017: Color: $8,949, Hard Candy Color: $9,399
└ 2018: Color: $8,999, Hard Candy Color: $9,449
└ 2019: Color: $8,999, Two-Tone Custom Color: $9,899

Further Reading

Yamaha Bolt

2016 - 2019 Yamaha Bolt
- image 735076

See our review of theYamaha Bolt.

Harley-Davidson

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
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Read more Harley-Davidson news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: harley-davidson.com, yamaha-motor.com

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