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Old 03-25-2009, 09:21 PM   #1
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The Harley Myth...

I have a problem, a buddy is looking at getting a bike and he really wants a Sportster 1200. He looked at a couple of different metric bikes and he seems to like the sportster. It's not a "I want to be a bad boy" or a lifestyle thing he just likes the bike.

Here is the problem, I am a metric guy. I started on old 80s sportbikes and have even rode metric cruisers but I know nothing about Harleys. There are a couple of old myths I have always heard and even though I can't find any proof that they are true, I wanted to get some opinions from Harley owners preferably sportster owners who have also owned metric bikes.

Myth 1: Parts cost a small fortune.
Myth 2: Service will cost a large fortune.
Myth 3: They break down all the time.
Myth 4: They leak oil like crazy.

The bike seems ok to me and all the myths seem to be just that. So any advice on him wanting the bike. I am looking for constructive feedback on the bike. We all like a good Hardly joke but I don't want my buddy to get stuck with a bike with problems. (I don't think that is likely though)

Also I will probably be doing all his service so how much of a pain are they to work with. (Other than I have to find my standard sockets and wrenches again.)

Any opinions?
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:28 PM   #2
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Re: The Harley Myth...

All historically true... latest info says they've past. I believe that I read something recently that the value of the sportster 1200 is now one of the best.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:29 PM   #3
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Myth 1: Parts cost a small fortune.

Not so. They are dirt cheap by BMW standards and usually less than Japanese parts.

Myth 2: Service will cost a large fortune.

Sportsters are almost maintenance free. No valve adjustments and minimal maintenance requirements all easily performed by anyone with a pulse.

Myth 3: They break down all the time.

False.

Myth 4: They leak oil like crazy.

Never had a Harley leak a drop.

I think a Sportster is an excellent choice.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:29 PM   #4
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Re: The Harley Myth...

I have never had an interest in owning a Harley but I have several friends who own 1200 Sportsters and they all love the bike.

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Old 03-25-2009, 09:42 PM   #5
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Re: The Harley Myth...

none of those Myths are now true. Things that are true are they will not keep up with a 600cc sport bike and may not even keep up with a 650cc Vstrom. They are slow and handle poorly. If they are what you want then they will not disappoint, but if you want a sport bike or a dual sport they are not that.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:01 PM   #6
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ysr612 View Post
none of those Myths are now true. Things that are true are they will not keep up with a 600cc sport bike and may not even keep up with a 650cc Vstrom. They are slow and handle poorly. If they are what you want then they will not disappoint, but if you want a sport bike or a dual sport they are not that.
It's his first bike and he has only ridden Kawasaki cruisers so I don't think he would know what to do with a sportbike anyway. Just kidding. He definately is not a dual sport guy and if he wants to then I'm not riding my Concours offroad with him.

This raises a good question, how is the handling and the suspension?
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:05 PM   #7
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Depends on the riding he wants to do, Won't keep up with a sport bike, won't ride like a touring bike but I had one back in the 70's and thought it was a fun bike to ride , never left me stranded and I think a used one is a great value these days. Wouldn't give up my Honda for one but wouldn't mind having a sporty parked next to it .
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:15 PM   #8
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Re: The Harley Myth...

The bike will be a road bike for cruising and road trips. I figure it will do some twisties (He is riding with me) everynow and then and just general riding. I'm not trying to be ungrateful but everyone keeps saying it's not a sportbike but I was fishing for comparisons to metric cruisers. I have ridden many sportbikes over the years and there is no cruisers that comes close in handling or suspension.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:34 PM   #9
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes View Post
The bike will be a road bike for cruising and road trips. I figure it will do some twisties (He is riding with me) everynow and then and just general riding. I'm not trying to be ungrateful but everyone keeps saying it's not a sportbike but I was fishing for comparisons to metric cruisers. I have ridden many sportbikes over the years and there is no cruisers that comes close in handling or suspension.
The sporty is a very fun and reliable bike. It will out corner your old Road Star but not sure about your Connie.
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:51 PM   #10
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes View Post
The bike will be a road bike for cruising and road trips. I figure it will do some twisties (He is riding with me) everynow and then and just general riding. I'm not trying to be ungrateful but everyone keeps saying it's not a sportbike but I was fishing for comparisons to metric cruisers. I have ridden many sportbikes over the years and there is no cruisers that comes close in handling or suspension.
I've owned a HD(Heritage Softail) for 7 years...no problems at all and I've ridden all over the place including some long trips to Sturgis, Milwaukee, etc. The maintenance (pm) stuff is higher than compared to my G'wing - approximately/probably by half for similar svc in my estimation.

I've heard nothing but good things about the new Sportsters - but I'm not so sure about it being a "road trip" type bike...depending on definition of road trip It can certainly do it (especially the 1200cc) but it's primary design and ergonomics are not targeted that way. But I'm pretty sure it'll be a fun bike to ride.

IMHO
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:39 AM   #11
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes View Post
I have a problem, a buddy is looking at getting a bike and he really wants a Sportster 1200. He looked at a couple of different metric bikes and he seems to like the sportster. It's not a "I want to be a bad boy" or a lifestyle thing he just likes the bike.

Here is the problem, I am a metric guy. I started on old 80s sportbikes and have even rode metric cruisers but I know nothing about Harleys. There are a couple of old myths I have always heard and even though I can't find any proof that they are true, I wanted to get some opinions from Harley owners preferably sportster owners who have also owned metric bikes.

Myth 1: Parts cost a small fortune.
Parts, not really, the accessories out of the catalog can run up one heck of a tab though. Basic stuff I've never really had a problem with. Basic parts Ive had to put on as a result of a tip-over for my Dyna (a chunky sporty basically) were comparable to metric parts and aftermarket catalogs.
Quote:
Myth 2: Service will cost a large fortune.
If you service at the dealership, there is some sticker shock. But like Kurt said, theres a lot less involved. My last FULL service was about 350, but that was new brakes, oil, tranny, and primary fluid, as well as checking and adjusting everything. if you're a DIY'er it's not that heavy.
Quote:
Myth 3: They break down all the time.
Really? I've only had one hiccup on my dyna, but that was a battery cable that had worked itself backwards. I've yet to be stranded on day trips.
Quote:
Myth 4: They leak oil like crazy.
We've got three HD's in the garage, not a drop leaked between em from what I've seen. The quality control really picked up from the AMF days.
Quote:
The bike seems ok to me and all the myths seem to be just that. So any advice on him wanting the bike. I am looking for constructive feedback on the bike. We all like a good Hardly joke but I don't want my buddy to get stuck with a bike with problems. (I don't think that is likely though)

Also I will probably be doing all his service so how much of a pain are they to work with. (Other than I have to find my standard sockets and wrenches again.)

Any opinions?

If he wants a Sporty go for it. There's enough variety of flavors within the line that he can pick the one best for him. My dad used to have an old 95 1200 Evo that was a lot of fun. I've heard nothing but praises from folks buying em now. Your friend will have to ignore the butthead imposed stigma of being a girls bike (to most of em, anything but a softtail is a chick bike). I had an old Honda 250 that was great, so I have ridden outside of the brand. the Sportsters are good solid bikes. He may want to consider a different seat and what not if he wants to do long haul stuff. Regardless, its a good choice.
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Old 03-26-2009, 04:21 AM   #12
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Re: The Harley Myth...

I think the Sporty is a fantastic choice. Seems like a good place to start, especially with incentives like this being made available.

http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/C...p?locale=en_US
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:27 AM   #13
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Re: The Harley Myth...

They are pretty decent bikes, as for long trips Id have to change the seat imeediately.It is a very stiff ride with no cushioning in the seat.Other then that real smooth on the highway. Only thing I have against harleys is the shaking at idle.. drove me nuts.
My cousin purchased a 1200 new about 2 years ago. It did start leaking oil on here first trip to sturgis, it got so bad she had to stop at a dealership and have it fixed. But they had her back on the road with a few hours and I dont think it has had any problems since.
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:42 AM   #14
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Yup, it's no longer the bikes that are over-priced....it's all the other stuff with the HD logo that's over priced these days. Fortunately you don't ACTUALLY need HD logo'd tshirts, pants, boots, jackets, helmets, gloves, glasses, ear plugs, and underwear to ride a HD... contrary to some people's belief. LOL
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Old 03-26-2009, 07:15 AM   #15
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Re: The Harley Myth...

I think it's really cool someone asked a HD question and the thread did not become a HD bashing thread. I don't ride cruisers, but these days I am all about being happy for riders enjoying their ride, not what others think they should ride.

From one who does not post as much as they used to, thanks for keeping the thread on track and giving good insight into the subject. I hope this is a trend that continues.

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Old 03-26-2009, 07:56 AM   #16
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Re: The Harley Myth...

I really like my Buell. It runs great, etc. I wouldn't think twice about buying an HD if I was looking for a bike of that type.

I'd really like to have an Electra Glide of some sort and would definitely ride a Sportster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squidward View Post
I think the Sporty is a fantastic choice. Seems like a good place to start, especially with incentives like this being made available.

http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/C...p?locale=en_US
Wow... that could work out to be a great deal!
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:25 AM   #17
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Re: The Harley Myth...

All good counsel. I have a couple of good friends who own and ride HDs. The most expensive thing about owning a Harley is the cost of HD T-shirts. There must be a contract requirement that HD owners buy a T-shirt from every HD dealer on the planet.
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:46 AM   #18
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squidward View Post
I think the Sporty is a fantastic choice. Seems like a good place to start, especially with incentives like this being made available.

http://www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/C...p?locale=en_US
Excludes XR1200
The one Sportster I like!

To many choices, to few dollars,
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:51 AM   #19
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Re: The Harley Myth...

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Originally Posted by sbrogden View Post
There must be a contract requirement that HD owners buy a T-shirt from every HD dealer on the planet.


Guilty. But it's cheating if you don't get it yourself, no buddy bringing one back for you. Unless it's from Saudi.

The saddest thing is that the suspension is junk on the Sportys, but no more so than on a stock metric bike. They are very, very soft, so they feel cushy on the "showroom rock it back and forth test". Go watch, you'll understand.

Fork springs, oil and a few hundred $$ (or more of course) in rear shocks makes a huge difference in handling and comfort.

Peg and control placement are quite different. The 1200R is gone, it had what Harley called "mids", but to someone who grew up on dirt or standards I'd call it "mild-forwards". Everything else is "forward" controls, which I can't ride, but lots of folks love it. The Nightster still has mids, and trades cheap shocks for cheap shocks with no travel, to get that cool hunkered down look

The XR1200 has "rearsets" for a Harley, I'd call 'em normal.

But I love the 1200cc Sporty motor. The modern fuel injected version is more than capable of showing an SV650 it's tail in a straight line, but you'll find that you really don't care that much.

The seating position killed me on the 1200R, I can't do mids for distance. But the XR is fine for day trips to Houston.

Not only are parts cheap, but they are almost always in stock Try that at the local Kawamahonduzuki store, where at least in Austin it seems like they have to order valve stem caps from Dallas

I doubt he'll be disappointed.
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Old 03-26-2009, 10:18 AM   #20
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Re: The Harley Myth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt View Post
Myth 1: Parts cost a small fortune.

Not so. They are dirt cheap by BMW standards and usually less than Japanese parts.

Myth 2: Service will cost a large fortune.

Sportsters are almost maintenance free. No valve adjustments and minimal maintenance requirements all easily performed by anyone with a pulse.

Myth 3: They break down all the time.

False.

Myth 4: They leak oil like crazy.

Never had a Harley leak a drop.

I think a Sportster is an excellent choice.
As an Sporster owner, I was gonna post my opinions/comments/observation but KURT posted all I can say and the only thing left is PLUS 1 to the above. I don't live the Harley lifestyle ( nothing wrong with it,just not me) and just like your friend I just wanted a Sporster..period!

A few things..

Sportsters are a lot heavier than their metric counterparts and as we all know you notice it more in very slow speed.. But in takes no time to get used to it.

It is top heavy and again it is all about getting used to it. Now when I got used to it I found twisties a lot of fun to manuever, I know I am in control and that I know what I have doing. To put this comment in it's proper perspective. I am in my late 50s and the last time I had a bike was almost 30 yrs. ago. Just started riding again last summer.

Good Luck to your friend in his search for his bike!
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