Motorcycle owners, some questions...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Mike__D, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. Mike__D

    Mike__D Supporting Actor

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    I've been interested in buying a street bike. Since college, I've always had my eye on Harley's. This will be my first bike, I want to go cheap, but new.

    For the record, I grew up riding dirt bikes and 3-wheelers (before they were banned), so I have experience. Of course I'll take the motorcycle safety program and buy appropriate riding gear.

    Anyway, I'm interested in a basic Sportster 883 model. It's got classic lines, and an upright riding position. I realize HD's aren't very advanced, but I've just had the urge to own American Iron [​IMG] Plus the older technology might be easier for me to work on. It can also be modded a number of different ways. The number of aftermarket parts for this model is HUGE. Oh, and at 50+ mpg, it would make a nice spring/summer commuter. [​IMG]

    They don't seem to be expensive at under $6K. What other bikes are there to consider? I'm looking to have one by next summer, so I'm in no rush. I want to give myself plenty of time for research (which I have done a fair bit of on the Sportster), and to get my license. Also, is there still a waiting period to get one or can I buy one of the showroom floor now? It seems since the mid 90's, HD dealers have sprouted up everywhere.

    Thanks!

    Mike D.
     
  2. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Price and availability will probably vary by region, unless the market has chilled with the current economy. I was considering a Sportster a few years ago and my experience was that in the Dallas area most Harleys had a mark up of a few thousand, depending on base price, however I heard if you went to a dealership away from larger cities you could get the bikes for MSRP. At the time, '99 early 2000, lots of people still had extra cash and were buying bikes like mad. I haven't shopped at all for a few years so I don't know if the market has changed.
     
  3. Jassen M. West

    Jassen M. West Supporting Actor

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    A bit more expensive than the harley you are looking at, but when i get a bike it will be one of these
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    If owning "American iron" is that important to you, why not consider Polaris's Victory line of V-Twin-powered machines? Better, more modern technology and better (according to magazine tests) handling. And it's as "American" as anything coming from that Milwaukee company.
     
  5. Mike__D

    Mike__D Supporting Actor

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  6. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Mike, you beat me to it on pointing out the the Victory price. [​IMG] Don't forget that the huge heft of the Victory is more like a Softail than a Sporty.

    The 883 Sportster is not a "big cruiser" at all, it's more like a "medium sized standard". It doesn't sit way back like a cruiser, instead it has a nice upright riding position with your feet under you. The peanut tank is classic, but hardly the 40s styling we have gotten so used to from the Harley Softails and many Japanese clones. The wheelbase is relatively short, the rake/trail numbers distinctly unradical, and the suspension somewhat tight.

    I have a buddy who has a Sporty (originally an 883, now 1200 but still insured as an 883!) and I've ridden it for a short distance. He's actually toured thousands of miles on it if you can believe that.

    They vibrate like an absolute sonofabitch. They handle great for acruiser if you have the standard foot pegs installed. I would suggest that you not forward mount your footpegs. [​IMG] Just put some highway pegs on instead.

    The Sportster is a beautiful, classic motorcycle, light weight and predictable nimble handling - a great choice for a first bike. I would recommend that you also take a look at what Triumph has to offer in their new Bonneville line. They should be competitive pricewise and are definitely competitive performance wise.

    You should be able to find one at or near MSRP if you are willing to call a few dealers. These don't sell like Softails and Electra-Glides.

    Expect some eventual large maintenance bills with your cylinder base gasket, this was a major problem with the entire Evolution line, including the Sporty engines.

    Don't put loud pipes on. They piss off the non-motorcycling public and don't have any real safety benefit (don't believe the bullshit).

    If you're not averse to Japanese bikes, the following would be comparable to the Sporty IMO:

    Honda Nighthawk
    Kawasaki ZR-7 (note: not the "S" model - may be able to find one NOS - New Old Stock )
    Kawasaki W-650 (out of production and relatively rare, but may turn up)
    Kawasaki Vulcan 800 (not "Classic or "Drifter" but the original Vulcan 800)
    Kawasaki Vulcan 750
    Yamaha V-Star 1100
    Suzuki Volusia 800

    Most small Japanese cruisers try too hard to look like big American cruisers IMO, killing the whole idea of a small, sporty twin like the Sporty. Yamaha used to make a great little Sporty-like bike in the 750/1100 Virago, which has long been discontinued.

    If I was buying a bike in that class today I'd probably a Kawasaki 800 Vulcan, it's IMO the only real serious competition for the Sportster from Japan. I've had exceptionally good experience with Kawaski, and my friend has had enough problems with his Harley that I would hesitate to buy one (I wouldn't rule it out entirely - but I can't handle the vibes of the Sportster model family). However, the 800 is trying awfully hard to look like a "mini-Softail" instead of a Sportster, and the feet first riding position is one I do not like.

    The 750 Kawasaki Vulcan is a fantastic bike also in this class. Functionally it's the best in class by a long shot. I've test ridden it and it's really exceptional. However, I can't get past the butt ugly looks (you may be able to).
     
  7. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    There are times I want a bike, but then I remember I live in a retirement community. In my college town riding was like being invisible. Here I'd imagine it'd be like haveing a bounty on your head. Too bad because I really love it.
     
  8. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    Ugh, not the Sportster! Yes, you too can own 1950's technology at 21st century prices!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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  10. ScottMP

    ScottMP Auditioning

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    Mike,

    Phil has some very relevant points. I think you will become very tired of the Sportster's lack of power very quickly. Aside from the Harley maintenance issues. A friend of mine has a Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic (more power, better looks - long cruiser look and Jap reliability)and it is a great bike (I enjoy it and I ride a hopped up RC51 and K1200RS Beemer). The Yamaha is a couple of grand more than the Sportster (I would confirm that you can get the Sportster for that price, Harley dealers are well know price gougers). Also, to be frank, if you are looking to be part of the "Harley Crowd" a sportster ain't the bike. Better choices than the that Harley. I am not anti Harley, I would love a V-rod.
     
  11. Mike__D

    Mike__D Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! A few comments:

     
  12. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Don't be scared off by people telling you that you can't get a Harley for MSRP. You can. Just shop around a little. Take a look at the "letters" section of the latest "Cycle World" for an interesting take on the whole issue. One of the editors mentioned in the last issue that "The $25,000 Harley" is a myth, and it's true. Particularly for Sportys.

    As for the Japanese bikes, it's a shame they haven't picked up on the Sportser market. They seem to see only want to copy/compete with the Big Twins. Yamaha abandoned the Virago line, which was the only Sportster-like bike from Japan. I used to own one, great handling, simple air cooled V-Twin, compact size, not very flashy, upright position, flat bars, and all. It was a great bike. If Kawasaki would only clean up the looks of the exceptional (but also exceptionally ugly) Vulcan 750 they'd have a contender, but alas it isn't happening.

    Check out the Kaw W-650 also if you can find one. From what I've read in the magaziens it's a much better '60s Triumph copy than the current Triumphs are. Note - the only thing the "new" Triumph has in common with the "old" Triumph is the name - even the logo is different. The new "Triumph" Bonneville isn't any less a copy of a classic Triumph than the W650.

    [​IMG]

    (Yes, that's a real kick-starter you see. But the "pushrod tube" is really a Ducati-style bevel drive)

    As for Garrett's point 4 - upgrade to a 1200 - when your cylinder base gaskets go bad (and they will. Believe me.) that's a good time to do that upgrade, since you'll have to get an entire top end rebuild anyway.
     
  13. Mike__D

    Mike__D Supporting Actor

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    Philip,

    The Bonneville's aren't bad looking [​IMG] They are a bit more expensive, but they got my attention. I think the Sportster has more flair where the Bonneville (and W650) is more subtle. Here's a picture I found with old and new.
    [​IMG]
    Now I'll look into this W650 you speak of...

    Hmmmm, found a comparison of all 3 bikes (W650, 883, & Bonneville) on the site you linked the pic too [​IMG]

    Mike D.
     
  14. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I was about to post that link. I think that these three bikes fill a unique niche in the market. One small enough that the W650 is no longer sold as a new bike in the US (though it is still produced worldwide). Also, a lot of Sporty owners buy the bike because "it's a Harley" instead of buying it for the kind of bike that it is.

    From the review:
     
  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I had a 1971 T-120R. Loved it. Phil's right about the relation of the "new" Triumph to the original. But the new bikes demonstrate that an upstart company is capable of producing genuinely modern motorcycles, which, V-Rod aside, is something that seems to elude the Milwaukee company. (I remember all the rumors in the mid-'70s about an overhead-cam Sportster being in the works, then H-D announced it didn't have the funds to complete the project. Then, in the early '80s, there were rumors of a liquid-cooled V-Four called the "Nova," but it too was scrapped because H-D didn't have enough money. Then, just in time for the 1984 model year, H-D introduced circa-1960 technology with its alloy "Evolution" engine. But, despite it all, H-D is able to trade on its "mystique.")
     

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