The Harley Sportster as a Starter Bike?

The Harley Sportster as a Starter Bike?

So you want to know if the Harley Davidson
Sportster a Good Starter Bike. Hey guys this is DanDanTheFireman. I wanna talk to you guys about this and I
have a few reasons why believe it is. The Harley Sportster was my very first bike
back in November 2011. I love it. I didn’t even have a motorcycle endorsement
when I bought it from the dealership brand new. They had to ship it to my home. That night I rode around the neighborhood
and taught myself how to ride. 25000 miles later I have a few things I want
to talk to you about. Things that I thought of before buy and some
things that I found out after the fact. Also if you find any of this stuff helpful,
click the subscribe button. And click that little bell next to it. That way you are notified when I post more
Harley Sportster videos. Alright, let’s start! First off, COST. You need to figure out what you can afford. This is a Harley Davidson. It’s not going to be cheap. New vs Used. That does play a small difference here, but
not where you expect it. Used Sportsters will be cheaper, yes. But since this will be your first bike, you
wont mind dropping it. Yes you will drop your first bike, these things
are heavy. So with this being used you wont mind adding
another scratch to the tank. That is where a USED bike really excels. Maintenance is often ignore when it comes
to motorcycles. Especially the cost from a Harley dealership. It gets rediculous. Even for an oil change. Get yourself a manual, buy a quality motorcycle
jack, and learn to change your own oil. It really isn’t that hard and there are a
ton of YouTube videos on that subject alone. I should know I’ve made a few myself. The first time you do it yourself, you’ll
already have paid for that $100 jack you just bought. Dead serious. Now getting a new bike might be the best option
for you, if you have the money. You can get what you want, and that includes
newer technology. Like ABS or the new Roadster Sportster. The new Roadster comes with a ton of new features
that most Sportsters dont have. Inverted shocks to name one. New bikes might also come with dealer incentives
and might be easier to finance. Also look into insurance. I didn’t really think of that when I got my
bike. Sport bikes are usually pretty expensive compared
to Sportsters in terms of rates, but shop around. Just like buying a new car, do your homework. Number 2, Style and How You Ride. Do you plan on going out of town a lot? Do you want to carve up some mountains? Do you plan on just commuting? These are just some of the questions you need
to ask yourself. When I was debating. When I was debating an Iron 883 or a Sportster
1200, I asked myself what I wanted to do with the bike. At the time I had a shitty truck and I wanted
to go out of town a lot. Which I did. A lot. I went all over California and Arizona with
my Sportster. The 1200 engine performed amazing at interstate
speeds. I didn’t think the 883 would preform that
well at interstate speeds, so I think I made a great choice with what I wanted. The Sportster is comfy for these long trips
and I feel as though I had what I needed in town. The great thing about Sportsters is the fact
that you can customize them however you want. If you like the ape hanger with forward controls
look. Awesome. You can easily do that with a Sportster. How bout a Cafe Sportster? A Sportster Scrambler? A Sportster Bobber? All achievable with a few modifications. By the way, yes, you can carve up mountains
with a Sportster. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise. Matt and I have done it many times. One thing you need to consider is your height
and weight. Let’s say you are a really big boy. Height and weight wise. You will probably need forward controls, and
an upgraded suspension. You have long legs, and you weigh a little
bit more. Also be aware that you might look huge on
a Sportster compared to what I look like. I am 5’6’’ and I can easily flat foot
the stock Sportster suspension. With my upgraded Progressive 412 13.5 inch
shocks, it is tippy toe time for me. So if you are big, be aware that the stock
Sportster might turn you off. But! You can upgrade to make the Sportster fit
your needs. I will recommend the Harley 48 or Roadster
for you. The 48 comes with forward controls, and the
Roadster comes with upgraded suspension. Now number 4. Are You Planning on Trading it in later. There really is no real need to trade up. The Iron 883, Roadster, 1200 Custom, Harley
48, or whatever new variation they decide to throw out there this year. All are easily upgradable. The Sportster engine is robust and almost
bullet proof. You will have all the power you need, and
maintaining it will be easy. Now, the only reason I think you’ll want
to trade in your Harley Sportster later is to change your riding style. You might think cross country riding is what
you want to do and a Road King or Street Glide is the way to go. I’ll tell you right now, my Sportster was
comfy enough to travel across the state, and many people have gone cross country on Sportsters. Whatever you choose, the resell value of Harley
Sportsters are pretty decent. Just check the dealerships and Craigslist. People sell and buy high for these, especially
if it’s in good condition. Alright guys, you’ve been watching me in the
background riding my Harley Sportster. Do you guys really think that I dont love
my Sportster? I love it! I think it is a great beginner bike, I love
my Sportster. 25000 miles later, and it’s still treating
me well. I can’t think of any other bike I’d want right
now. The memories I have of this bike and my travels
will always be with me. Well I hope you guys all enjoyed it. You all ride safe, and you all be good. I’ll see you guys later.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I drove my friends 06 1200 custom and it feels like a great bike. I have a buell xb12x with an engine based on the sportster and it's a completely different machine

  2. My starter bike was a 2001 XL1200. It was bullet proof, never gave me any issues. Rode that puppy for nearly 7 years until the wheels fell off. After the experiencing that quality & reliability, not to mention good looks & on a used bike at that! I was forever sold in Harley!!

  3. Hey man! I started watching you a couple of weeks, absolutely love the videos! I am planning on posting some Sportster content soon. Let me know if you ever find yourself in Ohio!

  4. Ive owned a 2005 883 low and a 2004 883 standard. I weigh around 260 lbs and 6 ft tall. My favorite of the 2 was the 04 standard. It handled way better than the slammed suspension of the low model. Being 883 cc it still hauled my ass up the interstate at 80- 85 mph with no problems. Ive only ridden 1 1200 sportster , i would have to say it did have a little more power, but wasnt night and day.

    Working on these bikes was a breeze. I had the entire top end torn down on the 2004 because the base gaskets were seeping. Super easy project. However, this go round I decided to try something different. I bought a 1977 Yamaha XS 650. Working on getting it road worthy. That being said, I wouldnt mind another sportster to get around on.

  5. Nice video and I agree with you, any sportster is a good beginner bike. But it's also good for experienced riders too. I would never trade mine for a big pig Harley, no way. In fact the only Harleys I like are sportsters and maybe that new street rod. I bought my sportster brand new in Dec. 2000. Still ride it all the time. It's an 883 and it's fine on long trips; I've taken it from Dallas to Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, every summer and again in the fall. Then trips all over Texas also. Really great bike, Harleys are heavy but very well made and will last a lifetime. A friend of mine (older guy) has a '68 sportster iron head that he bought new, and still rides it.

  6. I LOVE Sportsters. There is nothing that they don't do well. Unless you're going 2-up a lot, there is no need to go for a bigger bike. The new Roadster is at the top of my consideration list for my next bike. Then again, so is the Indian Scout…

  7. Got a 1200, almost 40k miles on it, recently wrecked it (changed the bars and the throttle got stuck, my fault, it got stuck while riding and i flew into the back of a car) but before my wreck, the bike has done me perfectly fine, never had issues, currently fixing it, and waiting on my foot to get better so i can hop on it again, recommend it for any begginer, expecially if they can hold the weight..

  8. Sportsters are a good 1st bike, for females too. In the UK I have seen more being attracted to the Harley's recently and I do believe if the weather was better it would have a greater attraction. We don't have the deserts here 🙁

  9. Great video man! good to some love for the sportster, iv'e had mine for about 35 years best 1800$ i ever spent. 🙂

  10. Didn't buy mine as a starter.. I am willing to bet the majority buy the sportster NOT as a starter. How did it get labeled as a starter?

  11. Beginner !!! it's a great permanent bike, bought a 2016 883 in 2016 brand new you can do so much with it including a 1250 conversion if u want to….Sportsters rule riding big ass boats drool.

  12. I got my sportster 48 as my first bike ever . I kid you not , the best decision I've ever made. It's just perfect. I even ride with my gal every weekends and it doesn't bother me much. If I ever want to get another bike . Honestly I would keep my sportster.

  13. Great Vid. I have had a bunch of bikes in my time From Rockets to Baggers you name it I always loved the way the Sporty looked and when I saw the 2016 Roadster I had to have it I am 47 and some people were telling me I would not like it I am so Happy to say they were WRONG My Roadster is on its way to becoming a sharp looking cafe racer and she is a best decent power and I am comfy. I am 6'1 and she is perfect Thanks for posting

  14. compared to other Harleys, the Sportster is the better pick for a starter. However, there are far better bikes out there to learn on. Firstly the Sportster maybe the 'smaller Harley' but it is a very heavy bike. ~260kg is extremely heavy to push about, park and handle for Take a 600cc Ducati monster (or anything of that category), it weighs a full 100kgs less. OR 140kg for a 250 cruiser. The brakes on the Sportster are not spectacular, not even on the twin disc versions.Ground clearance also sucks. Lastly, the bike is quite tall, once it starts to tip, you'll have your arse over on the pavement before you know it. That's not to say its not a cool bike – it is, but not for an absolute beginner.

  15. great video. I have a 2007 1200 low. bought it not too long ago with 7000 miles like brand new. I changed a lot of things on it and it's personalized to me now. Bought it for permanent bike and I'm sure I'll be riding this one for a long time.

  16. Sportster definitely Not for beginners…the vibration is Crazy and a very clunky bike to man-handle. I rode Sport bikes for 6 years, and tried a 883, and was WORLDS different….the torque in parking lots was VERY intrusive…the second you let that clutch out, it just Surges…and for a beginner that's very dangerous in enclosed spaces….compared with a sport bike or Touring bike, which have Very little torque, there's tons of room to play with Clutch work in parking lots and making slow turns. The sportster is Definitely a Rock solid engine, and there's NOTHING like that Rumble….it instantly makes you feel like a badass…..but for new riders? Sure some people can learn quick….but most people are going to have a Large learning curve…but then again it took me a long time to Learn a sport bike properly….so it goes both ways…..But please please please remember….you WILL drop your first bike……Don't get anything too nice, LOL……

  17. Why would you ride a sportster off road? Also, definitely not a starter bike. Buy a dual sport. Buy a Buell.

  18. I love Sportsters. I personally own a Super Glide Custom, BUT,,,if I wasnt 5'11/260 lbs of blubber, Id have a Sportster in a heartbeat. Especially the options available now? The 48 looks like a bit bull. I love the 72 but I hear its discontinued and wont hold more than 50 miles worth of gas. The rest are killer models too. Who says ya cant keep a Sportster. If you like it, it fits and it fills your need,,,keep that sucker and modify it to be your own! Its all about what you like, not what others like!

  19. great video…I ride a 2012 sportster 1200 custom and im 5'3 and 140 lbs.  its a little bit to powerful in the beginning but im used to it now.  loving it.thanks again and ride safe….

  20. If you have a 'harley only' mentally, then yes its the best bike to start, however outside hd world it doesnt come close. At 260 kg its damn heavy and has next to no brakes. Anyone who thinks a Harley has good brakes to try something else. Before you judge me and I've actually owned the sportster that now have a low rider, along with a few other bikes. The fuel range on the sportster is also very average. My idea of a good beginner bike is one that is light has good breaks and economical. On the plus side the sportster is a cool looking bike if that's important to you also fairly easy to maintain and not difficult to ride but I wouldn't call it a beginners bike

  21. Ayyyy, the 5 foot 6 Club! All jokes aside, that really is helpful information. It gives new riders a gauge of what bikes will work for them size wise as they go on their journey. I don't think this will be my first bike, but definitely a great second one!

  22. DanDantheFireman I'm stoked I'm getting a 2011 XL1200 Custom CP from an wife's uncle and this bike is clean with only 4500 miles. First bike. Ridden dirt/quads so excited to hit street after I go thru safety/license.

  23. Thank you Dan nice video. Sportsters get a bad rap from guys who bought the big twins but I disagree. I have two bikes, an 84 Honda XR200 that I modified for on/off road use and a 2005 Roadster. I live in Canada so there were a few factors for me. 1) we only get 5 months riding time (although we have to pay annually for insurance) 2) the convertibility! I have detachable windshield, several different bag arrangements for longer rides or for round town, I like it stripped down. 3) they are super simple to work on like you mentioned. 4) the choice was real easy when talkin money. For a used bike you are talkin 5k vs 20k for something like a streetglide and once you get the streetglide, not much you can do. You have to run around with the fairings even if you are just going to the corner store. The choice was easy for me. 5) Sportster is Harley's all time best seller from 1953 I think they started making them. They were used in Army and all kinds of applications. Very versatile. Can't go wrong with a sporty.

  24. It has its niche, but there are better and cheaper bikes out there. Besides, Harley shouts nationalism and flag waving. It's the crowd you want to run with that determines your brand of ride. For those who want a numb butt and like ringing in their ears, this is the bike for you.

  25. That is the great thing about a Sportster, you can literally build it into any style bike you want ,there are so many good aftermarket parts out there. I have an 04 Sportster that was an 883 but i added the 1200 kit to it two years later at 12k miles because i started making a lot of cross country runs , along with pipes, air filter and simple items like that it now has plenty of power to cruise freeway all day either solo or two up , i use "sling over" leather saddle bags etc so when i'm not traveling in the house they go so i can ride it around town " clean" . Cafe bike, bobber , chopper ,cruiser , drag bike, sportster can easily be built to fill any of these roles.

  26. Nice video. Was able to get myself an old '89 1200 sportster for only 1K. Needed some work, but defiantly works great as a first bike as I'm not worrying about dropping it as a learner.

  27. the very first street bike I have ever rode is my step dads 1982 Harley Davidson sportster 1200 25th anniversary my 18th birthday my grandpa gave me my very first street bike 1972 Harley Davidson 900 sportster chopper 7foot springer front end which I still have today I ride it more than my Suzuki gsx600f

  28. I have a sportster 1200 custom and a honda shadow phantom 750 the honda was way way way easier to learn on. Not nearly as fast so it gets boring sometimes but the honda is better for a never been on any motorcycle of any kind before beginner.

  29. this was my first bike 20 years ago and I was fine with it even though I drove very cautiously and didn't use all the power that the bike had I am sure. I am looking a getting another bike and am thinking Royal Enfield for the price and the look and the kick start option.

  30. Sportsters make excellent beginner bikes. But look for an '06 or older with a carb. EFI is a nightmare. If you are on the small side, I'd look for an '03 or older 883. They are the smallest and lightest. I'm 6' 240 and recently bought an '06 1200 with the 4.5 gal. tank. I fit on it fine. I like the peanut tank, but need more range. I am partially disabled, and sold my Goldwing to get the Sportster. The Goldwing was a bit much for my bad knees. I was afraid I was going to drop it during parking lot maneuvers. No such problems with the Sportsters. They are great for teenagers to grandpas. If you are a total beginner, get a used Honda Rebel first, learn to ride, take the MSF course, then get a Sportster. I only paid $4300 for mine, in like new condition with under 10,000 miles.

  31. Great video! You're comments about the Sportster gave me some reassurance. I keep hearing talk about the Sportster being a, "small bike" or "girls bike" or "in-town bike," but 1200cc's is not minuscule. When I was growing up in the late 60's, the 650cc Triumph was considered "huge" and the Honda CB 750 was "mammoth." I'm sure people rode across the country on these bikes then. I plan on using my cruiser primarily in town with occasional highway (never freeway) riding. I'm 5'8'' with a 29 inseam, so the fit should be fine.

    IMO, a good beginner bike would be a 300cc Honda Rebel or whatever it's called.
    With the 2.1 gallon tank, you must've had to plan ahead as far as gas stops on your long trips.

  32. Extremely outdated engine, suspension, and brakes. Also top heavy, slow and a heavy pig for a bike that size…..why in the world would you buy one new???? Dont put money into corporate harleys pockets. They deserve the huge plummet in sales, they are the biggest bullshitters in the motorcycle community. Christ a guy i was talking too jus bragged about his "awesome" 2003 anniversary sportster to me he bought new……it has 5000 miles on it… can u be proud of that? How do you justify spending any money on something you put less than 250 miles on a year?. Point being his 2003 is almost identical to a 2018, and you could probably get it for half the price or less. The sportster may be the more affordable harley…..but is it really when you consider what your actually getting…… I dont think so. The msrp on a sportster 48 is 11.5k b4 tax title and registration. Anyone remember the Honda shadow rs 750???? Damn near exactly a sportster even the stock exhaust looks and sounds the same……less than 8k new probably 3-4 used. Or the shadow 1100 ace american classic edition, steel fenders real chrome and made in america, you could pick one up used for less than 3k. I love the sportsters styling, the sound is nothing spectacular its jus that single pin crank (also very outdated), but if thats the one thing positive in a sea of negatives…. I think ill pass you can get a RS for super cheap spend 1-2k customizing and youll have a sportster and probably 5 grand rolling around in your account. Hondas are the best starter bikes in my opinion, very well balanced, great maneuverability in most cases, low price so if it ends up not bein your thing you havent broke the bank, and the best engines not only in the motorcycle world.

  33. They shipped it to your home??? Why it’s your bike once you bought it. I bought my first bike (sporty 48) used from a Harley dealer without a M endorsement and the salesman didn’t want to let me drive it home and said he had to ask his manager, the manager said “let him go, it’s his bike now”

  34. shame. If Harley sells out the country that our fallen heroes gave their lives to build it will no longer be an American icon. The power of greed is killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

  35. I have a 1972 Harley Davidson 900 sportster chopper 7 foot springer front end my grandpa gave me my 18th Birthday my 21st Birthday my dad gave me my 1982 Harley Davidson 1200 sportster 25th anniversary and I happen to be riding and stopped by my older brothers house and he had me ride his 1999 Suzuki gsxr750 and I had to get a sports bike like it a good friend owed me some money and he had a bike like my brother's and he didn't know when he would be able come up with the money so we got to talking and he gave me the bike he had and we called it even and that is how I got my 1990 Suzuki gsx600f

  36. Actually no….no, you should NEVER, EVER…drop your bike. 1st bike, 10th bike…doesnt matter. If you “drop” your bike…youre a show-off clown who doesnt need a bike, but instead an ego adjustment.

  37. I've traveled comfortably on my sportster 883 at interstate speeds many times. In all traffic conditions. Also, I'm 5' 14" and love the mid controls.

  38. Hey DanDan, I am really enjoying your channel. It is so informative and easy to listen to. I recently moved to Tuscon and am in love with the scenery. I am considering a 1200 right now so thanks for the info. What I really want to know is where is this dirt you are riding on in this video! That looks like fun. I'll be riding around TAZ real soon and will be on the hunt for some cool spots to practice. Let me know of any if you can. Thanks again DanDan. You're awesome. Laters

  39. Harley’s do not have much horsepower to get you into trouble, especially with all the weight Harley is known. The weight is the problem with Harley as a first bike. Start out with a cheap, light used Japanese bike then Harley later.

  40. The shitty street 500 is a better starter bike. The 1200 is a quick bike and weighs 250kgs. Not sure that’d be the best starting bike. That’s why HD made the Street

  41. We had the same first bike experience. I just broke 100 miles on my '17 roadster. I will be riding it exclusively when the weather finally warms up!

  42. Dan, I am First and foremost a Fan and yes I do suscribe to your channel. I’m 53 in Good shape Thank God. My first bike is a Honda Rebel 250 Tons of fun but I Quickly grew out of her. I’m looking at an 883 Sportster , But I want to Keep the Harley for a while. I’m 5’ 10” 170 pounds solid. Would you recommend The 883 for me ? Down the road I have intentions of giving it to my Son in law that lives in South Carolina. Please be brutally honest with me. Thank you once again, I truly appreciate all you do for us out here.

  43. I’m 6’3 220lbs and I ride a 1200c with forward controls and apes. I’m perfectly comfortable on it. I like my sporty. It’s fun to ride, easy to maneuver, and it will shit n git when you twist the wick.

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