Introduced in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has one of the longest production runs of any motorcycle – and for good reasons!
Motorcycles have always had the reputation of belonging to a specific demographic. The more rebellious, thrill-seeking, free-spirited individuals tend to be the stereotypical motorcycle riders. Though most motorcycles are exciting to ride, not all of them have the prestige, perfectly built engines, and American flavor that Harley-Davidson motorcycles have.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been the most popular and respected brand of American motorcycles for more than five decades. Thanks to their roaring sounds and huge engines, Harleys are looked upon as the best cruisers ever made. Though foreign brands such as Yamaha or Triumph have tried to copy Harley-Davidson, they never came close to achieving the same result. Ultimately, Harleys such as the Sportster became some of the most iconic motorcycles.
Following World War 2, the US economy boomed. As a result, the middle-class grew in size. Thanks to a substantial disposable income, families nationwide wanted to have toys and engage in leisurely activities. From coast to coast, motorcycle fans were aching to get their hands on technologically updated versions of the legendary Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The first XL Sportster was released in 1957. Coming in a 900cc version, the Sportster was a serious American-made bike developing 40hp thanks to its four-stroke V-Twin engine. The Sportster ultimately became one of the most iconic Harley-Davidson ever made. Some of the first XL Sportsters are now collectible motorcycles and go for over $45,000.
While the US economy was booming, European economies were recovering. In an effort to accelerate the recovery, European countries such as the United Kingdom kicked things into gear by doubling down on production. Thanks to the legendary European attention to detail and a dormant domestic supply side, British motorcycles became instantly popular.
Consequently, American motorcycle manufacturers were forced to step up their game. Harley-Davidson was among the most prominent. The Sportster was the direct competitor of the Royal Enfield 350 Bullet and the Triumph Tiger T110. Needless to say, the Sportster became a huge success with American buyers who were more inclined to buy domestic rather than imports.
8Knee On The Ground
Harley-Davidson motorcycles have the reputation of only being good in straight lines. In fact, a lot of American vehicles have that reputation. In reality, American car and motorcycle manufacturers have worked extensively to shake off that reputation. The newer Sportsters are far from incapable of handling a sharp turn.
The Sportster, for example, is perfectly adapted to the curvy roads. Engineered to be a cruiser bike, the Sportster has proven to be more sporty than other H-D offerings with huge engines and back tires.
When Toyota was first created, it produced cars that were largely inspired by American cars. When Huawei started manufacturing phones, it copied the already existing phones produced by both Apple and Samsung. All in all, when a product has been proven to be successful, the competition will do their best to replicate a similar product and gain some market share.
The success of the Sportster inspired manufacturers such as Honda and Yamaha to produce similar motorcycles. The Honda Shadow Phantom and the new Honda Rebel does have some of the features found on the Sportster. However, when looking at the Yamaha Bolt, it is blatantly obvious that the Japanese manufacturer looked at the Sportster’s design to come up with a similar product.
The Evolution engine (known as the Evo) is Harley-Davidson‘s result of meticulous and fruitful research and development. First released in 1984, the Evo was originally made in the 1,340cc displacement for Harley’s big V-Twin bikes. The Evo engine has been said to be the engine that saved Harley-Davidson from bankruptcy.
The Evo engine was consequently modified to fit the 883 and 1,200cc versions of the Sportster. It replaced the aging Ironhead engine and ultimately gave the Sportster another life in the mid-1980s. The Evo engine was eventually installed on other Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are not known for being racing motorcycles. In fact, most Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known to be either cruisers or choppers. When racebikes are mentioned, most people think about Japanese motorcycles such as Honda or Yamaha, or European ones such as Ducati or Triumph.
Though mostly found on the drag strip, Harley-Davidson Sportsters will also tear up a regular track. Thanks to its ability to take corners and pop right back into position, the Sportster is a very versatile motorcycle that surprised several motorcycle enthusiasts.
There are so many motorcycles available on the market that it seems to be almost impossible for any of them to actually differentiate themselves from the others. Though several motorcycles have reached the status of icons, they are often unknown to the vast majority of the general public.
The Sportster has conquered an increasing amount of people both domestically and internationally. Thanks to the several improvements that were done on the Sportster over the years, it became one of the most popular Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the world. The Sportster is one of the motorcycles that allowed Harley-Davidson to remain a serious motorcycle manufacturer.
3Ready To Be Customized
The Sportster, after 63 years of existence, logically became one of the best American motorcycles to customize. As you may see in the picture above, the Sportster can undergo some major transformations and look like an absolute gem. This result would not be possible without numerous aftermarket parts suppliers in the market.
The wide availability of aftermarket parts is a telltale sign that the vehicle is highly successful. Moreover, aftermarket parts for the Sportster are available for most budgets, thus allowing people with different budgets to tastefully and successfully modify their cherished motorcycle.
Long gone are the days when a stock motorcycle was enough to satisfy riders out there. With a plethora of aftermarket parts now available, it is possible to turn any Sportster into a mean café racer as depicted in the picture above. Though it may not please everybody, the café racer set up is definitely going to satisfy some riders.
Fortunately, the Sportster is not only made to be turned into a café racer. This particular Sportster has been turned into a cool-looking scrambler and will please both Harley-Davidson and scramblers fans. Sportsters can be modified in a lot more styles, hence its popularity in the motorcycle community.
The best part about motorized vehicles is the possibility to turn them into absolute beasts. The Sportster is far from being the exception. It can be modified to be one of the meanest, most aggressive, and fastest cruiser bikes out there. Though the budget needed to reach this result may take a huge chunk out of one’s disposable income, the result is breathtaking.