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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright here goes nothing.

I had never been to a harley dealer before, havn't seen most of them in person but... a friend of mine has it in his head that he HAS to have a harley because "its american." His past bike experince is the MSF course, nothing else. He and i walked around for a while and he drooled over a V-rod and a couple other bikes. I steered him over towards the sportsers figuring i could try and save him from killing himself with a 120 hp deathmachine. He really liked a couple of the sportster 1200s, the Low and the Custom (personally i like the Nightster and the Roadster myself.) He sat down on a couple of bikes and the sales talk begun. I work in sales in a camera store but man i tell you, never heard someone talk so fast and loud that you couldn't hear yourself think.

Personally i dragged him out of there and said he should sit down and read some reviews before jumping at one of them.

Now the question. Would it be a death sentence for him to buy a sportster right off the bat? (either an 883 or a 1200) I've heard that the performance of harleys isn't the greatest, that they are slower. Is this a myth or is BS and can you think of any arguements to get the "buy American" thing out of his head? (guys been my best friend for 8 years, I'd rather not see him kill himself.)

To be honest i wish i had 10 grand, i'd love a 1200N or R.
 

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Alright here goes nothing.

Snippage

Personally i dragged him out of there and said he should sit down and read some reviews before jumping at one of them.

Now the question. Would it be a death sentence for him to buy a sportster right off the bat? (either an 883 or a 1200) I've heard that the performance of harleys isn't the greatest, that they are slower. Is this a myth or is BS and can you think of any arguements to get the "buy American" thing out of his head? (guys been my best friend for 8 years, I'd rather not see him kill himself.)

To be honest i wish i had 10 grand, i'd love a 1200N or R.
It's not too fast for him it's just too expensive to drop. H-D has made Sportsters for 50 years and they'll still be around when he gets some experience under his belt on a cheap bike.

Sportys aren't fast but H-Ds are great bikes and fun to ride.
 

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The Toad
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"Fast" is relative. Snobs will tell you that HDs are "slow". A lot of those snobs are dead now. A Sporty might have "only" 50HP but it's still faster than 95% of cars and will go fast enough to kill you in a big hurry. He should start with a smaller bike. After all he wouldn't try to fly an F-16 as his first airplane would he? Motorcycles are more dangerous.
 

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I think Sportsters make a great first bike. I personally have known perhaps a dozen people who've started on Sportsters and done well.

Yes, they have power, but the power is very managable. They are heavier than other "starter" bikes, but overall they are compact, easy to handle bikes. They keep their value well, and have a lot of optional accessories available - from bags to fairings. If he's worried about dropping it, a set of engine guards (we used to call them crash bars, but that's not PC anymore) will take care of that issue.

It's not surprising to hear your experience at the local dealer. Many dealers have gone to the car sales model...underpaid, desperate sales people who will do "whatever it takes to make the deal."
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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If his heart is set on a Sporty that's what he should get.....after he learns the ropes on a smaller, lighter, cheaper bike. It's hard enough to get used to traffic and general riding around as it is, a cheaper, lighter bike is just easier to catch if you loose your balance. It's not that the Sporty is too fast and powerful though it'll get you down the road quick enough, it's that they're heavier and more expensive. I'd rather learn some skills on a cheaper bike then step up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well i mean if dropped $3000 on a bike i'd cry. to me thats alot of money, i think i'd cry more if i dropped a sporty. I think I'll hit the lottery and buy one... ;-)
 

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Any bike can be "too fast" if ridden poorly. I'd say if he's got his heart set on an HD, go for it... though he'd be remiss if he didn't at least look at some of Japanese cruisers for comparison -- where they are made notwithstanding.
 

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Heck, get an older Sporty!

Decent price, no depreciation. They're torque-y [email protected], so they're harder for the newbie to stall.

They're a HARLEY, so he can buy all the appropriate accessories, and maybe something for the bike.

And again, it ain't how fast the bike is, it's whether you can stop or turn it in time.

Just make sure he throws the pipes away and puts drag pipes, maybe 12 inches long, on it. He'll be the Darling of the Neighborhood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Game Set match.

We sat down just now on his computer and looked at Ebay (he's not a big internet guy) and he was amazed and is all stuck on finding a mid 80s sporty. I actually might look at doing the same.

We live in a quiet neighborhood, we would be satan if either of us did that!
 

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The Toad
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Hey!

He wants an old Ironhead for his first bike? That shold give him an education real quick!
Ironhead Sporsters are the shiznitz dude! You can still get those 74" stroker kits for them. If they did that then they would be worse than Satan. Worse then 9-11. They'd be like 100 times 9-11. That's be 91,100! Cool.
 

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Super Duper Mod Man
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any suggestions about the years to look at then? and he wants to know if theres anything to watch out for in used sporty.
Well, there are so many things to watch out for, I am not sure where to start. I suppose the first thing is to make sure it doesn't smoke on acceleration, or deceleration. Next would be to make sure the gearbox works correctly all the way up and down. If that stuff is in good shape, the rest can be fixed pretty easy. It will probably leak oil in places that shouldn't have oil, but that isn't fatal. They aren't bad bikes if you keep up on the maintenance.I had an 80 Sporty and put about 40,000 on that bike and it never left me on the side of the road.
 

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My preference is post '88. '86 was the first year Evo engine, and in '88 it got larger diameter fork tubes. Later years got belt drive and 5 speed transmissions.

They're going for about $3k around here right now.

Personally, I recommend a dual sport for first bike. You can drop them and you won't care.
 

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We sat down just now on his computer and looked at Ebay (he's not a big internet guy) and he was amazed and is all stuck on finding a mid 80s sporty. I actually might look at doing the same.

We live in a quiet neighborhood, we would be satan if either of us did that!
The big question is: are you going for a real live Ironhead Sportster with the Shovelhead based engine or the next generation Evo based engine? The Shovel has a lot more panache, which in motorcycle means it leaks more and is harder to get parts for. But, the damn things are bricks, with a good rebuild and basic maintenance they will run forever. The Evos aren't bad, but they're a dime a dozen. Many 80's Sporsters have been hacked beyond recognition. If it were me, I'd be looking for the bike with the fewest "customizations," preferably bone stock.
 
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