The Sportster series of bikes has
been with us now since 1957 At that time riders were getting a brand new
machine and not just another revamp of a previous model. Here was a machine
that extracted sheer excitement from every inch of the way; a whole new
reason for riding was born. More than four decades later the name is still
some time in the doldrums Harley-
Davidson started to build sales and improve its product line, offering the
public machines that could be identified with quality build and typical
Harley-Davidson charisma. In 1998 came the announcement that, on January 6
of that year, Harley-Davidson, Inc. celebrated the first motorcycles off the
production line at its newest plant, just completed in Kansas City, Mo. This
set the stage for the 13th consecutive year since the company went public in
1986 that the number of motorcycle deliveries to customers had increased.
The company told us that the Kansas City facility would manufacture the
Sportster line, including the Sportster 1200, Sportster 1200 Sport,
Sportster 1200 Custom, Sportster 883 and Sportster 883 Hugger, ranging in
price $5,245 - $8,670. The company's York, Pa. facility, which then
manufactured the line, would incrementally transfer Sportster production to
Kansas City by mid-summer and increase production of Harley-Davidson's Big
Twin product lines.
The Sportster range is therefore
comprehensive and the 1200cc (73.22ci) model comes in several different
styles. When Harley-Davidson announced the intention to present uprated and
updated machines for 1998 people couldn't wait to see what was in store.
When the machines arrived they were not sure if all the hoopla had been a
worth the wait. Many said that Harley had hampered the possible technical
advantages of the new machines for the sake of keeping them within the
mandated Harley look. The real enthusiast, though, was able to boost power
on the Sportster Sport, for example, by fitting a new pipe, airbox, jet kit
and ignition module. The 1998 Sportster Sport has been endowed with chrome,
high polish and silver paint, which makes the bike look quite stunning.
While much of Harley's range is
based around the 1340cc (81.74ci) so-called Big Twin Evolution engine unit,
the company has produced a unit for the Sportster range based around a unit
construction engine. There are two displacements available, 883cc and 1200cc
(53.86ci and 73.20ci). The 1200 engine is a four-stroke V-twin and handles a
top speed of 110mph (176kph). The unit is fed by a 40 CV carburetor which in
turn is supplied by a 3.3 gallon (12.5 litre) slim tank, of which one gallon
of this is a reserve.
There was some criticism of the
brakes, which seem to work well but only when applied at full force, in
which case the machine stops in good time and without too much trouble. The
brakes are discs all round and are supported by full floating callipers.
The Sportster Sport is one of the
few Harleys with a tachometer, not only a useful instrument for keeping an
eye on your revs, but it also balances the numbers of items on the
handlebars, giving the speedometer some company. There is a red line marked
on the counter at 6200rpm; when the needle reaches this point the engine
will cut out and all acceleration will terminate, which can be a little
alarming at times.