Harley-Davidson XL 883 R Sportster test


Harley-Davidson XL 883 R SportsterHarley Davidson, who are celebrating their centenary in 2003, have brought their bottom of the range model, the Sportster 883 up to date with this R version. R for Racing.The inspiration for the model, found in the American Dirt Track machines, makes this orange and black livery with its chequer boards obligatory. It actually suits it rather well and if you want to get noticed in the saddle of one of company’s leading models, there’s no doubt that you’ll succeed easily.


The Sportster model has existed since 1957. At nearly 50 years old, it is coming into very nearly perfect maturity. It has evolved through a series of continual small touches and has come through the years to the sound of its two big V positioned cylinders. Authentic and making no concessions, the Sportster is the ideal bike to step right into the Milwaukee legend. Although the improvements brought in with this model are numerous, its design has not changed. There is still the same fluidity and minimalism of its volumes that give a certain elegance tinged with brute force. The bright colour of the bodywork, the black of the engine, the matt and satin surfaces, the parsimonious touches of chrome, all work together to underline the concept: an engine, two wheels and virtually nothing else. On the equipment front, a big effort has been made with the brakes. The double disc in front, bitten by the company’s new four piston callipers, provides braking worthy of modern standards. Well supported by the rear disc, they are at last powerful and lasting.

Motorization: A GOOD OLD TWIN

The 45° V-engine cubes 883 cm3 (or 53 American cubic inches). With its overhead valve distribution, it doesn’t really appreciate keeping up high revs for too long. The real soul of the bike, it gives lovely sensations without fail at around 4000 revs. Full of torque, it has a wide range of use. The very obvious but not unpleasant vibrations are part of the fun of riding this rather brutal bike that has no frills.
The final transmission is ensured, gently, by a notched distributor belt, a speciality from the brand. The Harley twin develops 53 horsepower at 6000 rpm and is capable of reaching 170km/h.


A few metres is sufficient, the natural balance and the low centre of gravity soon put you at your ease. The low, comfortable saddle supports the rider’s lower back in an ideal position. The light, precise steering reacts to the slightest touch on the wide handlebars. Handling goes hand in hand with this terrific balance.
It doesn’t take long to gain confidence and when you attack the first corners you can really enjoy the easy ride and the excellent grip of the Dunlops that were specially developed for this model. Lean in even further, the bike loves it, like accelerating like a bullet out of the corners! A champion when it comes to sporty rides on twisting secondary roads, this bike prefers a good surface if it is not to shake its rider about too much.
On major roads, the total absence of protection will give your neck a tough time above the 130-kph speed limit. That said, on a Harley, the sensations are more important than the figures themselves. Believe us! The mechanics are lively, raring to go and fun with it. A firm cycle part that is also rigorous and precise... Here you have all the ingredients you need for motor cycling happiness in its simplest expression.
The roots of fun on a bike are to be found here and the flowers it produces are orange... there’s no doubt about that. And that’s without taking into account its tempting price (8,350 Euros) that brings one of the greatest monuments of American bike culture adapted here to a European culture, within reach. So this is an excellent occasion to let you be tempted by the adventure of the American Way of Life.

Characteristic Harley-Davidson XL 883 R Sportster

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