Harley-Davidson XL 883 R Sportster test
Intro: THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE
Harley 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 companys leading models, theres no doubt that youll succeed easily.
Esthetique: THE MILWAUKEE LEGEND
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 companys 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 doesnt 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.
On the road: CHAMPION OF THE SPORTY STROLL
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 riders 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.