The Harley-Davidson Sportster was born in 1957, and its back-to-basics aesthetic has seen a myriad of subtle reinterpretations over the decades.
The latest iteration of Harley’s die-hard classic is the Iron 883, a blacked-out, pared down ride that falls under the brand’s Dark Custom umbrella of bikes which includes the Nightster, Night Train, Cross Bones, Fat Bob and Street Bob.
The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 starts at $7,899, and includes a 24 month, unlimited mileage warranty.
The Goods: More Steel Than Iron
Nestled in the heart of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883’s tubular steel frame is an 883cc Evolution engine
equipped with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection and straight cut shorty dual exhaust pipes
, yielding 55 ft-lbs of torque at 3,500 rpm. Available in Black Denim or Brilliant Silver Denim, the Iron 883 wears black forks with gaiters and a low profile fender
up front and a chopped rear fender with combination stop/tail/turn lights.
The blacked-out theme extends from the mid-mounted foot controls to the oil tank cover, the 19-inch front, 16-inch rear cast aluminum wheels, the belt guard, and the low rise drag handlebar. A one-piece, solo saddle sits only 25.3 inches off the ground, and the retro style fuel tank holds 3.3 gallons. The Iron features the same flip out license plate holder found on the Nightster. The front fork is a 39mm unit, and the rear shocks are dual preload adjustable coil-overs.
Available options include a passenger seat and backrest, and a security system.
On the Road: A Small Package with Lots of Character
Photo © Basem Wasef
Straddle a Harley-Davidson Iron 883, and you might be surprised at how small the bike feels; the 25.3 inch tall saddle sits low, the body is narrow, and the relationship between the grips, the pegs, and the seat is compact. There’s a reason the 883 is one of our 10 Great Beginner Bikes
; it feels approachable and manageable, especially to the vertically challenged. But bigger riders might find the Iron 883’s ergonomics somewhat constricting; I’m 5’11”, and the contoured saddle
created an unconfortable pressure point on longer rides. However, what irks some riders will be a boon to others. Even though the Iron 883 weighs in at 565 lbs in running order, it’s nimble enough for relatively quick turns—though canyon carvers will force some scraping with the footpeg feelers, and limited suspension travel translates to a firm ride.
The view over the blacked out tank reveals a minimalist setup with a plainly marked speedometer in the middle. Per Harley tradition, right and left turn indicators are activated individually.
The Evolution engine coughs to life on a mellow note, and the exhaust note from the dual pipes isn’t as loud as you might expect. If a window-rattling roar is your thing, there are plenty of aftermarket ways to make your Sporty sportier.
The torquey twin offers plenty of pull from low rpms, and the 2-piston front and single piston rear brakes are strong enough to inspire confidence—though it takes a bit of lever effort to bring the Iron to a halt. Engine vibration is noticeable but not annoying, though an amplified pulse develops in top (5th) gear at around 65 mph.
The Bottom Line: Good Times for Under 8 Large
Your opinion of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 will largely depend on two factors: your body type and your riding habits. If you’re big-boned and prefer to eat up the miles on wide open interstates, the Iron 883’s charms might go unnoticed… in fact, you might find the bike might downright annoying.
But if you’re of smaller build and don’t plan on epic interstate hops, the Iron 883 is a perfectly entertaining bike with loads of personality and sex appeal. It taps into the brand’s mystique and milks every last ounce of nostalgia thanks to its matte finishes and chrome touches.
It may lack the technical sophistication of some of its competitors, but in this cookie cutter age the Harley Iron 883 is one of the most sincere, personality-laden bikes you can buy for under 8 large.
>>Click here for a Photo Gallery of the 2009 Harley-Davidson Iron 883<<
Related: 2014 Star Bolt Review: Can the New Kid on the Block Beat Harley?
Photo © Basem Wasef