This review is still relevant, while the Iron 883 came out in 2010 – the Sportster hasn’t changed much since 2007. Big changes were 2004: Rubber mounted engine, 2007 all Sportster Harley models went to electronic fuel injection. Unless you like vibration or mucking about with carbies – you want both of these upgrades.
Riding a brand new 2003 X 883R years ago made me appreciate the 2004+ rubber-mounted Sportster. I’m sure there are plenty of pre-2004 riders out there who love them, but I just couldn’t live with the vibration. Actually, I’m sure we can get used to just about anything, but should we really need to?
Starting a brand new Iron 883 is not what you expect. Everyone expects every Harley to break windows and scare little children. Legal requirements and state laws required new bikes (Harley’s included) to run pretty quiet and consequently has your new Iron sounding like a sewing machine. Ok, fair enough – it’s not so bad… but it leaves you instantly wanting a louder exhaust for a few reasons. Firstly, a Harley needs to sound like one so you can impress your mates, then there’s the safety factor of keeping cars from accidentally running you over. Last but not least – you need to piss the neighbours off when you start your bike in the morning to get them back for all the years of their kids screaming at 6 am. So overall the stock Iron 883 has a nice idle and roll on sound but needs beefing up.
- 2004 All-new frame including a rubber-mounted engine for decreased vibration. Elimination of the transmission trap door.
- 2005 Enlarged rear axle to 1″ for increased stability.
- 2006 Helical cut transmission gears in all models reduces gear whine.
- The XR1200 is the first Harley-Davidson to utilize Down Draft DDFI II fuel injection. To be released as a late 2008 model.
- 2007 Introduction of EFI across the HD range
Speaking of modification, I’ll talk a bit about what I ended up doing to this bike. As I mentioned earlier in the article, straight out fo the showroom the Iron 883 looks great but sounds like a dull sewing machine and doesn’t exactly haul ass. It’s torquey but not top end at all. As soon as I got home I thought I have to open this baby up to make a fire-breathing sporty Iron 883. The evo engine has a lot of potential but bog standard it really is a bit choked up. First thing off the bat, the standard air cleaner and induction system – gone. Make way for the HD heavy breather kit.
I’ve changed the air filter on many bikes before, but none made as much difference as this once. Firstly the Iron 883 looks damn cool and the difference it made to the performance was staggering. This bike was a lot more fun to ride and far more free-revving. Winding it on hard brought on a solid induction roar that was distinctly missing on the stock model. The local HD dealers will bend you over the table for one, but imported will cost you a lot less.
All up the Iron is a great bike, but very specific in its ability. For a city runabout, cafe to cafe and generally cruising short distances, there is probably nothing better. It looks the part, sounds like a spitfire WWI plane (if modified) and goes ok. But let’s not kid ourselves, this is an old school bike with an old-school engine. Average brakes and handling so if you are after straight-up performance or comfort. This isn’t it. It’s the baby Harley with plenty of style and heart.
Love it for what it is and you’ll always have a soft spot for the Iron 883. I would have kept it if I had space in the garage, but in the end, I wanted something faster – but I do miss the baby iron, sort of like fond memories of an ex that you’re not really sure about why you split up.
So that is the story of the Iron from Purchase to Sale.