Author Topic: Sportster as a Touring Bike?  (Read 3135 times)

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Offline rkrcpa

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Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« on: March 19, 2016, 11:45:25 AM »
I'm thinking about a Sportster for my better half for longer rides. I've been on a big twin forever and have no experience with the Sportster.

What I'm wondering is how does it hold up for highway riding? Will it keep up with the big bikes? I'm not talking 1000 mile days, she'd never do that no matter the bike. She's on a 500cc Suzuki now and at 100lbs soaking wet isn't really suited to a big twin. She's sat on them and kinda can reach the ground but it's a lot of weight to hold if things go bad.

She'd like to have a few comforts...windshield, bags of some sort and maybe even tunes for the longer runs. Can a Sportster be set up for light touring duty?

Thanks

Online markymark

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2016, 12:27:15 PM »
My wife rides a 2012 1200C. Has a windshield, but no bags All stock except air cleaner and exhaust. perfectly smooth at 70. No bags though. I carry all the stuff. Have not found any bags that look good other than the HD painted hard bags but very pricey. She likes the bike though and gets 50 MPG. She downsized from a 07 Softail due to the weight (not that the Sportster is a lightweight)

Online fbn ent

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2016, 04:17:06 PM »
My wife rides the s**t out of her 2007 Nightster. I'll see if I can find a pic and post it. Had a set of Boss Bags installed in Sturgis. Only set I found to fit. Don't know if they still make them or not.
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Offline Wicked

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2016, 04:33:13 PM »
Had a lady customer with a late '90's XL883....  She added a windshield, leather bags, a newer HD seat, I lowered the rear 1" and the front 1/2" and she toured half of Canada and the eastern 1/3rd of the US.  She is no tiny lady but she had no problem touring with her hubby with a 96" EVO.  They rode at the speed limit + 10% regular.....
The newer rubber-glide Sportys are better yet...

Offline PC_Hater

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2016, 04:40:33 PM »
The only reason I sold my 1999 1200 Sportster and bought a bagger was that my ageing body couldn't stand the vibes any more!
I used to cruise it for long distances in Spain and Germany at 95mph two-up with luggage.
115 mph was as fast as I could be bothered to make it go, still accelerating but slowly and very illegal in the UK.
After a race meeting at Donnington Park I cruised up the M1 at 105mph with the fast boys on their 4 cylinder sport bikes and Ducatis horrified to have a Hardley in there with them...
My wife wasn't too pleased with me either. But she was on the back and couldn't do anything about it.
The sad truth is this: her 1200 Sportster will be faster than your bike - unless you have thrown a lot of money at it getting your engine beefed up.
And it will still be cheap to perk up her Sportster to make it even faster than your bike.
We like Sportsters here!

Google 'Baby Bagger' for an interesting possibility. Yes, it does have a Batwing fairing and bags.
If your bike is so boring it needs 'tunes' perhaps you should buy a car?
Sportsters are never boring, and I removed the radio and speakers from my bagger because real bikers sing!
1942 WLA45 chop, 1999 FLTR(not I), 2000 1200S

Online tmwmoose

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2016, 08:16:13 PM »

Offline rigidthumper

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2016, 07:16:16 AM »
One of our Hog members has a 2013 883 she added hard bags, handlebar mounted stereo,  and a windshield on, just came in for her 60K service.  She goes everywhere the Big Twins go.

Offline Karl H.

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2016, 07:33:45 AM »
My wive's former long distance runner. She loved it!
Sportster 1200 Low 2007. Passing lamps, windshield, engine guard, highway pegs, saddle bags, sissy bar, White wall tires.



Karl
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Offline turboprop

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2016, 08:49:36 AM »
I'm thinking about a Sportster for my better half for longer rides. I've been on a big twin forever and have no experience with the Sportster.

What I'm wondering is how does it hold up for highway riding? Will it keep up with the big bikes? I'm not talking 1000 mile days, she'd never do that no matter the bike. She's on a 500cc Suzuki now and at 100lbs soaking wet isn't really suited to a big twin. She's sat on them and kinda can reach the ground but it's a lot of weight to hold if things go bad.

She'd like to have a few comforts...windshield, bags of some sort and maybe even tunes for the longer runs. Can a Sportster be set up for light touring duty?

Thanks

Not all sportsters are equal. The newer models with rubber mounted engines are much better suited for touring than the older models with solidly mounted engines. Start with a rubber mounted bike, everything else will fall into place.

'Never try to teach a pig to sing, it only wastes your time and annoys the pig'.

Offline Panzer

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2016, 09:08:19 AM »
Hey RK, I believe we rode together to either Gettysburg or to Yuengling  and I didn't have trouble keeping up with you, nor you with me.
She'll like the Sporty 07' and up.
It rolls nice at 70 and nicer at 75.  :up:
You don't have to shovel sunshine ..... let's ride.

Offline Eccool

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2016, 09:18:44 AM »
As Turboprop said, not all Sportsters are created equal.  If she decides to do one, make sure it is a 1200 and not an 883.  The gearing is different and the 1200 will turn fewer rpm at highways speeds for a much more relaxing ride.  I put over 100,000 miles on Sportsters; trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

Offline rkrcpa

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2016, 09:35:57 AM »
Hey RK, I believe we rode together to either Gettysburg or to Yuengling  and I didn't have trouble keeping up with you, nor you with me.
She'll like the Sporty 07' and up.
It rolls nice at 70 and nicer at 75.  :up:

It was Yuengling....and you were leading the pack. :)

I'm definitely thinking a rubber mount 1200, I had heard that the gearing was different on those vs. the 883. We rode to Kentucky last year and while it was mostly back roads, sometimes you just can't avoid the superslab. That can be tough when the motor is spinning fast.

Thanks to all for the input.

Offline Powerglides

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2016, 10:03:29 AM »
Have a serious look at the 1200T. Lovely bike already set up from the factory for touring.

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Offline Panzer

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2016, 03:45:42 PM »
Leader of the pack..........I remember now.  :doh:
You don't have to shovel sunshine ..... let's ride.

Offline mokeypoole

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2016, 07:21:30 PM »
Once did an 810 mile day on my 1993 sportster 883.  Ran between 70 and 85 mph all day.  Had to stop nearly every hour due to the small 2 gallon tank.  There is no reason why anyone could not use a sportster as a tourer as long as the bike fits thier build and they are comfortable on it.

Offline Hossamania

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2016, 05:51:45 AM »
I remember reading a story about a couple that rode around the world on Sportsters, maybe ten years ago. Pretty sure touring can be done just fine on one.
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Offline Leebert1

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2016, 07:58:34 AM »
rkrcpa      It will go anywhere the big bikes go and with less problems, but as someone responded it does have a smaller gas tank. I know a couple of hard core biker clubs and a few ride the 1200, however these guys are young and wild. These bikes handle like you are on a bicycle so that part is cool, but I would not suggest it for the older folks, not as comfortable as you are used too. That's why its called a sportster.  I think they only still have the 5 speed tranny. Also read up on the changes they made to the bike in 2004. I owned a 96 and it was right there with the power, a twist of the throttle and you are right there with the bigger bikes. 

Offline farmall

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2016, 08:19:47 AM »
A good seat is key to comfortable touring, and gas tanks can be replaced for greater range. Too many people focus on how a bike looks PARKED instead of how it functions on the road. Since my posterior doesn't have eyes I'd fit a seat based on comfort.

You can hang tall gearing on anything (I do) but of course more displacement is better and the small displacement 883 exists for insurance and "product differentiation" reasons.

I suggest a test ride before purchase. Ergonomics are easy to change. xlforum has more Sportster information than anywhere else so it's worth a look.










Offline tommy g

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2016, 06:46:19 PM »
Powerglides mentioned the 1200T as was I. Demo'd one last summer, well worth a look.
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Offline Piston Broke

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2016, 07:26:45 PM »
They might be "small" but they are a relative tall bike, e.g. Softail Slim undercuts it at 23.8" (then you can add adjustable air suspension).

What's the issue with Big Twins? Reach ... Pushing it around?

Which Suzuki? The Yamaha V-Stars are very low but come with wide seats etc. I think the 650 looks better than the 1100s.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 07:31:31 PM by Piston Broke »

Offline Hossamania

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2016, 07:30:20 PM »
The issue with big twins? Weight.
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Offline Piston Broke

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2016, 07:39:04 PM »
Most of them have less far to fall, e.g. low center of gravity, footplate and protection bars.

The OP does mention her height ... 5' 2" - 5' 3"? ...  I'd doubt she catch a Sportster either. I was thinking it's also a matter of scale too, e.g. reach on the bars and levers. She'd probably find a Japanese cruiser more to her scale. Just take the badge off it and it'll look OK!

Big Twins you can always stick a reverse gear onto for getting out of parking spots too.

I spoke to a little lady riding a Big Twin with one of those onboard/on the move air pump suspension kits. She loved it. But it cost about half what a metric cruiser would.

Offline China twin 88

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2016, 07:58:56 PM »
 I have traveled on my 883L and due to ground clearance it's a chore.... speed and bike performance is ok for china. 
LMMC/LAMF

Online 76shuvlinoff

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2016, 04:39:11 AM »
Did a 900 mile round trip on my 76 FLH along side a hot rodded 82 sporty. 1/2 day into it he was pretty unhappy but at least we got to stop every 90 miles for fuel.   :teeth:   Definitely not apples to apples when compared to today's bikes.
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Offline WVDevil

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2016, 07:19:51 AM »
Mine travels pretty well, I also have a big sissy bar bag so can carry a fair bunch of stuff. Only problem is the wind beats me up pretty badly at highway speed. I need a real windshield if I'm ever going more than a few hundred miles.

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Online fbn ent

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2016, 05:21:57 PM »
This is my wife and her bike....she rides right along with me and my RG. Only issue is fuel range. She gets 150 miles before we need to look for a station. Those are quick miles too.

It would be rough for me but she is pretty light and loves it. BTW, she usually doesn't pack quite this heavy  :crook:.

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« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 05:43:10 PM by fbn ent »
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Offline Panzer

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2016, 05:46:37 PM »
Both are good looking.  :up:
Good pix.
You don't have to shovel sunshine ..... let's ride.

Offline chopper

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #27 on: August 10, 2016, 06:17:57 PM »
I've only ridden Iron head Sporty's, but all I ever did was put on a decent seat, and raise the gearing. Bump a tooth or two on the countershaft, and they smooth right out at highway speeds. I have to believe the new ones are even better.
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Offline Carl 1969

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2016, 03:47:57 PM »
Rode this '94 to Sturgis from Fayetteville, NC & came back the long way through WY, CO, NM, TX, OK, etc. 8 "serious" travel days over 3 weeks & 5500 miles. Not the best tool for the job, but it's what I had & got me there & back with no issues whatsoever.

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Offline tommy g

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2016, 07:36:40 PM »
Didn't see him but an older gent from Texas on his 02  Sporty stopped in at the local dealer for fork seals. He was on his way home from a ride to Alaska.
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Offline FSG

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2016, 09:37:11 PM »
Quote
Not the best tool for the job, but it's what I had & got me there & back with no issues whatsoever.

 :up:   and that folks is what it's all about



Offline biker3r

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2016, 07:19:19 AM »
 :agree:

Offline triumph900

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2016, 08:39:31 PM »
My last Sportster was a 1200C. Sold it a couple of years back, now seriously thinking of a new 1200C. Just demo'ed a 2017, very nice.

My old 1200C would run 80-85 all day, and was fairly comfortable with a small windscreen.

Offline Bladesmith

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2017, 10:39:24 AM »
As an over 70 "Geezer" my Ultra LTD "Geezer Glide" is just too big. I'm thinking about going back to a Sportster , my first Harley was an Ironhead...I think I can set one up for touring, nowadays I rarely go more then 300 miles a day, OEM hard bags, windshield , larger tank would make it work....Now if I can add floorboards it would be perfect
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Offline PC_Hater

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2017, 11:25:31 AM »
As an over 70 "Geezer" my Ultra LTD "Geezer Glide" is just too big. I'm thinking about going back to a Sportster , my first Harley was an Ironhead...I think I can set one up for touring, nowadays I rarely go more then 300 miles a day, OEM hard bags, windshield , larger tank would make it work....Now if I can add floorboards it would be perfect

if Harley can't provide floorboards to fit a Sportster the aftermarket most definitely can!
1942 WLA45 chop, 1999 FLTR(not I), 2000 1200S

Offline Hossamania

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2017, 02:20:16 PM »
I have to agree with you, Bladesmith, the 900 pound Limiteds can get a bit unwieldy.
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Offline JW113

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #36 on: March 18, 2017, 12:39:23 PM »
Mine travels pretty well, I also have a big sissy bar bag so can carry a fair bunch of stuff. Only problem is the wind beats me up pretty badly at highway speed. I need a real windshield if I'm ever going more than a few hundred miles.

I can't ride with a windshield of any kind, the buffeting at highway speed rattles my brain inside the skull. I much prefer the laminar flow of the wind. I know what you mean about long trips and wind protection though. I bungee a sleeping bag on the bars, it knocks the wind off the chest and does not create buffeting. Might give that a try and see what you think.

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Offline d2wing

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Re: Sportster as a Touring Bike?
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2017, 10:53:36 AM »
 I have a 2006 1200L I set up for touring and I works well. First it has a good touring seat, I changed the rear shocks to 12.5 inch Progressives, Changed out the upper fork tubes for 2 inch longer ones and put in longer dampers. It rides and handles great. I put on Viking rigid leather saddlebags. For wind protection I have a Memphis fats eye height windshield and to get rid of buffeting I added Memphis shades lower fork deflectors.
 On an earlier Sporty I added floor boards but On this one I have forward controls and do not miss the floorboards. You can add tune kits if you want.
I am 69 years old and can put on 300 miles a day easily. I also have a luggage rack and a large tail bag for it and it has the big tank. I will see if I canpost pics.